If you have ever heard any presentation by CEPH staff, you know that CEPH is recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE). What does that mean? Officially, this means that the US government agrees that CEPH is the “reliable authority as to the quality of education or training” provided by public health higher education programs. For the schools and programs accredited by CEPH, this means several things; for example, when there is public health funding available only to those schools or programs accredited by an agency recognized by the Secretary of Education, only CEPH-accredited schools and programs are eligible to apply. It also means that graduates of CEPH-accredited programs qualify for service in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corp based solely on the MPH. For CEPH, this means that every five years we have to demonstrate to the USDE that we have appropriate and rigorous criteria and procedures to assure quality in public health educational programs.
The recognition process is very similar to the accreditation process. We complete a “petition” (similar to a self-study) addressing how we meet federal regulations, upload hundreds of pages of documentation (similar to the ERF), and host at least two on site observations where a USDE staff member observes CEPH doing its work. In this case, the USDE staff observed one of our site visits (thank you, Texas A&M!) and a Council decision-making meeting. The process culminated in a draft staff report, to which we were able to respond, and an appearance before the National Advisory Committee for Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) where we answered questions about our profession and our process. NACIQI recommends a recognition decision to the Secretary of Education.
Our most recent cycle of re-recognition culminated on July 30, 2019, when the NACIQI voted unanimously to recognize CEPH for a period of five years – the maximum allowable time – with no issues, and thus, no interim reporting required. The committee members commended our new curricular criteria, particularly our focus on competencies, assessment, and student achievement. We are relieved to be finished for yet another cycle of recognition and proud to be a leader in specialized accreditation.
--Written by Laura Rasar King, EdD, MPH