Click on the accordion title below to learn more about the MPH Internship Policies and Procedures.

Overview

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), our accrediting body, requires that all MPH students complete an applied practice experience that gives students an opportunity to demonstrate competency attainment. For MPH students in the UAB School of Public Health, this takes the form of an internship completed during a single academic semester.

The MPH internship is a 3-credit hour course (PUH 688/688Q: Public Health Internship) that all MPH students are required to complete as part of their degree curriculum; the internship cannot be waived. The MPH internship provides an opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience in a public health practice setting (rather than administrative or research). Therefore, to be an acceptable MPH internship, the experience must provide an opportunity for students opportunities to engage with other professionals outside the academic setting and to participate in activities that will advance their public health career potential. Every student’s internship is different, but all depend upon the ability of the student to work with minimal supervision.

The MPH internship is also designed to be flexible, allowing the student to tailor the experience to their area of specialization and interests. Activities of the internship should be mutually beneficial to both the site and the student and be similar to the work an entry-level MPH graduate would complete. The internship should be based on the Evidence-Based Public Health model. Evidence-Based Public Health provides the critical link between public health education, research, and practice. This model ensures that public health practitioners employ evidence-based best practices to assess the needs of communities, determine key health issues, propose appropriate programs and policies, and rigorously evaluate and effectively manage public health efforts.

MPH students should have completed all public health core courses before registering for an internship, completed the Professional Passport and Interprofessional Activity, and completed the Background Check. More details about Eligibility for the MPH Internship can be found below. Usually, this means that students must wait until their third semester to complete the internship. Students should check with their department’s program coordinator to be sure about when they are eligible to register for the internship.

Students should begin planning for the internship at least 4-6 months prior to the start of the semester in which the student plans to complete the internship. The internship experience must be appropriately planned, supervised, and evaluated. Students must be registered for PUH 688/688Q during the time the internship is being completed. Students are not able to register for the MPH internship until the “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form” has been completed by the student and approved electronically in the Applied Practice Experience (APEx) portal by both the student’s preceptor (i.e., site supervisor) and internship advisor. The internship advisor is a faculty member assigned to the student. Departments also have a designated Internship Coordinator within the Office of Public Health Practice to assist students with internship planning. Students can find the names and contact information for their internship coordinator and internship advisor on the UAB SOPH Applied Practice Experience Website.

In order to complete the Internship Proposal Form, students should work with both their preceptor (site supervisor) and internship advisor, before the student begins their internship, to determine work products that the student will develop during the internship and will allow the student to demonstrate growth and attainment in at least five (5) MPH Foundational Competencies. The work products should benefit the host organization. Anticipated products should be agreed upon prior to the start of the internship and described in the Internship Proposal Form, located in the APEx portal.

Students must work a minimum of 180 hours with or on behalf of their host organization in a single academic semester, however, a student’s preceptor can require that a student complete additional hours. Students must maintain a biweekly hour log of efforts in APEx. During the internship, students must complete a midpoint reflection of their experience. In addition, preceptors must complete a midpoint evaluation of student performance. Students internship advisor and coordinator will monitor student progress throughout the internship. Upon completion of the internship, students must submit a minimum of two (2) final work products, ensuring all five (5) competencies are represented in the work products they submit. It is common for students to submit more than two work products.

A final grade of pass/no pass is awarded by the internship advisor upon completion of the internship. All deliverables including the student’s midpoint and final reflection, preceptor’s midpoint and final student evaluations, products, poster and presentation are submitted online through the APEx Portal. There is no Canvas course associated with the internship.

Internship Requirements
  • The focus of the internship MUST be public health practice/population health-focused (i.e. internships which are SOLELY academic-based research, shadowing, data entry, clerical/administrative, or clinical work are NOT appropriate). Examples of appropriate projects include providing public health education, implementing a quality improvement project, or conducting disease surveillance. If an internship occurs in an academic setting, there must be involvement of an external community partner.
  • The internship must allow the student to demonstrate the attainment of five (5) MPH Foundational Competencies. Students can align their internship to additional Departmental Competencies. The SOPH assesses competency attainment through the submission of work products created by the student during the internship, which are mutually beneficial to both the internship site and student. If the internship takes place in an academic or university-affiliated setting, the final products developed as part of the internship should benefit a community partner or target population. 
  • The student must be able to submit a minimum of two different work products demonstrating competency attainment for all five competencies. Thus, the requirement of two products is a floor rather than a ceiling as it may take more than products for students to demonstrate the use of knowledge and skills in each of the competencies selected.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 180 contact hours with their internship site, completed within a single academic semester. Sites can require students to complete additional hours.
  • The student is responsible for the completion and submission of the “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form.” This form documents each student’s responsibilities and expectations, including a description of the learning objectives and MPH competencies of the placement, the activities to be performed by the student, and the anticipated final products

Eligibility (i.e. when are students eligible to complete their internship?)

In order to register for the internship course, students must:

  1. Complete all public health core coursework. Usually, this means that students must wait until their 3rd semester to complete the internship. Students should meet with their departmental program coordinator to discuss their curriculum planning schedule and appropriate time to complete the internship.
  2. Complete the Professional Passport’s Interprofessional Team activity (IPT) and enrichment activity requirements i.e. Professional Passport Interprofessional (IP) Practice Modules (Modules 1 & 2) and two (2) Enrichment Activities. Please note, the completion of IPT activity will require advanced registration and participation in extracurricular events scheduled during the semester. Registration for the IPT activity occurs at the beginning of the semester for a short period of time. You will not be able to wait until the last minute to sign-up and complete this activity. See the MPH Professional Passport in Canvas for more details on the IP modules and activity.
  3. Complete a background check (read through the instructions here). Usually, students complete this upon enrolling in the SOPH. Students completing their internship remotely are required to submit a background check order. Online students (domestic) are required to submit a background check order. Below are the approved waivers for the background check requirements for MPH students:
    • UAB employees are waived (student employees are not waived).
    • International students completing an internship in their home country are waived.
    • MPH Dual degree students who have completed a background check as a requirement for their other program are waived (e.g., MSPAS, MSW, MSHA). A copy of the background check must be provided to Amanda Bosque at sophsoph@uab.edu.
Planning For Your Internship

All MPH students should work carefully with their program coordinator to plan out their coursework and determine the semester during which they anticipate completing their internship. In the semester prior to their internship, students should work closely with one of the internship coordinators in the Office of Public Health Practice to identify a suitable internship placement.

Planning for the internship should take place at least 4-6 months prior to the semester in which the student intends to complete the internship. Meeting 4-6 months in advance allows their internship coordinator to guide students through the internship requirements and process that students need to follow to successfully obtain and register for the internship.

To better assist students when completing the MPH internship, all students must meet with their internship coordinator before the dates listed below to review the MPH Internship Requirements.

  • July 15, if the student is planning to complete their internship in the Fall Semester
  • December 1, if the student is planning to complete their internship in the Spring Semester
  • April 1, if the student is planning to complete their internship in the Summer Semester

Students do not need to secure an internship by the time they meet with their internship coordinator. Rather, students should:

  1. Review the APEx website and attend or view a previous MPH Internship information session/recording.
  2. Brainstorm ideas around possible internship opportunities (if the student has not already secured an internship).
  3. Have specific questions prepared about the internship for discussion with their internship coordinator.
Failure to meet with a student’s internship coordinator before these dates will result in a delay in the semester the student plans to complete the internship. No exceptions will be allowed.

Students can reach their internship coordinator at ophp@uab.edu or contact them directly. Students can find more information about their Internship Coordinator on the Contact Us page. Students should add their department and semester they lan to complete their internship in the subject line of the email. Failure to do so may result in a delay in a response.

Appropriate Internship Sites

Internship sites may include governmental, non-governmental, non-profit, industrial and for-profit settings, or appropriate university-affiliated settings. To be appropriate for an internship, university-affiliated settings must be primarily focused on public health practice and provide an opportunity for students to interact with external partners and/or participate in community engagement. University health promotion or wellness centers may be appropriate. Internships cannot be research, shadowing, clinical, or administratively focused.

When and Where to Look for an Internship

Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to secure an internship. Students should start looking and applying for internships at least 2-3 months prior to the semester in which they intend to complete their internship. 

Internship opportunities are posted in the Get a Handle Student Newsletter and Handshake, UAB’s Career Center’s job/internship search platform. Students are also encouraged to view a sampling of Past Internship Sites to see where other students have interned in the past or contact Highlighted Community Partners identified by UAB Service Learning. Students are also able to identify their own internship opportunity as long as it satisfies the criteria stated in the Internship Requirements section above.  Students should not wait until the last 2-3 weeks before the semester starts to begin thinking about what and where to complete the internship. 

Failure to identify a suitable internship after the second semester of eligibility (i.e., following completion of the MPH core courses) may result in dismissal from the program for failure to progress toward degree completion. Note also that failure to identify a suitable internship does not entitle students to extend their time in the program; visa extensions are generally not granted for failure to identify an internship. It is the student’s responsibility to find and secure their MPH internship.

Considerations in Applying and Selecting an Internship

IRB Approval: Given the nature of public health practice, it is possible that the student may be analyzing, interpreting and perhaps even contributing to the collection of data. If there is any question as to whether an internship will require IRB approval, it is the student’s responsibility to work with their preceptor to submit an application to the IRB. Please be advised that the IRB approval process might significantly extend the time needed to prepare for an internship; therefore, students should discuss the scope of the internship with their preceptor so that no IRB infractions occur.

Affiliation Agreements: Some internship sites may require an affiliation agreement to be in place BEFORE a student can begin an internship (typically health departments, health systems, or hospitals). IMPORTANT NOTE: These contracts can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months to process. Some contracts are never successfully negotiated. They require legal review from both the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the host agency/organization.  In addition, some sites may also require drug testing, background checks, immunizations, etc. Students are responsible for checking with the organization as soon as possible regarding these requirements and ensuring there is enough time to complete the required documents before the start of the semester.

Federal and Large Program Deadlines: Students interested in completing their internship with a federal program, such as the CDC, or with larger corporations, many organizations have deadlines 4-6 months before the internship starts (i.e deadline in the Fall for Summer internships).

Completing Your Internship at Your Worksite

Students working full-time can complete their internship at their current jobs site; however, the internship must still be public health-practice based AND must go above and beyond what normal job duties include (i.e. the internship must be a separate project and/or additional activity). A student’s normal job duties will not fulfill the requirement.

In addition, the student’s immediate supervisor at their current worksite cannot serve as their preceptor for the MPH internship. Individual, case-by-case exceptions may be made for students if this is not possible ex. students completing their internship within a military/government setting.

Please contact the Office of Public Health Practice if you have any questions.

For Students Traveling or Completing their Internship Abroad

Students completing an international internship or traveling abroad as part of their internship must register with Education Abroad in addition to notifying their internship coordinator.

There are three steps you need you to complete in order to register your travel abroad:

  1. Notify your internship coordinator.
  2. Complete the UAB Education Abroad application. You do not need to meet with the Education Aboard Advisor.  We will waive this requirement once you initiate the application.
  3. Complete the UAB International Travel Registration form.

Once the application and registration form are completed and approved, you’ll be clear for travel and receive information about the international health insurance that you are automatically enrolled in. 

International Students (F-1 and J-1 Visa Holders)

According to university policy, international students must complete additional requirements for the International Student and Scholar Services office before beginning their internship. F-1 students should review information on Curricular Practical Training (“CPT”) on the ISSS website and J-1 students should review information on Academic Training. International students need to submit both an offer letter from your internship organization and a letter from the Office of Public Health Practice (i.e., academic letter) to ISSS at least two week before the start of their internship. A template for employers can be found on the ISSS website under the CPT Requirements. Look for “Job Offer Letter”.

In addition, international students are subject to hour restrictions for their MPH internship. During semesters in which students are completing courses full-time (9 credit hours or more), international students should not “work” over 20 hours per week total. Students who are not completing their internship while enrolled full-time (i.e., enrolled in less than 9 credit hours), should apply for a Vacation Semester and can “work” up to 37.5 hours per week. “Work” includes hours for the MPH Internship and any part-time jobs.

Registering for the Internship

Before students are allowed to register for the internship course (PUH 688 – Public Health Internship) in BlazerNet, they are responsible for the completion and submission of the “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form.” This is an electronically signed agreement between the student, preceptor, and internship advisor and should be submitted via the SOPH APEx system. The student is responsible for the completion and submission of the “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form.” This is an electronic form that is completed by the student and approved by the preceptor and internship advisor through the APEx Portal. The Internship Proposal form provides information on the host agency, background on the internship project and student’s role in the project, and identifies anticipated final products mapped to each of the MPH competencies selected.

The student’s internship advisor and preceptor are required to review and electronically approve this document; while both will be notified upon submission via email, the student may also want to notify them as soon as the proposal is completed. The hold on the internship course in BlazerNet will not be lifted by the departmental program coordinator until both the internship advisor and preceptor have approved the form.  Upon approval and hold removals, students should register in BlazerNet under the appropriate internship advisor for “PUH 688 – Public Health Internship.”

In-person students are required to register for the in-person internship. Students in the online program are the only ones that should register for the online internship(marked with a Q). If a student is in the in-person program but takes all courses online, they will still register for the in-person internship. Additionally, if a student is in the in-person program but completes an internship out of state/country, they will need to still register for the in-person internship.

Notes:

Students must register for the internship prior to earning hours that count towards the internship; credit cannot be retroactively applied to work they have done prior to registering for the internship. 

You cannot complete both the MPH Capstone and MPH Internship in the same semester. The MPH internship must be completed before you can register for capstone (integrative learning experience).

Required Documents (complete prior to the end of the internship)

The following deliverables are required for all MPH students by the midpoint due date of their internship semester, and must be uploaded through the APEx portal.

  • Student Midpoint Reflection of Internship Experience
  • Preceptor’s Midpoint Reflection of Student Performance
  • Internship Advisor Midpoint Meeting Confirmation

 The following deliverables are required for all MPH students by the final day of classes of their internship semester, and must be uploaded through the APEx portal.

  • Student Final Reflection of the Internship Experience
  • Preceptor’s Final Evaluation of Student Performance
  • A minimum of two (2) Final Products developed by the student during the internship which demonstrates competency attainment of five (5) MPH Foundational Competencies 
  • Internship Poster and Presentation
  • Submission and verification of Hour Log 
  • Any other deliverables and products as determined by site and preceptor 

All forms and required documents are submitted online through APEx. Students should view the MPH Internship Timeline for the deadline regarding all required documents.

Hours and Hour Log

Students must complete a minimum of 180 hours of work with or on behalf of their internship site during the semester in which they are registered for the internship. If the internship site requires the student complete additional hours above the minimum 180 hours required, the student must complete the number of hours requested by the internship site. Students are required to track hours completed in the APEx portal on a biweekly basis (i.e. at the end of every 2 weeks). The preceptor will be asked to verify the number of hours worked during the internship when completing the Final Evaluation of Student Performance. Therefore, students should submit their final hours in the APEx portal before their preceptor completes the Preceptor Final Evaluation of Student Performance.

Midpoint Requirements

The midpoint is an opportunity for the student to reflect on where they are in the internship and evaluate what needs to be done to gain the most out of the experience.

Approximately halfway through the internship (the specific due date is listed on the MPH Internship Timeline), the student should complete the Midpoint Reflection in the APEx portal. This reflection is an opportunity for the student to discuss where they are in their internship, describe any changes to their internship activities, identify gaps in training, address challenges, and evaluate what needs to be done to gain the most out of the experience. Once submitted, the student midpoint reflection of the internship experience will be sent to the preceptor, internship advisor, and internship coordinator. 

The students should then request the preceptor complete the Midpoint Evaluation of Student Performance, also in the APEx portal. Students will be evaluated by their preceptor at the midpoint of the internship based on the student’s work habits, professionalism, and communication with the preceptor and others at the organization. The midpoint evaluation of student performance helps identify areas of strength and improvement for the student. Students are responsible for requesting their preceptor complete the mid-point evaluation of student performance in APEx at midpoint of their internship. Once submitted, the student midpoint evaluation will be sent to the student, internship advisor, and internship coordinator. Students should set up a time to meet with their preceptor to discuss the Midpoint Reflection and Midpoint Evaluation.

Students should review the evaluation, reflect on the feedback provided, and make changes as needed to ensure positive feedback on the final evaluation. Once reviewed, students should also provide a brief email with an update on their internship progress through midpoint to their internship advisor with their internship coordinator CCd on the email. Internship advisors will review this email along with the student’s Midpoint Reflection and the preceptor’s Midpoint Evaluation in order to complete the Midpoint Meeting Confirmation form which confirms the internship is progressing appropriately and the student is on track to complete their internship or indicates if corrective actions are needed.

Failure to complete your midpoint reflection and/or update your hour log by the midpoint date listed on the MPH Internship Timeline on the APEx Website for the semester in which they are completing the internship, will result in a No-Pass of the internship course. No exceptions will be allowed. If you are unable to complete your midpoint or update hours by the date above, please contact your internship coordinator in advance of the due date. Internship Coordinators will communicate this change in status to your preceptor.

Students should contact their internship advisor, their program coordinator, the Office of Public Health Practice, or their internship coordinator if there are any questions or problems at any point during the internship. Do not wait until midpoint to notify someone of a problem.

Internship Poster and Presentation

All students will complete an electronic poster using the template found on the MPH Poster Requirements Page on the APEx Website which highlights their internship experience. Each student must complete their own electronic poster (sharing of posters is not acceptable).

In addition to the electronic poster, students are responsible for recording a poster presentation of their internship experience. Students should follow the instructions on the Poster Requirements page when creating their electronic poster and recording the poster presentation. The poster does not have to be professionally printed but the electronic poster and link to the poster video should be uploaded to APEx prior to the last day of classes the semester the student is completing their internship. See the MPH Internship Timeline for the specific date.

If you need further guidance on completing your poster, please contact your Internship Coordinator.

Final Products

At the end of the internship, students are required to submit at least two (2) final products that demonstrate the five competencies selected in their Internship Proposal Form. However, students must map all five (5) competencies to the products, thus more than two products may be required. Examples of work products. 

The internship must allow the student to demonstrate five MPH Foundational competencies. Competency attainment is assessed through the submission of work products students develop during the internship that represent the competencies selected. Products are tangible work items developed by the student during their internship that benefit the agency or community the agency serves.

Students must submit a minimum of two (2) final work products, ensuring all five (5) competencies are represented in the work products they submit. It is common for students to submit more than two work products. Products are tangible work items developed during the internship that benefit both the student and the organization. Examples include: a data analysis report, data set, grant proposal, health education material, infographic, needs assessment, policy analyses, and program evaluation.

More examples can be found on the Products Requirement page of the Applied Practice Experience website.

Final products should be those typical for an individual in an entry-level MPH position, be based on the Evidence-Based Public Health model, and appropriate for the background (education, training, and credentials) of the student. 

Final Reflection and Evaluation

At the end of the internship (exact date is listed in the MPH Internship Timeline), the student will complete a Final Reflection of the Internship Experience. The student should also request that the preceptor complete a Final Evaluation of Student Performance. Both forms should be completed in the APEx portal. Internship advisors, internship coordinators, preceptors, and students will be able to view the student’s Final Reflection and the Preceptor’s Final Evaluation of Student Performance.

Grading Policy

Students will be given a grade of Pass/No Pass by the internship advisor based on completion of all internship requirements, including the results of the preceptor’s evaluations, verification of hours completed, submission of the final products demonstrating all five (5) Foundational competencies selected, poster, and poster presentation. Completion of ALL course requirements, evaluations, and forms will be taken into considerations when determining the grade. Unsatisfactory completion of the internship components will result in a No Pass (NP).

A grade of No-Pass for the internship will require the student to re-register/re-pay for the internship course (PUH 688).Graduate students may repeat a course one (1) time in an effort to improve grades and/or to improve understanding of the course content only with the permission of the graduate program. Failure to pass the internship course twice will result in academic dismissal from the program.

If you receive a No Pass (NP), before you are allowed to re-register for the internship course (PUH 688), you will be required to write a 1,000 word reflection of the internship experience explaining the factors that prevented you from successfully completing your internship and describe what you will do in the future to successfully complete your internship (i.e. what are your key lessons learned). This reflection letter should be sent to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, your internship faculty advisor, and your internship coordinator. Your reflection will be reviewed, and you will be notified before you are allowed to submit another internship proposal form.

Professionalism While Applying and Completing the MPH Internship

Any such situations will be carefully reviewed by the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs and Public Health Practice, the internship coordinators, the internship advisor, and the internship preceptor. They will determine whether and under what circumstances the student can be given another opportunity to satisfactorily complete an internship; if another internship is approved, professional remediation and additional monitoring may be required.

Students completing the MPH internships are expected to always demonstrate professional behavior. Students represent SOPH in the community and important partnerships can be damaged by students behaving in an unprofessional manner. Therefore, termination from an internship by a preceptor or removal from an internship by SOPH due to complaints from a preceptor may result in dismissal from the program. Likewise, cases in which students do not earn a grade of “Pass” for the internship (due to failure to complete required tasks or submission of poor-quality products) may also result in dismissal from the program.

Student Internship Checklist

•    Check with your departmental program coordinator for any special department/program requirements
•    Consult with your internship advisor
•    Identify an internship site 
•    Apply for the internship opportunity 
•    Complete and submit “UAB School of Public Health Internship Proposal Form” via APEx
•    Obtain electronic approval of the proposal from their internship advisor and preceptor 
•    If necessary, complete and submit IRB Approval Form and Affiliation Agreements
•    If an international student, complete and submit appropriate forms to the International Scholar and Student Services Office
•    If traveling abroad, register with Education Abroad
•    Register for the appropriate 3-hour course
•    Formally check in with preceptor and internship advisor during a mid-point meeting approximately halfway through the internship
•    Submit evaluation forms, hour log, final products, electronic poster, and link to the video of their poster presentation before the last day of class via APEx