All MPH programs accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health are required to provide a culminating experience in which students demonstrate their skills and integrate knowledge. In the MPH in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP), this experience is the capstone. The idea is to apply theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom to a situation that mimics the demands of professional practice. Faculty coach students through this project, and they assess at its conclusion how well students have mastered the identified body of knowledge and whether they have acquired the competencies required to be public health professionals. For their capstone projects, students establish relationships with clients—typically government public health agencies or community-based organizations—who have real work to do and can support such a learning experience for COPHP students. We have developed an approach to the capstone that allows students a wide range of choices of types of projects while providing a highly structured and motivating environment in which to complete the work. To help our students produce strong culminating projects, we have developed strong expectations and norms. We also apply our own tracking and organizing tools and adhere to our clearly defined philosophy and culture.
Keywords: Accreditation, Capstone, Client, Culminating project, Literature review, Research, Thesis.