Service Learning/Capstone Experience Overview for MPH Students

Are you ready for your Service Learning/Capstone Experience?

A Simplified, MPH’s Student’s Guide to Service Learning/Capstone Experience through the Service Learning Academy

What you stand to gain from your Service Learning/Capstone Experience:
The Service Learning/Capstone Experience component of your MPH program will:

  • Give you an opportunity to integrate theory with practice.
  • Give you an opportunity to provide community service.
  • Provide experience with organizational management styles.
  • Help you develop/enhance interpersonal skills.
  • Provide access to data/projects for theses, dissertations and/or publications.
  • Provide exposure to contacts for future employment.
  • Provide work experience/define career objectives.
  • In some cases, provide a stipend/wage for service provided.

Your service learning/capstone experience will benefit the placement site by providing:

  • An opportunity to formalize a partnership with the University; links site to University-based research and data expertise/resources.
  • Assistance in identifying/recruiting future public health personnel.
  • Additional human resources to accomplish work in core public health functions and essential services.

Your service learning/capstone experience will benefit the University and faculty by providing:

  • An opportunity for research.
  • A source of current information about public health practice.
  • An opportunity to assess currency/sufficiency of curriculum.
  • An opportunity to provide community service.

Where do I start?

Before registering for the course:

  • Read the SL/CE Handbook, found
  • Meet and consult with your MPH program academic advisor (one will be assigned to you once you are accepted to the MPH program) to ascertain readiness for service learning/capstone experience.
  • Fill the application for Service Learning/Capstone Experience form (pp. 20-22) and submit to the Director of Masters Programs, Kendra Schmid, in order to register for the course (CPH 528 and CPH 529).

Once you log into black board, at , scroll down to find the MPH Program link, on the left hand side, as shown below:

Click on MPH program:


Click on SL/CE Information:


You will find the attached application for the SL/CE, as shown below. 



  • The Preceptor must submit the Agency/Organization Profile form (pp.20-21) and obtain approval for the placement site before the student begins service activities.  (Shown below)


  • Verify that a UNMC and site affiliation document is in place.
  • Complete all core courses.
  • Complete all concentration courses. These can be found by clicking on the competencies folder from the MPH program on blackboard.


  • Students who entered the MPH program in the Fall of 2006 or after must have successfully completed a graduate level (3 credit hours) research methods course before they may enroll in the Service Learning course.
  • Be within 12 hours of graduation, including the 6 hours of Service Learning/Capstone Experience Courses.
  • Be in good academic standing.
  • Obtain IRB approvals from all organizations that will be involved with the capstone project.
  • Obtain CITI Certification if the project involves working with human subjects, data collection, and/or working with confidential data. A link to CITI certification from the IRB website. (Link shown above).

Preceptor and Agency/Organization Information

  • Review the different programs that the SLA has to offer.
  • Once you narrow it down to one or two programs that you are interested in, contact please contact Dr. Ruth Margalit to clarify who the preceptor and agency/organization will be.
    • Please do not contact the organization/agency directly. Even if you do not find an organization or agency you would like to work with on the SLA website, we ask that you contact Dr. Margalit first. The SLA will work with you to find an agency that suits your needs.
  • With the help of your academic advisor, identify committee members who will provide expertise with your research questions and proposal. Your committee is comprised of the preceptor, a chairperson who must come from the same department as the student’s MPH concentration, and a faculty member from a different department from the committee chairperson.
  • Allow enough time to apply for and complete the required paperwork, meet with potential preceptors, form a committee and enroll for the class.
  • Start writing your proposal. You will receive a lot of feedback from your committee chair on the quality of your proposal, and a final draft should be ready 2-3weeks before you defend your proposal.
  • Upon successfully defending your proposal, your committee members will sign it off, and you may begin your service learning hours.

Please note: This is a very general overview of the service learning/capstone experience process. A complete set of guidelines is available through the MPH SL/CE handbook on blackboard.

Contact SLA
Service-Learning Academy
University of Nebraska Medical Center
986075 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE  68198-6075


Ruth Margalit MD - Director
Phone: 402-559-7458,


Laura Vinson - SLA Coordinator
Phone: 402-559-4191

Cole Boyle
Phone: 402-552-7202