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Department Spotlight

American University’s Public Health Program Receives Prestigious Accreditation

BA and BS program meets highest standards in public health education

By Patty Housman

A child gets their arm swabbed by a physician

American University’s Public Health Program has received five-year accreditation by the highly respected Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the only US Department of Education-recognized accrediting body for public health schools and programs.

With this accreditation, American University’s BA and BS in Public Health join the ranks of dozens of public health programs across the country and around the world that are proven to provide the highest quality of education possible.

Stacey Snelling, chair of American University’s Health Studies Department, says the accreditation is a true testament to how far the program has come since it was established in 2013. “Ten years ago, our vision was to build a public health program rooted in the determinants of health and reaching across departments and schools to leverage the expertise of AU faculty to improve the lives of individuals, communities, and society,” she says. “This national accreditation recognizes our strong curriculum, engaged faculty, and community-based research done to educate the next generation of public health leaders.”

Preparing Students to Improve Public Health Across the World

The Public Health Program, within the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Health Studies, offers students options of pursuing a BA, BS, or a minor in public health, as well as a three-year Public Health Scholars Program. It was established to promote scholarship in a field that touches everyone across the world: the field responds to challenges such as aging populations, global pandemics, increasing environmental degradation, and a rise in childhood obesity.

AU’s program’s overarching goal is to train future leaders in effective ways to improve health and reduce health disparities. Each degree is designed to prepare students for a number of health careers and to be leaders in health research, program development, policy analysis, intervention planning and delivery, epidemiological analysis, and other public health endeavors.

Ninety-six percent of new grads with an American University BA or BS in public health are currently working, or in graduate school, or both.

The Accreditation Process

Accreditation as a Standalone Baccalaureate Program in Public Health was conferred on September 6, after the department prepared a comprehensive self-study, which took more than two years to complete. 

“The accreditation process requires commitment from administrators, faculty, staff, students, and other constituents,” said Laura Rasar King, executive director of CEPH. “The Council recognizes the efforts of American University to make ongoing improvements to ensure that students receive a high-quality education that advances them toward their career goals.”

Jolynn Gardner, public health program director, says that the review process for accreditation, was intense and time consuming, but well worth the effort. “It resulted in some very significant changes in our program – notably, curriculum revision and improved assessment. In the end, it benefits not only current students, but also alumni and future students as well.”

Children eating sandwiches and apples for lunch