The University of Washington School of Public Health (UWSPH) requires that every MPH student complete a practicum to receive their degree. The practicum is a planned, supervised, and evaluated field-based experience under the guidance of an SPH Faculty Adviser and a Practicum Site Supervisor, requiring a minimum of 160-hour work (4-6 credits)1 under the guidance of a SPH faculty adviser and a practicum site supervisor. At least 80 of the 160 hours must be completed within a public health organization2 (“Site”). The onsite requirement is suspended during COVID-19.
The goal of the practicum is to enable students to take the disciplinary knowledge and methods they learned in the classroom and apply them to the field of public health, serving as trainees while expanding the capacity of the public health organization.
If a student has little prior public health practice experience, the practicum will help the student gain the skills necessary to work effectively in a professional public health setting. If a student has extensive public health practice experience or advanced degrees in other fields, the practicum will expand their practice areas and professional network.
Practicum is different from other non-classroom-based experiences. For example:
- The practicum is distinct from clinical work (i.e., observation and/or treatment of patients) as it addresses health issues from the perspectives of populations and communities, not individuals.
- The practicum is distinct from lab-based research as it focuses on the application of scientific or technical knowledge in solving current public health problems, not advancing scientific knowledge through publishing peer-reviewed journals—particularly with respect to depth of knowledge and methodological skills.
- The practicum is distinct from culminating experiences (e.g., a thesis or capstone) as it places emphasis on working with practitioners in a public health organization while gaining a command of the skills necessary to work effectively in such an organization, not working towards completing a substantial written product that synthesizes and integrates knowledge acquired in coursework and other experiences towards the end of the program.
- Practicum should not replace paid UW employee work if the Site is university-based, including work typically performed by Graduate Staff Assistant, Graduate Research Assistant, or Graduate Teaching Assistant.
Prospective practicum sites should contact SPH Manager of Experiential Learning (Janice North, firstname.lastname@example.org) to start the conversation about specific practicum opportunities, unless recommended otherwise by one of the MPH Program Directors.
COVID-19: Due to the current Washington State policies requiring individuals to work from home whenever possible and the overwhelming local and state public health human resource allocation that is needed to confront the coronavirus epidemic, the UWSPH has adopted certain policy updates to promote flexible ways of meeting the practicum requirements. Contact the Manager of Experiential Learning or one of the MPH Program Directors if you have questions about them.
1 Students enrolled prior to Summer 2020 are required a minimum of 120-hour work (3-6 credits). Students enrolled in/after Summer 2020 are required a minimum of 160-hour work (4-6 credits).
2 Within a public health practice organization means that a student is physically based at a practice agency site, or could include work at a satellite office, branch office, or partner’s office. It does not include: 1) classroom-based work; 2) work completed under the supervision of a faculty member without a practice organization-based lead.
After you submit all required forms and deliverables, the Manager of Experiential Learning will email your Practicum Faculty Adviser an Online Evaluation Form to certify your practicum completion. If you have questions about credit being posted to your transcript please contact your department student coordinator.
Please upload the signed forms to the Practicum Dropbox.
Looking for a practicum opportunity?
Visit the Student Opportunities page.
The following students can meet their practicum requirements through an alternative practicum. Email the completed and signed Alternative Practicum Form and two work product to Janice North, Manager of Experiential Learning at email@example.com, and copy your SPH Departmental Adviser.
- MD/MPH Students complete practicum through School of Medicine Independent Investigative Inquiry, III-3 (R/UOP, IHOP).
- MSW/MPH Students complete practicum through the School of Social Work.
- OEM Fellows (Occupational and Environmental Medicine training program) complete practicum through the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Field Studies Course.
- Preventative Medicine/Public Health Residents (Madigan Army Medical Center) complete practicum during the second year of the program.
MPH Alternative Practicum Form for MPH Dual Degree Students