Students’ Frequently Asked Questions
- Is the school or program I am considering accredited?
- What is the difference between a CEPH-accredited school and a CEPH-accredited program?
- Does it matter whether my degree is from a unit that is CEPH-accredited?
- The institution I’m considering says that they are an applicant for accreditation. What does this mean for me?
- What does probationary accreditation mean?
- I am interested in an MPH program that does not appear on your list of accredited schools and programs, but its website states that the curriculum meets CEPH standards. Is this the same thing as accreditation?
- I would like to earn my public health degree online. Are there accredited institutions where I can do that?
- I would like to earn my MPH degree in one year. Are there accredited institutions where I can do that?
- I have found a degree program that is listed on some websites relating to public health degrees but is not listed on others. How do I know which list is correct?
- Does CEPH accredit programs and schools located outside of the United Sates?
- Will I be able to work in the US if I attend an international institution that is not accredited?
- Is there a process to “certify” foreign degrees from institutions not accredited by CEPH?
- I have a complaint concerning my school or program. Should I submit it to CEPH?
1. Is the school or program I am considering accredited?
Please use our searchable database. Also, please note the following:
- We update this database within 30 days of each decision-making meeting. If you believe that the unit you are searching for may have been very recently accredited for the first time OR if the degree program you are searching for was very recently approved for inclusion as part of an accredited unit, please check back later or call the CEPH office with questions.
- Although we check our database regularly, errors do occur. If you believe that you have identified an erroneous omission from our database, please contact the CEPH office.
Next, it is important to understand the difference between CEPH accreditation and institutional accreditation. A university might have regional accreditation, which applies to the university as a whole, but not CEPH accreditation. Thus, if a university advertises that it is accredited, it is important to inquire about which agency or agencies the university is referring to.
- Insitutional accreditation focuses on macro-level issues that affect the entire university. It does not examine the specific curricula of public health or other specialized programs.
- Examples of institutional accrediting agencies: SACSCOC, the Higher Learning Commission and the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
- Specialized accreditation, such as CEPH accreditation, focuses on the training in a particular field or profession.
There are specialized accreditors for nursing, teacher education, medicine, physical therapy and many other fields. CEPH is the only organization recognized by the US Department of Education to accredit public health schools and programs.
Watch this video on why programmatic accreditation is important.
2. What is the difference between a CEPH-accredited school and a CEPH-accredited program?
CEPH accredits three separate categories: schools of public health (SPH), public health programs (PHP) and standalone baccalaureate programs (SBP).
Institutions listed in any category have the same, full accreditation status.
The major difference visible to prospective students would be that SPH typically offer a broader range of different degree options to choose from. SPH must offer both master’s and doctoral degrees and must offer multiple concentrations at both levels. PHP and SBP are free to have one degree offering or many.
All degree programs are subject to the same quality assistance processes, and the curricula must address the same requirements. CEPH maintains a separate set of accreditation criteria for SBP that accommodates the different context and setting that may be present for units that do not offer CEPH-accredited graduate degrees.
3. Does it matter whether my degree is from a unit that is CEPH accredited?
In general, there are three major practical implications for students of receiving a public health graduate degree from a non-accredited institution:
- Some employment is only open to graduates of CEPH-accredited units. The US Public Health Service, some US military public health jobs and some state and local government agencies require that MPH-level jobs be filled with graduates of CEPH-accredited schools and programs. Other employers may express a preference for graduates of CEPH-accredited units.
If you have an idea of the area or agency where you would like to work after graduation, you should speak to a human resources officer with specific questions. CEPH is not involved in defining the specific qualifications for employment with any given agency.
- Some fellowships are only available to students attending CEPH-accredited schools and programs that are also members of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). Not all CEPH-accredited programs are members of ASPPH. Visit http://www.aspph.org for more information.
- Attendance at a CEPH-accredited unit provides a pathway to eligibility to sit for the Certified in Public Health exam and obtain the CPH credential. The exam and credential are administered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). NBPHE has also defined other pathways to eligibility that are based on public health work experience. NBPHE is not affiliated with CEPH, and CEPH does not have a formal role in shaping the eligibility or other rules. Visit http://www.nbphe.org/ for additional information.
Attending a CEPH-accredited unit means that you know that your degree program has completed a multi-level review and was found to meet the nationally-agreed-upon standards developed by public health academics and practitioners.
4. The institution I’m considering says that it is an applicant for accreditation. What does this mean for me?
Units must complete an initial review process to be eligible to undertake the full review for accreditation. Units that have completed these initial stages are referred to as “applicants.” Information on CEPH’s current applicants is here.
Being an applicant is not a guarantee that accreditation will be granted. Units can withdraw from the accreditation process at any time, and units can request additional time to prepare before their accreditation reviews. CEPH can also decide that an applicant did not demonstrate the required criteria and will not receive accreditation after the full review is complete. We cannot provide information on how likely it is that a given applicant will be accredited.
The typical time from becoming an applicant to receiving an accreditation decision is approximately three years, but this period can vary.
If a unit receives accreditation, CEPH will assign a start date for accreditation that reflects the time period and data provided at the accreditation review. CEPH’s procedures indicate that the date of initial accreditation will be either 1) the date on which the SPH, PHP or SBP application was accepted by the Council or 2) the date on which the most recent extension of applicant status was granted, if applicable.
We encourage current and prospective students at applicant units to contact the unit directly for additional information.
5. What does probationary accreditation mean?
Probationary accreditation is a category of accreditation. However, conferral of probationary accreditation means that the Council has identified serious concerns that the unit must address within a specific time period. Before the unit’s probationary accreditation term expires, the Council will review extensive documentation and visit the campus. The review will examine evidence that the unit has corrected the identified deficiencies.
If the unit can document that it has corrected the deficiencies and complies with CEPH criteria, it will return to normal accreditation status with no lapse in accreditation. If the unit cannot prove that it has corrected the deficiencies and now complies with the criteria, the Council will revoke accreditation on the pre-determined end date.
Units with probationary accreditation can and have successfully transitioned back to full accreditation. However, each case is different, and it is the unit’s responsibility to take the necessary actions to correct the identified problems. School or program administrators should be able to give you the best idea of what their plan is and whether they believe that they will be able to correct the identified deficiencies.
6. I am interested in an MPH program that does not appear on your list of accredited schools and programs, but its website states that the curriculum meets CEPH standards. Is this the same thing as accreditation?
No. CEPH accreditation standards address all aspects of the unit’s operations, including resources, faculty qualifications and student services. The requirements relating to curriculum have many components. In addition, accreditation requires external peer evaluators to examine the unit and its curriculum. A unit that does not appear on our list has not undergone such a review.
7. I would like to earn my public health degree online. Are there accredited institutions where I can do that?
Many CEPH-accredited schools and programs offer online degrees. CEPH’s degree database allows you to search for such degrees by clicking the box for distance-based degrees. Please note that these degree programs vary, and some may require occasional travel to campus, such as for an initial orientation or summer intensive period. You should carefully review the requirements and contact the unit with any questions.
If there is an accredited unit that you are interested in that does not appear on the search results, you should contact them and find out what their online options are. Your goal should be to find the institution that best matches your educational and career goals.
8. I would like to earn my MPH degree in one year. Are there accredited institutions where I can do that?
CEPH’s criteria for accreditation were revised in 2005 to require that all MPH degrees be awarded for no fewer than 42 semester credits of coursework. This makes obtaining the degree in one year challenging. A number of institutions, however, may continue to offer the option to complete the degree in a single year. We do not maintain a centralized listing of such options.
You should review the list of accredited schools and programs on our website and find those institutions that address your educational and career goals and contact them directly to find out if a one-year option is feasible for you.
9. Is there a ranking or list that will show me which public health schools and programs are the best?
Several private companies publish lists that rank educational programs, including those in public health. We cannot endorse these rankings, as the standards for accreditation are not the same as the factors used in ranking universities.
The field of public health is quite varied, and it is likely that the right school or program for one student might not be the best for another. Consider what field you wish to work in after obtaining your degree, consider the geographic area in which you would like to work, and talk to those working in the field. Staff or faculty from schools and programs you are considering may be able to help you, also, by discussing their pool of available internships and field placements for students, and by discussing the destination and career paths of recent graduates.
10. I have found a degree program that is listed on some websites relating to public health degrees but is not listed on others. How do I know which list is correct?
The information on the CEPH website is the ONLY information that we can assure is accurate and up to date. If a school or program is accredited, CEPH has assured that the degrees and concentrations it offers meet the minimum standards for accreditation. Please be wary of information that extends beyond this level of assurance, such as rankings. Various websites and organizations have different missions, serve specific clients and disseminate information that focuses on their own particular interests and priorities.
11. I am interested in taking the CPH credentialing examination. What are the requirements and how do I register?
Though the abbreviations are similar, this agency is not involved with the development or administration of the CPH (Certified in Public Health) exam and credential. The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) is an independent entity with responsibility for determining exam eligibility and exam administration. For information regarding registration and requirements, visit http://www.nbphe.org/.
CEPH accredits a limited number of units located outside of the US. These units must meet the same standards as US-based universities. Visit our search page and click the box for international programs.
13. Will I be able to work in the United States if I attend an international institution that is not accredited?
It is up to each individual employer to establish qualifications for employment at an organization. Some may require that positions be filled by graduates of CEPH-accredited institutions, while others may not. If you have an idea about where you would like to work after graduation, we recommend that you contact the organization’s human resources department to learn about the qualifications required for employment.
No. There is no process to certify public health degrees in the US; individuals may be designated as “Certified in Public Health” through the credentialing process administered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. The NBPHE is an independent body that maintains its own eligibility rules. CEPH processes apply ONLY to universities, not to individuals.
- Before submitting a complaint to CEPH, you must have exhausted all administrative processes within your institution. This means that you have followed your university’s processes through all possible levels of appeal. These processes are typically defined in a student handbook and posted on your university’s website. You must submit proof of completion of all processes with your written complaint to CEPH.
- Your complaint must relate to violation of accreditation standards (SPH & PHP) (SBP). Completion of the complaint form requires that you identify which specific standard(s) you believe that the unit has violated. CEPH is not a mediator of disputes and is unlikely to get involved in disputes related to grades or other issues that can be resolved on an individual basis.
CEPH’s Accreditation Procedures provide more information about the formal complaint process.
Anonymous complaints pertaining to accreditation matters are retained and, depending on the circumstances and the nature and severity of the complaint, as determined by the CEPH Executive Director and/or the CEPH Executive Committee, may be forwarded to the dean, program director or program leader for a response.