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Public health practice is an integral part of the master of public health (MPH) degree at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Internships are the primary means through which students strengthen their practice knowledge and skills. The requirement for an approved, supervised internship applies to MPH students in the two- and three-year programs and to all areas of concentration. The Center for Public Health Practice and Leadership (CPHPL) provides the academic and administrative structure for the practice component of the MPH program.


An internship provides the opportunity to integrate classroom learning and practice in a public health work environment. The intern contributes to a community’s resources and to the solution of public health problems while developing personal confidence and leadership as a public health professional.

A planned, supervised internship, and the preparation leading to it, fosters professional development in several areas:

  • The application of public health core knowledge and specialty skills
  • The development of new practice-based skills
  • Attention to professional self-assessment and personal growth

Emphasis is placed on demonstrating an awareness of how the intern’s activities and projects are part of a larger public health context.

A practice experience provides an important first step to a career in the field if a student has little or no prior experience. If the student has extensive experience or advanced degrees in other fields, they have the opportunity to apply existing skills at a higher level and to develop new professional skills in public health. As a result of their internships, many students also obtain part- or full-time jobs, identify opportunities for their capstone or comprehensive paper, and expand their network.

Academic Requirements

The School of Public Health requires students pursuing the two- and three-year MPH degree to complete a three-month supervised internship while registered at UC Berkeley. Students in Health Policy and Management have the option to complete a six-month internship. The internship follows the first year of academic study in public health. The internship is a 12-week, full-time work experience during the summer, typically 480 hours based on a standard 40-hour work week. Based on the special needs of the student or the site, a part-time academic year placement can be arranged.


Preparation for the summer internship between first and second year begins in the first semester. Students in all concentrations have access to internship preparation meetings and workshops. Students also have access to meet with CPHPL staff and Field Consultants to begin refining their career and professional development interests, developing internship objectives, and identifying potential sites and contacts.

Meanwhile, CPHPL invites employers and community partners to post internships on our online platform, PHLEX: Public Health Leadership and Experience Exchange (‘flex’). Students review opportunities and apply through the platform, with the volume of postings typically at its height in early spring semester. Employers interview students and make offers over the course of the spring semester, with students typically confirming their internship sites by the end of April. Internships begin by early June.

Internship Data

Between May to August 2018, 124 MPH graduate students integrated and applied classroom learning with professional experience, collaborated with leaders in our field, and engaged with real-world public health challenges. At the same time, agencies across a variety of sectors and locations gained fresh perspectives and a wide range of public health skills from students.

Internship Locations
  • 77% California
    • Including: San Francisco Bay Area (89), Sacramento (3), Southern California (4)
  • 15% International
    • Including: Brazil (2), India (2), Tanzania (2), Cambodia, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Gambia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Niger, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Vietnam
  • 7% Out-of-State
    • Including: Washington, DC (3), Illinois (2), Maryland (2), Montana, Wyoming
Internship Sectors
  • 36% University/Research
  • 27% Government Agencies
  • 18% Nonprofit Sector
  • 8% Healthcare Systems
  • 9% Private Sector
  • 2% Other