MS Health Communication ALE

What is an Applied Learning Experience?
Traditionally completed in the final semester of study, the ALE offers students an opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to a real world health communication problem. Further, it is an opportunity for students to provide service to the community by working with a real world agency. The ALE is also the mechanism by which our faculty assesses student preparedness to graduate and practice health communication.

The ALE consists of a placement with a practitioner and a classroom-based seminar.  The seminar is a forum for students to learn from each other’s experiences and for the Program Director to track student progress, assess performance, and provide technical assistance. At the conclusion of the semester, students submit a written report and give an oral presentation of their work.

What are the critieria for placement?
To qualify as an ALE placement site, an agency or organization must be willing to:
  • designate a preceptor who will provide guidance to the student, be available to meet with the student once per week at a minimum, and provide feedback on student performance to the Program Director; and
  • identify a project that meets all of the criteria for ALE projects.

What are the criteria for an ALE project?
The best ALEs involve a well-defined project that is needed by the host agency. We expect that students might do some administrative work (copying, mailing, data entry), but only as part of a project in which they are also active in conceptual and analytical work. Students are expected to act as part of the "team" of professionals and to contribute to additional projects/tasks as needed and directed by the preceptor. Students are expected to work approximately 10 hours per week on the project. Depending on the student’s other commitments, some may spend more than 10 hours per week. The semester is 14 weeks long.

Applied Learning Experience projects must:

  • be related to a student's health communication interests; require the student to demonstrate knowledge and skills in health communication practice;
  • blend theory and practice;
  • have a beginning, middle, and end so that the student can accomplish something
    specific over the course of the semester; and
  • have significance to the agency or organization in which it is based.

What is the role of the ALE preceptor?
Preceptors are a critical element of the ALE. We ask that preceptors play not only the traditional supervisory role but also recognize their role as mentors. We ask that preceptors spend a minimum of one hour per week directly with the student. We ask that preceptors evaluate student performance by completing an evaluation form that we will send out near the end of the semester. We also encourage preceptors to attend the student’s final oral presentation (typically in mid-late April).

How do I become an ALE preceptor?
Please contact:

Doina Iliescu, Assistant Director of Career Services or 617.636.3519 or

Margie Skeer, Interim Director of the Health Communication Program or 617.636.2441