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MPH Program on the Worcester Campus
Guidelines for Choosing a Capstone and Writing the Proposal

Worcester Campus MPH students are required to complete a 3-credit capstone in order to meet the degree requirements for the MPH. Please note that the capstone is not the practicum experience.  Students in the Worcester Campus MPH Program have three options for meeting the requirements for the 3-credit HPP 696D. Students may not register for the capstone until they have completed 33 credits, chosen one of the following three options and received approval on the topic from the Worcester Campus Program Director.  

Option 1: Complete a comprehensive literature review and analysis of a public health or health care topic. Topics may include policy analysis, an historical investigation, an exploration of an emerging technology, an ethical issue, a health care management issue, etc.  The topic must be approved by the Worcester Campus Director.  After having the topic approved, students conduct an extensive literature search, including 15-20 articles or book chapters and write a 15-20 page review and analysis of the topic. The paper must follow the format of published review articles in the field chosen by the student. 

Option 2:  Complete a consulting-type project based in a public health or health care institution or agency. Topics may include program development, program assessment, quality improvement, strategic planning, policy development and/or implementation, etc. The student is expected to gather information from either primary or secondary sources, assess the data, and present the analysis and recommendations in a 15-20 page paper. Students choosing this option are required to identify a company, clinic, agency, or other healthcare entity with which they are familiar. Students conduct the project using data sources, interviews, surveys or focus groups. Publicly available data may used, including data that is available through government and non-profit websites. The finished project should include a literature review of 5-10 papers and a 10-15 page formal report or a comprehensive power point slide presentation that includes recommendations and a conclusion. 

Option 3:  Complete a 3-credit epidemiology research project that demonstrates the student’s ability to apply public health theories and principles to investigate a current public health issue. Ideally, students develop some expertise in all phases of research including formulation of research questions, designing studies, collecting, entering, analyzing data and reporting results but experience in primary data collection is not required.  Types of acceptable projects include secondary analysis of an existing data set, primary data collection and analysis, or development and pilot testing of a public health or health care intervention. Students are required to identify a research advisor who is an MPH faculty member, UMass Chan faculty member or other professional approved by the Worcester Campus Director. The finished product is a fully-referenced 10-12 page report that includes a literature review, study methodology, project limitations, results and discussion. 

Please note that the Worcester Program Director, Dr. Jacalyn Coghlin-Strom serves as the faculty advisor for all three options of the culminating project. Please contact faculty advisor her if you have questions regarding the options for the culminating experience requirement: 


 Please contact Linda Hollis for questions regarding registration for the Capstone Experience:

 MPH Capstone
Instructions for Writing the Proposal

1. Review the descriptions of Capstone Options 1-3 and decide which option best suits your educational goals. The Worcester Program Director, Dr. Jacalyn Coghlin-Strom, serves as the faculty advisor for al 3 options.  If you would like to discuss the options prior to submitting your proposal, please make an appointment to meet with the Program Director.

2. Write a 1-2 page Capstone proposal and submit the proposal to the Program Director two weeks before you wish to register.   Students will need permission from the Program Director in order to register for HPP 696D. The following should be included in the proposal:

a) Introduction, including relevant background information

b) Learning objectives and goals of the project

c) Description of the final product - examples include review article, PowerPoint presentation, position paper, case study, manuscript for publication, etc. Options for the final product may be discussed with the Program Director and Research Advisor.

d) Methodology – Option 3 requires a more extensive description of the methodology that should include: study question(s), study design, target population, methods of data collection, sample size, study limitations, human subjects application or request for exemption.

e) Significance of the project relative to the field of public health

f) Timeline for the Capstone – The Capstone is typically completed during one semester. However, the credits can be rolled over if necessary to complete the work.

g) Inclusion of additional faculty advisors or experts in the field – Students may wish to work with faculty who can provide topic-specific expertise.

h) Plans for dissemination, if appropriate.

3. Timelines for tasks, target dates, and meetings with faculty advisors will be individualized for each project depending on the needs of the graduate student.

4. Submission of a draft of the final product is due two weeks before the grade is due. This allows the faculty and research advisors sufficient time to request clarifications, edits, and /or additional information prior to submitting the final grade.