Planning for the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program field experience begins approximately six months before the projected start date, usually sometime during the first semester in the program.

Field placements are highly individualized for each student, making our Master of Public Health Program unique. Finding a field placement site is highly dependent upon the initiative you take to plan a quality experience. Before beginning, please read the Field Experience Checklist (pdf) and contact Community Engagement Coordinator Debbie Siegenthaler at for assistance in planning the field experience.

Field experience planning tools

Field experience placement opportunities

The MPH Program’s field experience placement opportunities list provides information about many potential field placement sites, the type of work that the student will complete at the site, location of the site, contact information for the preceptor and the name of the student or students who have completed their field experiences at this site.

Field and capstone project handbook

The handbook (pdf) is distributed to all students at the MPH Orientation Day, and is reviewed at the start of the Field Experience Seminar. This tool contains answers to logistical and technical questions related to the field experience and the capstone project.

PHS 787: Field Experience Seminar

This is an online one-credit, required eight-week course, developed to assist the students in preparing for the field experience. The seminar provides students with useful skills needed to complete a field experience and/or to work in a public health or community setting. Students enrolling in 787 must have a specific topic, project and/or site in mind for the field experience.

MPH faculty, students and staff

Students often get ideas about possible field experiences and projects through lectures and guests in their courses, seminars and ongoing and special events in the School of Medicine and Public Health and throughout campus. The first semester in the program is an opportune time to learn about different public health issues, ongoing projects and research.

MPH Program faculty are also available to assist students in the development of field experiences and capstone projects.

The community engagement coordinator assists students in the development and implementation of the field experience and keeps in close contact with the student and preceptor to monitor progress during the experience. For more information, contact the community engagement coordinator:

Debra Siegenthaler RN, MS
Community Engagement Coordinator
734 WARF Office Building
610 Walnut St.
Madison, WI 53726


Students must be in good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 or above) and have completed seven of the eight core courses prior to registering for the field experience.

The following is the list of required core courses:

  • BMI 511: Introduction to Biostatistical Methods for Public Health
  • POP HLTH 780: Public Health Principles and Practice
  • POP HLTH 787: MPH Field Work Seminar
  • POP HLTH 795-001: Principles of Population Health Science (1 credit)
  • POP HLTH 797: Introduction to Epidemiology
  • POP HLTH 785: Health Systems, Management, and Policy
  • POP HLTH 786: Social and Behavioral Sciences for Public Health
  • POP HLTH 789: Principles of Environmental Health for Public Health Practice

MD-MPH dual degree students are exempt from this requirement, as these students must complete the MPH portion of their dual degree in an accelerated fashion and frequently must complete fieldwork prior to completing the core courses. Whenever possible, these students should complete as many of the core courses as possible prior to beginning the field experience.

Other exceptions to this policy must be approved on a case-by-case basis by the MPH faculty director.

Field learning agreement

The Field Learning Agreement (pdf) is a mutually developed by the student and the field work preceptor with input from the Capstone Committee chair. The agreement is approved by the community engagement coordinator. The agreement identifies the specific assignments the student will have at the placement and any tangible products that will be developed. You will not be able to register for the fieldwork until the agreement is completed and submitted to the community engagement coordinator.


Preceptors oversee the student’s field experience work on-site and serve as a member of the student’s capstone committee. The preceptor is an employee of the agency/organization the student is working with. Preceptors provide guidance and feedback regarding the student’s performance during their field experience.

At the end of the field experience the preceptor will complete an evaluation form (doc) of the student’s performance. Preceptors are selected by the students (with advice from the community engagement coordinator and capstone committee) and approved by the MPH Curriculum Committee.

PHS 788 course requirements

The field experience consists of multiple components, including a grade by the preceptor for the student’s work at the site, completion of 10 self-reflections and a final summary report when the field experience has ended.

Student grades for the field experience are based on the following criteria:

  • Preceptor’s Evaluation of the Student Experience = 50%
  • Self-Reflections = 25%
  • Summary report = 25%

Students are graded on the standard A-F university grading scale.

Required fieldwork documents

Student fieldwork time log: All MPH students are required to submit documentation that they have met their 400 hour time requirement for the field experience in their time log (pdf). The time log must be signed by the MPH student and the preceptor before it is submitted to the Community Engagement Coordinator at the end of each semester that the student is enrolled in PHS 788: MPH Field Experience.

Summary report: All MPH students must complete a summary report at the end of the 400-hour field placement. The summary report is a three-part written paper, six to eight pages in length, in which students report whether they have met their learning objectives, describe the community engagement component of the field experience and document competency mastery. Students who complete their field experience over more than one semester/session only need to complete this report once. This is included in the student's field experience grade.

Student evaluation: All master of public health students must complete a student evaluation at the end of the 400-hour field placement. The student evaluation provides the student with the opportunity to evaluate the fieldwork preceptor and placement site. This information is used to improve student experiences. Students who complete their field experience over more than one semester/session only need to complete this evaluation once. Completion of this is included in the student's field experience grade.