What is Applied Practice?

Applied Practice is an important, hands-on opportunity for MPH students to implement classroom learning of public health knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.

  • The goal of Applied Practice is to demonstrate the application and practice of at least five public health competencies.
  • At least three of the competencies must be foundational competencies.
  • Applied Practice is an MPH requirement.

View the complete list of competencies (PDF)

Elements and Components of Applied Practice


Preceptors are the practice supervisors. Students conduct their Applied Practice at a site or multiple sites, under the supervision of a preceptor. Preceptors meet with students to establish and determine the upcoming practice, describe the project(s) the student will be working on, help the student identify which competencies align with the project, assign the products and tools the student will create and, at the end of the practice, receive products from the student and submit a Preceptor Evaluation.


For each competency, students develop products or tools that benefit the site and also demonstrate the application or practice of the competencies. Products are created based on the nature of the project and they are tangible materials, tools, or resources. For example, a survey, an educational video, or a written description of data analysis.

The minimum number of products required is two, as long as all competencies are being demonstrated through those two products. The requirement is to demonstrate the application of all five competencies. For example:

Two products: 5 competencies distribution

  • Three competencies demonstrated in Product #1
  • Two competencies demonstrated in Product #2

Three products: 5 competencies distribution

  • Two competencies demonstrated in Product #1
  • One competency demonstrated in Product #2
  • Two competencies demonstrated in Product #3

Agency / Site

The agency or site is the organization with which the preceptor is affiliated. Students may practice all five competencies at one location, or split the practice of the competencies across various sites with their corresponding preceptors and number of products. The competencies may be divided among multiple sites but each site needs its own electronic paperwork documentation (Learning Agreement, Preceptor Evaluation, etc).


Students in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health have a Faculty Advisor and a designated Applied Practice Advisor. For students in all other Divisions, their Academic Advisor is also their Applied Practice Advisor.   

Applied Practice Coordinator

For the School of Public Health, Mercedes Taneja ( estra021@umn.edu ), Applied Practice Coordinator, oversees the requirement in partnership with all MPH programs to ensure compliance with accreditation standards.

Applied Practice Course Credits

Students will register for the PUBH 7X96 Applied Practice course for one term during the course of the program. The number of credits vary from one to five, depending on what the MPH program has established. Students can review the Applied Practice section of their Student Guidebook to identify the number of credits, prerequisites, minimum number of practice hours, etc. Students need a permission number from their program coordinator in order to register for the course, which is provided once the Learning Agreement has been approved.

If a student needs to complete Applied Practice requirements past the term of registration, the student will receive a temporary grade (K), which means the student is continuing to fulfill Applied Practice requirements. Once all Applied Practice requirements are completed, the academic advisor will submit the final grade for the course and the number of credits will be applied towards the program.

Applied Practice Module

The Applied Practice Module is a virtual portal and platform that connects students, preceptor, program coordinator, and academic advisor communications. The module provides and securely stores electronic documentation related to each student’s Applied Practice. In addition, built within the module, students can find an inventory of past Applied Practice experiences to identify potential preceptors.  The following are components of the module:  

Browse Past Experiences: When students log in to the Applied Practice module, they can click on the link “Browse Past Experiences” and use the search box and/or additional filters to identify entries related to their search criteria. Each entry comes from a student’s completed Applied Practice experience and it provides the name of the organization, preceptor’s contact information, dates of practice, and other relevant information that provides context about each particular practice experience. The purpose of this resource is for students to learn where other students have completed their practice and to potentially identify their preceptor.  

Competency Assessment Tool (CAT): Students conduct a Competency Assessment that helps them identify what competencies could be addressed during the Applied Practice. In addition, it presents them with all eligible competencies they can practice during their experience. Five competencies need to be selected and aligned with the project at the practice site.   

Learning Agreement: The Learning Agreement is an electronic record of the initiation and completion of the Applied Practice. The Learning Agreement includes which competencies will be practiced at the site, a description of the products and activities, student’s contact information, designated advisor, preceptor’s contact information, practice start and end date, course registration, and other relevant information. 

Product Section: The Applied Practice module has a section in which students upload their products. Students give the product a name, provide a short description, indicate if the products are files (e.g., Word Documents, PDF, PowerPoint Presentations) or links to websites. Then, the information is saved. Students can upload many products, this process just has to be done one at a time. 

Student Evaluation: On the day after the end date (e.g. if the practice end date was August 4th, on August 5th), the student will be asked via an email notification to upload the products and to complete the Student Evaluation. The Student evaluation is a form of 12 questions related to the practice afterward. Once the student completes the Student Evaluation, the preceptor is asked to complete a Preceptor Evaluation. 

Preceptor Evaluation: Preceptors will evaluate the products and provide feedback on whether the products meet or do not meet the expectations/needs of the site. Once the Preceptor Evaluation is completed, the advisors will be asked to review the products, Student Evaluation, and Preceptor’s Evaluation for grading purposes. 

Applied Practice Stages

The School of Public Health has identified six stages students need to get through, in order to complete their Applied Practice requirements. They are:

Stage 1: Initial Assessment Phase
Stage 2: Preliminary Phase
Stage 3: Registration Phase
Stage 4: Practicum Phase
Stage 5: Evaluation Phase
Stage 6: Grading Phase

For more details, see a step-by-step process in the Timeline & Process section.

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