What is Applied Practice?

Applied Practice is an important, hands-on opportunity for MPH students to implement classroom learning of public health knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.

  • The goal of Applied Practice is to demonstrate the application and practice of at least five public health competencies.
  • At least three of the competencies must be foundational competencies.

View the complete list of competencies (PDF)

Elements and Components of Applied Practice


Students conduct their Applied Practice at a site or multiple sites, under the supervision of a preceptor. Preceptors receive products from the student (see below) and submit an evaluation at the end of the Applied Practice.


For each competency, students develop products that benefit the site and also demonstrate the application or practice of the competencies. Products are tangible materials, tools or results created by the student. For example, a product can be a survey, an educational video, or a written description of a data analysis.

The minimum number of products required is two, as long as all competencies are being demonstrated through those two products. For example, students can create two products that demonstrate the application of all 5 competencies, or students can create multiple products. The goal is to demonstrate the application of all competencies, regardless of the distribution. Product-competency distribution examples:

Two products: 5 competencies distribution

  • Three competencies demonstrated in Product #1
  • Two competencies demonstrated in Product #2

Three products: 5 competencies distribution

  • Two competencies demonstrated in Product #1
  • One competency demonstrated in Product #2
  • Two competencies demonstrated in Product #3

Students can select more than five competencies; for each competency selected a product must reflect the application of the competency.

Products Evaluation

Preceptors will evaluate the products and provide feedback on whether the products meet or do not meet the expectations/needs for the site. Academic advisors will also review the products and the preceptor’s evaluation.

Applied Practice Site/Location

Students may practice all five competencies at one location, or split the practice of the competencies across various sites with their corresponding preceptors and number of products. For example:

One site – 5 competencies

  • One preceptor
  • All five competencies demonstrated (three foundational, two program-specific)
  • Number of products required (e.g. two products) that demonstrates the application of those five competencies.
  • Product’s evaluation by preceptor

Two sites/locations for 5 competencies

  • Site A: 3 competencies
    • One preceptor
    • Three competencies
    • One product (or more) that demonstrate the application of those three competencies
    • Product’s evaluation by preceptor
  • Site B: 2 competencies
    • One preceptor
    • Two competencies
    • One product (or more) that demonstrate the application of those two competencies
    • Product’s evaluation by preceptor

Students can apply their competencies among one, two or more sites or locations. For each site/location, a preceptor and corresponding number of products is required. To find a site for your Applied Practice go to Find an Applied Practice Site page.

Applied Practice Course Credits

Students will register for the PUBH 7XXX Applied Practice course for one term during the course of the program. The number of credits vary from one to five, depending on what your program has established. Students should consult with the Program coordinator and academic advisor before registering for the course to determine the number of credits. Students need a permission number from their program coordinator in order  to register.

If a student needs to complete Applied Practice requirements past the term of registration, the student will receive a temporary grade (K), which means the student is continuing to fulfill Applied Practice requirements. Once all Applied Practice requirements are completed, the academic advisor will submit the final grade for the course and the number of credits will be applied towards the program.

Applied Practice Module

The Applied Practice Module is a virtual portal and platform that connects students, preceptor, coordinators and academic advisor communications. The module has a few components:

  1. Competency Assessment Tool (CAT): students conduct a Competency Assessment that helps them identify what competencies could be addressed during the Applied Practice. Students need to discuss the Competency Assessment results with their academic advisers, when finalizing which foundational competencies and which program-specific competencies will be selected for the Applied Practice.
  2. Learning Agreement: the Learning Agreement is an electronic record of the initiation and completion of the Applied Practice. The Learning Agreement summarizes:
    • Which competencies will be practiced at a site
    • Site’s name
    • Site’s address
    • Preceptor’s name
    • Preceptor’s contact information
    • Applied Practice start and end date
    • Students upload products to the Learning Agreement
    • Preceptors submit an evaluation of the product(s)
    • Academic advisers have access to the Learning Agreement to review products and evaluations

Students create one Learning Agreement per site. This means, if students apply all five competencies in one site, only one Learning Agreement will be created. If the competencies are to be practiced in various sites, students need to create the corresponding number of Learning Agreements as well.

Applied Practice Stages

The School of Public Health has identified six stages students need to get through, in order to complete their Applied Practice requirements. They are:

Stage 1: Initial Assessment Phase
Stage 2: Preliminary Phase
Stage 3: Registration Phase
Stage 4: Practicum Phase
Stage 5: Evaluation Phase
Stage 6: Grading Phase

For more details, see step-by-step process under Timeline & Process section.

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