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Integrative Learning Experiences in Public Health

Student leading a meeting

What Is the Integrative Learning Experience (ILE)?

The culminating experience for Master of Public Health (MPH) students is known as the Integrative Learning Experience (ILE). The ILE integrates public health academic studies with public health practice skills.

Completed in the final year of the degree program at Drexel Dornsife, students gain public health practice experience relevant to their chosen concentration/major.

Each major within the MPH program has specific requirements for the ILE, but generally students are required to take 3-6 credits in the final quarters of the program and produce a high-quality written product that demonstrates mastery of core public health and discipline-specific competencies.

The ILE can be an internship, capstone course, or data analysis project. The student's major determines which ILE they complete.

Student ILEs can make a tangible impact in the field of public health. During her ILE, Pascale Vallee, MPH '22 (Global Health), conducted research for organizations that support individuals released from detention in Philadelphia. She received a verbal commitment from the city's Office of Reentry Partnerships that they would use Vallee's research as a road map for change. “Hearing that was probably my proudest and most humbling moment while at Dornsife,” she said.

Types of Integrated Learning Experiences Available at Dornsife


Students work closely with their faculty mentor and complete a project with a partner organization. This can be a continuation of their applied practical experience (APE) or a new project. Internship students find their own placement through channels such as Dornsife’s Symplicity database, faculty members, alumni, or professional contacts.

Capstone Course

Students enroll in a capstone course and complete their ILE project within that course. Projects are provided by the course instructor.

Data Analysis Project

Students work closely with their faculty mentor to find an appropriate data set and complete a data analysis project.

Recent Integrative Learning Experience Projects

Drexel Dornsife students gain practical skills and career experience at some of the leading public health organizations in the Philadelphia region, while others work closely with Dornsife faculty mentors and course instructors.

A sample of organizations where our students completed their ILE includes:

  • The Center for Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST)
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center
  • Women for a Healthy Environment
  • St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
  • Philadelphia Department of Prisons
  • Drexel University College of Engineering
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab
  • Dornsife Global Development Scholars Program

See more examples of public health student experiences

How are the APE and ILE at Drexel Dornsife similar/different?

The Applied Practical Experience (APE) is usually community-based and offers an opportunity for students to have experiences where skills learned in the classroom are applied to real-world situations. In some concentrations the APE and ILE are both an internship with a community partner; however, in the other concentrations there is a greater difference between the two experiences. Depending on the MPH concentration, the ILE can be coordinated with the APE.

The past few years have created a new appreciation for the critical role of trained public health professionals.


Collage of alumni

Outstanding Dornsife Alumni to Celebrate 25 Years

In recognition of the School’s 25th anniversary, 25 outstanding alumni were highlighted in the Dornsife SPH Magazine Vol. 25.

More Alumni Success Stories