Practical Experience

Take what you learn in classrooms, apply it in the field, and graduate with the kind of real-world knowledge valued most by employers.

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Beyond the classroom

Where making a difference and sharpening your skills come together 

Getting your education from the UTHealth School of Public Health is more than just completing the basic classes needed to establish a foundation in public health.

All of our degree programs offer areas of specialization that require tailored planning to ensure the student has the specific knowledge to succeed in that field. To get a better understanding of what each area of study requires, review the degree planners for each program.

While time in the classroom is an important aspect of a student’s educational experience, we believe that putting it into practice before graduation is a crucial step in setting students up for continued success after they’ve obtained their degree. All of our students will ultimately be required to complement their studies with the defense of a thesis or dissertation, the completion of a practicum or capstone project, the undertaking of an integrative learning experience, or depending on degree requirements, a combination thereof.

Because of this, you will graduate with a tangible product relevant to your work and interests. Its completion demonstrates your ability to manage a project or experience from start to finish, a critical skill in the public health sector.

Current students may find additional information and resources regarding practicum on the Practicum Overview section of mySPH.

Public health practice

The applied practice experience, or practicum, is an exciting opportunity to apply classroom learning in a workplace setting.

Under the direction of a faculty mentor, you will work closely with a practicum preceptor (site supervisor) to design and complete a 180 hour public health practice experience, which will include the production of high-quality deliverables. Your faculty mentor will work with you to ensure that the practice experience and deliverables engage your personal goals and interests while still benefitting the host organization.

The applied practice experience is required for the completion of the MPH and DrPH degrees, but students in all degree-seeking programs are encouraged to participate in a practicum. International students must receive approval from the Office of International Affairs before beginning work on a practicum.

If you’re interested in hosting a student for a practicum at your organization, please visit our employer page.

Current students may access additional information and resources available on the Practicum Overview section of mySPH.

Integrative Learning Experience

The Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) is a CEPH requirement for the completion of a Master of Public Health degree.

It ensures that all our MPH graduates can integrate and apply the knowledge and skills they have gained during their graduate training. Students have two options for completing their culminating experience: a written paper or product that presents an inquiry into a public health issue or problem, or a capstone course.

Written paper or product

The written paper or product provides our students with the opportunity to develop expertise in a specific topic area and to make a contribution to the field of public health. The paper can take many forms, including, but not limited to: a traditional research thesis, a systemic review of scholarly literature, a policy analysis or practice issue, or a practice-based report. Products can include the development of a public health program or intervention.

Capstone Course

The capstone course is a three-credit class that requires the student to synthesize and integrate competencies as well as problem-solving in areas specific to their public health interest. Capstone courses also require students to create a written product over the duration of their course.

Research opportunities for students 

There are a number of different ways our students get involved in research to satisfy their degree requirements, or to simply get valuable experience. 


A thesis is a long-term research project which allows students to demonstrate their depth of knowledge in their chosen field of public health study. Students in the Master of Science program are required to complete a written research thesis. Students in the Master of Public Health program have the option of completing a written research thesis in fulfillment of their ILE requirements.


A dissertation is a long-term research project which allows students to make a substantive contribution of original theory, practice or work to the field of public health. Students in the Doctor of Philosophy and the Doctor of Public Health programs are required to complete a written research dissertation.

Graduate Assistantships

Once registered for courses, you will gain access to our career services platform, Handshake. Graduate Assistant (G.A.), Teaching Assistant (T.A.), and Graduate Research Assistant (G.R.A.) positions are posted on an on-going basis.

Fellowships and traineeships

Fellowships and traineeships offer the opportunity for you to get hands-on experience performing research or working in a professional public health environment. For more information about fellowships, visit the research section of our website.

Professional development and coaching

The Office of Career and Alumni Services offers information, service, training, and support for students looking to explore their interests, build their professional network, and develop professional skills outside of academic coursework. Many of our professional development resources are available through Handshake, a career platform we use to connect students and alumni with job opportunities.

Once you have access to Handshake, you can find professional development resources are listed under the “resources” tab, which include: 

  • Resume and CV
  • Cover Letters
  • Interviewing Tips
  • Professionalism and Networking
  • Salary Negotiation 

We also offer the following in-person services at all of our campuses:

  • Workshops
  • Presentations
  • Networking events
  • One-to-one mentorship and career counseling

Contact [email protected] for more information.