COVID-19 MPH Practicum FAQs

Please go to the section that relates to your practicum status and select questions below to reveal answers to the question.

For Students Currently Completing a Practicum

Includes Population Health for Clinicians, MPH@UNC August Graduation, PHLP Legacy students

If I am doing my practicum right now, can I finish my hours onsite?

Our main priority is your health and well-being. We ask you to follow University guidance on staying well and preventing spread of illness to others.

At this time, you can continue to work onsite at your host organization, if:

  • Your presence at your practicum host organization is consistent with the organization’s policies about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); AND
  • You follow University guidance on COVID-19. 

What happens if I must change my practicum scope of work because of COVID-19? Do I have to update my learning agreement?

  Changes to your scope of work are to be expected regardless of the COVID-19 situation. If any of your practicum products change, which will likely impact the competencies you plan to demonstrate, you should communicate those changes and send an updated learning agreement to your preceptor, practicum manager, and faculty mentor. Your preceptor, practicum manager, and faculty mentor can share their approval of your changes by email. It is not necessary to recollect signatures.

What happens if I am unable to complete my practicum hours because of COVID-19?

Given the extenuating circumstances, we are prepared to be flexible with the 200-minimum practicum hour requirement; however, we have not yet established a revised minimum. Regardless of the number of hours you complete, to satisfy accreditation criteria, each practicum must yield a minimum of two student-generated products produced for the practicum setting that demonstrate five CEPH Competencies. Please contact Julea Steiner ASAP if you have any concerns about your ability to complete a minimum of 200 hours and/or produce two practicum products.

For Students Planning a Summer 2020 Practicum

Includes all Residential, MPH@UNC, and Asheville students currently taking SPHG 701: MPH Practicum Preparation

Is a practicum still required given the COVID-19 situation?

Yes. The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) continues to believe in the value of completing a practicum, and while they understand that some experiences cannot continue as originally planned, at this time, there is no blanket waiver of the expectations related to the practicum. Students should continue to search for practicum placements and reach out to their practicum managers for support as needed.

Will I be able to travel within the United States to complete my practicum?

Carolina is prohibiting University-affiliated travel, which includes practicum travel, outside the state of North Carolina. Therefore, residential, Asheville, and North Carolina-based MPH@UNC students currently in North Carolina must complete Summer 2020 practica within North Carolina. Within the state, University-affiliated travel is permitted but it must be limited to gatherings of 50 or fewer people. These advisories are subject to change so please visit the Coronavirus Travel Information webpage for the most current travel information. If you have already secured, or are planning, a domestic practicum, we strongly recommend you inquire about the feasibility of completing the practicum remotely (i.e., working from North Carolina for an organization outside of North Carolina) and/or having a North Carolina-based backup plan. The practicum team is aggressively searching for practicum opportunities that have flexible work arrangements.

Will I be able to travel internationally to complete my practicum?

No. Carolina is prohibiting University-affiliated international summer travel for students.

Why is practicum travel considered University-affiliated if there are no credits tied to the practicum?

The practicum is a non-credit bearing degree requirement. There are no credits tied to the practicum hours as a cost savings to students. Otherwise, in-state students would pay ~$350/credit and out-of-state students would pay ~$950/credit to complete their practicum hours over the summer. Academic activities, even those that do not bear credit, that are part of a degree requirement are University-affiliated.

If I am an out-of-state student, in my home state right now, and not planning to return to campus this semester, can I complete a practicum in my home state?


What should I be communicating to my preceptor about COVID-19?

Going forward, when practicum managers send learning agreement instructions to you, your preceptor, and faculty mentor, those communications will include information about COVID-19. If you have already received instructions for your learning agreement, please make sure your preceptor is aware of the University guidance on COVID-19 and be in conversation about contingency plans for completing the scope of work outlined in your learning agreement.

I am an international student. Are there any unique considerations for my practicum given the COVID-19 situation?

We are working with International Student and Scholar Services to determine what, if any, unique considerations apply to international students’ practica and will be in touch as soon as information becomes available.

Whom should I contact if I have additional questions or need additional support?

Please reach out to your concentration’s practicum manager with practicum questions and for practicum support. It is understandable to feel uncertain or anxious during a public health crisis. If you are struggling with anxiety, please reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services: 919-966-3658 (24/7).

Support Resources

Please keep checking the UNC-Chapel Hill Coronavirus webpage for the absolute latest information from the University.

We have compiled a list of support resources sent to us:

How do I practice social distancing?

The CDC defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.” Please avoid public places and limit your movements, regardless of if you are presenting with symptoms, not only for your health, but for everyone around you as well!

To better understand why social distancing is so crucial, please take a moment to read this article from The Washington Post: Why outbreaks like the Coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to”flatten the curve”.