Practice Experience Procedures

General Information

MPH students who started their MPH programs on or after the Fall semester of 2017 are expected to complete a one-year, 600-hour, Practice Experience in a community-based setting. Some students may be eligible for a waiver of 300 hours based on prior professional experience, dual degree enrollment, and/or completion of approved other graduate degree programs. The one-year placement has been carefully designed to promote understanding, synthesis, retention and competency reinforcement of the MPH coursework. Expectations for the practice experience include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bi-monthly meetings with a site supervisor approved by the UNTHSC School of Public Health. Site supervisors. Site supervisors must have a graduate degree (in any field) and two years of professional experience, OR have an undergraduate degree and at least 6-10 years of leadership experience.
  • Completion of a project that results in a final product that make a meaningful contribution to the community organization.
  • Engagement in tasks and activities that strengthen at least 3 foundational MPH competencies and 2 concentration-specific competencies.
  • Completion of synthesizing assignments including reflection papers, a policy analysis and brief, presentations, and co-learning meetings. The Policy Analysis and Brief serves as the Integrative Learning Experience for our accredited MPH program.

    The final year of the MPH program involves a rigorous integration of knowledge and experiences that prepare students for demanding professional careers in public health. Small cohorts of students are supervised closely by faculty advisors and community-based site supervisors. The extended period of time in practice allows students sufficient time to plan and implement a project that leaves a lasting impact. In this way, students benefit from both independence and mentorship.

Pre-Internship Procedures

MPH students are responsible for securing a suitable site and site supervisor for their Practice Experience. SPH offers some supportive services, referrals, and guidance for this process, including annual matching surveys and brief interviewing events. Prior to starting Practice Experience, students must do the following:

Practice Experience Planning – for MPH Public Health Leadership (PHL) Online students:

  • Soon after enrolling, online students should meet with their academic advisor to discuss plans for practice experience. During this planning session, the student and academic advisor will discuss or brainstorm potential practice experience opportunities that may align with student’s career trajectory. Prior to the planning sessions, students should identify long terms goals, the type of competencies they wish to focus on for practice experience, and potential practice experience sites.
  • Students who work full-time should consider developing a public health-oriented internship at their place of employment. To do so, they need to identify an appropriate site supervisor who is not their employment supervisor and ensure they can engage in tasks that align with at least 3 foundational MPH competencies and 2 concentration-specific competencies. This is often the best option for students who are juggling multiple demands (work, family, school).
  • PHL Online MPH students may begin their practice experience in the summer, spring or fall semesters (for their final year of study), but must adhere to all deadlines indicated in the MPH Practice Experience Deadlines 2021-2024 document.
  • PHL Online MPH students who are local to the DFW area and expect to start their placements in the summer or fall terms may wish to participate in the matching process for cohort students described below.

Practice Experience Matching – for Cohort students:

  • Cohort students are strongly encouraged to participate in “matching” surveys that are administered each November for those who will start their practice experiences the following summer. Following completion of these surveys, students are matched with potential community sites in North Texas and scheduled for brief interviews the following January.
  • The “matching” survey link will be available on this site after November 1 each year and will close by December 1st.
  • In February and March, students will arrange formal interviews and work to finalize placements with their selected sites

Practice Experience Planning/Matching – for Dual Degree Students (MPH-DO, MPH-PharmD, MPH/Anthro, MPH-PA Studies):

  • Dual degree students should plan to meet with with their advisor at the School of Public Health (SPH) to discuss plans for practice experience at least one semester prior to enrolling in practice experience. However, students who are required to complete clinical rotations should plan to meet with their SPH advisor as early possible in order to identify a practice site organization that is able to accommodate rotation schedule.
  • Dual degree students in ANY program should strongly consider trying to align their practice experience with their other degree program activities. For students doing rotations, this might involve linking their most preferred rotation to their practice experience. (e.g., aligning the focus of PHED 5297 to their anticipated specialty, like pediatrics or family medicine).

Exceptions to the 600-hour placement requirement include the following:

  • Students who have substantial prior professional experience that aligns with MPH competencies may apply for a waiver of up to 300 of these hours. See waiver request form  and waiver request instructions for more information. To respect the commitments made by site supervisors and avoid confusion of expectations, the waiver application must be submitted according to the deadlines indicated in the MPH Practice Experience Deadlines document and prior to interviewing potential site supervisors.
  • Waiver applications are optional for students with substantive prior professional experiences, students enrolled in dual-degree programs, and some students who have obtained prior graduate degrees with significant community interaction requirements from accredited programs.
  • All clinical dual degree students (PA, Pharmacy, DO, MD) are given a waiver of 300 hours provided that they complete the equivalent number of hours in clinical rotations and submit the waiver request form within the deadlines posted. We count these as interprofessional practice (F21), but the rotations must be completed prior to the end of the third PHED 5297 semester.

Orientation

All students, site supervisors and Faculty Course Coordinators must complete the Practice Experience orientation. This can be initiated using the link below: