Culminating Experience

Using Your Toolbox of Skills

A Culminating Experience (CE) is required by the Council on Education for Public Health, the accrediting body of U.S. schools of public health, for all students completing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree.

The culminating experience requires a student to synthesize and integrate the knowledge acquired in coursework and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional practice (Council on Education for Public Health, Criterion V.B., 2004). Hence, it is designed to ensure that all MPH graduates can integrate and apply the knowledge and skills that they have gained during their graduate training.

Specifically, through the CE the student demonstrates his/her ability to:

  • synthesize public health concepts as they relate to a particular topic
  • communicate public health information in writing (including appropriate citations)
  • communicate public health information orally (including organization of material and presentation effectiveness)
  • identify, access and critically evaluate public health information

Students at The University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) have two options for their culminating experience:


1) A written paper that presents an inquiry into a public health issue or problem.

 Written Culminating Experience Paper

The Written Culminating Experience (WCE) provides the opportunity to develop expertise in a specific topic area and to make a contribution to the field of public health. For example, the WCE could result in the publication of a manuscript or the development of a public health program or intervention. Establishing expertise in a specific topic area and producing concrete evidence of that expertise can be an important first step in establishing your career in public health. Students who plan to pursue further academic studies or for whom peer-reviewed publication is important are encouraged to consider the WCE option.

Expanded information can be found in the CE Guide and Appendix and on the Student Research webpage.


2) A capstone course (PH 9996)

 Capstone Course

The CE Capstone Course (CC) is:

A three-credit class that requires the student to synthesize and integrate information, as well as problem-solve.

Students who select the CC take the capstone course, which is offered three times a year. To successfully complete the CC, students must pass the capstone course.

Prior to taking the capstone course, students must have completed the five core courses (or have a waiver on file) and at least 30 semester credit hours. In addition, they must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in the practicum.

Students who fail the CC course will have a second chance to take and pass the part(s) that were failed. Students who are unable to pass the class after the second attempt must complete a written CE. Students who do not complete all CC requirements in the semester in which the course is taken are required to register for a one credit-hour, Capstone continuation, in the next semester.