2017 MPH Handbook

Penn State’s Public Health Program aims to advance theory and practice that prepare future public health leaders, improve population health, and reduce health disparities – across Pennsylvania’s communities, the nation, and the world – through excellence in education, research, and service.

Students in earlier years of the MPH program should consult their handbook from matriculation or contact the program office for details.

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General Information

Statement of Values Expand answer

The Penn State Public Health Program will instill in its students several values.

Students completing degree programs should embody the following:

Leadership

  • Competent leaders with skills in evidence-based public health practice and research
  • Mediators of diverse partnerships, who communicate across a range of sectors and settings, synthesize findings, and generate practice-based evidence

Science

  • Builders of evidence designed to improve health of communities and populations
  • Translators of evidence into reducing health disparities

Collaboration

  • Valuable partners in public health promotion with non-profit, governmental and/or commercial stakeholders
  • Team members in multi-disciplinary teams

Social Responsibility

  • Promoters of respect, fairness and equity
  • Thoughtful practitioners with an understanding of the social, economic and environmental complexity of disease etiology and prevention

Professionalism

  • Examples of effective leadership using evidence-based practice
  • Promoters of ethical public health practice within the discipline and related disciplines

Health and Wellness

  • Effective translators of scientific evidence to policy and law
  • Practitioners in prevention and intervention programs that improve the public’s health

Diversity

  • Facilitators of diversity across the educational, research and service environments
  • Builders of a culturally sensitive and competent workforce
Contact Information Expand answer

PHS Contacts for Students

College Contacts for Students

Crisis Services Expand answer

Students experiencing an acute crisis should go or be taken to the Emergency Department and/or call 911.

Penn State College of Medicine offers professional counseling services to all graduate students at this campus. These services include counseling for personal and academic difficulties. There is NO COST to students who use these services and all records are confidential. The records are NOT part of a student’s academic record. They are treated as health records and are therefore protected under federal law from being disclosed without a student’s permission.

Learn more about student mental health and counseling services.

Feedback and Reporting Expand answer

The MPH program greatly values the opinions of our students. We strongly encourage students to provide feedback on any issues, concerns, or helpful program components that they encounter during their time in the MPH program.

The sooner you let us know of a concern, the sooner we can address it. For this reason, students are encouraged to report any issues as soon as they arise. These issues can be reported in person to any member of our faculty or staff. Students can also report incidents online. Two online reporting systems exist for this purpose. They are described in more detail below.

To Leave Feedback about Public Health Sciences (PHS)

If you are a Public Health Sciences student, please share your thoughts with us relating to the program’s curriculum, resources, advising, teaching and facilities.

To provide feedback on the MPH program, use this online form.

To Report Mistreatment Within the College of Medicine

Mistreatment, as defined in the Penn State College of Medicine Student Handbook, arises when behavior shows disrespect for the dignity of others and unreasonably interferes with the learning process. This could include behaviors performed by faculty, nurses, residents/interns, other institution employees, staff or other students.

Your well-being is important to us. If you are a student, who wants to report mistreatment within the College of Medicine, please file a report through the Office for Respect in Student Learning. Their reporting process is entirely independent of the Department of Public Health Sciences (PHS), though PHS will be informed of any reports related to our programs.

To report mistreatment, use this online form.

Academics

Academic Integrity Expand answer

“Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.

Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.”

From Penn State’s University Faculty Senate Policy 49-20

Examples of Academic Dishonesty

  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating on a test
  • Buying/selling a paper
  • Having someone take a test for you
  • Taking a test for someone else
  • Unauthorized possession of a test
  • Submitting work previously used without permission
  • Unauthorized collaboration
  • Fabrication of citations

Academic integrity is taken very seriously in the Penn State MPH program. All instances of academic dishonesty in the MPH program will be reported through the official Penn State process. This process and the potential consequences of academic dishonesty are briefly outlined here.

When Academic Dishonesty is Suspected

  • The faculty member informs the student of the allegation and provides the student an opportunity to respond.
  • When evidence suggests that an academic misconduct has occurred, the faculty member will enter a charge and academic sanction on an Academic Integrity (AI) form.
  • The student will have the choice to accept or contest the charge. If the student fails to sign the AI form by a specified deadline, the charge and sanction will go into effect.
  • In some cases, if the academic violation is considered extreme, the faculty member may also opt to pursue a disciplinary action in conjunction with both the AI Committee and Office of Student Conduct (OSC).
  • In situations where the allegation is referred to the OSC, the academic sanctions will be carried out by OSC in consultation with the campus or college Academic Integrity Committee.
  • Once a student has been informed that academic dishonesty is suspected, the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. A student who has received an academic sanction as a result of a violation of academic integrity may not drop or withdraw from the course at any time. Any such drop action of the course will be reversed.

Consequences for Violations of Academic Integrity

Academic dishonesty cases which result in academic sanctions only will not be reported out to others with the exception of when a subsequent academic dishonesty violation occurs. When an academic dishonesty case results in disciplinary action assigned by the OSC Designee, the charge and sanction become part of the student’s record which will be reported out following the guidelines outlined in our records policy.

Academic Sanctions

  • Redo Assignment
  • Warning
  • Reduced Grade for Assignment
  • “0” for Assignment
  • Reduced Grade for Course
  • Failing Grade for Course
  • Dismissal from Academic Program

Disciplinary Sanctions

  • “XF” – A notation that is placed on a student’s transcript for a period of time, or until specified conditions have been met. At that time, the “X” will be removed and the “F” will remain on the transcript. The notation is reserved for the most serious breaches of academic integrity which may include repeat misconduct.
  • Educational Programs
  • Disciplinary Warning
  • Disciplinary Probation
  • Disciplinary Probation with Transcript Notation
  • Disciplinary Suspension
Cognitive Skills Program Expand answer

The Cognitive Skills Program (CSP) provides comprehensive cognitive skills development and learning support to medical, graduate, and physician assistant students on the Hershey campus of Penn State College of Medicine.

The CSP offers workshops, interactive learning sessions, and individual support for exploring content, processes and thinking skills to maximize student success. The CSP serves all students in the College of Medicine by providing programs to help promote effective and efficient lifelong learning.

In addition, remediation services are provided for students who are struggling academically.

Learn more about the Cognitive Skills Program.

Student Disability Resources Expand answer

Penn State College of Medicine is committed to diversity and inclusion and, out of that commitment, supports the success of students with disabilities in all aspects of the University’s educational programs.

Learn more about student disability services.

Public Health Association for Service and Education (PHASE) Expand answer

PHASE (Public Health Association for Service and Education) is the Penn State MPH program’s student-led public health service organization.

Learn more about PHASE here.

Program Completion Checklist Expand answer

The Penn State MPH is a 42-credit degree program that prepares students for exciting careers in public health promotion and disease prevention, health administration and policy, and public health research. All students must complete the Core Courses listed below. In addition to the Core Courses, students select one of four tracks in which to specialize:

  • Community and Behavioral Health
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Health Systems Organization and Policy
  • Global Health

Core Courses (24 credits)

  • PHS 501: Principles of Public Health (3 credits)
  • PHS 504: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies (or BB H 504) (3 credits)
  • PHS 520: Principles of Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • PHS 536: Health Survey Research Methods or PHS 538: Mixed Methods Research (3 credits)
  • PHS 550: Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • PHS 571: Health Services Organization and Delivery (or HPA 520) (3 credits)
  • PHS 894: Capstone Experience (during final semester only; 3 credits
  • PHS 895A or C: Master of Public Health Internship (after 18 core credits; 3 credits

Community and Behavioral Health Track (18 credits)

  • PHS 505: Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation (3 credits)
  • PHS 506: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies II (3 credits)
  • PHS 807: Public Health Education Methods (3 credits)
  • Electives (9 credits)

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Track (18 credits)

  • PHS 521: Applied Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • PHS 522: Multivariate Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • PHS 551: Advanced Epidemiological Methods (3 credits)
  • PHS 580: Clinical Trials Design and Analysis (3 credits)
  • PHS 801: Data Management (1 credit)
  • Electives (5 credits)

Health Systems Organization and Policy Track (18 credits)

  • PHS 535: Quality of Care Measurement (3 credits)
  • PHS 537: Health Policy and Law (3 credits)
  • PHS 540: Decision Analysis (1 credit)
  • PHS 570: Health Economics and Economic Policy (3 credits)
  • Electives (8 credits)

Global Health

  • PHS 803: Principles of Global Health (3 credits)
  • Six credits from any of the following:
    • PHS 557: Global Impact of Infectious Diseases (3 credits)
    • PHS 804: Integrating Systems Thinking in Global Health (3 credits)
    • PHS 890: Global Health Exchange Program (3 credits)
  • Electives (9 credits)
Timeline of Activities Expand answer

First Semester

  • Complete first self-assessment
  • CITI Training
  • Child Abuse Prevention Training
  • Join PHASE
  • Meet with administrative adviser to discuss program plan
  • Start building MPH portfolio

After Completing 9 Credits

  • Meet with administrative adviser to discuss track declaration and academic adviser selection
  • Formally declare MPH track
  • Select academic adviser
  • Meet with academic adviser
  • Pre-practicum advisement

After Completing 18 Credits

  • Complete second self-assessment
  • Conduct and complete practicum experience

Final Semester

  • Declare intent to graduate
  • Conduct and complete capstone project
  • Complete final self-assessment
  • Complete student satisfaction survey
  • Complete alumni contact information form
Scholarship and Research Integrity Expand answer

Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) is a mandatory research ethics training program that all Penn State University graduate students must complete prior to graduation.

Learn more about SARI Requirements here.

After completing the required CITI online training, PHS students are required to email a copy of your certificate of completion to Shannon Bowman-Tuininga at sbowman@phs.psu.edu.

Advising Expand answer

Penn State Master of Public Health (MPH) students have two advisers: an administrative adviser and an academic adviser. Administrative advisers and academic advisers have different roles in the MPH program. However, both can provide a friendly ear to discuss students’ achievements and disappointments, answer questions, and direct students to appropriate services.

Administrative Adviser

Prior to the first semester, all students are assigned an administrative adviser. Administrative advisers are Penn State MPH program faculty in the Department of Public Health Sciences who help students navigate and problem solve around administrative issues that they may encounter as graduate students. Students are strongly encouraged to contact their administrative advisers if they have any questions or concerns about the Penn State MPH program or other graduate student-related issues.

Academic Adviser

After formally declaring a track, students will identify and be matched with an academic adviser. Academic advisers are Penn State faculty in the Department of Public Health Sciences with content expertise in one of the five core areas of public health.
The role of the academic adviser is to provide students with mentorship. The academic adviser may help students identify a practicum location, capstone project and mentor them through the project’s completion, help students identify possible electives to fulfill their academic goals, direct them in an independent study project for academic credit via PHS 596: Individual Studies (not required), and provide general academic and professional guidance through the program.

Academic Adviser Requirements: In thinking about who you would like as your academic adviser, please note that the academic adviser must be a Department of Public Health Sciences faculty member. Learn more about department faculty here.

Ideally (but not required), the academic adviser:

  • Is aligned with your track, either because the individual teaches a course in your track or conducts research related to the track;
  • Shares similar public health interests;
    or
  • Knows individuals with whom he/she can connect you.
Declaring a Track Expand answer

After completing at least nine credits of core coursework, or one full-time semester, all students must declare a track in which to specialize:

  • Community & Behavioral Health
  • Epidemiology & Biostatistics
  • Health Systems Organization & Policy
  • Global Health

Students may choose to declare a track at any time before completing nine core credits.

Students are asked to identify a preferred track in the application for admission. Students’ declared track may be different than the preferred track.

The track you select will dictate your course sequences – the courses for which you should register and in what order – through the duration of the MPH program.

Student Assessment Expand answer

Across the MPH program, students’ mastery of the program’s competencies will be assessed. This assessment serves two purposes:

  • It helps students track their academic progress across the program, and
  • It helps the MPH program leadership determine the effectiveness of the MPH program.

The assessment includes five main components. Each component is described below.

1. Student self-assessment of mastery of core and track-specific competencies

The online self-assessment will ask students to rate their level of proficiency regarding a list of core and track-specific competencies. Students will complete this online self-assessment three times prior to graduation.

Timing: Three times before graduation.

  1. Before first academic year begins
  2. Summer after first academic year (or after 18 or more credits of core coursework)
  3. Final semester, prior to graduation

2. Instructor assessment of students’ mastery of core and track-specific competencies

Each course in the curriculum is designed to advance students’ mastery of specific competencies. As such, at the end of each course, instructors will be asked to rate students’ level of proficiency in the competencies addressed in their respective courses.

Timing: At the end of each course; completed by each course instructor.

3. Administrative adviser assessment of student’s mastery of core and track-specific competencies

At the end of each semester, students will have to provide evidence of competency in an online portfolio.

Timing: At the end of each semester; completed by the administrative adviser.

4. Assessment of student by Preceptor and self through the practicum experience

Preceptors will assess students on the competencies addressed through the practicum experience. Students will assess themselves on the same competencies.

Timing: During PHS 895A: Master of Public Health Internship.

5. Assessment of student by instructor through the capstone experience

Timing: Final semester of the program through PHS 894: Capstone Experience.

Competencies Expand answer

The Penn State MPH Program is competency-based. Competencies are the abilities that students should have gained through successful completion of the program. Two types of competencies are built through the program:

  1. Core Competencies: The abilities that all MPH students should build through the degree program. See all Core Competencies here.
  2. Track Competencies: The abilities that students in a specific track should build. See all Track Competencies here.

Core competencies are primarily gained in the core curriculum. Track competencies are primarily gained in the track-specific courses. To clearly communicate expectations to students, each MPH course syllabus will present the competency or competencies that will be gained through the course, along with the assignment(s) that will be used to assess the student’s proficiency in the given competency or competencies.

Online Portfolio Expand answer

Development of students’ online MPH Portfolio will begin early in the program and will be built upon with every course, semester, and academic milestone students accomplish in the program.

The MPH Portfolio is intended to:

  • Provide a platform in which students may showcase their work using images and interactive content in unique ways that standard resumes and curriculum vitae do not allow.
  • Give students tools to promote their professional career both inside and outside of Penn State.
  • Provide evidence that MPH competency goals are met. Students should exhibit professionalism and keep their MPH portfolio up to date. Students will also be asked to provide important feedback on ways they think the MPH Portfolio system may be improved in the future.

Portfolio development will include the following pieces:

  • Development of personal/professional profile
  • Contributions to the community and service
  • Development of resume/CV
  • Inclusion of artifacts pertaining to formal and informal education and training
  • Inclusion of artifacts demonstrating mastery of MPH program competencies
  • Inclusion of artifacts demonstrating participation in volunteer and/or professional development activities

Portfolio Review Criteria

  • At the end of each semester students must upload artifacts demonstrating mastery of the competencies covered in their coursework for that semester. Students will have 10 days after the end of each semester in which to upload these artifacts.
  • The Portfolio is reviewed at the end of each semester by the student’s administrative adviser to ensure mastery of required competencies for that semester.
  • If the student fails to demonstrate mastery for one or more competencies, the student and the administrative adviser will work together to create a plan to improve the student’s mastery of the competencies that need attention.
Academic Requirements: Core Curriculum Expand answer

The Penn State MPH Program requires a total of 42 credits. Prior to graduation, all Penn State MPH students must complete the following curricular requirements:

  • Core Curriculum: 24 credits
  • Track-Specific Instruction
    • Community & Behavioral Health: 9 credits
    • Epidemiology & Biostatistics: 13 credits
    • Health Services Organization & Policy: 10 credits
    • Global Health: 9 credits
  • Electives
    • Community & Behavioral Health: 9 credits
    • Epidemiology & Biostatistics: 5 credits
    • Health Systems Organization & Policy: 8 credits
    • Global Health: 9 credits

Total: 42 credits

Required Core Courses

PHS 501: Principles of Public Health (3 credits): Introduces key topics in public health, including but not limited to core public health areas and functions of public health, public health theories and models, determinants of health, and public health ethics.

PHS 504: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies (3 credits): Introduces behavior change theory and design of behavior change interventions and strategies to improve health outcomes.

PHS 520: Principles of Biostatistics (3 credits): Introduces the application of techniques and interpretation of results that are commonly used to plan, analyze, and report public health research.

PHS 536: Health Survey Research Methods or PHS 538: Mixed Methods Research (3 credits): Provides instruction on how to collect public health data through the design and administration of survey questionnaires.

PHS 550: Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits): Introduces the features of study design that are commonly used in epidemiologic research.

PHS 571: Health Services Organization and Delivery (3 credits): Introduces the organization and utilization of health services and health policy and politics in the United States.

PHS 895A or 895C: Master of Public Health Internship (3 credits): Provides students with hands-on, real-world experience in the practice of public health.

PHS 894: Capstone Experience (3 credits): This course serves as a culminating experience for students in the Master of Public Health degree program.

Core Course Substitutions

Students may be able to take select courses, at the University Park campus or online via World Campus, in place of certain required core courses.

Required core courses and their allowable substitute courses are listed below. Details of the requirements and restrictions for these course substitutions are included.

PHS 504: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies: Students may take BB H 504: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies at the University Park campus in substitution of PHS 504 at the Hershey campus.

PHS 520: Principles of Biostatistics: Students who select the Community and Behavioral Health, Health Systems Organization and Policy or Global Health concentrations may take STAT 500: Applied Statistics online via the World Campus in substitution of PHS 520 at the Hershey Campus.

Students who select the Epidemiology and Biostatistics concentration are not permitted to substitute STAT 500 for PHS 520.

PHS 550: Principles of Epidemiology: Students who select the Community and Behavioral Health or Health Systems Organization and Policy concentrations may take STAT 507: Epidemiological Research Methods online via the World Campus in substitution of PHS 550 at the Hershey Campus.

Students who select the Epidemiology and Biostatistics concentration are not permitted to substitute STAT 507 for PHS 550.

PHS 571: Health Services Organization and Delivery: Students may take HPA 520: Introduction to Health Services Organizations and Delivery at the University Park campus in substitution of PHS 571 at the Hershey campus.

The four core courses listed above are also offered online via World Campus under their PHS course numbers.

Academic Requirements: Track-Specific Instruction Expand answer

In addition to core instruction, students select a track in which to specialize. Tracks are:

  • Community & Behavioral Health
  • Epidemiology & Biostatistics
  • Health Systems Organization & Policy
  • Global Health

Tracks are outlined below, including the number of required and elective credits. Students are expected to formally declare a track after completing nine credits of core coursework.

Community and Behavioral Health Track

Builds skills necessary to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate public health interventions (9 required credits; 9 elective credits)

Required Courses

PHS 505: Public Health Program Planning and Evaluation (3 credits): Introduces methods of public health program planning and evaluation, including public health problem identification, target audience selection, needs assessment planning, and evaluation design.

PHS 506: Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies II (3 credits): Provides advanced instruction on the planning, design, and implementation of behavior change interventions.

PHS 807: Public Health Education Methods (3 credits): Provides the knowledge and skills associated with the methods used to deliver successful public health programs.

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Track

Builds analytical and statistical skills necessary to conduct epidemiological studies and test hypotheses regarding the association or causality of risk factors and health outcomes in populations (13 required credits; 5 elective credits)

Required Courses

PHS 521: Applied Biostatistics (3 credits): Provides advanced instruction in biostatistical methods, including analysis of variance and regression techniques.

PHS 522: Multivariate Biostatistics (3 credits): Provides statistical tools for designing and analyzing studies that involve multivariate response.

PHS 551: Advanced Epidemiological Methods (3 credits): Provides in-depth discussion on the applications of advanced methods related to the design, execution, data analysis, and reporting of epidemiological studies.

PHS 580: Clinical Trials Design and Analysis (3 credits): Provides advanced instruction in the design and conduct of clinical trials, including estimation of sample size requirements, analytic methods, ethical considerations, and reporting.

PHS 801: Data Management (1 credit): Provides instruction on the development and implementation of plans for managing, collecting, and processing public health data to ensure data quality.

Health Systems Organization and Policy Track

Builds skills related to the analysis and implementation of healthcare delivery models and systems, health economics, and applied public health policy (10 required credits; 8 elective credits)

Required Courses

PHS 535: Quality of Care Measurement (3 credits): Provides advanced instruction in concepts, methods, and measurement issues involved with assessing and improving the quality of health care.

PHS 537: Health Policy and Law (3 credits): Reviews processes related to health policy formulation, implementation, and advocacy.

PHS 540: Decision Analysis (1 credit): Provides an introduction to the methods and applications of decision analysis in clinical decision making.

PHS 570: Health Economics and Economic Evaluation (3 credits): Provides advanced instruction in applied economic evaluation, with emphasis on micro-economic theory, cost-effectiveness, and economic modeling.

Global Health Track

Build skills necessary to identify, interpret and understand global health concepts, as well as apply these skills on both the international and local stage (9 required credits; 9 elective credits)

Required Courses

PHS 803: Principles of Global Health (3 credits): This course provides an overview of the major issues and initiatives in contemporary global health.

Six credits from any of the following:

PHS 557: Global Impact of Infectious Diseases (3 credits): This course will cover common infectious diseases of global importance, global disparities of these diseases, and the impact these diseases have on the affected community.

PHS 804: Integrating Systems Thinking in Global Health (3 credits): In this course, learners will engage in case studies of global health programs and initiatives.

PHS 890: Global Health Exchange Program: International Perspectives of Health Care Systems (3 credits): This two-week colloquium provides students with an interactive experience in public health.

Pre-Approved Electives Expand answer

Students may fulfill their elective requirements by selecting from the following list of pre-approved courses. Students also may take courses that are not pre-approved with permission from the MPH program administration. To be approved by the MPH program, an elective must meet at least one MPH program competency.

If you want to take an elective course that is not on this list, please contact your administrative adviser.

See full list of pre-approved electives here.

Not all courses will be offered every semester.

Course schedules and availability are subject to change. Please visit the Graduate Student section of LionPATH to see what courses are currently being offered at each campus.

For courses offered via Penn State World Campus, please visit the sponsoring program’s course page at worldcampus.psu.edu. To register for World Campus courses, students must call the contact number listed for the course. For some courses, students must also get permission from the department offering the course and/or the course director.

Practicum Expand answer

Penn State Master of Public Health (MPH) program requires that all students complete three credits of practicum experience (PHS 895A – Master of Public Health Internship or PHS 895C – Master of Public Health International Internship) prior to graduation. The goals of the practicum are to:

  • Build and strengthen students’ public health practice skills
  • Increase students’ comprehension of and analytical skills relevant to the field of public health
  • Provide students with the opportunity to contribute to the field of public health in a substantive way
  • Build students’ professionalism

The practicum provides students with a unique opportunity to gain professional experience and apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-world public health settings and real-time public health issues. The practicum is critical to students’ academic and professional development and their ability to become competent in the practice of public health.

Students complete their practicum experiences at Practicum Sites (e.g., public health agencies, organizations, institutions) and work on substantive projects that:

  • contribute to their growth as future public health professionals
  • help advance the mission of the sites at which they are placed

A student completes a minimum of 135 hours over a semester at the practicum site. The practicum is for academic credit. However, a practicum site may choose to offer a stipend. The possibility of monetary compensation is to be negotiated directly between the student and practicum site. The Penn State MPH program is not involved in these negotiations.

Students are matched with Practicum Sites based on their respective academic and professional interests and goals. At each Practicum Site, students report to an on-site Preceptor. The Preceptor supervises the student’s practicum experience, monitors student progress and performance, and serves as the student’s primary point of contact at the practicum site. Practicum sites, Preceptors, and students are supported by the Penn State MPH program director,, who oversees the practicum requirement and serves as the practicum sites, Preceptors, and students’ primary contact at the MPH program.

The practicum organizations that participate in this program have the opportunity to observe and evaluate potential recruits, to expand particular programs and services, to provide better or additional services to their clientele, or to complete special projects or educational programs. They also provide input to the Penn State MPH program on issues from curriculum relevancy to professional needs and concerns.

Note: Students are required to complete 20 hours of practice-based activities prior to enrollment in this course. These activities can include community-based volunteer opportunities, PSU COM career development training events, PHASE events, or other activities as approved by the Public Health Program.

MPH Competencies

The practicum provides a unique opportunity to build and strengthen public health competencies by placing students in real-world public health settings to address real-time public health issues. Students will choose practicum experiences that directly link to Penn State MPH program competencies and their selected track. Through the practicum, Penn State MPH students will seek to build on MPH public health competencies.

Practicum Placements

Practicum Contact Information

Domestic Practicum: Carol LaRegina, MS, claregin@phs.psu.edu

International Practicum: Kristin Sznajder, PhD, ksznajde@phs.psu.edu

Capstone Expand answer

All Penn State MPH students are required to complete a culminating experience. The culminating experience is completed through PHS 894: Capstone Experience, a 3 credit course that is taken during a student’s final semester in the program.

In this experience, the students work with the course director to select a topic and type of project that reflects their individual interests and fits into the program’s core and track-specific competencies. In addition, if a student has a competency deficiency when entering the course, then the said competencies will be included as part of the project. The topic and project may or may not be related to the students’ practicum placement. The topic must be public health-related.

The final project is submitted in two forms – as a scholarly paper and as an oral poster presentation. The scholarly paper must demonstrate the students’ knowledge and skill associated with both the program’s core and track-specific competencies.

Students also present their capstone project as an oral poster presentation at the end of the semester.

Below are titles of some previous capstone projects.

  • Funding for Immunization Programs in Pestel, Haiti to Improve Childrens’ Health
  • IMPACT: IMproving Physical Activity and Cardiovascular HealTh Among African American Women
  • A Guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating School-Based Mini-Grant Programs
  • The School Health Index Guide for School Health Teams: Creating Change with the Data
  • Community Outreach: Improving Congestive Heart Failure Outcome Using In Home Visitation
  • The HPV Mandate: Public Health Policy to Assess the Knowledge and Intention of Adolescent Girls
  • Autism and Vaccines: Are Siblings Affected?
  • Evaluation of Heifer Project International’s Role in Improving the Health of Families in Pestel, Haiti: Exploring Malnutrition and Goat Milk Consumption in Rural Haiti
  • Effect of Multiple Previous Perinatal Losses on Health Behaviors and Health Care Utilization during Subsequent Pregnancy
  • Raw Milk: Consumer Demographic Characteristics and Beliefs
  • Measuring Effectiveness of Disseminating Hospital Quality Information: A Content Analysis
  • Factors Associated with the Prevalence of Anal Human Papillomavirus Infection in HIV-infected Rural Women
  • Screening for Influenza in Swine: A Pilot Study to Reduce Zoonotic Exposures in Children
  • Descriptive Study of Shigella Outbreaks in Pennsylvania from 2004-2013
  • Why are there Increasing Trends in Cesarean Delivery Rates?
  • Addressing the Mental Health Care Needs of Veterans Living in Rural Areas: A Systematic Review
  • Interventions to Prevent Lyme Disease
  • The Impact of the National Essential Medicine Policy in the Context of Current Health Care Reform in China: A Systematic Review
  • Factors that Influence Hookah Use in College Students in the United States: A Systematic Review
  • Determining the Effectiveness of Hospice Care by Measuring Patient and Family Satisfaction: A Systematic Review
  • Strategies for Controlling Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Transmission in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Systematic Review