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. University of New Hampshire

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 319 Hewitt Hall
    • Durham, NH
    • (603) 862-2733

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Public Health Certificate -C
  2. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 9201 University City Boulevard, CHHS 427D
    • Charlotte, NC
    • (704) 687-8742

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Community Health -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health Core Concepts -C
  3. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Public Certificate 10 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 170 Rosenau Hall
    • Chapel Hill, NC
    • (919) 966-3215

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Health Disparities
    • Graduate Certificate in Global Health +O
    • Graduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Health Communication
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health Informatics
    • Graduate Certificate in Field Epidemiology +O
    • Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management +O
    • Certificate in Online Leadership Education +O
    • Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts +O
    • Certificate in Occupational Health Nursing +O
    • Certificate in Public Health Leadership +O
  4. University of North Florida

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1 UNF Drive
    • Jacksonville, FL
    • (904) 620-1427

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health
  5. University of North Texas Health Science Center

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd.
    • Fort Worth, TX
    • (817) 735-2323

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health +O
    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health in Geographic Information Systems +O
  6. University of Oklahoma

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • PO Box 26901
    • Oklahoma City, OK
    • (405) 271-2232

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate of Public Health
  7. University of Pennsylvania

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 417 AnatomyChemistry Building
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • (215) 573-0917

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health
  8. University of Pittsburgh

    Public Certificate 9 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • A624 Crabtree Hall
    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • (412) 624-3001

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Community-Based Participatory Research and Practice
    • Certificate in Environmental Health Risk Assessment
    • Certificate in Evaluation of Public Health Programs
    • Certificate in Global Health
    • Certificate in Health Care Systems Engineering
    • Certificate in Health Equity
    • Certificate in Health Systems Leadership and Management
    • Certificate in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals' Health and Wellness
    • Certificate in Public Health Genetics
  9. University of South Carolina

    Public Certificate 1 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 800 Sumter St.
    • Columbia, SC
    • (803) 777-5032

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Health Communication
  10. University of South Florida

    Public Certificate 15 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 13201 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. MDC56
    • Tampa, FL
    • (813) 974-6603

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Maternal and Child Health
    • Certificate in Social Marketing +O
    • Certificate in Translational Research and Adolescent Behavioral Health
    • Certificate in Violence and Injury, Prevention and Intervention
    • Certificate in Interdisciplinary Women's Health
    • Certificate in Environmental Health
    • Certificate in Safety Management
    • Certificate in Toxicology and Risk Assessment
    • Certificate in Applied Biostatistics +O
    • Certificate in Biostatistics
    • Certificate in Concepts and Tools of Epidemiology +O
    • Certificate in Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases +O
    • Certificate in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology
    • Certificate in Public Health +O
    • Certificate in Epidemiology
  11. University of Tennessee

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 1914 Andy Holt Ave.
    • Knoxville, TN
    • (865) 974-1104

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Food Safety -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Policy -C
  12. University of Utah

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 375 Chipeta Way, Suite A
    • Salt Lake City, UT
    • (801) 587-3315

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Public Health -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Global Health -C
  13. University of West Florida

    Public Certificate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 11000 University Parkway
    • Pensacola, FL
    • (850) 473-7226

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management -C +O
    • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Health -C +O
    • Graduate Certificate in Infection Control -C +O
    • Graduate Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health -C +O
  14. University of Wisconsin Madison

    Public Certificate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • WARF Building, Room 740A
    • Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-4215

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Certificate in Global Health -C
    • Certificate in Patient Safety -C
    • Certificate in Prevention and Intervention Science -C
    • Certificate in Consumer Health Advocacy -C
  15. Washington University in St. Louis

    Private Certificate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO
    • (314) 935-6693

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Violence Prevention in Young Families -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Violence-Free Transition to Young Adulthood -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Violence Against Women -C
  16. West Chester University

    Public Certificate 4 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • 700 South High Street
    • West Chester, PA
    • (610) 436-2931

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Emergency Preparedness -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Management -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Integrative Health -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Integrative Health Coaching -C
  17. West Virginia University

    Public Certificate 2 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • P.O. Box 9190
    • Morgantown, WV
    • (304) 293-2502

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Graduate Certificate in Applied Biostatistics -C +O
    • Graduate Certficate in Womens Health -C
  18. Western Kentucky University

    Public Certificate 5 Programs Available

    Address & Contact Info

    • Academic Complex 129A
    • Bowling Green, KY
    • (270) 745-4797

    Degree Programs Available

    -C Non-Ceph Certified +O Available Online

    Certificate

    • Undergraduate Certificate in Occupational Health -C +O
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Worksite Health Promotion -C +O
    • Undergraduate Certificate in Long-Term Care Administration -C
    • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Health and Safety -C +O
    • Graduate Certificate in Advanced Worksite Health Promotion -C +O