Practicum Guide

The Council on education for Public Health (CePH) requires that all students engage in a culminating experience that combines public health knowledge and skills. This experience allows direct application of course content in an applied setting under guidance and supervision from faculty and community supervisors. The goal of this experience is to enrich classroom activity with practical understanding. Placement sites require prior approval from a committee comprised of one core and two affiliate public health faculty. Placement sites may include governmental or non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, applied public health field research, health service settings (including those in universities and schools), or worksite wellness programs. The practicum must occur in the last semester of the MPH program.

Placement Site
Students are responsible for establishing and identifying a field placement site prior to enrollment in the MPH Practicum with approval from his/her committee. It is recommended students solicit organizations specific to individual areas of interest. Organizations such as the Oklahoma Department of Health, the United Way, and Our Daily Bread have accepted OSU students in the past however there is no limit to the realm of possibilities, including international prospects if the student so chooses. Upon completion of the practicum many students secure employment through opportunities at the placement site.

Students must establish a preceptor at the placement site. It is the responsibility of the preceptor to facilitate an environment for which it will be possible for the student to fulfill learning objectives and demonstrate program core competences. Learning objectives are established by the student in coordination with the preceptor and approved by his/her faculty advisor in the Field Practicum Learning Agreement. Preceptors must meet one of the following minimum credential and experience criteria:

  • Bachelor’s with minimum seven years experience
  • Master’s with minimum five years experience
  • PhD with minimum two years experience

Required hours or weekly schedule
The hours and days worked will be negotiated with the placement site; 200 total hours must be accrued onsite. Practicum hours may be paid or unpaid dependent upon the placement site. If the practicum is completed in the summer (12 weeks) or during a short-term (8 weeks), the expected hours per week will be higher than during a traditional term.

Students should make themselves available to meet with the faculty advisor mid-way through the semester to assess progress. The faculty advisor will also be available to meet as needed.

Students are expected to complete a reflective journal after every 50 hours worked: 4 total reflective journals are expected. Journals should include specific activities conducted as part of the field training experience. Each journal is expected to be at least 3 double spaced pages and should include discussion of obstacles encountered and successes. Reflections should emphasize at least three of the following topics:

  1. Challenging knowledge or previously held beliefs
  2. Evidence of skill development or learning. What are you learning in this field placement?
  3. Theory versus practice. What experiences have you had that conflict or align with classroom learning?
  4. Professional development. What opportunities does this site offer for professional development? Have you engaged in any training activities?
  5. Relationship with preceptor/other staff. Describe your site supervisor’s role and interactions with you at your site. What management/leadership styles are exemplified in your field site?
  6. Insight into how the organization views the practicum.

The student will also be expected to develop an electronic portfolio. This portfolio is a collection of materials developed by the student throughout the practicum experience; materials from throughout the MPH coursework can also be included. Students are expected to create a practicum portfolio using Visual CV – which costs approximately $6 a month or $36 for a year. Visual CV will guide students through completion of an online curriculum vita with active links to work that exemplifies core competencies. The online CV and Portfolio should include:

  1. Practicum Report to include a reflective paper that describes the field training experience OR an empirical research manuscript of activities completed as part of the practicum assignment.
  2. Learning contract including scope of work
  3. Deliverables described in the scope of work, attaching documents created as part of the practicum

Final course grade will be calculated according to the following criteria at the end of the semester:

10% - Effort, attitude, and time invested (e.g. providing progress reports, etc.)
50% - Practicum Portfolio
40% - Reflections

Grading Procedure
The final grade will be either satisfactory research (SR) or unsatisfactory research (UR).  A grade of SR indicates that the student has performed at a level expected of a graduate student at OSU, whereas unsatisfactory research (UR) indicates that the student has not performed at a level expected for a graduate student at OSU. The IUR (incomplete research) indicates that the student did not complete the objectives, assignments, or attain the expected student outcomes defined in the practicum guidelines. The grade assignment is based on the evaluation criteria with the following grading scale:

Grading Scale: 80-100% = SR, 0-79%  = UR

UR or IUR grades
A UR grade places the student on academic probation and triggers a review of whether the student is making satisfactory progress and seeks to determine the reason for the UR grade. Corrective actions will be recommended for the student to regain a status of adequate progress toward earning the MPH degree. Courses with UR grades cannot be used for meeting minimum degree credit hour requirements (or included on the Plan of Study) and are ineligible for tuition waivers. Grades of IUR require completion of course objectives, assignments, or expected student outcomes within one calendar year from the date of assignment of the IUR grade. If this is not accomplished, the IUR grade is automatically changed to a UR grade. Two consecutive UR grades indicate the student is not making adequate progress towards earning their degree resulting in dismissal from graduate studies at OSU.



Academic Dishonesty or Misconduct
The following are some examples of Academic Misconduct and Dishonesty:

  • Copying any information from another source without citation whether from the internet, a book, a journal article, or another student (with or without his/her knowledge)
  • Copying from another student during an exam with OR without his/her knowledge
  • Getting questions and/or answers from someone who previously took the exam
  • Sharing work on an online assignment or exam
  • Using technology (cell phone, laptop, etc.) or notes during an exam
  • Turning in a paper copied from another student, obtained from a website, or done by someone else
  • Working on an assignment with others when instructed to complete individually

The possible penalties for cheating at OSU:

  • Completing a substitute assignment, exam, paper or project
  • Receiving a reduced grade for the assignment, exam, paper or project
  • Receiving no credit for the assignment, examination, paper, or project
  • Failing the course

Students caught cheating will be referred to the Office of Academic Affairs.

For more information, see the OSU Academic Integrity website.

*Adapted from the OSU School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology MPH 5030: Master of Public Health Practicum Syllabus

**Students completeting their Practicum in the Summer 2017 semester have the option of completing their Practicum according to the Pre-Fall 2017 Criteria (linked above) OR the new Fall 2017 Criteria.