CE Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

  • What is a culminating experience (CE)?
  • What are the IH CE options?
  • When can I start working on my CE?
  • I want to work on my CE this semester. What should I do first?
  • What forms/documents do I need to complete in order to start working on my CE?
  • Where can I find the CE contract, CE Guidelines, and online forms?

Further Info

  • I haven’t completed my practicum yet. Can I still do an Option 1 Policy Analysis?
  • Do I have to complete my CE for credit?
  • What’s the difference between the practicum trip report and the CE policy analysis (Option 1)?
  • What is the difference between a CE advisor and your IH academic advisor?
  • Does my CE advisor have to be an IH faculty member?
  • Who should take IH777?

Special Cases & Troubleshooting

  • The submission deadline is quickly approaching, but I can’t reach my advisor. What should I do?
  • I started a large project over the summer and now I’ve decided that I would like to use this work as my CE project (option 3). Is this possible?
  • I am done with all of my course work, but still need to do my practicum and culminating experience. Is it possible to finish both in the same semester?
  • I am enrolled in the Kenya Field Studies Course, is it possible to complete the CE in time to graduate in September?
  • I am a dual degree student enrolled in both the MPH and GMS, MSW, MBA, or MD program. Do all of the rules regarding the CE apply to me?
  • I just found out that I have been accepted to medical school (or another academic program). It’s May and the new program starts in August, but I still haven’t completed my CE. What are my options?
  • I’m leaving for the Peace Corps in 6 months. When should I complete my CE? Which option is best for me?
  • I am working on an article manuscript (Option 2) for my CE. I have spent the whole semester analyzing my data and now it’s December and I still haven’t started writing. Can I still graduate in January?

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Getting Started

What is a culminating experience (CE)?

As defined by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH):
“All professional degree programs . . . shall assure that each student demonstrates skills and integration of knowledge through a culminating experience.”

A culminating experience is one that requires a student to synthesize and integrate knowledge acquired in coursework and other learning experiences and to apply theory and principles in a situation that approximates some aspect of professional practice. It must be used as a means by which faculty judge whether the student has mastered the body of knowledge and can demonstrate proficiency in the required competencies.

What are the IH CE options?

Option 1: Policy Analysis
Option 2: Publishable Journal Article
Option 3: Independent Project

For further detail, see the CE Guidelines or visit the CE Options Tab.

When can I start working on my CE?

In order to start working on your CE, you must have completed 25 credits of coursework. Most students complete their CE after the practicum, but there are several exceptions to this.

For further detail, visit the Learning Objectives & Policies Tab.

I want to work on my CE this semester. What should I do first?

First, read the CE Guidelines. Second, contact your academic advisor to let them know you are planning to work on your CE this semester. If you would like your academic advisor to be your CE advisor, make sure they are willing and able to do so this semester. If they are too busy or if you would like to work with a different IH faculty member as your CE advisor, it is your responsibility to ask another faculty member to be your CE advisor and to notify your faculty advisor that your plans.   For further detail, visit the Step by Step Overview.

What forms/documents do I need to complete in order to start working on my CE?

The Step by Step Overview provides detailed instructions for which forms to complete when.

Where can I find the CE contract, CE Guidelines, and online forms?

You can find all of these on the IH Blast under the CE Tab.  Click on the CE heading for general information, CE Guidelines, and CE completion contracts, and scroll down to subpages to complete online forms.

Further Info

I haven’t completed my practicum yet. Can I still do an Option 1 Policy Analysis?

Yes. Most students write their CE about a topic related to their practicum experience, but this is not a requirement. You may complete a CE before your practicum. If you have already completed your practicum and want to write your CE on an unrelated topic, be sure to talk to your CE advisor and get their input.  For further information, see the CE Learning Objectives & Policies Tab.

Do I have to complete my CE for credit?
You may complete your CE for 0, 1, or 2 credits. The exception to this is Option 2 (Journal Article); if you choose option 2, you will need to register for a 2 credit directed study (IH943). This is because Option 2 CEs typically require a significant investment of time for both you and your CE advisor, and it is important that your transcript reflect this.

What’s the difference between the practicum trip report and the CE policy analysis (Option 1)?

See handouts provided by the IH Practicum Office explaining the trip report. The trip report is the document in which you describe and reflect on various experiences and lessons learned during your practicum.  The Policy Analysis is an analysis of one aspect of the work you were doing during your practicum and will be based on a specific policy or programmatic question. The policy analysis will:

  • Frame a particular question or problem;
  • Provide relevant background on the scope of the problem, the context, and the organization;
  • Analyze the evidence base and current policies and interventions;
  • Make 1-3 focused recommendations that take cost and feasibility into consideration.

What is the difference between a CE advisor and my IH academic advisor?

Your CE advisor is an IH faculty member who agrees to work with you on your CE throughout the semester. In most cases, your IH academic advisor will also be your CE advisor. Here are a couple of reasons why your CE advisor might be different from your IH academic advisor:

  1. Your faculty advisor is out of the country or unable to devote the necessary time to working with you this semester. They may suggest another faculty member with whom you might work.
  2. Your topic is not an area of expertise for your advisor, and s/he suggests you work with a faculty member who knows more about it.
  3. You have begun collaborating with another IH faculty member, and s/he thinks you could develop a CE based on this collaboration.

In all of these cases (and many more), be sure to communicate with both your academic advisor and your CE advisor so everyone is clear on who does what.

Does my CE advisor have to be an IH faculty member?

Yes. Because the requirements for the CE are unique to each Department, it is necessary that your CE advisor also be an IH faculty member. IH faculty members are aware of the specific requirements for the CE in our department, while a faculty member in another department may not be. In order to ensure that all students are evaluated fairly and completely on their final CE, you must work with an IH faculty member.

Who should take IH777?

Anyone doing Option 1 can take IH777. The course provides students with a structured environment and supportive community in which to write their papers. Drafts have hard deadlines. Sessions focus on topic development, desktop research, bibliographic software, citation formatting, writing process, etc. The course also provides you with a community of peers who are working on a similar project. The sessions provide a structured atmosphere for brainstorming, troubleshooting, peer support, and peer review. If you are a procrastinator or have a hard time setting your own deadlines and sticking to them then this class is a must.

 

Special Cases & Troubleshooting

The submission deadline is quickly approaching, but I can’t reach my advisor. What should I do?

Call or email the IH Academic Coordinator to discuss.

Please keep in mind that IH faculty members have many teaching, research, and travel commitments, so it is important to begin communicating about your CE well in advance of deadlines. If you are emailing me in a panic on the due date, there’s probably not much that can be done at that point.

I started a large project over the summer and now I’ve decided that I would like to use this work as my CE project (option 2 or 3). Is this possible?

In general, the IH faculty will only agree to advise you on Option 3 projects that they know about in advance. Their role is to advise you on formulating a research question, study or intervention design, etc. The best course is to be planning your CE in advance and to talk to your CE advisor as soon as you come up with your idea. Your CE advisor will give you guidance on what sorts of projects are potentially suitable for Option 3 and what the final deliverables should be.

Word of warning, most faculty will be reluctant to get involved with a project that is already half-way completed.

I am done with all of my course work, but still need to do my practicum and culminating experience. Is it possible to finish both in the same semester?

If you are planning to do Option 1 based on your practicum experience, you will likely not finish the required multiple drafts of the policy analysis by the end of the same semester. The policy analysis should be something you write once you know your practicum organization well, and have been there long enough to understand some of the key policy or programmatic issues they may be grappling with. The best case scenario is to start planning your policy analysis (with input from the organization staff and your faculty advisor) toward the end of your practicum, and to write it once you have finished. If it is possible to get an earlier start drafting the analysis then you should do so, but be sure to get approval from your CE advisor before you start.

I am enrolled in the Kenya Field Studies Course. Is it possible to complete the CE (based on this experience) in time to graduate in September?

It is highly unlikely. See previous answer for more details.

I am a dual degree student enrolled in both the MPH and GMS, MSW, MBA, or MD program. Do all of the rules regarding the CE apply to me?

Yes. You are responsible for the completing the curriculum of each program. Be sure to maintain regular contact with your advisors in both programs to make sure that you are on track. The MBA culminating experience must be taken for 2 credits and has different requirements. See the MBA/MPH Faculty Director, Taryn Vian (tvian@bu.edu) for more details.

I just found out that I have been accepted to medical school (or another academic program). It’s May and the new program starts in August, but I still haven’t completed my CE. What are my options?

If you are applying to medical school for August admission, be sure to plan your Spring semester in the MPH program accordingly. Even if you are still waiting to hear from schools about your acceptance, you should be in regular contact with your CE advisor, planning and working on your CE during the Spring semester. We strongly encourage you to sign up for IH777. Please do not approach your advisor in a panic in May or June to make last minute plans to begin and finish the CE by mid-August. This will not work.

I’m leaving for the Peace Corps in 6 months. When should I complete my CE? Which option is best for me?

Finish the CE before you leave for the Peace Corps! Unless you have a clear plan and approval to do Options 2 or 3, your best bet will be to register for IH777 and do Option 1 the semester prior to your departure. The IH777 instructors will help you come up with a topic based on your interests that will, ideally, also help you educate yourself about public health in the region where you will be working.

I am working on a journal article (Option 2) for my CE. I have spent the whole semester analyzing my data and now it’s December and I still haven’t started writing. Can I still graduate in January?

No. The paper must be complete and refined enough to be submitted to the journal you have chosen. This means that you will need to have gone through a multiple draft process in close consultation with your CE advisor, and she/he must agree that the manuscript is ready to be sent out.