Eligibility Requirements

The first step in preparing for the Certified in Public Health exam is to determine your eligibility. Read and understand the details within the CPH Candidate Handbook to determine eligibility, learn about exam content and study materials, exam schedule and locations, and what to expect after you sit for the exam, closing with requirements for CPH recertification.

In order to be eligible to sit for the CPH exam, all candidates must meet one of the following eligibility criteria.

CPH Candidate Handbook

Students of a school or program of public health accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)*

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Based on its implementation of coursework relevant to the CEPH foundational competencies, each CEPH-accredited or CEPH-applicant graduate school or program will identify students eligible to take the examination for certification in public health.

Candidates who pass the exam under this eligibility criteria will be provisionally certified until graduation. Following confirmation of their graduation, they will be Certified in Public Health.**

*Students in a non-degree certificate programs should contact the NBPHE staff at info@nbphe.org for application instructions.

** Students attending schools and programs in CEPH-applicant status will remain in provisionally certified status until NBPHE is notified that they have graduated from their degree program AND the program has received full CEPH accreditation.

Alumni of a school or program of public health accredited by CEPH

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Alumni who have completed all degree requirements for a Masters or Doctoral level degree.*

*Alumni who attended a school or program in CEPH-applicant status will remain in provisionally certified status until the program has been fully-accredited by CEPH. To become fully certified in public health, the alumni graduation date must not precede the date of accreditation.

Public Health Work Experience

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Individuals who have:

  • at least a bachelor’s degree, in any concentration, and at least five years’ public health work experience
  • a relevant graduate-level degree, and at least three years’ public health work experience
  • At graduate level, a certificate from a school or program of public health that is accredited by or in applicant status with CEPH, and at least three years’ public health work experience

Applications will be reviewed based on public health work experience, indicating the scope of foundational knowledge that has been acquired based on the ten essential public health services. Application fees for applicants who are not eligible will be refunded in full.

What qualifies as public health work experience is determined by an application review committee which looks for experience related to health promotion, disease prevention and other core public health functions.  However, because public health happens in so many settings and through so many roles, we provide the following as setting for work experience that may be appropriate:

  • local or state health departments
  • units of a health system performing a public health function
  • non-profit organizations focused on public health
  • college or university teaching or research in public health (faculty & staff). See Faculty Eligibility Details
  • U.S. Public Health Service or other federal agencies with a public health mission
  • military public health units or functions

This list is not exhaustive and does not guarantee CPH eligibility.  Work experience in any part of the world will qualify.

 Candidates who have questions about whether their specific experience would qualify should contact info@nbphe.org.


*The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) is an independent agency which accredits schools and programs of public health offered in settings other than schools of public health. See the list of schools and programs accredited by CEPH.

National Board of Public Health Examiners

1615 L Street NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20036   |  202-296-3050  |  info@nbphe.org

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