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In the summer before your final year, students in the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Social & Behavioral Sciences concentrations of the MPH program must complete an applied practice experience (APE). As part of the APE, you’ll engage in hands-on public health research under the mentoring of a public health research professional addressing a specific public health topic. The applied practice experience can then inform your MPH Thesis, which will be completed in your final year. 

What Is the MPH Thesis?

The MPH thesis is a paper addressing a specific public health topic, with the general expectation that the finished product demonstrates concentration competencies, meets academic and professional standards, and is of a quality useful to some external audience (e.g., journal readers, practitioners, advocates, other researchers).

With faculty support, you’ll identify your topic and population of interest, preferably based on your work in the site where your applied practice hours are undertaken, which serve as the basis of the MPH Thesis.  

Your applied learning experience can be based in the greater New York City area, elsewhere in the United States, or overseas, but must be completed no later than the summer before enrolling in your first thesis course.

For more information on the thesis, please view our Thesis Guide.

What Does the Thesis Entail?

The thesis experience is complemented by a two-semester course Thesis Course (GPH-GU 2686 Thesis I: Practice and Integrative Learning Experience and GPH-GU 2687 Thesis II: Practice and Integrative Learning Experience) during which students complete the MPH Thesis:

  • Thesis I: Students across tracks will study together to learn about the elements of the thesis, how to identify a mentor, and how to write a comprehensive review of the literature and an annotated outline of the project.

  • Thesis II: Students apply what they have learned to prepare this MPH thesis as well as a presentation associated with the thesis. 

The MPH Thesis may be one of four types:

  • A journal-style manuscript reporting results of data analyses (typically secondary analysis of an existing dataset) that about the public health topic;

  • A proposal for a research study to develop further knowledge on understanding or intervening on the specific public health issue. The proposal should follow NIH guidelines for an R21 or specific guidelines from another funding source (e.g., HRSA, ACS) (EPI SBS);

  • A proposal describing the development of a program or intervention to address the specific public health issue (SBS);

  • A proposed evaluation research study of a program that addresses the specific public health issue (SBS).

All theses must include (1) a review of the literature and framing of the public health issue nested within a theoretical context, and (2) a discussion of the public health significance of the findings, proposed research, or program. 

How Do I Enroll in the Thesis course?

Step1: Select an Applied Practice Experience

First, you will secure an applicable applied practice experience:

The process of finding the right applied practice experience takes time, so start your applied practice search at least one semester in advance. Keep your eyes out for deadlines. We recommend that students identify at least two potential applied practice sites/projects in the event that your first choice falls through.

Note that your current job in the public health field cannot be used for an applied practice experience; if you wish to undertake an applied practice experience at your current workplace, you must identify a project not outlined in your normal job duties and obtain prior approval from the GPH Administration.

Step 2: Submit Your Learning Contract

To request approval for an applied practice experience, complete and submit a Practice Learning Contract, below by concentration, along with your Preceptor’s CV by the appropriate deadline to the online system.

For help on what is required in the PLC, please use these Guidelines for Completing and Submitting the Practice Learning Contract, as well as reference this MPH Applied Practice Learning outcomes.

Once your learning contract has been reviewed and approved, you will receive an access code to move on to the next step: registering for your course.

Step 3: Register for GPH-GU 2686 Thesis I: Practice and Integrative Learning Experiences

You must be in your final year and have an approved applied practice experience in order to be eligible to enroll in GPH-GU 2686 Thesis I: Practice & Integrative Learning course. You must also fulfill the following prerequisites:

  • GPH-GU 2140 or GPH-GU 5140 Global Issues in Social & Behavioral Health

  • GPH-GU 2106 or GPH-GU 5106 Epidemiology

  • GPH-GU 2995 or GPH-GU 5995 Biostatistics for Public Health

  • GPH-GU 2920 Biostatistics: Regression & Multivariable Modeling

One conceptual course (strongly recommended)

Important Deadlines

February/March: Information session for students planning to complete thesis

May 15th: Deadline to submit Practice Learning Contract