Graduate education in public health began in the early 1900s and formal accreditation was initiated in the mid-1940s when 10 schools of public health were recognized by the American Public Health Association (APHA), the nation’s largest individual public health membership organization. From 1945 to 1973, APHA carried out accreditation of graduate professional education in public health, at first centered almost exclusively in schools of public health but later including other college and university settings.

In 1974 the independent Council on Education for Public Health was established by APHA and the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), the national organization representing deans, faculty and students of accredited schools of public health. ASPH became the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) in 2013. Responsibility for the evaluation of schools of public health was transferred to CEPH which initially limited its focus to school accreditation. In the late 1970s CEPH responded to requests from practitioners and educators to undertake accreditation of community health/preventive medicine programs, and to a request from APHA to assume the additional responsibility for community health education programs. In 2005, these separate programmatic categories were combined into a single category of public health programs.