USC Master of Public Health Practicum

Practicum Requirement

An integral part of the USC MPH program is the practicum, a structured and supervised professional experience with an approved agency for which students receive academic credit. As a working partnership between students and public health agencies, the practicum offers students hands-on experience in an area of public health, including county, state, federal or community-based agencies. The goal of the practicum is to further students’ practical experience while enhancing the work of public health. Through the practicum, students have the opportunity to demonstrate an integration of coursework into a real-world setting, preparing them for a professional career in public health.

Practicum Syllabus - PM 596
Eligibility and Waiver Criteria

Students are eligible for the practicum (PM 596) upon completion of at least 3 MPH courses. We strongly recommend that these 3 classes include 2 public health core classes and one track 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. Because the project students complete in PM 597: Public Health Capstone builds upon the practicum, we encourage you to complete the practicum before you register for PM 597.

For students entering the MPH Program in Fall 2013 or thereafter, the requirement for number of field work hours is 150 for dual degree students and 300 for general MPH students.

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.

International Practicum Opportunities

Aiming to expand students’ research and professional experience in addressing global health issues, faculty in the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health coordinate practicum opportunities to enhance the recruitment of diverse students into global health research and practice.

Student Practicum Profile

Forms to be completed by the Agency:

Internship affiliation agreement

Completed by the agency and signed by a designated staff member and the Vice Provost of Planning and Budget at USC. This form is completed prior to placing a student in a site. This form is not necessary for placements within USC.

Agency Application to be a Field Placement Site

Completed prior to student placement. This form displays an inventory of activities in which students may participate and is filed in the USC Practicum binder. Please indicate if you do not wish to be contact by students directly.

Field Supervisor Evaluation Form

Completed by the supervisor upon completion of hours.

Forms to be completed by the Student:

MPH Competency Checklist

To be completed ONE semester BEFORE you register for 596 (aka Student Interview Form).

Student Agreement-Legal Form

This form outlines policies and procedures to be followed by students completing field training. This form is to be completed by the student and requires proof of health insurance.

List of Practicum Sites

A List of Practicum Sites

Practicum Approval Form

MPH Practicum Approval Form

Practicum FAQ

Frequently asked questions regarding the USC MPH Practicum.

Waiver Application

This form provides instructions for completing the waiver request. Documentation is submitted to the Program Director and Practicum Coordinator prior to the beginning of field training hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 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 ( 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 ( 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.