FAQs: Degree and Concentration Offerings

The Council examined many different scenarios and a variety of public comments when developing the criteria. The fairest, cleanest approach we could determine focuses on the end-user’s perspective.

Concentration refers to any area of study that the school or program advertises as available to students, via its catalog and/or website. For example, an MPH in epidemiology is a concentration. An MPH in epidemiology with focus areas in chronic disease and infectious disease would be two concentrations (chronic epidemiology and infectious epidemiology). In these criteria, “concentration” is synonymous with terms such as “specialization,” “emphasis area,” “track” and “focus area,” and, in some cases, “certificate.” A certificate is equivalent to a concentration when completion of a certificate is universally required to fulfill degree requirements.

It is clear that a minor is not a significant area of study, but rather a small grouping of classes on a topic, so a minor does not trigger the requirements that we associate with other terms such as track, specialization, focus area, etc.

These are considered different concentrations and trigger separate faculty requirements. The school or program must employ, at a minimum, three faculty members per concentration area for the first degree level offered (this can be an offering at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral level). Faculty resources are based on concentration areas first, then the number of degree levels offered within a concentration.

If the only difference is the delivery format and the curriculum is the same, it would be considered one concentration.

CEPH has two classifications for degree format: campus-based and distance-based. Degrees/concentrations are only considered distance-based if the degree/concentration can be obtained completely via distance learning or with minimal face-to-face interaction required. Minimal face-to-face interaction might include summer or other limited residency requirements, in-person orientation, in-person delivery of final projects, etc. If the degree/concentration does not meet the definition of distance-based, then it is classified as campus-based.

Schools and programs should determine which of these two formats reflects the structure and expectations of the executive program.