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Applied Practical Experiences

Students at DSPH don’t just learn – they do

Public health practice – the “doing” of public health – is a key component of the MPH curriculum. Students gain both broad and deep exposures to hands-on public health work through applied practical experiences in the first year of their program.

The objectives of the Depth and Breadth practical experiences prepare students to:

  • Integrate theory and research with practice;
  • Apply public health concepts and methods to solve real world problems;
  • Gain new and enhance existing knowledge and skills; and
  • Widen the scope of professional activities, relationships, and networks.


The depth experience constitutes a supervised, hands-on public health opportunity within a public health practice setting alongside one of our community partners. This 120-hour experience may be in the form of an internship or a project.

Chelsi Defoe

Student experiences

Exposing Adverse Health Effects Linked to Hotel Work

Chelsi Defoe is an MPH candidate in the department of Environmental and Occupational Health. When it came time to select a practice experience at DSPH, she wanted to make a meaningful contribution in Philadelphia and felt interning with UNITE HERE was the place to start because of their reach.

This local represents 4,000 private sector hotel and food service workers throughout the Philadelphia region.

Read Chelsi's full story on the Dornsife SPH Life blog.


Anthony Goetz

Student experiences

Advocating for Sustainable and Fair Transportation

Anthony Goetz, MPH ‘20, a student in the department of Community Health and Prevention, is using his applied practical depth experience at the Clean Air Council to make the city a safer place for Philadelphians on the move.

He is part of the Council's transportation outreach team.

Read Anthony's full story on the Dornsife SPH Life blog.


Paola Maysonet

Student experiences

Helping Residents Heal after Hurricane Maria

Paola Maysonet, a Community Health and Prevention MPH '19 student, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States at the young age of two. For her, the fight to expose health disparities and inequities is a fight for her culture, family, and her first home.

The Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) depth experience at Dornsife enabled Paula to access and conduct significant research that could serve the Latino community.

Read Paola's full story on the Dornsife SPH Life blog.



Students in the MPH program often engage in occasional public health practice activities including lectures, volunteerism, or community service, separate from structured longer-term experiences. Tracking Breadth activities gives students the ability to capture the range of their community and practice engagement throughout their time at Drexel.

Students document at least one practice activity each month during their time in the program, including the academic year and in the summer between their first and second year.

Examples of breadth activities:

  • Lectures or presentations within or external to Drexel including, but not limited to, DSPH Population Health Spotlight, Urban Health Collaborative speakers, College of Physicians Public Health Grand Rounds, or other public health practice-related events.
  • Drexel-sponsored community service activities or volunteerism that one engages in on their own time.

Finding an Opportunity

The Symplicity database houses a variety of potential student experiences, including those that satisfy Breadth and Depth. Students should register with their Drexel email address to be granted access.

Students may also find these experiences by connecting with faculty members, professional or personal contacts, or other independent research on opportunities.

Launch Symplicity

For Preceptors

Thank you for serving as a mentor and supervisor for our students’ practical experiences. Our preceptors come from all sectors of public health, providing exposure to a variety of skills and tasks relevant to students’ future careers. Review our preceptor requirements and orientation materials (PDF).