FAQs: Competencies

We have compiled a table with additional detail of expectations for each of the MPH foundational competencies. 

Happenings occasionally runs additional guidance on specific competencies. Check out our deep dive on foundational competencies:

17: Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address

organizational or community challenges

21: Integrate perspectives from other sectors and/or

professions to promote and advance population health

The foundational competencies in Criterion D2 replace your program’s core competencies. If you think something is missing from this set that is important within your program, you may include it in your concentration-specific set (if it expands on/enhances a foundational competency or relates to the program’s mission and area of concentration).

You may find the article "The application of systems thinking in health: why use systems thinking?" helpful to better understand systems thinking tools, which may also include methods and theories. The article includes a table that identifies some tools used within this field and provides references to more detailed information about these tools.

We receive many phone calls each day with specific questions about various topics related to the new criteria. While we are not experts in any of these areas, we sometimes find resources that we think might point stakeholders in the right direction. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list.

Change Management

  • Kotter, J.P. (2012). Leading change. Boston:Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Heath, C. & Health, D. (2010). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. New York: Broadway Books.

Systems Thinking Tools & Systems Theory

  • Peters, D.H. (2014). The application of systems thinking in health: Why use systems thinking? Health Research Policy and Systems, 12, 51. doi:10.1186/1478-4505-12-51
  • https://health-policy-systems.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1478-4505-12-51 (this article has some very good references)
  • Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
  • Rowitz, L. (2014) Public health leadership: Putting principles into practice. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett.
    Chapter 4 - A systems and complexity perspective

This short video with Peter Senge may also provide a helpful introduction to systems thinking. This Equiate webinar, Systems Thinking and Public Health, may also be a good resource.

In public health, interprofessional is defined as working with professions outside the professional disciplines of public health. In other words, it is not epidemiologists collaborating with public health policy professionals but epidemiologists collaborating with other professions that have their own distinct identities and specialty knowledge. For example, other professions may include physicians, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists. However, in public health collaboration goes far beyond the health sciences and into professions like education, food science, urban planning, public administration, engineering, housing authorities, police departments and beyond. It is important for public health professionals to understand the roles, specialty knowledge and skills of relevant professionals and how they contribute to overall public health goals. Of course, you cannot address every profession or every scenario in class, but teaching with as a broad a perspective as possible is important.

The guiding framework for this competency came from the IPEC Competencies. As you can see, this document prescribes four interprofessional competencies to be addressed in all health professions educational programs. They are (along with the plain language interpretation of each competency):

  1. Work with individuals of other professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values. (Maintain mutual respect and shared values)
    2. Use the knowledge of one’s own role and those of other professions to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of patients and to promote and advance the health of populations. (Know your role and the role of other professionals)
    3. Communicate with patients, families, communities, and professionals in health and other fields in a responsive and responsible manner that supports a team approach to the promotion and maintenance of health and the prevention and treatment of disease. (Communicate with other professions)
    4. Apply relationship-building values and the principles of team dynamics to perform effectively in different team roles to plan, deliver, and evaluate patient/population centered care and population health programs and policies that are safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable. (Use all of the above in interprofessional teams to accomplish goals)

*Please note that this document has sub-competencies, but CEPH will not have expectations to that level. Use them to help you further understand the main competency.

For additional resources and ideas, you can also visit The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. The Resource Center is a digital library of interprofessional practice and education-related content.

For more ideas, check out this Happenings deep dive and our CEPH blog, here!

No, you do not need to map the MPH foundational competencies for the DrPH degree. You should map:

  • D1 (Foundational Knowledge) for the MPH & DrPH
  • D2 (MPH Foundational Competencies) for the MPH only
  • D3 (DrPH Foundational Competencies) for the DrPH only

Not necessarily. If a single assessment addresses all components, then that is sufficient. However, if students need to complete multiple activities to fully demonstrate all aspects of the competency, then multiple activities should be included.

Be descriptive when identifying the specific assessment opportunity. Reviewers must be able to validate that the opportunity listed does appropriately relate to the competency. In addition to a brief description in the template, the supporting documentation (e.g., assignment instructions/guidelines, writing prompts provided to students, sample exam questions, etc.) in the ERF should also clearly identify where and how each competency is assessed.

For additional information on how to present your D2 and D4 tables, check out this Happenings deep dive.

Quantitative and qualitative analyses can occur in the same course/assessment or separate courses/assessments. At least one assessment of each competency is necessary, but one may not always be sufficient.

It is not recommended that electives be included in the mapping  required in Templates D2-2, D3-2 or D4-1 because not every student may take specific electives. Assessment opportunities in foundational courses that are common to all students, required concentration courses or other educational requirements outside of designated coursework should be mapped to the foundational or concentration competencies.

For additional information on mapping competencies to courses and assignments, check out this Happenings deep dive.

This may be possible in specific situations. For example, your program may teach all MPH students about interprofessional education and practice in a required course. This course addresses the attitude of mutual respect and maintaining a focus on shared values and goals, the roles of other professionals in solving public health problems, methods of communicating with other professionals in ways that they understand and how to put it all together to perform well on an interprofessional team. Then your MPH students may engage in a forum conducted by your university's Center for Interprofessional Education. Small groups of interprofessional students are facilitated, monitored and assessed by trained faculty in a setting that occurs outside of the class.

If you waive courses that you have mapped to foundational learning objectives or foundational competencies, you must have a process to ensure that the student is grounded in each foundational knowledge component and is assessed on every competency mapped to the waived course. This grounding or assessment may come from prior-completed courses or through courses at your own institution. 

If a student waives your program’s courses, you will likely need to identify which learning objectives/competencies will not be addressed through your own curriculum so that you can ensure that they were addressed in another way.

Yes! For accreditation purposes, a generalist degree counts as a concentration. Each concentration or generalist degree must define at least five distinct competencies in addition to the foundational competencies. These distinct competencies may expand on or enhance the foundational competencies, but must articulate depth or enhancement for all concentrations, including the generalist degree. Click here for some additional, quick TA on concentration competencies.

In most cases, no. Students should be assessed on each foundational and concentration competency through didactic coursework. Each competency has a theoretical and/or practical framework that underpins the skill, and we expect students to receive instruction about these concepts and practice the competency in more standardized settings before applying or integrating specific competencies during complex experiences such as the APE or ILE.

  • Concentration competencies MUST be more advanced than or distinct from any CEPH-provided foundational elements (knowledge and competencies).
    • CEPH encourages all schools and programs to develop concentration competencies that relate to the school or program's mission and respond to community needs and priorities.
    • If a specific concentration is intended to prepare students for CHES certification and NCHEC competencies are integrated into the curriculum, CEPH has provided an analysis (in the 2021 data templates in the sheet titled D4 NCHEC) to assist schools and programs in choosing NCHEC competencies not covered in the foundational curriculum.
  • Regardless of the source of concentration competencies, schools and programs must not choose competencies that are non-compliant with CEPH criteria.

Yes. The Council expects students to learn about the underlying framework and principles of each competency before they are assessed on their ability to demonstrate the competency. Reviewers will use course syllabi to validate didactic preparation in and assessment of each foundational and concentration competency.