Fieldwork Experience

Fieldwork is a practice experience relevant to MPH students’ area of specialization that demonstrates the application of basic public health concepts. The goal of Fieldwork is for students to gain real-world public health experience while building skills and competencies through engagement in meaningful public health work.


The MPH Fieldwork Experience is a non-credit bearing requirement for graduation from the program conducted under the supervision of a Community Preceptor and on behalf of a public health organization. Students in the MPH program must complete at least 125 hours of Fieldwork as a graduation requirement. The Fieldwork Experience must show that MPH students have applied at least five public health competencies, satisfying the CEPH Applied Practice Experience requirements.

Fieldwork Details

  • 125Hours Minimum
  • 5Competencies
  • 2+Deliverables
  • 102+Fieldwork Sites & Partners

Getting Started with Fieldwork

Prior to starting Fieldwork, students complete an asynchronous Canvas course that introduces them to general principles of equity, identities, health disparities, and racism, and is designed to help students get the most of their Fieldwork Experience. After the asynchronous course is complete and prior to starting their Fieldwork, students meet with the MPH Fieldwork Coordinator who assists in identifying an appropriate fieldwork site, public health project, and community preceptor. Students also fill out a Fieldwork Approval Form in consultation with their community preceptor. Key to this form is the list of duties, competencies, and agreed upon schedule. At this points, students begin Fieldwork. At the end of the Fieldwork Experience, students submit documentation of the competencies achieved, and community preceptors fill out an evaluation.

Some of Our Fieldwork Partners by Sector

Our MPH students hold Fieldwork placements at a wide range of agencies, organizations, and community-based projects. In general, any organization or project that provides, plans for, coordinates, organizes, pays for, or regulates public health services in the community is likely a valid fieldwork site. Students are supported at their Fieldwork site by their Community Preceptor, a public health professional working in or collaborating with a public health focused organization.

Chelsea’s Fieldwork Experience in Sangolquí, Ecuador

This summer, I did my MPH fieldwork in Sangolquí, Ecuador through Penn’s Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP). The host organization, Manna Project International (MPI), is a US-based community development nonprofit with over 15 years’ experience in the region, and their focus on health, education, and livelihoods made it a natural fit for a public health fieldwork placement.

My main project was a community needs assessment to determine recommendations for new programs of interest, with an emphasis on reaching the most vulnerable members of the community, including people with low income, indigenous people, and migrants fleeing the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. My team conducted interviews and focus groups, then created a summary of our findings to share with the organization. I also collaborated with MPI staff to update website content with an emphasis on using global health data to demonstrate program need.

Chelsea Hipwell

Host a Penn MPH student for Fieldwork