By Dr. Samer Koutoubi, M.D., Ph.D.
Department Chair, Public Health
On August 24, 2022, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH®) reaccredited the Master of Public Health (MPH) program of American Public University System (APUS) for a seven-year term. The accreditation term extends until December 31, 2029.
In 2017, APUS was the first fully online institution to have its master of public health program formally recognized by CEPH. According to CEPH accreditation statistics, CEPH accredits 245 schools and programs around the U.S., including 68 schools of public health (SPH), 150 public health programs (PHP) and 27 standalone baccalaureate programs (SBP).
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What Is CEPH Accreditation?
So what is CEPH accreditation and what does this specialty accreditation mean to our master of public health program? CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. One of its functions is to provide accreditation to schools of public health and public health programs offered in settings other than brick-and-mortar schools of public health.
In addition, this agency protects the interests of students and the public by supporting the development of successful public health schools and programs.
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What Are the Benefits of CEPH Accreditation?
There are many benefits to CEPH accreditation. For instance, the CEPH website notes that CEPH accreditation for a school “ensures that the school has been evaluated and has met standards established by the profession.” It also “promotes the health, safety and welfare of society by assuring competent public health professionals.” In addition, the Association of Accredited Public Health Programs (AAPHP) observes that CEPH accreditation “provides an external evaluation that publicly attests to the quality of the program.”
Having the MPH program accredited by CEPH ensures that we maintain rigorous academic standards. It also adds credibility to our public health programs, the School of Health Sciences and American Public University System.
According to the Graduate Catalog, our MPH degree program is intended to prepare our students to “resolve complex health issues and enhance the well-being of communities in the United States and around the world today.” It also challenges our students “to proactively seek implementable solutions and to develop preventative measures by understanding scientific, psychological, and sociological competencies that significantly impact public health policy and practices.”
HealthGrad.com notes that CEPH-accredited schools and programs offer key benefits to students, including:
- Comprehensiveness: CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health provide a variety of degrees in public health, including undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in different academic areas.
- Rigor: Each CEPH-accredited school and program goes through a rigorous accreditation process on a regular basis to assure students of a quality educational experience.
- Flexibility: Many CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health offer online programs, dual degree programs and executive programs.
- Qualification: Eligibility to sit for the Certified in Public Health (CPH) exam, administered by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE).
- Opportunity: Eligibility for students graduating from a CEPH-accredited program to apply for public health internships and fellowships (depending upon space availability) sponsored by various federal agencies, as well as student assistance resources that are available only through accredited schools and programs.
- Recognition: Because CEPH-accredited schools and programs are peer-reviewed, students can be sure their institution has met the standards established by CEPH.
How Is CEPH Accreditation Achieved?
The accreditation process involves the submission of an application, an intense self-study and a site visit by CEPH accreditors. This year, the on-site visit took place in March.
The self-study provides a clear explanation of key criterions and provides the opportunity to align programs’ current practices against CEPH’s best practices. Potential deficiencies can also be eliminated or corrected before the official site visit by CEPH visitors.
Master of public health students who graduate from our CEPH-accredited program will be able to take the NBPHE Certified in Public Health (CPH) exam. The CPH credential is useful to students because it demonstrates their dedication to the public health field.
Several individuals (including myself) and groups were involved in this year’s CEPH accreditation effort, including:
- Dr. Brian Freeland, Dean of the School of Health Sciences
- Dr. Jennifer Helm, VP of Accreditation
- Julie Atwood, AVP of Institutional and Program Accreditation
- The accreditation team, including Diana Gunia and Emily Gallo
- The Institutional Research team, especially Kelly White
- Public health faculty members and students
- University staff
- Industry Advisory Council (IAC) members
The work involved evaluating and assessing the master of public health program and identifying potential pitfalls. By identifying and correcting any program deficiencies, we ensured that the MPH program would be in compliance with the accrediting standards outlined in CEPH’s self-study guidelines.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this accreditation journey! Renewing our CEPH accreditation is a great achievement for our institution and represents a tremendous effort on the behalf of many people.
CEPH® is a registered trademark of the Council on Education for Public Health.
About the Author
Dr. Samer Koutoubi is the Department Chair of Public Health. He earned his Ph.D. in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University in 2001. Dr. Koutoubi earned his M.D. degree in 1988 from Iuliu Hațieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. His research focuses on coronary heart disease among tri-ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics. His interest is in disease prevention and wellness, epidemiological research, cardiovascular disease and nutrition, homocysteine metabolism, lipoprotein metabolism, and cultural food and health.
Dr. Koutoubi has also authored a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals and wrote a book review. He served as the Editor-in-Chief for The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine and reviewed manuscripts for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Ethnicity and Disease Journal, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and The Journal of The National Medical Association. Dr. Koutoubi has also been quoted in national magazines and newspapers, including Natural Health Magazine, Energy Time, Well Being Journal, Northwest Prime Time, and Natural Food Merchandiser.