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Assessing Your Aptitude for an Online Graduate Certificate in Community Health

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 3/4/2011

An online graduate certificate with a community health emphasis has the power to open doors in the public health arena. Should you pursue this certificate through a university online or should you check out masters level programs offered at online grad schools?

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    Online Community Health Certificate vs. Masters Degree in Public Health

    Deciding between an online graduate certificate (community health) as opposed to a Master's Degree in Public Health is not an easy task. Environmental concentration within a Master's Degree in Public Health proves that within this particular degree program there is an extensive education as it pertains to the physical environment human beings inhabit.Quite clearly, this same training has appreciable implications for the community health student. Examples involve industrial cleanliness standards as well as environmental conflicts within even the closest living quarters.

    Employability for masters degree holders is apportioned to governmental agencies devoted to the study and maintenance of public health as well as environmentally oriented organizations. The course of study is extensive; it provides a well-rounded understanding of public health issues, community health facilities and related agencies devoted to the public’s (and the environment’s) wellbeing.

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    Intricacies of Health Certificate Programs

    On the flip side, students seeking to earn an online community health certificate at the graduate level can expect employment in the environmental health field, as well as homeland security organizations and those agencies devoted to emergency preparedness. Community health also concerns itself with epidemiology, such as it was showcased in the concerted actions taken by local and federal health agencies during the recent outbreak of the swine flu virus H1N1.

    It is interesting to note that the online community health graduate certificate process is a highly specialized course of study. Grad schools offering these certificate programs focus their classes on one aspect of study or another, featuring an in depth study and understanding of the community health process rather than a broad overview.

    For example, the University of Illinois at Springfield(1) offers an online community health graduate certificate with a focus on environmental risk assessment.a total of 20 credit hours sets the tone for training that offers a predominantly theoretical application of health education. In contrast, East Carolina University(2) provides access to an online graduate certificate that emphasizes the administrative aspects of public health. The scope of education only encompasses 15 credit hours. Another online educational venue that only requires 15 credits for its public health certificate is the University of Florida(3). The courses may be applied to a Master's Degree in public health at the school, should the successful graduate decide to earn this degree.

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    This education at a university online provides those already working in the field, as well as those eyeing grad schools for certificate programs that enhance their marketability, with an attractive set of skills and credentials. As such, it is apparent that the online graduate certificate (community health) is perfect for students who are at this time employed in the field – in any capacity – while the Master's Degree in Public Health may be more aptly geared to those students who are seeking for a way to break into the field of community health in the first place.

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    Sources

    1. http://www.uis.edu/publichealth/curriculum/certificates.html#gcche
    2. http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/chca/index.cfm
    3. http://www.mph.ufl.edu/programs/certificate.htm

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