MPH Integrative Learning Experience (formerly referred to as Culminating Project)

  • MPH students complete an integrative learning experience project (ILE) that demonstrates synthesis of foundational and specialization competencies. This demonstration requires synthesis of at least three competencies. This may be comprised of two foundational and one specialization competency, or two specialization and one foundational competency. Students, in consultation with faculty, select foundational and specialization-specific competencies appropriate to the student’s educational and professional goals and the project.

  • The ILE represents a culminating experience and may take many forms, such as an applied research or practice-based project. Regardless of option selected for the ILE, the student produces a high-quality written product that is appropriate for the student’s educational and professional objectives.

  • Projects that involve human subjects must adhere to policies and procedures of the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) ( Projects involving infectious agents must adhere to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). And, in the unlikely event that research involving animals is pursued for an ILE project must adhere to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

  • The ILE is completed at or near the end of the program of study (e.g., in the final year or term). The experience may be group-based or individual. In group-based experiences, the school or program documents that the experience provides opportunities for individualized assessment of outcomes. (See the ILE Project Timeline below)

Depending on the MPH specialization or program, written products may include the following:

Research Paper or Report
Examples include both hypothesis- and non-hypothesis-based research, investigative, exploratory, or program evaluation activities under the guidance of a faculty member that generate quantitative and/or qualitative data relevant to a current public health issue and need.

Training Manual
Examples include researching the literature and developing worker public health-related practices and procedures for incorporation into hardcopy or digital manuals for agencies or organizations and used for purposes such as infection prevention and control, conducting outbreak investigation, conducting inspections at food service establishments, etc.

Legislative Testimony, Advocacy, or Policy Statements with accompanying supporting research
Examples include researching literature and gathering other information from public documents, media, interviews, focus groups, and other applicable sources necessary to develop testimony, advocacy, or policy statements regarding a current public health issue and need. 

Ideally, the written product is developed and delivered in a manner that is useful to external stakeholders, such as non-profit or governmental organizations.  Regardless of form, the student produces a high-quality written product that is appropriate for the student’s educational and professional objectives. A poster presentation is not an acceptable high-quality written product.

Assessment methods ensure that a minimum of two faculty members reviews each student’s performance in the ILE and ensures that the experience addresses the selected foundational and program/specialization specific competencies. Faculty assessment may be supplemented with assessments from other qualified individuals (e.g., preceptors).  Combined (dual, joint, concurrent) degree students should have opportunities to incorporate their learning from both degree programs in a unique integrative experience. Documentation includes how it ensures that the experience demonstrates synthesis of competencies. Provide documentation, including the ILE rubric or guidelines, that explains the methods through which faculty and/or other qualified individuals assess the integrative learning experience with regard to students’ demonstration of the selected competencies.

Student Instructions for completing the ILE:

Check with your MPH specialization advisor or specialization program director to determine which options are permitted for your specialization.

Be thinking about possible ILE projects and appropriate faculty to work with to complete your proposed 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 the ILE. The idea stage for preparing your ILE project should occur within the first two semesters of your MPH academic program.

Students may choose to complete a group ILE project. All students completing an MPH group ILE project must follow the guidelines that are established for the College of Public Health. The following guidelines specifically address additional guidelines that must be followed for any group MPH ILE projects completed by graduate students in the College of Public Health. Group ILE projects involve collaboration and careful attention to academic honesty must be applied to group work.

Group Project Guidelines

This likely will be your academic advisor; however, if there is a more appropriate faculty member to serve as advisor for your ILE project, you should formally move to change advisors (form available in the CPH Graduate Student Handbook). The ILE project 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 an interest aligned with your ILE project interests.

If required by your Division/Program, complete the ILE Project Proposal Approval Form. Include an outline of your proposal that includes a draft title, the public health question and/or issue that will be addressed, the relevance to a stakeholder, and the methods that will be used for the ILE project. This proposal does not have to be the final title of your ILE project, however the purpose is for your committee to ensure your proposal is satisfactory. Include some discussion of challenges you may expect and how you will address those challenges.

Consult with your advisor to identify a second faculty member from within the university who will serve as the second reader for your ILE project. Both faculty members must have category M or P Graduate Faculty status at Ohio State. Any exceptions must be approved by the Division Chair/Program Director and the ASGC Chair. MPH programs and specializations may be more restrictive regarding committee membership, such as requiring that both faculty members must have a primary appointment in the College of Public Health.

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


Faculty advisors are required to complete a rubric for students upon the students' completion of the ILE. The rubric link is:


2021-2022 CPH ILE Project Timeline for all Divisions/Programs

Division/Program Proposal Formats for the ILE Research Paper or Report Option:

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

2020-2021 ILE (Culminating Project) Guidelines for all programs for students admitted to an MPH program for Summer 2020 or Autumn 2020

2019-2020 Culminating Project Guidelines for all programs for students admitted to an MPH program for Summer 2019 or Autumn 2019

2018-2019 Culminating Project Guidelines for all programs for students admitted to an MPH program for Summer 2018 or Autumn 2018