About the MPH Practicum

The practicum is a 1-unit course consisting of an applied practice experience meant to enrich students’ educational training in public health by providing an opportunity to apply knowledge and skilled acquired from their concentration to public health research or practice.


All MPH students will:

  • secure a placement prior to enrollment in the course and complete 260 hours of field training (150 hours for dual degree students) in a public health agency, such as a county health department, or a community-based organization.
  • complete a mid-practicum assessment with the Practicum Director.
  • produce a collection of materials – “Practicum Products” – showcasing accomplishments and demonstrating target competencies agreed upon between the student and Practicum Director prior to the field experience. This portfolio can be used to highlight capabilites to potential employers.

All students must also complete all required forms on schedule.

Find what you need on the Practicum Portal

Eligibility and Information


    Students are eligible for the practicum (PM 596) upon completion of at least 3 MPH courses. It is strongly recommended that these 3 classes include 2 public health core classes and one concentration core class. One of the 3 MPH classes may be taken concurrently with PM 596. In addition, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher in order to begin their practicum.

    Waiver Criteria

    Automatic practicum hour waivers will be given to students enrolled in one of the USC MPH professional dual degree programs (i.e., MD/MPH, PharmD/MPH, PhD, Clinical Psychology/MPH or PPDPT/MPH). Dual degree students entering the program in Fall 2013 or thereafter will register for 1 units of PM 596 (Practicum) and 1 units of PM 597 (Capstone) and complete 150 field training hours.

    Students with previous public health employment also may be eligible for a waiver of hours. Applications will only be considered if students can verify three years of continuous, paid, public health employment prior to enrollment in the MPH program. Public health work involves organized community-based efforts. Clinical experience involving individual patient care or health facility administration is not considered relevant public health experience.

    Practicum as a building block to Capstone

    Because the project students complete in PM 597: Public Health Capstone builds upon the practicum, students are encouraged to complete the practicum before registering for PM 597.

    Practicum Director

    Jane Steinberg, PhD, MPH
    Practicum Director
    Email: janestei@usc.edu
    Phone: (323)442-8242
    Jane Steinberg, PhD, MPH

    We want to feature your work

    We are proud to share our students’ contribution to the field of public health through photos and spotlights! If you are interested in having your work featured, we invite you to reach out via the email below.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Practicum

      • You are eligible to begin your practicum once you complete three (3) MPH Courses. We strongly recommend that these three classes include two MPH Core Courses (502, 503, 510, 512) and one Concentration Core Course. You may choose to start your practicum while concurrently taking your third MPH Course. You must get your practicum approved by the Practicum Director before you can begin your practicum.
      • You must have at least a 3.0 GPA
      • Student Legal Form – sign and email it to the Practicum Coordinator along with a copy of your health insurance card once you receive confirmation that your practicum has been approved. Once these are submitted, you can officially begin your practicum!
      • Creating your Practicum Portfolio site – Go to the practicum website (https://pmportal.usc.edu/) and click on “First Time Setup” and follow the prompts to create your portfolio site so you can log your hours using the Time Card function.
    • If the organization/agency you are working with is not on the Official Practicum Sites list, your supervisor will need to submit the Agency Application and Affiliation Agreement before you can start your hours.

    • Go to the practicum website (https://pmportal.usc.edu/) and click on “First Time Setup” and follow the prompts to create your portfolio site. You will need to enter the name and email address of your supervisor, so s/he can approve your hours.

      1. Log-in to your portfolio site and click on “Time Card.” Enter your hours for the dates listed and submit it for approval by the submission date as seen in the Time Card.
      2. If you forgot to log your hours and you need to enter “old” hours for dates that you do not see in the regular Time Card, you can use the Catch-Up Time Card.
        1. You will need a personalized password to access the Catch-Up Time Card. Email your request for the Catch-Up Passcode to the Practicum Coordinator.
    • Once your MPH Practicum Approval Form has been reviewed and approved by the Practicum Director, you can request D- clearance by emailing the Practicum Coordinator directly.

      • The Capstone course is the final culminating experience for all MPH students. The Capstone course is taken in the last semester and the course draws on students’ training in the five core areas of public health and their required track courses. Additionally, students will draw from an experience they have had in the field, which means students could use their practicum experience to inform their final Capstone project assignment, but it is not mandatory to use the practicum if the student has some other relevant public health experience he/she would like to use for the Capstone course.
      • If the student would like to use their practicum experience for their Capstone final project, it is recommended that he/she complete the practicum hours and requirements before registering for the Capstone course. This way, the student has enough experience in the field to adequately complete the Capstone assignments, which are all related to the final project. Some examples of Capstone final projects include but are not limited to: research paper, program evaluation, community needs assessment, policy analysis, and grant proposal.

    Questions? Contact your Practicum Coordinator

    Tayler Behr, MPH

    MPH Online Practicum Coordinator

    Linda Mendoza Lopez

    MPH Practicum Coordinator