The Applied Practice Experience (APEX) is a 240-hour, six-credit experience in a community based setting. Students will apply what they have learned from didactic courses into a practical experience to master competencies.

APEX and ILE Handbook

The APEX and ILE Handbook contains answers to logistical and technical questions related to both experiences. When a student has questions about the APEX or ILE, they should first refer to this handbook.


Students must be in good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or above) and have completed six of the ten required courses prior to registering for the APEX. *MD-MPH dual degree students are exempt from this requirement due to the accelerated way they complete the degree.

Finding a placement

Planning for the Applied Practice Experience begins in the student’s first semester, approximately six months before the projected start date. APEX placements are highly individualized for each student. Before beginning, please read the APEX advising checklist (pdf), which includes a timeline for development. Students may want to think about the following questions while preparing for the APEX:

  • How do I hope to use my MPH degree in the future?
  • What additional skills and/or knowledge will I need to meet my career goals?
  • Where might I be able to learn to apply the skills and/or knowledge that I wish to obtain?
  • Who might be best suited to assist me in obtaining the desired set of skills/knowledge that I need?

There are several resources the student can use to find a placement:

  • The MPH Program’s APEX Opportunities webpage provides information about many potential APEX sites, the type of work that the student will complete at the site, and contact information.
  • Attend lectures, seminars, and special events on campus to learn about different public health issues, ongoing projects and research at the university.
  • Discuss potential plans with Faculty Advisor
  • Talk to other public health faculty members, MPH staff members, and students.

It is highly recommended that students meet with the Community Engagement Coordinator to discuss desired APEX placement. Start the process by completing an APEX inquiry form to share details on your interests.

Planning for the APEX in PUBHLTH 787: APEX Seminar

PUBLHLTH 787 is a required one-credit course developed to assist the students in preparing for the APEX The seminar provides students with useful skills needed to complete an APEX and to work in a public health community setting. Students must have a good idea of the type of placement they desire before enrolling in this course. The course culminates in the completion of the APEX learning agreement (pdf). Please also see a helpful APEX planning checklist (pdf).

People Involved in the APEX

Faculty advisor

Students will be assigned a faculty advisor upon admission to the MPH Program. The faculty advisor will provide insight into potential opportunities, review APEX products, and review the ILE components.

Community engagement coordinator

The Community Engagement Coordinator, Tarakee Jackson, assists students in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the APEX and the ILE.

Tarakee Jackson
MPH Community Engagement Coordinator
UW School of Medicine and Public Health
734 WARF Building, 610 N. Walnut Street, Madison, WI 53726


The preceptor oversees the student’s APEX work on-site and provides consistent guidance throughout the APEX. The preceptor will help frame the project in the larger context of improving the health of the community or population. For information regarding the APEX and roles and expectations of the preceptor, please refer to the Preceptor Handbook.