Public Health Graduate Credit Certificate Program

Graduate Program HeadCheryl Thompson
Program CodeHYGCPH

The purpose of the graduate certificate in Public Health is to provide students with foundational graduate-level course work in public health. Upon completion of the Public Health certificate, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate their knowledge in core areas of public health, which include biostatistics, epidemiology, health services administration, and social and behavioral sciences.
  2. Apply their knowledge and skills to solving public health problems.

All courses in the certificate program may be applied to the M.P.H. degree program, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit. Students must earn a grade of B or better for a course to be applied to the M.P.H. degree program. Certificate program students who wish to have the certificate courses applied to the M.P.H. degree program must formally apply and be admitted to the Penn State M.P.H. degree program. Admission into the Penn State M.P.H. degree program is a separate step and is not guaranteed.

Effective Semester: Summer 2023 
Expiration Semester: Summer 2028

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies. International applicants may be required to satisfy an English proficiency requirement; see GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Applicants must submit the following items with their applicant for admission to the Public Health certificate program:

Upon approval, certificate program students will enroll in course work on a nondegree basis. Note that admission as a nondegree graduate student neither guarantees nor implies subsequent admission to a degree program. Nondegree students are not eligible to receive fellowships or graduate assistantships.

Certificate Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in Graduate Council policy GCAC-212 Postbaccalaureate Credit Certificate Programs.

Students must complete each course with a grade of B or better in order to receive the certificate.

Required Courses
PHS 504Behavioral Health Intervention Strategies3
PHS 520Principles of Biostatistics3
PHS 550Principles of Epidemiology3
PHS 571Health Services Organization and Delivery3
Total Credits12


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Learning Outcomes

Evidence-based Approaches to Public Health

  • Apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice.
  • Select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context.
  • Analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate.
  • Interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy or practice.

Public Health & Health Care Systems

  • Compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings.

Planning & Management to Promote Health.

  • Assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities’ health.
  • Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs.
  • Select methods to evaluate public health programs.

Policy in Public Health

  • Discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence.
  • Propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes.
  • Advocate for political, social or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations.
  • Evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity.


  • Select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors.
  • Communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.
  • Describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content.

Systems Thinking

  • Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue.


Campus Hershey Med Ctr
Graduate Program Head Cheryl Thompson
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Wenke Hwang
Program Contact

Carol Quigley Laregina
Dept of Public Health Sciences, A210
90 Hope Dr, Suite 2200
Hershey PA 17033
(717) 531-6280

Program Website View