MPH Culminating Project

  •  Each student must undertake a final demonstration of competence.
  • Depending upon the student's specialization and preferences, this may be accomplished through a variety of project options or a master's thesis.
  • The culminating experience is intended to provide the opportunity for students to address a public health question or issue of their interest that draws from their academic experience. It provides students with the opportunity to apply, integrate, and synthesize knowledge and experience obtained during their academic course of study to a question or problem of public health relevance. In some cases the culminating project idea or opportunity may evolve from the student’s practice placement experience.
  • Projects that involve human subjects must adhere to policies and procedures of the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) (
  • The culminating project (CP) is completed near the end of the program so that students have the advantage of drawing on and synthesizing their academic experience. However, it is never too early to start thinking about potential projects. (See the Culminating Projects Timeline document accompanying this document on the web page.)


The critical steps in the process of a successful culminating project include the following:


 1. Develop an Idea. Be thinking about possible projects and appropriate faculty to work with to complete your culminating project. Your academic advisor should be a primary resource for this purpose but you may also rely on other faculty within the Division or Program, College, or University. College and Division seminars are also useful in generating possible ideas for culminating projects. To get a sense for what a culminating project might look like, you may want to review projects from previous years. Division Coordinators and OAPSS maintain a file of all culminating projects. The idea stage for preparing your culminating project should occur within the first two semesters of your MPH academic program.

2. Choose Your CP Advisor. This should be your academic advisor; if there is a more appropriate faculty member to serve as advisor for your CP, you should formally move to change advisors (see the form in the student handbook). The advisor does need to be a College of Public Health faculty member from your division/program. Consult with your advisor and identify a faculty member from within your division/program who has a research interest aligned with your CP interests.

3. Proposal Approval. Complete and have your academic advisor approve the Culminating Project Proposal Approval Form. With this form, include an outline of your proposal that includes a draft title, the public health question that will be addressed, and the methods that will be used for addressing the question. Include some discussion of challenges you may expect and how you will address those challenges.

4. Form Your Culminating Project Committee. Consult with your advisor to identify a second faculty member from within the division/program who will serve as the second reader for your CP. If a faculty member from another division/program is the most appropriate second reader, then she/he is permitted to serve on your committee. The culminating project advisor and the second reader constitute your Culminating Project Committee.

5. Communicate.  Keep your committee, and especially your advisor, informed about your progress, and do not hesitate to ask for feedback or help as you progress.

2015-2016 CPH Culminating Project Timeline for all Divisions/Programs

Division/Program specific Culminating Project Guidelines for students admitted to an MPH program for Summer 2015 or Autumn 2015:

Biomedical Informatics
Clinical Translational Science
Environmental Health Sciences
Health Behavior and Health Promotion
Health Services Management and Policy
MPH Program for Experienced Professionals (PEP)
Veterinary Public Health

 For students in the MPH Program for Experienced Professionals (PEP) program, a recording of a culminating project presentation is available here

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