Practicum course

All declared majors in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) Program are required to complete an experiential learning course called a practicum. Ideally, the practicum provides an opportunity for students to synthesize, integrate and apply practical skills, knowledge, and training learned through courses, gain professional experience in a public health work environment and work on public health practice projects that are of particular interest to them.


Students who have completed PH 2100, PH 3100, PH 3200 and PH 3300 are eligible to enroll in the practicum courses, which are PH 4100 and PH 4150. PH 4400 may be taken simultaneously with the practicum course. Students minoring in public health are not required or eligible to complete the practicum.

NOTE: Given the course structure and the practicum placement process, PH 4100 and PH 4150 has a maximum student enrollment for each semester. Meeting the listed eligibility requirements does not guarantee enrollment in the practicum courses for any given semester.

In order to register for PH 4100 and PH 4150, you must abide by the following enrollment steps:

1. Complete the four foundation courses (PH 2100, PH 3100, PH 3200 and PH 3300) with a grade of C or better. Students who declared the public health major before winter 2017 are only required to complete PH 2100 and PH 3100 prior to enrolling in the practicum course.

2. Enroll in PH 4100 and PH 4150: All students must register for both PH 4100 AND PH 4150. Students who have declared departmental honors will need an override to enroll in the honors section of PH 4150. If you have any trouble registering, please contact your assigned academic advisor for registration assistance.

3. Develop and/or make edits to your current résumé to share with the practicum team. If you need assistance developing your résumé, the following link provides resources and tips: Résumé 101 Tips and Advice. If you would like your résumé reviewed before submission, you can meet with the WSU Career Services team. Career Services is located at 1001 Faculty/Administration Building. Résumé review walk-in hours are held Monday – Thursday from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. This résumé review service is on a first come first serve basis. Please call Career Services at 313-577-3390 before arriving to confirm there have not been any cancellations.

4. Complete the practicum intake survey, attaching your final résumé. Students who are eligible to enroll in the practicum courses for the following semester will be sent an email including a link to the survey. The intake survey will inform the practicum team that you are planning to enroll in PH 4100 and PH 4150 during the next semester. The responses will be used to identify your public health interest and make an appropriate match to a practicum host site.


Students enrolled in PH 4100 and PH 4150 are required to spend at least 90 hours working at a community site. Students that have declared public health honors are required to complete at least 135 hours. These hours must be unpaid in order to count towards the practicum requirement. PH 4150 hours should be completed within the timeframe of the semester, 15 weeks for the fall and winter semester, 13 weeks for the spring/summer semester.

Working towards completing practicum hours is a large commitment for students, as many are also balancing paid work, other college courses, family and social activities. However, it is important to remember that the PH 4150 practicum experience is a program requirement for public health majors and it must be given time like other college courses. Students must be ready to dedicate 90 to 135 hours over the course of the semester to this class; completing less than the required hours will affect your final PH 4150 grade.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is a practicum?

    The practicum provides an opportunity for students to apply what is learned in the classroom and their acquired skills into a real-world setting. Students work hands-on towards addressing the needs of the community. During this experience, students are provided with a unique learning opportunity to engage with and be evaluated by professional public health practitioners.

  • PH 4100 vs. PH 4150: Why are there two course numbers?

    The practicum is divided into two parts: The in-person practicum course (PH 4100) and the out-of-class practicum experience (PH 4150). The in-person PH 4100 practicum course is similar to other classes you have taken at Wayne State and is graded according to the syllabus provided at the beginning of the semester. The out-of-class PH 4150 practicum experience is a pass/fail course that is completed outside of the classroom, or "in the field."

    Grades for the practicum experience are based on:

    1. Completion of required hours.

    2. Evaluation of your work within the practicum experience by your site preceptor (supervisor).

    PH 4100 and PH 4150 are co-requisites – they must be taken in the same semester.

  • What will students be doing during their PH 4150 practicum hours?

    As part of the practicum experience, students are required to help a site with a project (defined by the site, depending on their needs). Projects may include one or more of the following:

    • Data collection and analysis
    • Program planning or development
    • Program implementation or ongoing program support
    • Health communications or education campaigns, or other health outreach of some sort
    • Other work that would benefit the site

    Students will work with the site preceptor to define the project at the beginning of the placement so that both the student and the site preceptor are clear about what the outcomes of the practicum hours should be.

  • Where can my practicum work take place?

    Public health encompasses many fields of study, including infectious and chronic disease, nutrition, environmental hazards, public policy, global health issues and more. Because of its broad reach, there are a variety of ways and places for students to be actively engaged in addressing critical societal issues. Some examples of where students can complete practicum work include:

    • Government agencies
    • Academic institutions
    • Healthcare facilities
    • Non-profit or for-profit organizations
    • Research institutes
  • Who places a student at a practicum site?

    The practicum team, comprised of the practicum director and practicum & community engagement coordinator, is responsible for placing each student at an approved practicum site to do work under the supervision of an approved site preceptor. The practicum team considers each student's résumé and response to the practicum intake survey when making placements.

  • How may I propose a practicum site and preceptor?

    You may propose a practicum site and preceptor by emailing the following information to

    • Name of site
    • Address of site
    • Description of proposed work
    • Name of preceptor
    • Preceptor's email address
    • Preceptor's phone number


    The deadline for proposing a practicum site and preceptor for each semester:

    • March 13 for enrollment during the spring/summer semester
    • June 5 for enrollment during the fall semester
    • October 31 for enrollment during the winter semester
  • Whom should I contact if I have questions or concerns about the practicum?

    Michael McLeod, JD, MPH
    Practicum Director

    Meresa McKesson
    Practicum and Community Engagement Coordinator