5 Best Graduate Certificates in Public Health

Public health is growing quickly, and you can expect that there will be no shortage of public health jobs in the future for biostatisticians, epidemiologists, environmental health specialists, and many others.

To attain most career positions in public health, you must earn your master’s degree in public health, or MPH. However, some professionals interested in a public health career may opt to earn a graduate certificate in public health first from a respected online university.

Earning a certificate can often be completed in under a year, and the certificate can offer you many of the public health skills that you will need in your career. At a later time, you can pick up your education again if you like, and earn your MPH degree. Other professionals who do not have an MPH may decide to earn a public health certificate also.

Some MPH holders also decide to return to school and earn a public health certificate in a specific specialty, which provides them with a better career path.


When considering a public health certificate at the graduate level, we recommend that you seek a program that is accredited by the CEPH, or the Council on Education for Public Health.

Our recommendations for the top five best graduate certificates in public health are:

#1 General Public Health Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Public Health from George Washington University consists of the core courses that are required for the full MPH degree. It is intended for professionals who want to learn more about public health without getting a full MPH degree at this time.

The program also is appropriate for a current public health professional who wants to advance his or her skills. It also is a great fit for the person who wants an overview of public health to decide which area of public health to focus on in an MPH program.

Core classes in this one year certificate program are:

  • Biological Concepts for Public Health
  • Biostatistical Applications for Public Health
  • Principles and Practice of Epidemiology
  • Environmental and Occupational Health in a Sustainable World
  • Management and Policy Approaches to Public Health
  • Social and Behavioral Science Methods

Students have the option of transferring to the full degree program after they complete at least three of the above classes.

After you receive your certificate, you will be able to describe the major contributors to good public health, and how they relate to the most significant communicable and noncommunicable diseases around the world.

#2 Public Health Informatics Certificate

The Public Health Informatics Certificate is offered online through Johns Hopkins University. The purpose of this certificate program is to provide the professional of public health or a related field a strong foundation in concepts and methods of health informatics and health IT, for application to population health and public health.

This program is both designed for current or future public health professionals who want to develop public health informatics expertise.

After you complete this PHI certificate, you will be able to:

  • Explain and direct the strategic direction for public health informatics in your organization
  • Match data standards to the correct use
  • Properly identify knowledge, information, and data needs of a specific public health project or for certain program users
  • Be able to detail IT system development, how it is procured, and implemented, so that it means most public health needs
  • Recognize health informatics use so that clinical health, environmental risk and population health can be integrated


  • Health Information Systems
  • Introduction to Public Health and Biomedical Informatics
  • Public Health Informatics II
  • Academic Research and Ethics at JHSPH
  • Research and Evaluation Methods

#3 Certificate of Graduate Study in Environmental Public Health

The University of Vermont offers a fully online certificate in environmental public health that is a concise, intense program that will provide you the chance to learn about many of the most common human health dangers, as well as health promotion strategies. Also, students learn the most modern types of environmental health practice.

This program is an excellent overview of environmental public health. It shows you that this field is multidisciplinary in scope, and addresses chemical, biological and physical factors that can hurt human health.

Graduates report that this one year program provided them with the skills to:

  • Evaluate, improve and promote health in all types of populations
  • Talk about barriers to public health access and effective ways to promote good health
  • Understand skills in epidemiology, such as descriptive epidemiology
  • Understand critical environmental factors and routes of exposure that affect health
  • Possibly continue with more graduate study later in public health

This is an 18 credit hour program that is a major collaboration between the school’s College of Medicine and the Graduate College.

Required courses include:

  • Environmental Public Health
  • Public Health and Health Policy
  • Epidemiology
  • Food Systems and Public Health
  • Environmental Health Law and Policy
  • Environmental Risk and Communication
  • Investigating Disease Outbreaks
  • Public Health Informatics
  • One Health: Zoonoses
  • Public Health Surveillance

All of the faculty are Ph.D.s and are experts at the university’s College of Medicine, the VT Dept. of Health, and/or are experts that have trained at the CDC in Vermont.

#4 Graduate Certificate in Field Epidemiology

The University of North Carolina houses one of the premier public health schools – the Gillings School of Global Public Health. It offers this 12 credit hour program that deals with the following areas of field epidemiology:

  • Core aspects of outbreak investigation
  • Surveillance methods and systems
  • Infectious disease epidemiology
  • Field epidemiology methods

All of the classes can be done online, and there is no need to report to the campus. Most students are able to complete the program in 1.5 years.

UNC recommends that students apply who have both excellent mathematics competency and outstanding writing skills. This program is frequently attended by public health first responder staff, nurses, disease investigators, environmental health managers and epidemiologists.

All attendees of this certificate program are required to have worked in public health or a related field for at least two years. You can choose to earn this certificate for your work needs, and then return to UNC later to finish your master of public health, if you choose.

#5 Graduate Certificate in Modern Biostatistics in Clinical Trials

Boston University offers this unique graduate certificate because of the increasing costs of health care and the many types of clinical trials that are  being done around the world today. There is more need today than ever for excellent biostatisticians who have been trained in the analysis and design of good clinical trials.

This one year program is made for the public health student who wants to be better familiar with many types of clinical trial design and data. These include traditional trials, Bayesian trials and adaptive designs. There also is an excellent overview of clinical trial FDA regulations, analysis of ethics and clinical trials reporting.

These courses are required:

  • BS851: Applied Statistics in Clinical Trials I
  • BS722: Design and Conduct of Clinical Trials
  • BS810: Meta-Analysis for Public Health & Medical Research
  • BS861: Applied Statistics in Clinical Trials II
  • BS854: Bayesian Methods in Clinical Trials
  • BS856: Adaptive Designs Methods in Clinical Trials
  • BS901: Directed Study in Biostatistics
  • BS902: Directed Research in Biostatistics

After you complete your certificate, you should be skilled in applying good design principles and know the process of conducting and monitoring clinical trials. Also, you should be able to identify the best study designs for a given hypothesis, and should be able to calculate parameters that are related to the design.

You should have a bachelor’s degree in statistics or biostatistics, or a degree in public health to qualify for this certificate program.

Last, you will be able to analyze clinical study data effective, so that you can both interpret and communicate the results of analyses in technical and nontechnical terms

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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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