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Dornsife Public Health Case Competition

Case Competition: Create innovative solutions to address a real life public health issue impacting Philadelphia

The Public Health Case Competition, which was developed by the Center for Public Health Practice at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH), is open to all DSPH undergraduate, MS, and MPH students who want to engage in a unique learning experience, address a Philadelphia public health problem in a team environment, and have a chance to win prize money!

Held annual each February, the competition brings together up to ten interdisciplinary teams to create innovative solutions to address a real-life public health issue impacting Philly.

Over just two weeks, teams collaborate effectively and quickly before presenting their intervention to a panel of judges on competition day.

People's Choice Award

Collage of six infographics

During the 2023 competition, five teams were tasked with creating an infographic summarizing issues implicated by the way that an iconic Philly Food (i.e. pretzel, mushrooms, tomato pie) is produced and delivered and recommendations for improvements, including the tangible public health outcomes.

Teams were also tasked with laying out their recommendations clearly in a way that government officials and community members can understand. 

Read all about this years' competition, including each team's infographic.


  • Winning Team: $1000 per team
  • Honorable Mention: $500 per team
  • People’s Choice Award: $500 per team

Frequently Asked Questions about the Case Competition


Can online students participate?

Yes. The competition is open to on-campus and online students.

What should I do if I have one or two people for my team but not a full team of 4 or 5?

You can register as a partial team.

If you register as an individual, will you be in a team of 4 or 5?

Yes. Teams are created using a lottery system if you register as an individual or partial team.

Will teams that have 5 people have priority over teams with 4 or partial teams?

No, it will completely be a lottery system.

Were there a lot of people last year who couldn’t participate because of the lottery system?

The first year we did first-come first-served, but switched to a lottery system due to the complex nature of matching teams on a first-come first-served basis.

If I get selected to participate, do I have to confirm that I want to take part in the competition?

Yes, each team member must confirm their participation or their spot will be given to someone on the wait list.

Deliverables and Competition Period 

What are the deliverables?

There will be 2 deliverables: One graphic deliverable and one written deliverable. Each team will have 10 minutes to present followed by a short Q&A from the judges.

How many times are you able to meet with your team's mentor?

2 times for an hour each. Mentors will be matched with teams randomly. We have mentors from all departments. Students should go to mentors with specific questions, not for help with ideas.

Competition Day 

What if I can’t come to Competition Day?

Only 2 team members are required to participate on Competition Day in the Q&A session and the awards ceremony. We encourage as many to participate as possible, but we understand that there may be conflicts with class, work, etc.

How much time will be given to answer questions from the judges on Competition Day?

There will be 7 minutes of questions from the judges.

How many judges will there be?

There will be 3 judges. The judges will be Dornsife faculty members.

Will we be able to watch other teams?

Judging will be private. The Practice Office may decide to record sessions so that they are publicly available, but we haven’t decided yet. There will be a virtual awards ceremony on Competition Day, and everyone will be able to attend.

If you have additional questions please contact Tariem Burroughs.

Read about our first annual Public Health Student Case Competition, held in January 2020. Teams were asked to find solutions to mitigate the potential negative public health impacts of the 2019 Hahnemann Hospital closure in Philadelphia.

In the second annual Public Health Student Case Competition, held in February 2021, teams addressed COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and created an outreach plan for a targeted community in Philadelphia.

The third annual Public Health Student Case Competition in February 2022 addressed the topic of protecting vulnerable populations from extreme heat events.

Winning students pose with giant check