A graduate certificate in public health explores fundamental concepts and practices in this essential field. Graduate certificates deliver college credit, which learners can later apply toward master's degrees in public health.

Students may want to pursue certificates in public health for several reasons. A graduate certificate offers a shorter and less expensive path to graduate-level education for bachelor's degree-holders. Individuals with master's degrees can pursue graduate certificates to develop specialized knowledge and skills that complement their career pursuits.

With demand for healthcare professionals on the rise, public health is a fulfilling, burgeoning field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 32% growth in employment of medical and health services managers from 2019-2029. Check out our rankings of the best graduate certificate programs in public health below.

2021's Five Best Online Public Health Graduate Certificate Programs
Rank School Location
1 University of Minnesota Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
2 New York University New York, NY
3 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA
4 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
5 SUNY at Albany Albany, NY

Why Get a Public Health Graduate Certificate Online?

A graduate certificate in public health entails the same core courses that a public health master's requires. Online certificates offer a worthwhile investment for individuals interested in advancing their education with lower costs and shorter time commitments.

Public health graduate certificates suit learners from diverse academic backgrounds. Public health professionals earn certificates to advance in their fields. Professionals from other industries may pursue public health certificates to explore more specialized employment.

Three key benefits of pursuing a graduate certificate in public health include:

  • Short-Term Education

    A public health graduate certificate requires 15-20 credits. Students can complete certificate programs in less than a year, compared to the standard two-year schedule for a master's.

  • Essential Knowledge

    Students enrolled in graduate certificate programs take many of the same courses as master's degree students. Learners gain transferable credits while exploring the broad fundamentals of public health concepts and practices.

  • Diverse Applications

    A graduate certificate in public health focuses on fundamentals, allowing learners to apply their new credentials to various industries and sectors.

What To Expect From a Graduate Certificate in Public Health

Graduate certificate programs in public health require approximately 15-20 credits of coursework. Individuals who obtain graduate certificates from accredited universities can typically transfer their credits to master's programs. In most cases, learners who study full time can obtain their graduate certificates within one year.

Certificate courses offer a broad, foundational education in public health concepts and practices.

You can pursue a graduate certificate in public health either on campus or online, typically in a flexible, asynchronous format. Certificate courses offer a broad, foundational education in public health concepts and practices. Some programs offer additional concentrations in global health, biostatistics, and environmental public health.

Graduate certificate costs vary based on school type and state residency. In-state tuition at a public institution typically costs the least, while private universities and out-of-state public universities charge higher tuition rates.

Admissions Process

Admission requirements for a graduate certificate in public health typically mirror those for a master's in public health. Ideal candidates hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA at minimum. As an interdisciplinary field, public health welcomes students from diverse academic backgrounds. Most certificate programs do not require public health work experience.

Commonly required materials include personal and/or professional statements, a resume or CV, recommendation forms, and official transcripts. Graduate schools often charge application fees of $40-$100.

Learners considering an online certificate program must research their institution's minimum technology requirements as well.

Different Certificate Types

To accommodate learners' busy lives and work schedules, universities offer graduate students several attendance formats. You may earn your graduate certificate in public health in person, online, or through a hybrid format, which combines online and in-person learning.

If you study online, your courses may use asynchronous or synchronous scheduling. Asynchronous scheduling allows learners to access materials and complete assignments at their convenience within set deadlines. Synchronous scheduling requires students to log in at specific times — typically in the evenings — to attend live class meetings.

Many graduate certificate programs in public health offer a broad, generalized study of the field, but some offer more niche specializations. The most common concentrations and minors include global health, environmental public health, and epidemiology and biostatistics. Less common options include LGBTQ+ health, maternal and child health, food safety, and veterinary public health.

Popular Public Health Certificate Courses

Graduate certificate programs in public health typically include the 5-6 courses typically taken at the beginning of a public health master's program. The certificate curriculum provides a broad, introductory exploration of core public health concepts.

Common courses include:

Principles of Public Health

This course provides students with a broad framework for community health, disease prevention, and medicine. Learners examine public health infrastructure, social determinants, and emerging issues. Coursework involves discussions of public health areas like chronic and infectious disease, environmental health, and injury.

Introduction to Epidemiology

This course introduces the basic principles of epidemiology as they apply to public health practice. Coursework commonly covers effect measures, study designs, bias, and screening for disease. Students explore investigative techniques, epidemiological methodology, and emerging ways to analyze studies and data.

Introductory Biostatistics

An introductory biostatistics course provides a broad exploration of the procedures used to summarize, analyze, interpret, and present research data. Topics include sampling, experimentation, measurement, probability, and simple linear regression. Students complete the course with the ability to evaluate simple statistics in public health.

Social and Behavioral Health

Enrollees explore how social and behavioral health concepts contribute to public health research and practice. Common topics include developing and implementing health promotion and disease prevention programs, along with the ethical dilemmas relating to social and behavioral change efforts.

How Much Do Public Health Graduate Certificates Cost?

The cost of graduate certificate programs in public health range from approximately $6,500 at the low end to more than $20,000 at the high end. Per-credit tuition prices vary largely based on state residency and institution type.

Public colleges and universities typically charge lower tuition rates than private universities. However, private universities do not require a nonresident surcharge for out-of-state students. This additional fee, common at public universities, can more than double the cost of tuition.

Fortunately, some public universities offer tuition breaks to out-of-state learners who study exclusively online. Online learners enjoy other savings by avoiding campus-based fees and expenses associated with commuting.

Students pursuing graduate certificates cannot obtain federal financial aid. Instead, they can pursue private loans, scholarships, and grants to help cover the cost of tuition, fees, textbooks, and supplies.

Learn More About Financial Aid Options

Public Health Jobs and Salaries

The public health field offers employment in clinical, non-clinical, administrative, and technical positions. While some professionals work directly with the public, others focus on research and management.

Graduate certificate programs in public health complement many academic and professional backgrounds. Individuals with backgrounds in nutrition can pursue work as community dieticians or nutritionists, who earn a median annual salary of $63,090, according to the BLS. Professionals with administrative skills may find employment as health services managers, who earn a median annual salary of $104,280.

Potential career pathways for public health graduate certificate-holders include:

Health Services Managers

As healthcare executives, health services managers plan, direct, and coordinate services in public health departments and other facilities. Common duties include developing programs, hiring and supervising staff, and serving as a point of contact for government agencies, policymakers, and nonprofits.

Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree; some employers prefer master's-level candidates
Job Outlook (2019-29): +32%
Median Annual Salary: $104,280

Public Health Engineers

Combining knowledge of human health, environmental science, and industry, public health engineers assess products, machinery, and systems to protect people from illness and injury. These professionals ensure that engineering plans meet safety requirements, identify and correct potential hazards, and evaluate industrial control mechanism efficacy.

Required Education: At least a bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
Median Annual Salary: $94,240

Health Program Coordinator

Health program coordinators oversee administrative activities, direct workers who provide services to the public, and plan outreach activities. These professionals collect and analyze data about program effectiveness to identify improvement areas and report to funders.

Required Education: At least a bachelor's; some positions require a master's
Job Outlook (2019-29): +17%
Median Annual Salary: $69,600

Community Dieticians and Nutritionists

Community dieticians and community nutritionists develop programs to educate the public on food, health, and nutrition. They may work with specific groups of people, like adolescents or the elderly. Common employers include public health clinics, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Required Education: At least a bachelor's; many dieticians and nutritionists pursue advanced education
Job Outlook (2019-29): +8%
Median Annual Salary: $63,090

Explore Public Health Careers

Choosing the Right Certificate Program

Our ranking offers a great place to start your search, but prospective enrollees should also consider other factors, like accreditation, to identify their ideal certificate program. Accredited universities meet rigorous quality standards set by third-party agencies.

Look for indicators that a school demonstrates excellence in public health, including award-winning faculty with extensive experience, the availability of advanced public health degrees, and programmatic accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health.

Other key factors include program length, location, and available concentrations or specializations. Consider how quickly you want to graduate, how far you would need to travel for any in-person sessions, and whether you want to focus on a specific area of public health.

Finally, program cost may play a significant role in your choice, since certificates do not qualify for federal financial aid.

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do I need to work in public health?

You can pursue an entry-level public health career with a bachelor's degree. A master's degree or graduate certificate in public health opens the doors to advanced opportunities and higher salaries.

Can I get a public health graduate certificate online?

Yes. Universities offer graduate certificates in in-person, online, and hybrid formats to accommodate students with various scheduling needs.

What can I do with a graduate certificate in public health?

You can apply a graduate certificate in public health to many different careers. Depending on your academic and professional background, some options include public health program coordinator, public health engineer, or public health services manager.

Can you get a graduate certificate without a master's degree?

Yes. A bachelor's degree satisfies the admission requirements for a graduate certificate in public health. Professionals with master's degrees can also apply to graduate certificate programs.

The Top Five Online Public Health Graduate Certificate Programs for 2021

Do you want to advance your public health career? The following ranking details five of the best graduate certificate programs in public health for 2021. Each school in our ranked list holds regional accreditation from one of the following agencies:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)

Several institutions also hold programmatic accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) — an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit public health schools and programs.

Our Ranking Methodology

1. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Founded in 1851, UMN stands out as one of only five universities in the country housing a medical school, law school, veterinary medicine school, engineering school, and agricultural school all on one campus. Upwards of 51,000 students attend each year.

Public Health Core Concepts Certificate

UMN developed its graduate certificate in public health for working health and human service professionals looking to obtain a credential in public health core concepts. Learners can enroll in person or through a hybrid format.

The program requires seven courses, including fundamentals of social and behavioral science, principles of management in health services, and biostatistical literacy. Most learners graduate within one or two years, although UMN gives students up to four years to complete their studies, if needed.

Certificate courses are transferable to the institution's MPH program.

Additional Graduate Certificates

Applied Biostatistics | American Indian Public Health and Wellness | Clinical Research | Global Health | Healthcare Management | Integrated Food Systems Leadership Program

Applying to UMN

Applicants should hold at least a bachelor's degree. Required supporting documentation includes a statement of purpose and objectives, resume or CV, letter of recommendation, and official transcripts.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: HLC, CEPH
Tuition: $15,210/program
Required Credits: 15-16 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
Delivery Format: 100% online, on campus, or hybrid

2. New York University

Among the largest private universities in the nation, NYU enrolls more than 50,000 students each year. The institution champions an urban identity and professional focus. Campuses in New York City, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai showcase its global vision.

Advanced Certificate in Public Health

NYU targets its online graduate certificate in public health toward current practitioners working in local, state, and federal health departments, and other professionals in community and non-governmental healthcare facilities.

Certificate students take six courses covering concepts in global environmental health, healthcare policy, and public health leadership and management. The flexible yet interactive program makes use of both asynchronous learning methods and synchronous office hours.

Graduates can apply their certificate credits toward NYU's MPH degree.

Additional Graduate Certificates

Advanced Certificate in Health and Human Rights | Advanced Certificate in Public Health Nutrition | Applied Global Public Health Certificate | Advanced Certificate in Public Health Disaster Science, Policy, and Practice | Advanced Certificate in Public Health Data Science

Applying to NYU

Applicants should hold at least a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA. NYU requires applicants to provide scanned copies of all postsecondary transcripts, a resume or CV, personal statement, and one letter of support.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Private
Accreditation: MSCHE, CEPH
Tuition: $900/credit
Required Credits: 15 credits
Program Length: N/A
Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous and synchronous)

3. University of Massachusetts Amherst

The 1,450-acre UMass Amherst campus sits in an idyllic rural valley located within hours of New York City and Boston. More than 31,000 students attend the public research institution each year.

Global Health Certificate

UMass Amherst launched its fully online graduate certificate in public health in fall 2015. Open to any working professional who needs to improve their knowledge of international public health issues and policies, the certificate consists of two required courses and three electives.

Notable elective options include violence as a public health issue, emerging infectious diseases, and a supervised global health practicum. Courses are asynchronous and students can take time off from the program if needed.

Graduates can apply their credits toward the UMass online MPH program.

Additional Graduate Certificates

Graduate Certificate in Public Health Ethics

Applying to UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst accepts applications on a rolling basis. Prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Required documents include a resume or CV, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Private
Accreditation: NECHE, CEPH
Tuition: $622/credit
Required Credits: 15 credits
Program Length: N/A
Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

4. Michigan State University

Located in East Lansing, MSU enrolls nearly 50,000 students each year. The public research university offers more than 200 academic programs and a low 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Public Health Graduate Certificate

The graduate certificate in public health offered by MSU requires 18 credits and takes a minimum of one year to complete. Courses in the program cover topics in biostatistics and epidemiology for public health, environmental factors of health, and public health administration.

Ideal participants include current medical students and practicing public health professionals looking to enhance their skills and medical professionals interested in learning more about population-based medicine.

Certificate program graduates can later apply their credits toward MSU's online MPH program.

Additional Graduate Certificates

Global Health Graduate Certificate

Applying to MSU

To qualify for admission to the certificate program, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit required documents including official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume or CV.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Private
Accreditation: HLC
Tuition: $11,880/program
Required Credits: 18 credits
Program Length: 1 year
Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous)

5. SUNY at Albany

UAlbany's roots in education go back more than 175 years. Offering over 150 graduate programs and an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, the school's legacy endures. UAlbany currently educates more than 4,000 graduate students.

Public Health Fundamentals and Principles Certificate Program

The public health fundamentals and principles certificate expands students' knowledge of interdisciplinary health practices without locking them into a full degree program. UAlbany gives students six years for certificate completion. Learners may study on a full- or part-time basis.

Six health courses comprise the foundation of the program: organization and financing, principles, statistics, epidemiology, environmental health, and the study of social/behavioral aspects in the field.

Certificate students who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA may apply the above courses to UAlbany's MPH program. Current New York State health employees may receive tuition assistance.

Additional Graduate Certificates

Public Health Surveillance and Preparedness

Applying to UAlbany

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. They also must have completed undergraduate-level algebra, pre-calculus, or statistics with a "B" grade or higher. Additionally, prospective students must furnish transcripts, a personal statement, and a CV or resume.

Program at a Glance

School Type: Public
Accreditation: MSCHE
Tuition: $565/credit
Required Credits: 18 credits
Program Length: 6 years or less
Delivery Format: 100% online

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