COH 692: Public Health Capstone January and February 2016


National University

School of Health and Human Services

Department of Community Health


Master of Public Health


Course Outline

COH 692: Public Health Capstone



January and February 2016



Class Meetings:                          Tuesdays 7:30-8:30 PM (PST)

January 4, 2016 – February 27, 2016



Professor (or Instructor):



Office Hours:                              Tuesdays and Thursdays

by appointment



American Psychological Association (2008). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: Sixth Edition.  Washington, DC:  American Psychological Association.


Course Description:

Two-month capstone project focused on a relevant problem in public health theory or practice. Planning and completion of either a data-based research project or a scholarly and creative activity related to public health. Student project may require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Course is eligible for In Progress (IP) grade.

Prerequisite:          COH 691






Course Goals:

Research, plan, implement and evaluate an original research project or a scholarly activity that addresses the relevant problem related to public health.  The research project may be associated with the student’s employment in a public health setting.


Learning Outcomes:

  Upon satisfactory completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Identify a relevant problem related to the theory or practice of public health;
2. Conduct a review of the literature related to a problem in public health and summarize that review in writing;
3. Formulate a valid solution to a problem in public health, either in the form of a testable hypothesis or in the form of a scholarly activity.
4. Examples of a scholarly activity would be a written document such as a book or manual; web-based solution such as a related web-site; or other resources that advance the discipline and profession of public health;
5. Collect empirical data applicable to an empirical hypothesis or gather resources necessary to support scholarly activity in public health;
6. Complete either a data-based research study or other scholarly activity;
7. Perform a professional quality oral presentation describing the outcomes of either a research study or scholarly activity; and
8. Complete a professional quality written report describing the outcome of either a research study or scholarly activity.

Program Mission:


Master of Public Health

The National University MPH program prepares educated, ethical and high-functioning public health professionals that serve the global community by advancing health and social justice.  The NU MPH program employs collaborative administration where faculty, students, and public health professionals collaborate to disseminate public health scholarship through teaching, research and community service.


Program Learning Outcomes:


Master of Public Health

Analyze and interpret health data. MASTERED
Describe the distribution and determinants of disease, disabilities and death in human populations MASTERED
Evaluate the environmental factors that affect the health of a community. MASTERED
Analyze the planning, organization, administration and policies of health care organizations. MASTERED
Apply the concepts and methods of social justice and social and behavioral sciences relevant to the identification and solution of public health problems. MASTERED


Program Director:



Course Requirements:

Written project proposal


Students write an individual capstone project on a significant public health topic.



  • The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edition is the required style guide for all written work.


[2]      The MPH capstone should be a complete document consisting of the following sections:


Signature Page


Table of Contents


Abstract       The abstract should summarize the project and major findings in a concise paragraph.


Introduction The introduction should frame the public health issue in a few concise paragraphs.  It should end with a statement of purpose. The statement of purpose should be a clear and concise statement of the primary objective(s) of the work.


Literature Review

The literature review should cover the major relevant literature (or all of the literature if there are few relevant publications) in a clear, concise manner. It should end with a research question or questions. (25 professional journal articles cited)


Methods      The methods section should explain, in a clear and organized fashion, how the project was conducted. The population under study should be clearly delineated, including the sampling frame, if appropriate, and sample sizes. The statistical methods and software used for analysis should be stated.


Results        The results section should contain tables, charts and figures, as appropriate, to display study results. The major findings should be reported in the text, referring the reader to the appropriate tables, charts, and figures. Results should be reported clearly and logically, without discussion. If not an empirical work, the results should present the qualitative or literature based information on which the paper’s argument is based.


Discussion The discussion section should be a well-organized discussion of the major findings and should include comparison with previous studies and possible explanations for findings. The major limitations of the study and their possible effects on the study results should be presented.  It should end with conclusions and recommendations. The conclusions/recommendations section should state the implications of the major findings and may include public health policy or suggestions as to how the finding informs a relevant public health policy issue.


References  Use APA 6th Edition format for all references and in-text citations


Appendices including study tools.


  • The written assignment and IRB documents should be word processed, be double-spaced and have one inch on top, bottom, left, and right margins. All assignments must be free of spelling, grammatical and typographic errors before they are submitted.
    • It should have section headings, where appropriate, printed in bold.
    • It should have page numbers on each page except the first page. The page numbers should be in the upper right corner.
    • The assignments should be printed in a 12 character per inch font.
    • There should be double spacing between paragraphs and after a heading.
    • Papers must be delivered into the course shell drop box.


  • References should be listed on the last pages. There should be a one-to-one correspondence of in-text citations and references.


  • Preliminary drafts should be submitted to allow ample time for critique by the professor. Project reports are typically at least 25 pages long, not including appendices. A final original copy of your completed project will be kept in the Community Health Department office.


  • Students’ written work should demonstrate mastery of public health terms, theories and concepts. All statements should be based on evidence and clearly referenced.


  • The written assignments, IRB documents and the feedback students receive from the instructor are designed to advance the cause of critical thinking and writing. Students are expected to revise written assignments based on instructor’s comments.


  • Any source the student uses in the composition of the assignments/papers must be cited fully and accurately. The University describes Academic Dishonesty on page 49 of the 2015 general catalog. Any failure (whether accidental and/or intentional) to follow the standards of scholarly accuracy constitutes dishonesty and will result in a mark of ‘U’ for this course.


[9]      Students are advised to study the style of research articles from major peer-review journals, such as the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Epidemiology, and the New England Journal of Medicine to review examples of methods, results, and discussion sections and to obtain ideas for the formatting of data tables.


[10]    The MPH capstone is the work of a future public health professional; therefore it should be professional in all aspects. The thesis should be written for a public health audience that includes one or more of the following: researchers, policymakers, program directors, healthcare and other service providers, epidemiologists, intervention developers, and/or program evaluators. It should be methodologically rigorous, but addressed to a broad public health audience.



Timeline: (For Grade at the end of term; otherwise ip grade)


Date Assignment
Jan. 6, 2016 SUBMIT CITI Training Certificate


Jan. 9, 2016 WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1: Introduction
Jan. 16, 2016 Register For IRB on IRB.NET


Jan. 23, 2016 WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2: Literature Review (at least 25 references)
Jan. 30, 2016 WRITING ASSIGNMENT #3: Methodology
Jan. 30, 2016 -SUBMIT COMPLETE IRB proposal if conducting research with human subjects

-IRB letter from project advisor

Feb. 6, 2016 WRITING ASSIGNMENT #4: Results

WRITING ASSIGNMENT #5: Discussion and Conclusion

Feb. 15, 2016 THE FINAL REPORT


Students who complete the capstone by these dates and receive positive feedback will receive a grade for the semester.  All other students will receive the grade “IP” in-progress.  Those students will be granted access to the course shell for a period of 6 months.


A successful MPH capstone demonstrates the competencies and skills of the degree. If you could have done the same MPH project before you entered the program, it is not a successful MPH project. If on the other hand, a successful MPH capstone exhibits theoretical and/or methodological competencies expected of an MPH, and has challenged you to your limits, it is probably a very good capstone project.



H= HONORS    96-100           0-
S=SATISFACTORY     90-70            
U=UNSATISFACTORY 0-69            




School of Health and Human Services Requirements

General Policies:


Academic Integrity:
Students are required to submit their own, original work that is written or developed for this particular class.


Students are expected to attend all class sessions. An absence is assessed each time a student is not in attendance during a regularly scheduled class period, whether or not it is an excused absence. An instructor may withdraw a student from class prior to the sixth session in graduate courses if there are more than two unexcused absences. Students who have more than three absences, excused or unexcused, cannot be given a satisfactory grade.


Cell Phones:

Cell phones may not be used during class. Students should shut off or switch phones to silent mode.


Laptop Computers:

Laptop computers may be used in class for taking notes and accessing materials posted on eCompanion.  Instructors may ask students to close computers if use becomes disruptive to learning.


As a diverse community of learners, students must strive to work together in a setting of civility, tolerance, and respect for each other and for the instructor. Rules of classroom behavior (which apply to online as well as onsite courses) include but are not limited to the following:

  • Conflicting opinions among members of a class are to be respected and responded to in a professional manner.
  • Side conversations or other distracting behaviors are not to be engaged in during lectures, class discussions or presentations
  • There are to be no offensive comments, language, or gestures


Learning to work with and value diversity is essential in every degree program. Students are required to act respectfully toward other students and instructors throughout the course. Students are also expected to exhibit an appreciation for multinational and gender diversity in the classroom and develop leadership skills and judgment appropriate to such diversity in the workplace.


National University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you need accommodations due to a documented disability, please contact the Office of Scholarships and Special Services at (858) 642-8185 or via e-mail at Information received by this office is confidential and is only released on a ‘need-to-know’ basis or with your prior written consent. Accommodations can only be granted upon approval by the Committee for Students with Disabilities (CSD).


Ethical behavior in the classroom is required of every student. Students are also expected to identify ethical policies and practices relevant to course topics.


Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas or work as one’s own. Students must give credit for any information that is not either the result of original research or common knowledge. If a student borrows ideas or information from another author, he/she must acknowledge the author in the body of the text and on the reference page. Students found plagiarizing are subject to the penalties outlined in the Policies and Procedures section of the University Catalog, which may include a failing grade for the work in question or for the entire course. The following is one of many websites that provide helpful information concerning plagiarism for both students and faculty:

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing (  )


Students are expected to be competent in using current technology appropriate for this discipline. Such technology may include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Use of the internet and e-mail may also be required.


The following website provides information on APA, MLA, and other writing and citation styles that may be required for term papers and the like:


Writing Standards of SHHS:

Students are expected to demonstrate writing skills in describing, analyzing and evaluating ideas and experiences. Written material must follow specific standards regarding citations of authors’ work within the text and references at the end of the paper. Students are encouraged to use the services of the University’s Writing Center when preparing materials (see National University Services below). Grades will be assigned for written material in accordance with the University catalog and the following general criteria adopted by the School of Health and Human Services.

NOTE:  Letter grades may be assigned for any or all of the following reasons:


“A” Range: Outstanding achievement, significantly exceeds standards

  • Unique topic or unique treatment of topic, takes risks with content; fresh approach.
  • Sophisticated/exceptional use of examples.
  • Original and “fluid” organization; all sentences and paragraphs contribute; sophisticated transitions between paragraphs.
  • Integration of quotations and citations is sophisticated and highlights the author’s argument.
  • Confidence in use of Standard English; language reflects a practiced and/or refined understanding of syntax and usage.
  • Sentences vary in structure, very few, if any mechanical errors (no serious mechanical errors).


“B” Range: Commendable achievement, meets or exceeds standards for course.

  • Specific, original focus, content well handled.
  • Significance of content is clearly conveyed; good use of examples; sufficient support exists in key areas.
  • Has effective shape (organization), effective pacing between sentences or paragraphs.
  • Quotations and citations are integrated into argument to enhance the flow of ideas.
  • Has competent transitions between all sentences and paragraphs.
  • Conveys a strong understanding of standard English; the writer is clear in his/her attempt to articulate main points, but may demonstrate moments of “flat” or unrefined language.
  • May have a few minor mechanical errors (misplaced commas, pronoun disagreement, etc.), but no serious mechanical errors (fragments, run-ons, comma splices, etc.)


“C” Range: Acceptable achievement, meets standards for course

  • Retains overall focus, generally solid command of subject matter.
  • Subject matter well explored but may show signs of underachievement.
  • Significance is understood, competent use of examples.
  • Structure is solid, but an occasional sentence or paragraph may lack focus.
  • Quotations and citations are integrated into argument.
  • Transitions between paragraphs occur but may lack originality.
  • Competent use of language; sentences are solid but may lack development, refinement, style.
  • Occasional minor mechanical errors may occur, but do not impede clear understanding of material.
  • No serious mechanical errors (fragments, run-ons, comma-splices, etc.).


“D” Range: Unsatisfactory achievement; does not meet acceptable standards
Note: The “D” grade is a passing grade; work that is not of “passing quality” should receive grade “F”.

  • Significance of content is unclear.
  • Ideas lack support, elaboration.
  • Lacks sufficient examples or relevance of examples may be unclear.
  • Support material is not clearly incorporated into argument.
  • Expression is frequently awkward (problematic sentence structure).
  • Mechanical errors may often impede clear understanding of material.
  • May have recurring serious mechanical errors (fragments, run-ons, comma splices, etc.).


“F” Range: Fails to meet minimal standards

  • Ignores assignment.
  • Lacks significance.
  • Lacks coherence.
  • Includes plagiarized material (intentional or unintentional).
  • Lacks focus
  • Difficult to follow due to awkward sentence or paragraph development.
  • Mechanical errors impede understanding.
  • Problems with writing


National University Library:
National University Library supports academic rigor and student academic success by providing access to scholarly books and journals both electronically and in hard copy. Print materials may be accessed at the Library in San Diego or through document delivery for online and regional students. Librarians are available to provide training, reference assistance, and mentoring at the San Diego Library and virtually for online or regional students. Please take advantage of Library resources:

  • Contact the Library:
  • Use the Library Training Tools (on the Library Homepage) for additional help
    • Recorded class presentations
    • Tutorials & Guides (APA/MLA, Peer-Review, and more)
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