Division of
Public Health

College of Human Medicine

Culminating Experience


Every MSU MPH student must complete a practicum experience as a requirement for degree completion. The MPH Practicum is a planned, supervised, and evaluated practical professional experience during which the student addresses basic public health concepts and competencies.

The purpose of the Practicum is to provide opportunities for the student to execute as many of the Core Competencies of Public Health Professionals as is feasible. The Core Competencies are a set of skills desirable for the broad practice of public health with varying levels of mastery identified based on each person’s background and experience.

The experience can be done either domestically or internationally. The planning of the Practicum, its implementation, and evaluation are guided by a review of the public health competencies, which MPH students should possess upon graduation. The Practicum is composed of two elements: 1) HM 891 Introduction to the Public Health Practicum, or pre-Practicum and 2) HM 892 The Public Health Practicum.

A student’s previous/usual professional activities do not suffice to fulfill the Practicum requirement. If the Practicum is completed at a student’s current place of employment, the project must not be part of their normal job responsibilities. The Practicum must be done during the MPH studies; previous experience cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.

Capstone Paper

The Public Health Capstone paper is the final requirement for completion of the MPH degree and serves as the final examination replacing a thesis or oral examination. Students register for HM 893 Public Health Capstone for 2 credits. This final major paper provides evidence of the student’s ability to synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired during their degree program and Practicum and therefore may not be undertaken with any classes other than Culminating Experience coursework. Students must complete a HM 893 Override Request form and submit to their advisor to enroll in the course. Any student who drops the course after they are enrolled must notify both their advisor and the Practicum Office (mph_practicums@hc.msu.edu) of this change to their curriculum plan.

The Capstone Paper is a research paper, which focuses on a specific public health topic area and is of sufficient depth and detail to inform the practice community. The paper should be based on a current public health problem or issue that involves an interdisciplinary approach to a solution. This paper can be a literature review, research paper presenting new data, policy paper, or a health assessment with recommendations including community analysis and cost effectiveness. The Capstone Paper should be written for a general public health audience. Students should not assume that reviewers will have expertise on the topic chosen for the paper.

The Capstone Paper may be based on the Practicum experience or may be written on a separate topic. When the Practicum experience is used as the basis for the Capstone Paper, the Capstone Paper must not be simply a description of what the Practicum experience entailed. The Capstone Paper must focus on a new aspect of the student’s Practicum or defined public health topic. If the paper builds directly from the Practicum, increased contact time with the site mentor or organization may be necessary for the successful completion of the Capstone Paper. The paper must demonstrate the student’s ability to apply their understanding of the core public health disciplines to the topic, project, or problem at hand.

An advisor and one additional faculty member affiliated with the program do evaluation of the Capstone Paper. An additional faculty evaluator will be sought if more than one grade discrepancy exists between the first two evaluations. When the Capstone Paper builds upon the Practicum experience, it is recommended that the student ask the site mentor to review and comment on the paper before submission; site mentors are not asked to evaluate Capstone Papers. A minimum grade of 3.0 is required for successful completion of the Capstone Paper.

For complete information about the Culminating Experience, please familiarize yourself with the Culminating Experience Handbook.

MPH Degree

small degreeThank you for your interest in the online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Michigan State University. All of the courses offered within this degree are all delivered in an online learning environment. There are no on-campus courses offered as part of the MPH degree.

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State Authorization: Distance Education Restrictions Based on Permanent Residence

Michigan State University is obligated to comply with existing state laws regarding distance education (programs/departments offering courses delivered exclusively online). State laws regarding distance education vary state-by-state, and even program-by-program within a state. The Master of Public Health offered through the College of Human Medicine’s Division of Public Health at Michigan State University requires a practicum experience that constitutes a physical presence in some states, therefore restricting enrollment in our program to residents of those states.

Prior to applying, please visit, https://esp.msu.edu/StateSummary.pdf, for the most up-to-date approved and restricted states.  For more information, please visit MSU's State Authorization website, https://esp.msu.edu/stateauth.asp.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Contact Us:

Online Master of
Public Health Degree Office

200 East 1st Street
Flint, MI 48502
(810) 600-5601
(810) 600-5699