MPH Engaged Practice

At Tufts, we believe in empowering our students to make a meaningful impact in their communities even before they graduate. That's why we have carefully incorporated applied and integrative experiences throughout our curriculum. These experiences provide our students with valuable opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

During the program, you will have the chance to engage in the Applied Practice Experience (APE) and the Integrative Learning Experience (ILE). The APE allows you to work with an organization, providing you with hands-on experience and the chance to address real-world public health challenges. This practical experience will not only deepen your understanding but also enhance your professional skills and connections.

As a culmination of your studies, the ILE brings together the knowledge and skills you have acquired throughout the program. Through your capstone project, you will have the opportunity to blend various aspects of public health and showcase your expertise in a specific area of interest. This experience serves as a testament to your growth and preparedness to make a lasting impact in the field of public health.

We understand the importance of practical application, and through the APE and ILE, we aim to foster your development as a well-rounded and capable public health professional.

Applied Practice Experience (APE)

The Applied Practice Experience (APE) offers students an opportunity to apply public health knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to a real-world public health problem. Students work with community partners and complete two practical work products of use to the organization. This experience gives students a portfolio of work that can be used in seeking employment upon graduation and serves as a way for faculty to evaluate students’ readiness for public health practice. It is also an opportunity for students to provide service to the community. The APE can be completed anytime throughout the program duration.

  • The best APEs involves well defined tasks and deliverables that are needed by the host organization. Students spend a minimum of 160 hours over the course of the experience performing their work on behalf of the organization being served. The APE must be:

    • Conceptualized such that the student can demonstrate competencies in public health practice
    • Produce two products that the organization agrees will be useful to them
  • Students begin identifying their APE practicum site in the first semester of study to develop work plans to guide implementation of their experience. All MPH students enroll in the course, “Skills and Tools for Engaged Practice (STEP),” a three-semester sequence. In STEP I students meet with a faculty advisor in small groups of six students  to plan their APE (and ILE). Course directors, concentration leaders, and Career Services staff all help students identify a topic, find a site, identify and propose a scope of work to a preceptor, and get the necessary approvals.

    Students are encouraged to identify an APE that reflects their career goals and passions.

  • Yes, students in any MPH concentration can complete a global health ALE. To do so students must identify an appropriate global health field site and apply through the TUSM global health program. Students may complete a global health APE (and/or ILE) located at a Tufts affiliated site or at an independent site. Interested students should attend a global health information session and work with the global health focus leader to navigate the application process. Students may complete a global health APE located at a Tufts affiliated site or at an independent site.

  • To qualify as an APE practicum site, an agency, or organization must be positioned to support the APE and willing to designate a preceptor who will provide guidance to the student, be available to meet with the student on a regular basis, hopefully weekly, and provide feedback on student performance to the STEP course director. Students can complete their APE at sites with existing relationships with Tufts or can work with faculty to onboard a new site that they identify.

  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics

    • APE Practicum Site: New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
      • Example Work Product: Report on Analysis of the Association Between SARS-CoV-2 Concentration in Wastewater and Sludge and COVID-19 Regional Incidence (Spring 2021, EpiBio)
    • APE Practicum Site: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
      • Example Work Product: Report on Analysis of Survey Data: Expectations and Desires During Labor and Delivery (Spring 2021, EpiBio)

    Health Services Management and Policy

    • APE Practicum Site: Tufts Medical Center
      • Example Work Product(s): Process diagrams and fishbone diagrams; Pilot Proposal to Mobilize a Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT) to Prevent Workplace Assaults (Spring 2021, HSMP)
    • APE Practicum Site: Children’s Health Watch
      • Example Work Product: Policy Brief on the Impact of Housing on Health in the Context of COVID-19 (Spring 2021, HSMP)


    • APE Practicum Site: Boston Medical Center’s Teaching Kitchen
      • Example Work Product: Evaluation Report of Boston Medical Center’s Teaching Kitchen (Spring 2021, Nutrition)
    • APE Practicum Site: Food for Free
      • Example Work Product: Process Evaluation Report on the Family Meals Program (Spring 2020, Nutrition)

    Population Health Promotion/BHSC

    • APE Practicum Site: Cambridge Health Alliance, Community Health Improvement Team
      • Example Work Product: Program Logic Models (Spring 2021, BHSC)
    • APE Practicum Site: Babson College, Wellness and Prevention Services
      • Example Work Product(s): Survey of Students’ Experience of Relationship Abuse; Social Marketing Campaign Posters (Spring 2021, BHSC)

    Integrative Learning Experience (ILE)

    The Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) is a culminating capstone, completed toward the end of the program which offers students an opportunity to integrate the knowledge and skills students acquire through their academic work and the APE. ILEs are high-quality written products, and there are a wide variety of options, which include research manuscripts, program evaluation reports, training manuals, policy statements, legislative testimonies with accompanying supporting materials, and program proposals.

    • ILE projects must:

      • Demonstrate synthesis of foundational and concentration competencies
      • Further the student’s educational and professional goals
      • Be developed and delivered in a manner that is useful to stakeholders
    • Starting in the STEP courses, students will consult with faculty to identify which foundational and concentration-specific competencies align with their educational and professional goals. Students will then develop an ILE proposal that incorporates those competencies. The proposal will guide the implementation of the project, which should be completed near the end of the MPH program.

    • There are a variety of options for completing an ILE. For some students, the ILE may be completed together with the organization and preceptor the student worked with for their APE and consist of an extension of an APE work product. For other students, the ILE may consist of a new project completed with a mentor at an external organization, or with a Tufts faculty member. The mentor or preceptor signs off on the student’s work, assuring that the ILE was successfully implemented and the final product is of high quality.

    • A successfully completed ILE will be useful to stakeholders, either directly or through the publication of study findings, and effectively address the selected foundational and concentration-specific competencies.

    • Epidemiology-Biostatistics

      • A Comparison of Time to Diagnosis Between Neuroendocrine, Pancreatic, Colorectal, and Esophageal Cancers: Are these cancers being missed?
      • The Impact of Bariatric Surgeries on the Prevalence of Diabetes in a Medicaid Population

      Health Management, Services and Policy

      • Creating an Evaluation Toolkit for Title IX Girls Running Club


      • An Identification of Factors Associated with an Overweight or Obese Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index in Massachusetts Mothers

      Population Health Promotion

      • Information to inform the Development of Communication Strategies to Recruit New Southeast Asian Patients for the Metta Health Center