Student Information
Learn more about the practicum process, the timeline for completing a practicum, and the supports available to students, including resources for finding a practicum opportunity. The Gillings MPH practicum is a 200 (minimum) hour planned, mentored and evaluated applied practice experience (paid or unpaid) that gives students an opportunity to use their MPH training in a professional public health setting.

Featured Resource

Looking for a practicum opportunity? The Current MPH Practicum Opportunities Database catalogs placements that may be of interest to MPH practicum students.

Practicum Courses

Learn more about the practicum courses.

As a cost savings to students, there are no credits tied to the practicum hours. To provide support for the practicum process and award credit to practicum assignments, two practicum 0.5 credit courses sandwich the practicum hours. Students must enroll in SPHG 703 (MPH Pre-Practicum Assignments) in the term before they plan to begin their practicum hours. Residential students take SPHG 703 in spring of their first year. Students must enroll in SPHG 707 (Post-Practicum Assignments) in the term concurrent to or directly after their practicum completion date. Residential students take SPHG 707 in the fall of their second year.


Learn more about the timeline for moving through the practicum process.

The timeline for progressing through the practicum process varies by practicum goal and the type of opportunity the student desires. International practica, practica that require going through the IRB, and practica with organizations that have extensive onboarding requirements (e.g., academic institutions; hospitals and other medical facilities; health departments; military institutions; government agencies) may take longer to plan than other types of practica, and students should plan accordingly. Students are encouraged to begin their practicum search at least six months prior to their desired start date for their practicum.

Residential (Chapel Hill-based) and distance (Asheville-based) students complete their practica over the summer between the first and second year of the MPH program. MPH@UNC (online) students, many of whom are taking courses on a part-time basis, complete their practica on a rolling basis after they have completed all practicum prerequisites.

Search Supports

Learn more about available search supports.

The search for a practicum opportunity parallels the process of a public health job search. Like a job, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to secure a practicum; however, there are several supports available to help students with the process.

Students identify practicum opportunities through those that are vetted and disseminated by Gillings through the practicum opportunities newsletter, past practicum placements, personal and/or professional contacts, faculty recommendations, internet searches and/or direct contact with organizations of interest. Practicum search supports include:

  • MPH Weekly Practicum Opportunities Newsletter: An electronic newsletter that includes vetted practicum opportunities from our community partners; unvetted opportunities that may satisfy Gillings MPH practicum requirements; practicum funding resources; events related to the practicum search, selection, and onboarding process; and additional practicum supports.
  • Opportunity databases: The School maintains databases of current opportunities and past practicum placements.
  • SPHG 703: MPH Pre-Practicum Assignments: This course provides supports for the practicum search, selection and planning process.
  • Gillings Career Services: Provides support with the career services aspects (e.g., resume and cover letter critiques, networking, interviewing preparation) of the practicum search process.
  • Practicum Team: Provides programmatic support for the practicum search process through information sessions, practicum courses and office hours. The practicum team can be contacted at
  • Practicum Advisers: Provide concentration-specific support throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation processes of the practicum.

Practicum Opportunities

Access resources for finding a practicum opportunity.

Compensation, Costs and Funding

Learn more about compensation, costs and funding.

Practicum Compensation

Practica can be paid or unpaid. Compensation for the practicum varies significantly by the type of practicum organization, project and location. The proportion of students who secure paid practica varies by concentration.

Practicum-Related Costs

Students are responsible for the cost of their own travel, housing and meals associated with completing their practicum hours.

Gillings does not guarantee that MPH students will find a practicum within commuting distance of their current place of residence. Moving to another location to complete a practicum can create additional expenses for the student. The costs associated with this are borne by the student. If the practicum placement is in North Carolina, students can apply for housing sponsored by our Area Health Education Centers. Gillings does not offer housing support for practicum students.

Funding Support

Most students who receive compensation for their practicum receive it from their practicum organization. Gillings offers Schoolwide self-nominated travel awards and a global practice award for students completing a global practicum (i.e., a practicum through an international or domestic placement with an organization that either works with populations outside the U.S. or with global populations, e.g. immigrants, refugees, foreign-born, within the U.S.). Some awards are only available to residential MPH students whereas others are open to all graduate students. Some departments/programs have additional funds to support unmet need for the practicum.

Funding Opportunities

Additional Information
Looking for more details about the practicum process? Don't forget to review the practicum requirements. Additional information is also available for preceptors.
Practicum Requirements
Preceptor Information
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