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Culminating Experiences within the Medical College of Wisconsin MPH Program

The Field Placement and Capstone Project courses are integral aspects of the MPH curriculum. These culminating experiences allow the student to synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired in coursework and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional practice.

Field Placement

  • The Field Placement allows the student to work with an organization that contributes to the health of a community. By completing an Action Learning Project for the organization, the student will provide a valuable service and gain competency in multiple areas of public health.
  • This course requires a significant amount of preparation; therefore, the student is required to enroll in 18279 MPH Field Placement Preparation in the semester directly preceding enrollment in 18280 MPH Field Placement.
  • The Field Placement should be taken as one of the last courses in the MPH program, and further information is available on the Field Placement website.

Capstone Project

  • The Capstone Project allows the student to demonstrate public health competencies through the completion of a major written paper on a significant public health issue or topic.
  • This course requires substantial preparation; the student is expected to begin planning more than three months before enrolling in the course.
  • The Capstone Project should be taken as the last course of the MPH program, and further information is available on the Capstone Project website.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Field Placement and Capstone Project Programs?
They are the culminating experiences of the MPH program. The Field Placement is similar to an internship or a practicum, and the student will work with a public health agency on a project the agency identifies as a need. The Capstone Project consists of writing a Master’s Paper, and the student may or may not work with an agency, depending on the student’s topic.

How Do Students Plan for the Field Placement and Capstone Project?
Students should begin thinking about these courses when they enter the MPH program. The first step is to review this website and consider options and interests. Any questions or concerns that arise should be addressed to the MPH Program at or (414) 955-4510.

Do All MPH Students Have to Take These Courses?
Yes, both the Field Placement and Capstone Project are required courses. 
When Do Students Enroll in these Courses?

The Field Placement should be taken as one of the last courses in the MPH program, and the Capstone Project must be the final course. Students should be planning for these courses throughout the program, but intensive planning occurs during the semester before enrollment. Students must gain Program Coordinator approval prior to registering for either course.

Field Placement

  • Should be taken as one of the last courses in the MPH program.
  • Required prerequisites include the five core courses and Field Placement Preparation; all other MPH coursework, except for the Capstone Project, are recommended.
  • Intensive planning occurs the semester (4 months) before enrollment in Field Placement through enrollment in the Field Placement Preparation course.

Capstone Project

  • Must be taken as the final course of the MPH program.
  • Required prerequisites include all other MPH coursework.
  • Intensive planning begins 3 months before enrollment and occurs independently (in conjunction with the Program Coordinator).
How is the field placement difference from the capstone project?

These courses are similar in that they both require students to apply the knowledge they have gained through coursework. However, there are some distinctions between them:

Field Placement

  • Required to work with public health agency
  • Agency identifies needed project
  • Products vary, depending on project, but include Action Learning Project Summary Report and PowerPoint presentations.

Capstone Project

  • Student identifies topic of Master’s Paper
  • Products consist of Master’s Paper and PowerPoint presentation
  • Some project ideas might be appropriate for either course. Questions and comments regarding project ideas should be discussed with the MPH Program at or (414) 955-4510.