What Is CEPH Certification for MPH Programs?

Professionals and students considering a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree will want to review the subject of CEPH accreditation closely. CEPH is the Council on Education for Public Health, which is an independent agency that has been recognized by the US Department of Education as a body that accredits public health schools and public health programs across the United States.

The Council is a non-profit and private corporation that consists of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) as its two members. The affairs of this accreditation corporation are supervised by a 10 member board. The board is completely responsible for adopting the criteria by which public health programs are evaluated and for established accreditation procedures and policies, as well as making all accreditation decisions.

Students who intend to spend at least two years and considerable expense to earn their MPH degree should ensure that their chosen program has been accredited by the CEPH.

Goals and Objectives of CEPH

The goal of this council is to promote better health in human populations through organized efforts at the community level. The focus of the council is to improve health through ensuring that public health personnel are properly educated to prevent, identify and solve public health problems.

The primary objectives are as follows:

  • Promoting quality in public health education through an ongoing process of self-evaluation by the universities and programs that desire accreditation
  • Assure the general public that universities that offer graduate instruction in the public health field are properly evaluated and judged in meeting standards that are need to ensure the proper conduct of such programs
  • Encouraging improvements in public health education quality through regular review, consultation, research, publications and other related means

When a program has been accredited by the CEPH, that program has been certified to provide the following benefits to students:

  • Comprehensiveness: A program accredited by the CEPH has been certified to provide a variety of quality degrees in public health, including the MPH, bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in various areas of public health research and practice.
  • Rigor: Each program accredited by CEPH has gone through a tough accreditation process on a regular schedule every few years to assure new and existing students of the quality of the public health education.
  • Flexibility: Many accredited schools and programs offer online public health degree programs, dual degree programs, and executive public health programs designed for the highly experienced public health professional or academic. Some CEPH accredited schools will allow students to forgo submission of GRE scores.
  • Qualification: Students who graduate from a CEPH-accredited program are then eligible to site for the Certified in Public Health examination, which is overseen by the National Board of Public Health Examiners or NBPHE.
  • Opportunity: Students attending a CEPH-accredited program are eligible for many attractive public health internships and fellowships that are offered by many federal agencies. Students also may qualify for generous student assistance programs that only can be accessed at CEPH-accredited public health programs.
  • Recognition: CEPH-accredited programs are peer reviewed, so students may be confident that the program has met the tough standards established by CEPH.
  • Employability: Some attractive full time public health jobs are only available to students and professionals who graduated from a CEPH-accredited program. For example, the US Public Health Service, many public health jobs in the military and even some jobs at the state and local levels require that graduates come from schools accredited by the CEPH.

If the program has been accredited by CEPH, you can be confident that it has met all of the above standards and benefits. Students are assured that they are studying an MPH program that is rigorous and worthy of your time and financial expense.

Peer Review Process for CEPH Accreditation

Peer review is one of the most important parts of the accreditation process not only for CEPH, but for the general advance of educational knowledge  both in the United States and across the world.

Peer review ensures that experience and expertise are properly utilized to make critical judgments about quality. The peer review method in accreditation has an interlocking format of checks and balances, with a very clearly defined separation between powers and responsibilities. These always include procedures and policies that stress objectivity as standards are applied to programs and institutions.

The procedures in the accreditation process are designed to avoid conflicts of interest for people involved in the process of accreditation, as well as for those who work at the institutions that are being reviewed.

During the peer review process, the following standards are adhered to at CEPH:

  • There are formal written policies and procedures that are made to ensure complete objectivity, and to avoid any possibility of bias among the peer review staff, stakeholders making accreditation decisions, as well as all staff at the institution being reviewed.
  • Accreditation standards are carefully developed in a collaborative process with many groups. These include practitioners in the public health field, public health educators, members of the general public, students, employers, regulators and others.
  • Quid pro quos are not allowed under any circumstances. Peers, staff, public members of boards and the accrediting commission are covered by these regulations. The nature of the accreditation review process almost entirely eliminates any possibility for quid pro quos and collusion to take place.
  • All CEPH accreditation peer reviewers are educated and trained for their important work.
  • Peer reviewers are typically volunteers and are not paid for what they do. If there is any payment involved, it is far below normal consulting fees. Reviewers for CEPH will spend a significant portion of personal time reading and evaluating documentation, visiting the institution being reviewed and working with other peers to develop the final accreditation report.

Basic Elements of CEPH Accreditation Process

The accreditation process at CEPH closely follows the standards laid out by the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, or ASPA. These standards are as follows:

  • Evaluation Request
  • Internal Review
  • External Review (Peer Review)
  • Public Comment Period
  • Accreditation Report
  • Agency Review and Accreditation Decision
  • Implementation
  • Ongoing Review
  • Fair Process
  • Attention to Public Interest

‘Meeting CEPH Standards’ Not the Same as Accredited

Some students may notice that an MPH program may not be accredited by the CEPH. But its website states that the curriculum of the program meets CEPH standards. It is important to understand that this is not the same as CEPH accreditation.

CEPH accreditation requirements have, as noted earlier, four broad requirement categories. Only one of the four areas is related to the curriculum itself. Moreover, the curricular requirements for CEPH accreditation are much more than just a list of classes.

Last, accreditation requires the program to be peer evaluated to make certain that all accreditation criteria are met. No school or program not on the CEPH-accredited list has undergone this review process.

Current Listing of CEPH-Accredited Programs

The CEPH currently accredits:

  • 59 schools of public health
  • 113 public health programs
  • 8 undergraduate bachelor’s programs.

The current listing of CEPH-accredited master’s degree programs may be found on the CEPH website.

Additional Resources


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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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