Community Preparedness and Disaster Management (CPDM)


“The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Certificate of Community Preparedness and Disaster Management (CPDM) program is an excellent program that provides Emergency Management Professionals the tools and skills needed to hone their craft, and become more productive responders.
By asking the students to develop a peer rapport with other emergency professionals, the CPDM experience expands our critical thinking and demands that we craft proactive solutions to challenges in our home agencies.
Extensive background work with planning tools, working with the National Response Framework, and defining clear understanding of disaster planning and operations are a hallmark of the program.
All of the skills that I have learned in the program have made me a better emergency manager, as well as a more agile responder.
The CPDM program is unique in its ability to draw differing perspectives from a vast array of emergency responders, and instill a confidence in our ability to meet emerging trends in Disaster Planning and Management.”

Commander J. W. Billy Mitchell

Commander J. W. Billy Mitchell
Response Department Head
United States Coast Guard
Sector North Carolina
Wilmington, NC 28401

As a highly skilled professional, we know you have received excellent training in being able to respond to just about any emergency or disaster.

But what about working with other agencies?

Have you trained across disciplines to gain a better understanding of what are the priorities and procedures of those organizations who will be working side-by-side with you during and after a major disaster event?

If Katrina taught us anything — it’s that we all must all do a better job of understanding the “bigger picture” — understanding how all of the different organizations work and operate in what will no doubt be a highly-stressed, politically-charged environment. Successful management of future disasters — whether natural or man-made — will only be achieved if we all work and train well together.

That’s why the University of North Carolina’s comprehensive online disaster management program may be right for you. Developed 10 years ago by one of the top departments of Health Policy and Management in the country, the CPDM certificate program has admitted over 300 students and has received high praise from professionals in the field. In Spring 2013, the program will move to it’s new 3 course, nine credit hour format to become more affordable for disaster management professionals, while maintaining its academic and clinical credibility.

The program will continue to cover it all — from understanding the current issues facing disaster management to the analytical methods used to evaluate risk, as well as the roles and responsibilities of federal, state and local governmental agencies. We now have a catastrophic event in Hurricane Sandy, to measure how well we have applied and improved from the lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina.

Our cohorts recruit professionals from a variety of backgrounds, thus providing a rich environment of peer networking and learning. For example, it’s not unusual for us to have a class that includes veterinarians, fire and medical responders, public health officials, military personnel and community leaders. We not only encourage discussion among classmates, we also have you work together on 16-week projects. By project’s end, you understand why and how the agencies around you plan and respond the way they do. In fact, some of the most important information sharing comes out of these projects.

If you’ve been thinking about expanding your individual knowledge or you want to advance your career in disaster management, this program is a perfect fit. We run one cohort of students each year — beginning every January. Our application deadline is November 13 for January classes.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Kim Sieler at

If you still want to learn more about the program, please feel free to use the navigation links at the top of the page or send us an email at If you would like to personally speak with our Program Director (Bill Gentry), give him a call at (919) 966-4228 or email him at

Whatever you decide — best of luck to you in your career and keep up the great work you’re doing. Disaster education programs are up and coming, so when you decide you are ready to take the next step — the University of North Carolina will be waiting to hear from you!

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See information on all UNC-Chapel Hill’s distance education programs here.

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