The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency recognized by the US Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and public health programs offered in settings other than schools of public health. These schools and programs prepare students for entry into careers in public health. The primary professional degree is the Master of Public Health (MPH) but other master’s and doctoral degrees are offered as well.
The Council is a private, nonprofit corporation with APHA and ASPPH (formerly ASPH) as its two corporate members. The affairs of the corporation are directed by a 10-member board. As an independent body, the board is solely responsible for adopting criteria by which schools and programs are evaluated, for establishing policies and procedures, for making accreditation decisions, and for managing the business of the corporation.
Three councilors are appointed by APHA and must be primarily involved in the practice of public health or in the administration of related health services. Three are appointed by ASPPH and must be selected from the faculty, administration or students of schools of public health. Two members are jointly appointed by ASPPH and APHA and serve as representatives of the general public; they may be neither engaged in full-time public health practice nor employed by an educational institution that has a school of public health. Two additional councilors are elected by CEPH and approved by the two corporate members to represent the programmatic interests served by CEPH. They are nominated by appropriate professional and educational organizations in community health education and community health/ preventive medicine and must be individuals with specific expertise in the programmatic areas they represent.
CEPH assures quality in public health education and training to achieve excellence in practice, research and service, through collaboration with organizational and community partners.
Assuring excellence in public health education for a healthier world.
The Council’s focus is the improvement of health through the assurance of professional personnel who are able to identify, prevent and solve community health problems. The Council’s objectives are:
- to promote quality in public health education through a continuing process of self-evaluation by the schools and programs that seek accreditation;
- to assure the public that institutions offering instruction in public health have been evaluated and judged to meet standards essential for the conduct of such educational programs; and
- to encourage – through periodic review, consultation, research, publications, and other means – improvements in the quality of education for public health.
CEPH protects the interests of students and the public by supporting the development of successful public health schools and programs. We value the following:
- Quality and innovation in process and outcomes;
- Consistency, fairness and transparency; and
- Collaboration and inclusion to support positive environments in our own organization and in those we accredit.
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.
The Council is supported by a combination of fees and contributions from the profession and the academic community.
CEPH’s logo represents the collaborative, systems approach that is so highly valued in the public health profession. The three interconnected rings are reflective of CEPH’s many relationships within public health and higher education.
Some examples of these relationships include the following:
- Three organizations working in partnership for accreditation – CEPH and its two corporate sponsors APHA, ASPPH
- Three categories of accreditation – Schools of Public Health, Public Health Programs, Standalone Baccalaureate Programs
- Three degree levels accredited – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral
- The three Core Functions of Public Health – Assurance, Assessment, Policy Development
- The three-legged stool in the academy – Teaching, Research, Service
- The triad in quality assurance in higher education – the federal government, the states, accreditors
CEPH has been an active member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) since its inception in 1993. ASPA provides a collaborative forum and a collective voice for the community of organizations in the United States that assess the quality of specialized and professional higher education programs and schools. ASPA represents its members on issues of educational quality facing institutions of higher education, governments, students and the public. ASPA advances the knowledge, skills, good practices and ethical commitments of accreditors and communicates the value of accreditation as a means of enhancing educational quality.
CEPH is recognized by United States Department of Education to accredit within the United States schools of public health and public health programs outside schools of public health, at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels, including those offered via distance education.
Complaints relating to accredited or applicant schools and programs may be addressed to CEPH’s Executive Director at the address provided at the bottom of this page. Complaints must be prepared according to CEPH’s Accreditation Procedures.
A complaint against a CEPH-accredited unit may be submitted to the CEPH executive director at any time via mail or email on the Complaint Form.
Complaints must meet all of the following minimum requirements:
- submitted in writing
- specifically indicates which accreditation criterion or policy is allegedly being violated
- includes documentation that the complainant has already exhausted the accredited unit’s administrative complaint or grievance processes
- is signed
- includes the complainant’s contact information
CEPH also requires a release authorizing CEPH to forward a copy of the complaint, including identification of the complainant, to the accredited unit for a response. In rare circumstances, where credible violations of CEPH standards or policies are alleged, CEPH may, in its sole discretion, investigate complaints that are not submitted on the CEPH Complaint Form or without a release.