Applied Practice and Integrated Learning Experience

During the Master of Public Health program’s second year, we guide students through the culminating experiences that demonstrate key MPH competencies.  Our students gain meaningful real-world practice through the Applied Practice Experience (APEX) internships at public health-related settings throughout California and several other states. The APEX gives students direct, hands-on experience comparable to a career position that would be suitable for someone with an advanced public health degree. Regardless of their concentration, all our MPH students are required to complete 250 hours of applied practice. In place of a research-based thesis, students complete an Integrated Learning Experience (ILEX), a capstone synthesis that demonstrates mastery of the profession.

For students starting in 2019 or after, 250 hours of applied practice experience are required for all concentrations.

To support students as they prepare for and complete their culminating experiences, our MPH program offers:

  • Free self-directed three-semester APEX preparation course
  • APEX orientation at the beginning of the program
  • Over 150 community partners who serve as APEX preceptors
  • Conversations with local leaders and experts from around the world
  • Resume-building and cover letter workshop
  • Faculty APEX Coordinator to serve as students’ guide and resource
  • Support provided during one-on-one practice advising sessions with internship instructors and mentors
  • Health Professions Day, which follows an APHA conference-style with poster and oral presentations made by graduating students

“Once I got to the MPH program, it finally clicked — I was learning about something with the opportunity to apply tools and techniques to issues that mattered to me.

Reid Whaley, MPH‘19

Program Contact

Applied Practice Experience Coordinator: Dr. Dory Escobar

If your organization is interested in becoming a USF community partner please contact Dr. Dory Escobar at

Applied Practice Experience Placements

Below is a sample of organizations where our students have completed their Applied Practice Experience.