Health Behavior Practicum

MPH student, Christina Villella, documented mHealth applications for family planning in her practicum at IntraHealth in summer 2015. Read her blog
For Prospective Students

The practicum is an individualized, mentored and hands-on learning experience that serves as a bridge between an MPH student’s academic training and applied public health practice.

Students work with a public health agency during the summer between their first and second years in the program and are mentored by a preceptor in the organization. Practica range in topics and are designed based on each student’s experience, abilities and interests as well as the agency’s needs. Practicum students contribute to program evaluation, curriculum development, communication and social media strategy, formative research and so much more. Prior to and during practica, the Department supports students by offering guidance and expertise in addition to helping students find and fund their practica.

The 240-hour Practicum Offers Students the Opportunity to:

Hillary Practicum in Malawi 1

Hillary Murphy with contacts in Malawi during her practicum there in summer 2015

  • Apply knowledge and strengthen skills learned in the classroom
  • Gain a wide perspective about the types of issues, concerns and processes that occur in the provision of public health
  • Aid in the solution of public health problems
  • Observe, learn from and be mentored by professionals in the field
  • Become responsible for products that are of value to an agency
  • Explore areas of professional interest and further refine career goals
  • Gain feedback on professional skills and abilities
  • Network with public health professionals, agencies and community groups

Organizations that Have Hosted our Students Include:


Christia Villella with Amanda Pucket (Gillings Alunna-MCH), Christina’s mentor for her practicum at IntraHealth

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Orange County Health Department
  • IntraHealth
  • FHI 360
  • Research Triangle Institute
  • Save the Children
  • Helen Keller International
  • Ipas
  • Prevention Partners
  • Clinton Foundation
  • MicroMass Communications
  • North Carolina Division of Public Health
  • RTI International
  • Sesame Workshop
  • John Snow, Inc.
  • Human Impact Partners
  • Uganda Village Project
  • Active Living By Design
  • Population Services International
  • National Council of La Raza

What the Agencies Hosting our Students are Saying

 Orange County Rape Crisis Center


“We have benefited through the research conducted and products produced. The research Amy conducted will assist us in knowing more about our Start Strong Program impacts and provide feedback that may help us increase positive impacts. It also allowed us to develop more connections to different personnel in the schools we go into for educational programs. We will also be able to use the products (reports) to inform grant reports and funding applications.” – Laurie Graham, preceptor for second-year MPH student Amy Bryson.


“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed working with Jennifer and was excited to have this scope of work launched. She provided Ipas with excellent lessons from a literature review and her research gave great insight into our organizational learning mechanisms, highlighting both our strengths and areas for improvement. This was a long needed project and I’m very pleased Jennifer is the one who got the ball rolling. As we take the project forward, there is no doubt the organization will continue to benefit from Jennifer’s contributions.” – Kara Davies, preceptor for second-year MPH student Jennifer Hill

Sheps Center

“It was great to have a student who shares our enthusiasm for community-based participatory research; someone who could take ownership of some of the work being done and impart her own knowledge and skills. Our research team has experienced significant changes in recent months, and having someone to help us stay focused on the tasks at hand was integral to our time-sensitive projects.” – Sable Watson, Sheps Center colleague of second-year MPH student Phenesse Dunlap

Are you interested in being a practicum site? Visit our community partners page for more information.