About Experiential Learning
Public health majors at the University of Iowa apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world public health experiences. Our students learn by doing, and as they do, they develop skills that are critical for success in the workplace, in graduate/professional schools, and in their community. All public health majors at the University of Iowa must successfully complete at least one of the following experiences to graduate: research, internship, global learning, or service-learning.
To complete this practice-based experience, students will enroll in one of the four courses listed below. After securing a professional experience, students must register for the appropriate course on MyUI and pay tuition and fees based upon the number of credit hours (0-3) earned. The course is used to fulfill the experiential learning degree requirement and the course can be repeated.
For the most up-to-date information on dates and policies, students are advised to check the experiential learning ICON course: Experiential Learning Preparation and Course Site. This course is available to all current undergraduate majors under the ONGOING COURSES section of ICON.
To Explore Resources on finding Career and Internship opportunities, visit our Public Health Career Services Office.
Experiential Learning Courses
The internship experience must be related to the practice of public health and can take place at both traditional and non-traditional public health settings. Emphasis is placed on demonstrating an awareness of how student’s activities and projects are part of a larger public health context. In general, research experiences will not count toward internship credit.
To qualify as an approved internship, the position or opportunity does not have to be labeled “internship.” Many part-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, or even summer jobs can qualify as a meaningful experiential learning activity. The position might also be advertised as a practicum or co-op. The ultimate decision regarding whether or not a specific internship activity meets the criteria of this course is made by the CPH Undergraduate Program Office.
Engaging in public health research allows students to enrich their educational experience by integrating coursework with real-life experiences, establishing personal mentored relationships with public health faculty, and applying their knowledge to make research contributions that positively impact populations.
Public health research is defined as systematic investigation – including research development, testing and evaluation – designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge related to the practice of public health. CPH:3999 Undergraduate Research Experience in Public Health is intended to be a guided learning experience which meaningfully integrates the student in public health research activities. This is not an independent study activity, nor is independent student research expected as a part of this experience.
Examples of qualifying activities include, but are not limited to: (1) a hands-on laboratory experience and regular attendance at lab group meetings and other lab group activities; (2) a primary responsibility related to data entry participation in other lab group activities such as research team meetings, data collection, etc. Activities that involve data entry with no meaningful participation in or exposure to other research activities would not qualify.
The CPH Undergraduate Program Office makes the ultimate decision regarding whether or not a specific research activity meets the criteria of this course.
Service-learning courses allow students to integrate, synthesize, and apply classroom learning by combining rigorous academic coursework with community engagement. The College of Public Health Undergraduate Program is seeking opportunities to incorporate service learning in new and existing courses. Students may also self-identify service learning opportunities elsewhere and seek permission for experiential learning credit from the Undergraduate Program Office.
Students majoring in public health have the option to earn credit for service learning coursework related to public health through the course CPH:3750 Undergraduate Service Learning in Public Health (0 s.h.). The CPH Undergraduate Program Office makes the ultimate decision regarding whether or not a specific service learning course meets the criteria for experiential learning credit.
CPH:4750 Global Learning
The University of Iowa and the College of Public Health encourage students to pursue opportunities to work with globally diverse populations in a global or local context. Students may pursue global research, global internships, approved study abroad programs provided by third-party vendors that combine public health coursework with either internships, service learning, or independent study opportunities (i.e., CIEE and SIT programs), or local/global opportunities with CPH faculty. Students register for these experiences as CPH:4750 Undergraduate Global Learning in Public Health (0-3 s.h.). The CPH Undergraduate Program Office makes the ultimate decision regarding whether or not a specific global learning experience meets the criteria for the experiential learning degree requirement.
Note: Students may not earn credit for both their study abroad courses and their experiential learning course. If you are earning credit in an ABRD:XXXX or other study abroad credit-bearing course, you must register for CPH:4750 as 0 s.h.
Students: Not sure where to start? Check out this public health major advising page (MAP) on the UI Study Abroad website. MAPs outline the major’s academic requirements, suggest times for students in the major to study abroad, and provide lists of recommended programs based on the public health major. Many of the programs listed on the public health MAP will count toward experiential learning credit for the major, but REMEMBER, the CPH Undergraduate Program Office makes the ultimate decision regarding whether or not a specific global learning experience meets the criteria for experiential learning credit – so check with us first.
CPH:4990 Honors in the Major
Students enrolled in CPH:4990 Mentored Independent Undergraduate Research in Public Health will conduct an independent student research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Undergraduate public health majors who plan to graduate with honors in the major are required to register for this course in order satisfy the honors thesis requirement. This course occurs over two semesters. For more information about the policies and procedures related to CPH:4990, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Experiential Learning Opportunities Count?
To be eligible for registration and enrollment, students should:
- be a public health major in the College of Public Health
- be in good academic standing as defined by the College of Public Health
- have completed CPH:2050 Second Year Undergraduate Public Health Seminar (strongly recommended, but not required)
To receive credit within the College of Public Health, the proposed experience must align with the following definition:
- A structured work experience related to a student’s major and/or career goal
- An experience that should enhance a student’s academic, career, and personal development
- Supervised by a professional in the field
- An experience that can be one academic term (summer, spring, fall) or multiple academic terms in length
- Paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time.
- An experience that is mutually agreed upon by the student, supervisor, and Undergraduate Program Office.”
If the experience proposed by the student is not related to the practice of public health, other options for registered for academic credit are available through the Pomerantz Career Center. See careers.uiowa.edu for further information about registering for academic credit through the Pomerantz Career Center.
How Long Does My Experience Need To Be?
Registration for academic credit:
In general, students should register for:
- 1 s.h. for 80 hours of activity over the length of the experience
- 2 s.h. for 81-160 hours of activity over the length of the experience
- 3 s.h. for 161 or more hours of activity over the length of the experience
During the fall and spring semester, students should register for:
- 1 s.h. for 5 hours of activity/week (80 hours total)
- 2 s.h. for 6-10 hours of activity/week (81-160 hours total)
- 3 s.h. for 11-15+ hours of activity/week (161 or more hours total)
During the 8-week summer session, students should register for:
- 1 s.h. for 10 hours of activity/week (80 hours total)
- 2 s.h. for 11-20 hours of activity/week (81-160 hours total)
- 3 s.h. for 21-30+ hours of activity/week (161 or more hours total)
Students who are receiving payment for their experience must register for 0 s.h. At a minimum, students should be engaged in 5 hours/week of internship activity during the fall or spring semester and 10 hours/week of internship activity during the 8-week summer session.
How Do I Register for an Experiential Learning Course?
The following steps should be completed prior to requesting permission to register:
- Identify internship opportunities
- The student should share the Supervisor Information Sheet (available on the ICON prep site) with the internship supervisor which details the College of Public Health’s expectations for the supervisor.
- Prior to committing to an experience, the student and the supervisor should develop an agreement about the following items related to the opportunity:
- Work start and end dates
- The duties and responsibilities of the student, including the completion of any training that may be required prior to the start of or during the experience
- Whether or not the student will be receiving payment or other compensation for their work
- The estimated amount of time to be devoted each week to the experience.
- Other items as determined by the supervisor
- Prior to committing to an experience, the student should speak with the CPH experiential learning coordinator – Sophie Switzer (firstname.lastname@example.org) to determine whether or not the opportunity will count toward the experiential learning degree requirement.
In order to request permission to register for experiential learning, students should:
- Complete an online application that requests information about the experience and asks students to describe how the specific opportunity will contribute to their overall educational goals and/or career aspirations.
- Attach a work agreement, job description, or similar signed statement signed by your supervisor.
- Submit the application form through the online portal for review.
- The application form will be circulated for signatures from the (1) CPH experiential learning coordinator and (2) CPH undergraduate program director. All signatures must be obtained prior to receiving permission to register.
What Are the Expectations for Completing an Experiential Learning Course?
In addition to completing the experience as agreed upon by the student and the supervisor, the student must also fulfill the following course requirements:
- The student will complete an early-term (during the third week) and end-of-term self-assessment. Online forms will be provided by the Undergraduate Program Office.
- The supervisor will complete an early-term check-in (during the third week) and end-of-term semester evaluation of the student’s performance. Online forms will be provided by the Undergraduate Program Office.
- When the experience is completed, the student must submit a final written report to the Undergraduate Program Office. the required components and formatting of this report.
- Present at an oral or poster presentation in a venue approved by the Undergraduate Program Office.
General Expectations of the Student
The student will:
- Identify and secure a qualifying practice experience
- Reach an agreement with the supervisor about the expectations of the experience (e.g., start/end dates, hours per week, duties and responsibilities, compensation, etc.)
- Meet the requirements for course registration (as outlined above)
- Complete all training as required and prior to/during the experience
- Perform the required work as agreed upon with the supervisor
- Be responsible for completing all course requirements in a timely manner (as outlined above)
General Expectations of the Supervisor
The supervisor will:
- Be available to the student, answer their questions, and treat them with respect and fairness
- Work with the student to establish the expectations of the experience
- Oversee the student’s experience
- Provide an early-term check-in (typically during the third week of an academic term) and end-of-term evaluation of student performance.