MPH Field Experience

Oregon Master in Public Health Program

Epidemiology Track and the Biostatistics Track

PHPM 504/BSTA 507 Field Experience


Detailed Field Experience guidelines are found in the Field Experience Handbook, and all forms are found on the Forms page of this website. 


The Field Experience is required for all MPH students in both the Epidemiology and the Biostatistics Tracks and provides the opportunity for students to gain valuable knowledge and experience that is often not available through coursework. The practicum must be a minimum of 200 hours in the field, often occurs outside of the OHSU medical center (e.g., in state- or county-level health departments, health services organizations, and community-based organizations), or within OHSU as part of an applied research program. Students are encouraged to think creatively about the type of placement that will most benefit them; for most, the placement is similar to their eventual career. The specific location of the placement is to be agreed upon between each student, Preceptor, PHPM Faculty Advisor, and PHPM Field Experience Coordinator.

The Field Experience is designed to be an integrative experience with relevance to the world of professional practice, and approved placements provide students the opportunity to synthesize and apply the knowledge, competencies, and skills developed in their classroom studies. Therefore, the field experience placement should begin after the student has completed all of their required core and track coursework (please see the respective track handbook for those course lists).

The Field Experience is a requirement of the MPH degree and will not be waived, even if the student has experience in public health practice.  Students employed in public health organizations may work with their Faculty Advisor to structure an appropriate project in their setting of employment. However, the practicum activity must be distinct from routine work responsibilities, and the time spent in practicum activity separately accounted.

The range of activities in projects is fairly broad and includes: working on a research project to test a hypothesis; data analysis in support of a position/advocacy statement; data analysis to evaluate a public policy, program or project; and data analysis as part of a clinical or community study. To be approved, projects must include data analysis.

A list of current and past field experience placements is available by contacting the PHPM Field Experience Coordinator.

Objectives of the Field Experience/Practicum

1. To provide students with the opportunity to utilize knowledge and practice new skills learned in their MPH courses; 

2. To contribute to students' professional education through assignments that are useful to the host organization and that refine the student's professional skills; and 

3. To help students identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and gaps in knowledge for further self-improvement.


The Field Experience/Practicum sites should:

  • Provide 200 hours of public health-oriented work, generally 10 hours/week for 20 weeks
  • Enable students to apply specific epidemiologic and biostatistics research skills learned in their track
  • Address the educational/experiential needs of the student (through work and mentoring)
  • Provide logistic support to the student (e.g., program information, data, desk, telephone, etc.)
  • Have experienced public health professionals to provide the training at the placement sites

Please contact the Education Office for detailed Field Experience information.