As the challenges faced in public health continue to grow and become more varied, the skills of practitioners must also be broadened. The traditional technical skills that are critical to performing the core functions must now be expanded to include greater management and, most important, leadership skills. Especially in recent years, it has become clear that the new challenges faced in public health can be very severe in nature and cannot be predicted.

The Public Health Leadership Program offers an Online Certificate in Public Health Leadership. The Online Public Health Leadership Certificate is a 9-credit hour program of study. The content is the same as the core content taught in PHLP’s masters of public health (MPH) 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 successfully complete this program online without any campus visits. A connection to the Internet is required.


In reviewing this list of courses it should be noted that they include both specific leadership courses, devoted entirely to leadership topics, as well as other courses that include both leadership and management topics and other content areas that are critical for public health leaders to master.

The curriculum for the Public Health Leadership Certificate will include three courses totaling 9 graduate credit hours:

PUBH 747: Project Management Principles & Practices (3 credits) This course presents an overview of leadership and management principles and practices with an emphasis on project management; it focuses on management and leadership skills that are applicable to team-based organizations and to public health projects and programs. The lifecycle of a project, including the planning and leadership of a project’s team and daily activities are presented in this course with a focus on ways to achieve maximum efficiency by means of the application of continuous quality improvement techniques to team/ project processes. The course builds on organizational and general management and leadership principles that are applicable to health and medical care, and which promote efficient project management. These management and leadership principles are consolidated using a systems approach to develop a “Quality Project Management System.”

PUBH 791: Core Principles in Public Health Leadership (3 credits) The Core Principles in Public Health Leadership course introduces students to major theories and concepts of leadership, ways of applying these to public health issues requiring leadership, and provides an opportunity for students to develop skills and resources for further developing their own and others’ leadership. Core Principles of Leadership will cover key topics such as major theories and models of leadership, leadership competencies, current public health issues and challenges, ethical issues in leadership, and approaches to change and leadership at the team, organizational and community level.

Choose from one of the following spring electives:

PUBH 730: Leading Quality Improvement in Public Health (3 credits) This course explores managerial and organizational issues related to quality to assist managers who are or will be operating in various levels and types of healthcare and public health organizations. The course is designed to balance theory and practical lessons to increase students’ knowledge, skills and abilities to lead performance improvement in their organizations.

PUBH 731: Public Health Marketing (3 credits) This course will orient students to market-based strategies, models and tactics for improving individual and community health status within the framework of marketing, strategic communication and advocacy.

Course Schedule

Schedule for the Online Public Health Leadership Certificate:

Term Courses
Summer PUBH 747:Project Management Principles & Practices
Fall PUBH 791: Core Principles in Public Health Leadership
Spring Elective (PUBH 730 or PUBH 731)


Applicants should ideally meet one of the following criteria:

  • Experienced public health practitioners who have assumed greater administrative and management responsibilities and desire more formal education in leadership skills
  • Public health nurses and other public health specialists who want to broaden their knowledge and education to encompass leadership skills
  • Public health and other health care professionals who want to learn how to improve their team leadership skills
  • Those in health or social service-related professions who may not need a full MPH, but wish to enhance their professional knowledge of how to be an effective leader in public health organizations
  • Those wishing to pursue an MPH and expecting to use these credits towards that goal
  • Experience in management and administration

Bachelor’s degree required. Priority is given to those with at least five years in a health or social science-related field.


To begin the application process, please click here. If you have problems with the online form, please contact us at phlp@unc.edu.

Applications for Summer 2024 start term open August 16, 2023, to March 25, 2024. Please note there are limited spaces available in the program. To begin the application process, please click here. If you have problems with the online form, please contact your academic coordinator.


For information on 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 Public Health Leadership program, please go to the Certificate FAQ page or contact phlp@unc.edu.

Contact Public Health Leadership

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

School Events

June 17
8:00 am
5:00 pm
2024 Add Health Users Conference