Competencies for All Degrees

Competencies for specific programs can be found in the Find a Program section.

UW SPH Core Competencies

The SPH has developed four school-wide competencies considered of major importance to be integrated across departments and programs. These reflect both academics and values of the school’s mission.

  • Distinguish between individual and population health.
  • Apply evidence-based decision making and critical thinking to public health problems..
  • Communicate effectively and persuasively, both orally and in writing.
  • Recognize the means by which social inequities and racism, generated by power and privilege, undermine health.

The following competencies were finalized by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) in October 2016.

Foundational Public Health Knowledge Learning Objectives

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) released its final version of new accreditation criteria for schools and programs of public health on October 30, 2016.  The following Knowledge Learning Objectives have been included for all students within the SPH.  These will be addressed by SPH program-specific curricula and activities for future students.

Profession & Science of Public Health

1. Explain public health history, philosophy and values
2. Identify the core functions of public health and the 10 Essential Services11
3. Explain the role of quantitative and qualitative methods and sciences in describing and assessing a population’s health
4. List major causes and trends of morbidity and mortality in the US or other community relevant to the school or program
5. Discuss the science of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention in population health, including health promotion, screening, etc.
6. Explain the critical importance of evidence in advancing public health knowledge

Factors Related to Human Health

7. Explain effects of environmental factors on a population’s health
8. Explain biological and genetic factors that affect a population’s health
9. Explain behavioral and psychological factors that affect a population’s health
10. Explain the social, political and economic determinants of health and how they contribute to population health and health inequities
11. Explain how globalization affects global burdens of disease
12. Explain an ecological perspective on the connections among human health, animal health and ecosystem health (eg, One Health)

The following competencies were finalized by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) in October 2016.


The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) released its final version of new accreditation criteria for schools and programs of public health on October 30, 2016.  The following competencies have been included for all MPH students. While many of these are already incorporated into core curricula, efforts are underway to assure that content addressing each of these will be available to future students. 

Practicum projects must meet five of the below competencies. 

Evidence-based Approaches to Public Health 

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

Public Health & Health Care Systems 

5. Compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings 
6. Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and societal levels 

Planning & Management to Promote Health 

7. Assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities’ health 
8. Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs 
9. Design a population-based policy, program, project or intervention 
10. Explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management 
11. Select methods to evaluate public health programs 

Policy in Public Health 

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


16. Apply principles of leadership, governance and management, which include creating a vision, empowering others, fostering collaboration and guiding decision making 
17. Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges 


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

Interprofessional Practice 

21. Perform effectively on interprofessional teams 
**“Interprofessional” refers to engagement with professionals outside of public health (eg, architects, nurses), rather than to engagement with individuals from other public health disciplines ( eg, biostatisticians, health promotion specialists).

Systems Thinking  

22. Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue.