MPH Competency Exam – HLTH 600

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 08/20/2021

Course Description

The purpose of the Competency Exam is to assess students’ substantive and integrative knowledge of the field of Public Health. The exam draws from students’ previous studies thereby eliciting the broad and comprehensive knowledge and understanding required in transitioning to practical experiences. The exam is meant to be a bridge between the concepts, theories, and skills presented in program coursework and the critical analysis demanded in the field for a successful practicum experience.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


All professionals must be able to demonstrate competency in their chosen field of expertise. Completion of the exam prior to beginning the practicum serves as an indicator of readiness for a practicum experience in the field of public health.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate competency in foundational areas of public health knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate competency in the 22 CEPH-prescribed competencies of public health practice.
  3. For a complete list of the Master of Public Health program learning outcomes and competencies, see the MPH Student concourse in non-term Blackboard courses.

Course Assignment

Readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Course Overview.

Competency Exam

The Competency Exam is comprised of foundational public health information and the 22 CEPH prescribed public health competencies. This is an integrative learning experience. The test is presented in the Blackboard environment. The entire examination contains 50 multiple choice or true/false questions worth two points each. Students have a maximum of two hours to complete it.

The student must receive a passing grade of at least 70% to be successful.

If the initial attempt at the Competency Exam results in a failing grade, the student will have a second chance to retake the entire examination and earn a passing grade. The exam will become available at two week intervals during the course. If the student receives a failing grade on the second attempt, the student will be given the opportunity to retake the exam a third time. If this attempt results in a failing grade, an analysis of the student weakness will completed by a faculty panel and the student will be required to retake core courses focused on the competencies in the area in which they failed to demonstrate acquisition of knowledge and/or other remedial activities. After completing the core courses and/or remedial activities the student will then be given a final attempt to retake the exam. If this attempt results in failure, the student will be dismissed from the graduate program.

Electronic Portfolio

Gate 3 of the MPH program calls for completion of an electronic portfolio, a repository of documents to demonstrate student achievements. These assignments provide an overview of student achievement throughout the program. Many students will have finished building the portfolio prior to beginning this course. Those students who have begun building a portfolio must complete the project prior to finishing the course. Co-curricular applied practical experiences and inter-professional experiences are required of all students to assess development. Bringing all these components together into a single repository is intended as an additional integrative learning experience for students. Many of the required components will help the student review for the exam. The indicator assignments will also help students showcase their work to potential employers. These documents include:

  1. An essay on public health and how the MPH will be used to meet student career goals.
  2. Key indicator assignments from each course (see Map of MPH Competencies to Portfolio Assignments on the MPH Portal)
  3. A current resume or CV. Students are encouraged to contact the Career Center for assistance in resume or CV development.
  4. A paragraph describing each volunteer service, co-curricular activities, or extra-curricular activities considered as applied practical experiences (APE).
  5. A paragraph describing each inter-professional experiences (IPE).
  6. Background Check. Students should have been prompted to complete this element during HLTH 511 as a requirement for enrollment in HLTH 698. A receipt posted to the portfolio is sufficient to indicate completion.