Practicum FAQs

What is a field practicum course?

The required practicum is a mutually beneficial practical educational experience or internship with an organization that addresses public health-related issues. It is a great opportunity for students to bridge theory and practice, while at the same time making a tangible contribution to a practice setting.

In addition to the practical experience of the field placement, students also gain skills and confidence through critically assessing their public health competencies, articulating learning objectives, exploring potential practicum opportunities, and designing a work plan. The field practicum fosters reflection on the links and disjunctions between theory and practice.

What is the weight and duration of the field practicum course?
The MPH practicum (SPH 598) is worth 6 credits and has a minimum duration of 11 weeks full-time equivalent.
What are the goals of the MPH field practicum ?

Through the field practicum, students will:

  • Integrate, synthesize and apply public health knowledge and skills (i.e. competencies) acquired in MPH courses to a real-world context that is relevant to public health.
  • Enhance and develop skills needed to function in a professional setting relevant to public health, including:
    • Identifying, analyzing and solving problems.
    • Working collaboratively as part of an interdisciplinary team.
    • Communicating orally and in writing.
    • Understanding the mission, structure and functioning of the
      organization and the contextual influences on its work.
  • Contribute to addressing substantive contemporary problems or issues facing organizations.
  • Engage in professional self‐assessment and critical reflection.
  • Explore areas of concentration of particular interest.
When do I complete the practicum?
You must have completed all of your core courses and most of your specialization courses. You may take one course (specialization or elective) at the same time as your placement.  While the practicum can be completed in any term, or spread out over two terms, the earliest that a student would be eligible to undertake their practicum would be in the Winter term of the second year.
How is the field practicum course assessed?
The course is assessed on a credit/non-credit basis; no grade is assigned. A successfully completed field practicum course appears on the student's transcript as CR.
Where can I complete my practicum placement?

Practicum placements are carried out in a wide range of organizations in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and beyond. Host organizations include departments at all levels of government-federal, provincial, regional and municipal, as well as non-governmental, non-profit, academic and funding organizations across sectors, and in the private sector.

Most students in the MPH program in global health do the practicum in an under-resourced country. A smaller number of other MPH students also complete the practicum in international or global health settings.

Is there a specific list of approved practicum settings?

We do not have a list of pre-approved practicum placements. We tailor each practicum placement to the student's learning objectives, based on an assessment of MPH competencies and areas for growth. We strive to make a good match.

The School, through the practicum program director, maintains an inventory of past practicum placements, but new practicum host settings are established on an ongoing basis.

What credentials do practicum supervisors/preceptors need to have?
Practicum placements are very diverse, reflecting the scope of public health. What is most important is that the preceptor can provide mentorship in the student's identified areas for growth. For example, if you want to gain competencies in evaluation, then it is important to work with a mentor with expertise in this area. Likewise, if you want to gain community development/stakeholder engagement skills, you should work with someone who has extensive experience with this. As a result, our field practicum preceptors have a broad range of backgrounds, expertise, qualifications and credentials.
Who is responsible for setting up the practicum placement?

Planning the practicum is a shared responsibility of the student and a practicum coordinator, sometimes with input from the student's academic advisor. Field practicum goals and objectives, parameters and requirements are outlined in a course guide.

Clearly, pre-term planning is essential to having a meaningful practicum experience. Typically, planning begins at least one full term before the term in which the practicum will begin. Placements outside Alberta and outside Canada require a longer planning time frame. The Practice Office provides annual and ongoing student orientations to the field practicum course, planning workshops, and individual support to plan, implement and monitor a relevant practicum experience.

Can I expect to be paid for my practicum placement?

The School cannot guarantee that the field practicum will be paid. We encourage practicum host organizations to provide remuneration; however, not all host organizations have the capacity to do so. Students must be prepared to fund the field practicum placement.

Students are encouraged to watch for funding opportunities that may arise from time to time within the School or the University of Alberta. Examples include awards for study abroad opportunities and government-sponsored internships. These vary from year to year.