CE Learning Objectives & Policies


All students must complete a Culminating Experience (CE).  The CE provides students with an opportunity to synthesize and integrate core public health skills taught in the Global Health curriculum.  The Department offers three options for completing the CE: a policy analysis, a journal article, and an independent project.  MPH/MBA students should consult Taryn Vian for program specific requirements, which may be different from those listed.

Learning Objectives for the Culminating Experience

Upon completion of the CE, GH concentrators will be able to:

  1. Synthesize background information gathered using primary and secondary sources, either from a practice partner site or as part of a public health research activity, on a problem of public health interest.
  2. Drawing from knowledge, theories, and skills learned during course work,  analyze a public health problem, identify causal factors, and explain their inter-relationships.
  3. Identify a specific audience for a policy memo, paper, or project and tailor communication for this audience of stakeholders.
  4. Explain how a problem should be addressed, and causal factors either mitigated or prevented, through a proposed intervention or course of proposed action.
  5. Define strengths and weaknesses of a chosen strategy, compared to other alternatives, previous practice, or identified “best” practice, taking into account feasibility, cost, cultural appropriateness, and other issues.

The Approval Process

Students may begin their CE after they have completed 25 credit hours.  Students must choose a CE advisor to work with throughout the semester; for most students, this will be your academic advisor. If you decide to work with an GH Faculty member who is not your academic advisor, be sure to let your academic advisor know.  For students enrolling in GH 777 to complete the CE, the instructors will be your CE advisors.

Approval for a CE will not be given for work that has been previously completed.  Students should seek approval prior to beginning work on their chosen option.  While students may base their CE on previous work, the CE paper or project must be substantially new work and not a revision or rewrite of previous work.

All written work will involve a multi-draft process.  Most students write and submit three drafts to their CE advisor for comments and suggestions. A fourth version is often necessary to complete the paper or project.  In order to successfully complete the culminating experience, the student must demonstrate application of a broad range of core skills from across the curriculum and synthesis and integration of knowledge.

Quality Standards and CE Advisor’s Role

In order to complete the CE, all GH concentrators must demonstrate application of a broad range of core skills from across the curriculum and synthesis and integration of knowledge. Final papers (Options 1 & 2) will only be approved if they have met this standard of high quality graduate-level analytic writing. Independent projects (Option 3) will receive approval once they have fulfilled the objectives defined in the  project proposal and represent high quality graduate work.  Please note that proposals of Option 2 and 3 must be approved before they are reviewed by the GH Curriculum Committee.  The same high quality standards are expected of all culminating projects, whether they are credit-bearing or not.

All papers must be cited appropriately, using either American Psychological Association (APA) formatting (author, year) or Vancouver numbering system (also known as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Medical Journals).

APA Style Guidelines

ICMJE guidelines

We strongly encourage all students to learn to use Zotero (http://www.zotero.org/), Mendeley  (http://www.mendeley.com/) or another bibliographic software program. Zotero and Mendeley are open-source programs that you can download through your computer or use online.

CE advisors will read and comment on 3 drafts of a paper. If the third draft is close to being done but still needs some work, the advisor may ask for a fourth and final draft. CE advisors will not read more than 4 drafts.  The third draft should only be submitted to your advisor once it is as close to a final product as you can make it (meaning all citations should be in place, all sections completed, abstract attached, text copy-edited, etc.)


Students Enrolled in GH707, MI Program, MA/MPH or MPH/MD Program

If you are leaving Boston for an extended period of time or are on a tight schedule to graduate because you are joining another academic program, we strongly suggest that you complete your CE before you leave Boston. For example, if you have been accepted to medical school and are planning to do the Kenya program, you should complete the CE before you leave for Kenya.  Other students who should complete the CE prior to your practicum and/or before leaving Boston include those enrolled in:

  • Phillipines Program in their last semester
  • Masters International Peace Corps Program
  • Graduate Program in Medical Sciences

Incomplete Culminating Experience Policy

Most CEs can and should be completed within one semester; sticking to deadlines posted in the CE contract will facilitate this.  At most, you may take 1 additional semester to complete an unfinished CE. Students who require a second semester to complete the CE must register for GH951 (a zero credit one-time CE extension) to continue working on the CE and can request an Incomplete (“I”)grade for one additional semester. This will be subject to the Grading Policy available at sph.bu.edu/registrar/policies.  If, after the second semester, the CE is not completed, the incomplete grade will be converted to an F.

International students must be in compliance with visa regulations and any student who will not finish his/her CE by posted deadlines should speak with the Program Manager as soon as possible.

Students who want to finish the CE after 2 semesters of work must petition the GH department to complete the CE. The petition must include a work plan for finishing the requirement within one semester and if the petition is granted, the student must register for a 1-credit directed study. The CE must be finished within the time period indicated in the work plan.