Research, Practice, and Exam Requirements

Practicum Requirements

All MPH programs in Pitt Public Health require a practicum of at least 200 hours. Specific requirements vary, and all programs have a process for helping students identify appropriate practica as well as evaluating the experience.

Other programs may also require practica or clinical experiences. Consult with your program handbook for specifics. 

Forms for evaluating the practica

Practica at Pitt Public Health

MPH Requirements
  • Practicum experiences allow students to demonstrate attainment of at least five competencies, of which at least three must be CEPH MPH foundational competencies. Practicum experiences may also address additional foundational or program-specific competencies, if appropriate. 
  • A minimum of two deliverables to be completed at the end of the experience for the benefit of the organization or agency. 
  • Use of school-provided e-Portfolio to track competencies, archive deliverables and provide overall assessment of the practicum experience by faculty. 
Working with Children and other Legal Requirements

If you're working with students in your practicum, you will need appropriate clearances. Discuss these requirements with your advisor and practicum supervisor well in advance, as clearance processes can be lengthy. 

Some sites may also require specific site agreements or other legal arrangements. Other experiences may include a research component, for which you will need to complete the appropriate modules (see below). 

Research Requirements

All PhD and most MS programs include a research component. The process of choosing a research advisor is critical. Start this process early in consultation with your advisor and other mentors. Be sure that you are aware of your program rules and expectations. Consult with your advisor or program director for specifics. 

Evaluation of Student Research Progress

Student research progress should be evaluated regularly in a formal process, at least once a year for doctoral students, preferably twice. Processes differ among departments. 

Refer to the TA and GSR policy for specific requirements, if applicable. 

Evaluations of research progress for the purposes of academic standing should be clearly differentiated from evaluations of job performance in a GSR. Depending on the situation, it is possible for a student to have acceptable employment performance but not make the necessary progress toward thesis research; or, conversely, to have unacceptable job performance but acceptable academic research progress. 

General Research Training Requirements

The University maintains a resource for researchers and the training requirements specific to different groups.

Research Conduct and Compliance Office training site

Be sure to verify specific modules required by your department, research mentor and/or academic advisor. 

Online Research Integrity Module

This module is required for all University of Pittsburgh students who are conducting research. You will be alerted by your research mentor, academic advisor or other departmental representative if this module is a requirement for your work. 

To access the module, create an account on the University of Pittsburgh's HSConnect site. Find the modules and additional information on the Pitt CITI Access Portal. 

Examination Requirements

Students must follow requirements for exam committee memberships. Students in provisional admission status are not permitted to sit for preliminary or comprehensive exam.

When each milestone exam is completed, a Report on Requirements form must be signed by the committee and the department chair and returned to the Office of Student Affairs. In some departments, it is the student's responsibility to bring this form to the exam. Check with your department student services staff. 

Probation and dismissal guidelines




Per Pitt policy, all MS degrees require a comprehensive examination and a thesis defense which vary in form from department to department. Consult your program handbook for specifics. 


All PhD programs require a preliminary examination, a comprehensive examination, a dissertation overview and a dissertation defense. Many programs combine the comprehensive exam and the dissertation overview. Consult with your department and advisor for program specifics. 

Other Degrees

Most other degrees do not require comprehensive examinations, but consult with your advisor and program handbook to confirm. 

Multiple Degrees

Students pursuing multiple degrees independently must complete all examinations for each degree; combining examinations is not allowed. 

Essay, Thesis and Dissertation Requirements

All Pitt Public Health graduate degree programs require a final written product which can be an essay, a thesis or a dissertation depending on the program. Talk to your advisor and other mentors early on to make sure you understand all expectations. Some programs maintain essay or thesis handbooks. 

Detailed format requirements

Rules for committee composition

Final submission instructions 


Programs may require either an essay or a thesis, or may give students a choice between the two formats. Consult with your advisor and your program handbook to ascertain differences and expectations. 

If you wish to base your essay/thesis on a practicum or internship with the Allegheny County Health Department, note that your essay/thesis requires approval from your ACHD preceptor or site supervisor. In addition, a member of the ACHD must serve on your committee. If they are unable to serve, a representative of ACHD will be selected for you. 


All Pitt Public Health MS degrees require a thesis and a thesis defense. This may be an original, publishable research project, a policy paper, literature review, or applied data analysis. 

MS degrees generally do not involve a thesis proposal or overview, but some departments may require one. 


All Pitt Public Health PhD degrees require a dissertation in the form of a major body of original research and a dissertation defense. This may be a single, unified document or it may take the form of a published or publishable papers. Be aware of the two dissertation formats and discuss them with your advisor. Either your department or your advisor will determine which formats are permissible. 

Multiple degrees

If you are pursuing multiple degrees independently you must complete the essay/thesis/dissertation requirements for each degree separately; combined documents are not allowed. 

Public defense announcements

MS thesis defenses are not required to be public, but the official decision is at the department's discretion. Doctoral defenses are required to be public and have very specific publicity requirements. 

More information