Degree Information

Introduction

The Certified Public Health (CPH) credential is a graduate level certificate. While this certification is not required to work as a licensed public health professional in the U.S., many organizations consider the CPH as a gold standard in the field. Alumni and current students of public health programs at the post-bachelor’s level are eligible to sit for this certifying exam through the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE).

Passing the CPH exam demonstrates knowledge in five core areas: biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy and social and behavioral sciences. Questions are also designed to test competencies required to apply this core knowledge in the field. These include leadership, systems thinking, programs planning and communication and informatics.

Educational requirements to qualify for this exam are rigorous. For now, only three types of candidates are eligible for certification:

  • Alumni of master’s or doctoral public health programs accredited by the CEPH (current students can sit for the exam to earn a provisional CPH until graduation)
  • Professionals with a minimum of five years of experience in public health
  • Candidates who hold a relevant graduate degree (relevancy determined by NBPHE)

After earning initial certification through the exam, CPH professionals must earn 50 CE credits every two years to maintain their credential.

Accreditation

While some fields rely on multiple accreditation agencies to evaluate programs, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is the primary national agency that issues accreditation to public health programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. CEPH evaluates the standards, outcomes, and quality of applicant schools and programs, based on objectives defined by its parent organization, the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).

The CEPH Accreditation Process

Schools or programs must first apply for accreditation, conduct an internal review of their own performance and then subject themselves to a CEPH peer review and on-site inspection. Next, CEPH collects public opinions regarding the school or program, publishes a report on the total findings, hosts an evaluation review meeting, and then issues an accreditation decision.

Once a program or college becomes accredited, they are subject to ongoing reviews to ensure they meet CEPH standards, outcomes and objectives.

Schools vs. Programs

Due to academic and administrative differences, public health schools and public health programs are measured by different CEPH criteria:

  • Schools of public health offer diverse undergraduate and graduate programs spanning the field of health and medical disciplines. For instance, a school of medicine might offer graduate degrees in public health, clinical research, biomedical science, and healthcare administration.
  • Public health programs on the other hand, are narrower in scope. Students may still choose specialties like public policy or statistical research within these programs, but the degree conferred is standardized.

As of June 2013, CEPH instituted a process for granting accreditation to standalone bachelor degree programs, or degree programs that are not affiliated with a larger School of Public Health or graduate program in public health. Undergraduate students should note that public health minors, associate degree programs, and professional certificates are not accredited by this agency.

Application Process

Those who qualify for the CPH exam may apply and register online. There are two application formats, one for graduate students from CEPH-accredited programs and one for public health professionals who hold relevant graduate degrees. In order to request an invitation to sit for the exam, applicants must:

  1. Create a user account at the CPH Registration Center
  2. Fill out the CPH Application, detailing all relevant coursework and professional experience
  3. Submit the application with an online test registration fee of $385 (check reduced fee eligibility)

Once application materials are submitted, the NBPHE will confirm academic and employment records and declare eligibility. From there, candidates can schedule the date, time, and location of their exam.

NOTE: Fees are non-refundable. Confirm eligibility for this exam before applying.

Concentrations

Public health education programs are growing quickly in popularity. Overall, annual graduates from U.S. schools of public health rose 69 percent between 2000 and 2011. As the field expands, degree concentrations available to students at all levels are growing. Here are the most common and high-demand focuses in public health today:

  • Finance: These degrees prepare students for managing the large-scale budgetary needs for public health delivery systems. Potential subjects include healthcare finance, health economics, and nonprofit accounting.
  • Marketing: Social media communications, grassroots organization, and media relations tie public health efforts together, creating strong bonds between stakeholders, administrators, and the public.
  • Organizational Management: Prospective healthcare leaders delve into managerial decision-making strategies, governance, performance analytics, and stakeholder awareness in organizational management concentrations.
  • HR Management: Students starting out in public health thrive when they are able to recruit effective and qualified talent. MPH students who pursue this specialization delve into employee selection, conflict management, labor laws, and staff retention.
  • Gender and Sexuality: This specialization focuses on the concerns of the LGBT community, often an underserved population across public health initiatives.
  • Research Methods: This specialization takes a research-intensive approach to crafting future public health policies and programs. Prospective courses prepare students to conduct targeted community surveys, statistical analyses, and ethnographic research.
  • Family Health: Students in a family health specialization examine how family units influence health, development, and nutrition in individuals. Possible topics covered include divorce, domestic abuse, and childhood development.
  • Health Education: Students who pursue this specialization plan, implement, and evaluate educational outreach programs for target demographics. Class topics include social media communications, community organization, and community nutrition.
  • Biostatistics: The public health sector has a strong need for biostatistics researchers who can identify community health needs based on collected data. Statistics must also be monitored in order to assess the continued effectiveness of a given program. Possible subjects include clinical trials, probability theory, regression analysis, and statistical theory.
  • Environmental and Occupational Health: Professionals with a background in this specialization ensure that schools, workplaces, and public facilities meet safety and environmental guidelines. Potential courses include workplace hazards, pollution assessment, chemical cleanup strategies, climate change research, and hazardous waste management.
  • Epidemiology: This specialization prioritizes disease prevention and treatment efforts across environments with a variety of economic resources, cultures, government infrastructures, and communities. Professionals in this field often become experts on vaccinations, infectious diseases, and cancer prevention.

Degree Finder

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  • 287 Degree Programs

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  1. Armstrong Atlantic State University

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 11935 Abercorn St.
    • Savannah, GA
    • (912) 344-2780

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Gerontology -C
  2. Benedictine University

    Private Certificate 3 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 5700 College Road
    • Lisle, IL
    • (630) 829-6215

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Health Management and Policy -C
    • Certificate in Health Education -C
    • Certificate in Disaster Management -C
  3. Boston University

    Private Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 715 Albany St.
    • Boston, MA
    • (617) 638-4640

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Biostatistics
  4. California State University, Fresno

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 2345 E. San Ramon Ave.
    • Fresno, CA
    • (559) 278-4014

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate of Alcohol and Drug Studies -C
  5. California State University, Northridge

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 18111 Nordhoff Street
    • Northridge, CA
    • (818) 677-4081

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Gerontology -C
    • Certificate in Health Informatics -C
  6. Central New York MPH Program

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 750 East Adams Street
    • Syracusae, NY
    • (315) 464-1700

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Advanced Study in Public Health -C
  7. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

    Private Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1731 East 120th Street
    • Los Angeles, CA
    • (323) 563-5987

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Public Health Concepts -C
  8. Colorado School of Public Health

    Public Certificate 9 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 13001 East 17th Avenue
    • Aurora, CO
    • (303) 724-4448

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Global Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health Sciences
    • Certificate in Biostatistics and Epidemiology -C +O
    • Certificate in Epidemiology -C +O
    • Certificate in Gerontological Practice -C +O
    • Certificate in Environmental and Occupational Health -C +O
    • Certificate in Global Health -C +O
    • Certificate in Public Health and Emergency Response -C +O
    • Certificate in Public Health -C +O
  9. Columbia University

    Private Certificate 24 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 722 West 168th St., 14th Floor
    • New York, NY
    • (212) 305-3927

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Advanced Epidemiology
    • Graduate Certificate in Applied Biostatistics
    • Graduate Certificate in Child, Youth, and Family Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Climate and Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Comparative Effectiveness Outcomes Research
    • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Health Policy
    • Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology of Chronic Diseases
    • Graduate Certificate in Global Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Health and Human Rights
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Management
    • Graduate Certificate in Health of an Aging Society
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Policy Analysis
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Policy and Practice
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Promotion Research and Practice
    • Graduate Certificate in History, Ethics, and Law
    • Graduate Certificate in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
    • Graduate Certificate in Injury Prevention and Control
    • Graduate Certificate in Molecular Epidemiology
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health and Humanitarian Assistance
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health Informatics
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health Research Methods
    • Graduate Certificate in Sexuality, Sexual, and Reproductive Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Social Determinants of Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Toxicology
  10. Drexel University

    Private Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 3215 Market Street, 2nd Floor
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • (267) 359-6070

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology and Biostatistics +O
  11. East Carolina University

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 600 Moye Boulevard
    • Greenville, NC
    • (252) 744-2785

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Community Health Center Administration -C +O
    • Certificate in Ethnic and Rural Health Disparities -C +O
  12. East Tennessee State University

    Public Certificate 5 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • PO Box 70623
    • Johnson City, TN
    • (423) 439-4243

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduat Certificate in Biostatistics
    • Graduat Certificate in Gerontology
    • Graduat Certificate in Rural Health
    • Graduat Certificate in Healthcare Management +O
    • Graduat Certificate in Epidemiology +O
  13. Emory University

    Private Certificate 7 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1518 Clifton Rd., NE
    • Atlanta, GA
    • (404) 727-8720

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Injury and Violence Prevention
    • Certificate in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
    • Certificate in Public Health Informatics
    • Graduate Certificate in Global Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
    • Certificate in Socio-Contextual Determinants of Health
    • Certificate in Mental Health
    • Certificate in Maternal and Child Health
  14. Florida International University

    Public Certificate 6 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 11200 SW 8th Street, HLS 595
    • Miami, FL
    • (305) 348-4903

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    • Graduate Certificate in Social Work Practice with the Elderly
    • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Child Welfare Practice
  15. George Mason University

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 4400 University Drive, MS 5B7
    • Fairfax, VA
    • (703) 993-4628

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Public Health -C
  16. George Washington University

    Private Certificate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 950 New Hampshire Avenue NW, 2nd Floor
    • Washington, DC
    • (202) 994-5179

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Health Administration
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Policy
    • Graduate Certificate in Long Term Care
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health
  17. Georgia Regents University

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1120 15th Street, Building EB1003
    • Augusta, GA
    • (706) 721-3436

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Health Information Administration -C +O
  18. Georgia State University

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • PO Box 3995
    • Atlanta, GA
    • (404) 413-1132

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Public Health -C
  19. Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis

    Public Certificate 3 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 714 North Senate Avenue, Suite 250
    • Indianapolis, IN
    • (317) 278-0377

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Public Health -C
    • Certificate in Health Policy -C
    • Certificate in Health Services Management -C
  20. Indiana University at Bloomington

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1025 East Seventh St
    • Bloomington, IN
    • (812) 855-0068

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Gerontology -C
    • Certificate in Therapeutic Outdoor Programs -C