Note: This certificate is currently not being offered. Please send an email to PHLP@UNC.EDU if you would like to be contacted when more information is available.


As the practice of public health changes, the education of public health practitioners needs to change. Since the landmark Institute of Medicine report on the Future of Public Health, there has been a consistent demand for focused efforts that address the infrastructure and core services of public health. To address this need and fill the gap in educational programs available to practitioners, the University of North Carolina has developed an Online Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts.

The Online Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts is a 15-credit hour program of study. The content is the same as the core content taught in UNC’s masters of public health programs. All courses have been specially designed and developed for delivery online. Students will be able to register, receive materials, interact with faculty, order books and complete this program without traveling to the campus. A connection to the Internet is all that is required.


The goals of the Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts, patterned after the core competency model for Master of Public Health degrees of the Association of Schools of Public Health, are to:

Introduce or expand the knowledge of the five core disciplines of public health;

Provide fundamental knowledge and skills in these disciplines to equip graduates to analyze and consider solutions to public health problems at the community, institutional and societal levels, including knowledge that might be expected from current public health professionals;

Provide knowledge to those who desire to learn more about opportunities in public health and broaden their knowledge and understanding of core public health competencies, such as those who want to enter the public health workforce and those who wish to continue on to an MPH program in the future.


The curriculum for the Online Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts program includes five courses totaling 15 graduate credit hours:

Biostatistics (BIOS 600): Introduction to statistical concepts and procedures applicable in health fields, including sampling, experimentation, descriptive statistics, relationships, probability, inference and regression.

Environmental Health (ENVR 600): Overview of the relationships between environmental quality and human and public health. The risk paradigm is used as the basis for the examination of the sources, movement, human exposure, effects, and mitigation of environmental contamination of air, water, and soil. The coverage ranges from basic environmental science to the social and management of environmental programs.

Epidemiology (EPID 600): An introduction to the meaning, scope and applications of epidemiology to public health practice and the uses of vital statistics data in the scientific appraisal of community health.

Health Behavior (HBEH 600): Focuses on social and behavioral science theories, research and interventions aimed at promoting the health of individuals, organizations, communities and populations.

Health Policy and Management (HPM 600): This course is designed to provide you with an overview of the U.S. health system. Through a variety of resources, you will explore the organization, financing, management, resources, and performance of the current U.S. health system. For each of these topics, you will analyze relevant sections of the Affordable Care Act and discuss current events in the health field. At the end of the course, you will have developed your skills in evaluating health policies, comparing health systems, and discussing the causes and effects of current health events. You will also have developed basic financial literacy skills.

Course Schedule

Students can take more than one course per semester (with permission) to enter a master’s program sooner if that is their intention. The course schedule is currently being reorganized and will be posted at a later date.

Eligibility, Application and Tuition

  • Bachelor’s degree (or international equivalent) required;
  • Math competency – the Epidemiology and Biostatistics courses cover quantitative subject matter and require a minimum level of math competency that should be obtained either through extensive experience or by having taken recent courses. Transcripts should include evidence of grades of B or better in math courses, covering both college algebra and calculus at a minimum. Also, if you haven’t had math courses within the past five years, then we recommend that you take a refresher course before starting the Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts program. A very good review option is the free review material that is offered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Download the GRE Mathematics Test Practice Book (PDF). Alternatively, you may demonstrate your math proficiency by taking the GRE, which would be especially recommended if you intend to apply for an MPH degree after completing the certificate. Please contact us before applying if you have any questions about these math requirements;
  • Excellent English writing skills (must be able to make and support an argument);
  • Resume or CV including relevant education and/or experience in a health or social science related field-includes volunteer experience (minimum of three years preferred);
  • Statement of Purpose;
  • Transcripts (official or unofficial) are required for your highest degree earned and relevant completed coursework. Please indicate the degree and date received. Also include transcripts that demonstrate any relevant coursework for quantitative competencies;

The website is being updated and format changes are being implemented to the Online Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts. Please note that there are limited spaces available in the program. Thus, applying early will provide a better opportunity for admission.

If you have problems with the online form, please contact

For more information regarding tuition rates, please consult the UNC Finance Office‘s tuition rates document (see Off-campus Programs tuition rates). Please note that the certificate programs do not qualify for financial aid at UNC-CH.

Contact Us

For additional information about the Online Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts program, please go to the Certificate FAQ page or contact

Contact Public Health Leadership

135 Dauer Drive
4104 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, CB #7469
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7469
(919) 966-5285