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Public Health Certificate in Performance Improvement 


If you are an upper- or middle-level manager seeking knowledge and skills in quality improvement, this certificate program is for you. The 12-credit program prepares you to successfully lead and implement effective quality improvement programs.

As part of the certificate training, students are required to apply what they learn in the classroom to leading an improvement team within their organization.

Note: Currently, this certificate is not accepting new applications for the 2013-14 academic year.

Contact Info

Major Coordinator: Katy Korchik,
Program Director: Bill Riley,

All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree. Students earn this certificate after successfully completing a minimum of 12 credits. Coursework is offered both online and in the classroom setting or at the Public Health Institute.

Although the curriculum is designed to be completed in two years, learners have up to four years to complete the certificate requirements. The program can be completed in five terms, attending part time.

Courses completed in the certificate program can become part of an MPH degree. Current MPH students may augment their degree with the certificate.

Student Learning Outcomes/Competencies

  • Evaluate a process and determine if it needs improvement
  • Understand and apply quality improvement methods and techniques in individual work settings
  • Create control charts in Excel and by using SPC software
  • Conduct a state-of-the-art improvement project
  • Demonstrate ability to implement concepts of change
  • Exercise leadership in the design, execution, and evaluation of performance improvement programs and projects
  • Serve as an informed “process improvement advisor” in the student’s organization
  • Understand and apply interplay between human factors and process design
  • Demonstrate how to develop, participate and lead a quality improvement team

Sample schedule:

Students may start either semester.

Year 1
Fall term: PubH 6765, Continuous Performance Improvement Methods (3 cr)
Spring term: PubH 6780, Performance Management and Transformational Change (2 cr)

Year 2
Fall term: PubH 6780, Advanced Performance Improvement Methods in Public Health (2 cr)
Spring term: PubH 6CCC Public Health Process Improvement Project – Practicum (3 cr)

Any Term: Students must choose two credits of electives in consultation with their faculty advisor. Course 6CCC will be assigned a formal course number.

  • What is performance improvement?

    Sometimes referred to as quality improvement, performance improvement is defined as the actions taken throughout an organization to increase the effectiveness of activities and processes that provide added benefits to the organization and its customers.

    Recently, the application of performance improvement methods has become a fixture in the operations of healthcare organizations and public health departments. These methods and techniques involve the use of standardized tools to assess the performance of organizational processes. Ultimately, such techniques are utilized to decrease practice variation and maximize the value of services through continuous measurement, analysis and implementation of best practices.

  • Who enrolls in the Performance Improvement Certificate?
    Those who enroll have professional experience in local and state health departments, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies across the country. Enrollees typically hold mid-level management positions in their respective organizations. They use their public health knowledge and experience to advance opportunities in their current work or career path.
  • What are the benefits of the certificate?
    The academic rigor of this master’s-level certificate program prepares students to be leaders in the application and implementation of quality improvement initiatives in public health and acute care settings. The certificate addresses concerns voiced by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, the Public Health Accreditation Board, and the Council on Education for Public Health to provide more educational opportunities in performance improvement to working public health professionals.
  • What is the goal of the practicum?
    The practicum is designed to give each student an opportunity to engage in the practical application of performance improvement methods and techniques learned in the certificate program. The student will convene a quality improvement team or serve as the principal staff person for a quality improvement team that designs, develops and implements a quality improvement project.

    A faculty member and an on-site preceptor from the student’s organization will provide guidance during the practicum. The certificate relies on community practitioners to serve as preceptors. This mutually beneficial activity will enable students to practice their newly acquired performance improvement skills in an actual organization. It will also give preceptors an opportunity to infuse new ideas and solutions into their organization.

  • How long does the program take?
    The courses are offered online or in class, and the five courses may be completed in five terms by attending part time and taking one course per term. The certificate must be completed within four years of matriculation. At this time, completion of the certificate cannot be accelerated due to the sequenced nature of classes.
  • Can I transfer credits from the certificate to a degree program at the School of Public Health?
    Credits acquired for the certificate may be credited to an MPH or MHA within the School of Public Health. Please contact the specific MPH or MHA programs directly to discuss how credits may transfer. Completion of a certificate does not guarantee admission to either of these degree programs.
  • Is financial aid available?
    Students accepted to the Public Health Certificate in Performance Improvement are not eligible to apply for federal financial aid. However, students may use funds from their employers, grants, scholarships or private loans to cover the cost of tuition.
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