Public Health Core Concepts Certificate

This certificate is designed for working health or human service professionals, and includes the core content from our MPH degree programs. Students will be able to register, receive materials, interact with faculty and fellow students, and complete this program without traveling to campus.

Part of the Public Health Practice major, the certificate program provides training that prepares public health workers and others to respond to emerging public health issues. Many students use what they learn to enhance opportunities in their current work or career path.

You may be eligible to take the Public Health Certificate Exam (CPH Exam) after you have completed the Public Health Core Concept Certificate and if you meet either of two additional eligibility criteria:

  • Minimum of three years of public health experience OR
  • Possession of a relevant graduate degree

Benefits of the CPH Credential:

  • Demonstrate commitment to public health beyond your academic training
  • Show public health expertise by evidencing mastery of the core sciences of public health
  • Protect the public by staying current in public health
  • Meeting the standard of the profession by maintaining the credential
  • Distinguish yourself from others
  • Advance cohesiveness and collaboration with your peers by a professionally approved common body of knowledge
  • Elevate the profession of public health
  • Ensure high standards that better serve the health of the public

If you continue with a MPH degree, you are eligible to take the exam after completion or concurrent enrollment in the graduate-level core content (biostatistics, epidemiology, health services/policy management, environmental health, social behavioral sciences).

All courses are available in both online and in-person formats. If you have a completed a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree, you can earn a credential in public health core concepts. You can take the six courses you need for the certificate online or on campus.

The curriculum is the same as the core content taught in the School of Public Health MPH degree programs. Some courses offer curriculum alternatives, though they may be not be offered online. Some alternatives are required for certain MPH programs. Check with your coordinator for details before registration.


Curriculum Sheet (PDF)

Core Area Basic Course Alternative Course(s)

PubH 6414 Biostatistical Literacy (3cr),
(should be taken before or concurrent to PubH 6320)

PubH 6450 Biostatistics I (4cr); PubH 6451 Biostatistics II (4cr)


PubH 6102 Issues in Environmental & Behavioral Health (2cr)

PubH 6101 Environmental Health (2cr)


PubH 6320 Fundamentals of Epidemiology (3cr)

PubH 6341 Epidemiologic
Methods I (3cr)


PubH 6741 Ethics in PH: Professional Practice and Policy (1cr)

PubH 6742 Ethics in PH: Research and Policy (1cr), (offered online all terms)


PubH 6751 Management in Health Services Organizations (2cr)

Social and
Behavioral Sciences

PubH 6020 Fundamentals of Social and Behavioral Science (3cr)


Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and must demonstrate strong written skills.

Application Process

Application is online through SOPHAS Express. You will need to supply the following:

  • Statement of purpose and objectives describing the reason for applying, career goals, and how the PHCert-CC will help to achieve desired goals.
  • One letter of recommendation from a person qualified to assess your academic work, professional experiences, or leadership potential in public health.
  • Copies of transcripts from each U.S. college/university in which you earned a degree. (Note: If you are admitted, you will be required to submit official transcripts directly to the School of Public Health). 
  • Résumé or C.V.
  • TOEFL or IELTS test scores (international applicants only)
  • Applicants who have a degree(s) from a foreign institution should provide a World Educational Services (WES) ICAP course-by-course evaluation of their academic credentials. Have WES send the evaluation directly to the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

No standardized test scores are required. Applications are reviewed holistically; the admissions committee looks closely at the applicant’s work experience and grades in math and science.

Applications are accepted for fall, spring, and summer admission.

Why should I get a Public Health Certificate in Core Concepts (PHCert-CC)?
The certificate program offers an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills to understand, assess, and manage population health in public health, health care, and human services settings.

Who is eligible for the program?
The certificate program is designed for working professionals in health or human services who have at least a baccalaureate degree.

How long does the program take?
The PHCert-CC must be completed within four years of matriculation. It can be completed in two years by taking one course per term. Most people complete the certificate in one to two years.

Can I transfer credits from the certificate to a degree program at the School of Public Health?
All credits taken for the certificate are graduate level and are eligible for transfer consideration. Students generally transfer all of their certificate into an MPH if they are later admitted to one.

However, Masters programs have the final authority to decide which courses apply to their degrees. Some programs may require students to satisfy a core competency with a course that is not part of the standard Core Concepts curriculum. Staff can help certificate students select appropriate transferable courses to satisfy curriculum requirements and to meet their long term goals. All students who wish to transfer into an MPH are advised to contact the Program Coordinator in their desired MPH for planning purposes.

How do I apply to a MS or MPH after starting the certificate?
Certificate students can apply through SOPHAS to another degree program in the SPH if they meet the minimum requirements of the program. Applicants who have completed the Core Concepts certificate with a GPA of 3.25 do not have to supply GRE test scores for the Executive Program in Public Health Practice MPH or the Environmental Health MPH.

Are the courses offered online?
All six standard PHCert-CC courses are available online and/or in-person. Students may take all, some, or none of their courses in the online format.

How much does the certificate cost?
The total cost varies depending on how many credits you take per term, your residency status, your health insurance coverage, and other similar factors.

Tuition for Regent’s certificates are assessed at the same rate as MPH programs. For more information please see SPH Tuition & Fees.

Is financial aid available?
No, students accepted to the PHCert-CC are not eligible to apply for federal financial aid.

Are scholarships available?
Limited scholarships may be available.

What is the CPH exam?
The CPH designation demonstrates that you have completed courses from a CEPH-accredited school and have mastered foundational competencies in public health. CPH professionals raise the bar and enhance the public health profession through their exemplary academic and leadership skills.

Why take the CPH exam?

  • Stay current on best practices and education through the user-friendly maintenance of certification program
  • Assure the community that you serve/protect that you met and maintain a national, professional standard
  • Increase recognition of the public health professions
  • Measures and improves the competency and consistency of public health workers everywhere.

When is the CPH exam offered?
The exam is offered during the months of February, June, and October.
For complete information go to the CPH Certificate website.

Where is the CPH exam given?
The CPH are delivered at Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) Testing Centers through the U.S. and at select international locations.

Where can I get more information?
Please visit the CPH Certificate website

Application Deadline

Spring (January) Term: December 1
Summer Term: April 1
Fall Term: August 1

Contact Info
Major Coordinator: Katy Korchik,
Program Director: Craig Hedberg,

Student Guidebook (PDF)