Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and Portland State University (PSU) School of Public Health

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CPH Exam

**Important Updates re: CPH Exam Scheduling**

The National Board of Public Health Educators (NBPHE) has a new testing partner, Scantron, and is now administered through both live-remote proctoring, which is available 24/7, and computer-based testing centers, which are open on a modified basis Monday – Saturday. 


The Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential endorses the competency of the credential holder on a national level with competitive advantage. The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) certifies the CPH. Our faculty selected this exam as the most thorough, and most recognized method to assess MPH students’ core knowledge and crosscutting skills. Passing the CPH Exam is a core degree requirement for all students who began their MPH program in or after Fall 2015.

The CPH exam is a 200-question, four-hour exam. Effective January 1, 2019, the exam follows a new content outline that tests knowledge in ten domains areas, each comprising 10% of the total exam:

1. Evidence–based Approaches to Public Health
2. Communication
3. Leadership
4. Law and Ethics
5. Public Health Biology and Human Disease Risk
6. Collaboration and Partnership
7. Program Planning and Evaluation
8. Program Management
9. Policy in Public Health
10. Health Equity and Social Justice

Since its inception as a requirement in Fall 2015, our MPH students averaged a passing rate of over 95%, exceeding the 73% national average passing rate.

Study Materials

How can I study for the exam?

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health recommends students review materials from their core courses, as well as materials published by the NBPHE and the Association for Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). These recommended study resources include the following:

Additional ways to prepare for the exam:

  • Form a study group
  • Create a study plan
  • Consult an expert in learning and study strategies. Staff at OHSU’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), are available to assist students with study skills, test-taking skills, test anxiety, time management, goal setting and motivation, and more.


Eligibility and Payment

  • Students enrolled in an MPH program in or after Fall 2015 are eligible to sit for the exam after successfully completing all five core public health courses. The SPH will verify eligibility as long as the student has successfully completed four core courses and is concurrently registered in their last core course– but the student must not take the exam until the final core course has been passed.
  • MPH students who began in or after Fall 2015 have already paid for the CPH exam via a one-time student fee assessed at matriculation, and are entitled to a payment voucher. Please contact sphregistration@ohsu.edu for your voucher code when you are ready to schedule your exam, then submit it with your registration to avoid being charged an exam fee.
  • MPH students who began prior to Fall 2015 may choose to voluntarily sit for the CPH Exam voluntarily. Should they do so, they will pay the exam fee directly to NBPHE. Note that SPH students and alumni who are not eligible for vouchers are eligible for the SPH discounted rate of $250.

Scheduling the Exam

  • Apply to take the exam on the NBPHE’s website. You will begin by creating an account with NBPHE.
  • Once your account is created, the SPH will receive an automatic notification, and will verify your eligibility to sit for the exam, usually within 48 business hours. You will then be able to complete registration and schedule your exam.
  • The CPH exam can be scheduled at any time of the year.
  • Testing centers are located across the U.S. This is a timed, 4-hour, 200 question exam, so plan accordingly. Please note when scheduling the exam that SPH students take the Computer Based Test (CBT) exam version.


SPH Admin Procedures

SPH Coordinator

  • Provides eligible students with their payment voucher.
  • Receives automatic e-notifications from NBPHE of all profile creations and verifies students’ eligibility to sit for the exam, usually within 48 business hours.
  • Receives exam scores monthly and enters results into student records.
  • Runs graduation reports quarterly and updates the graduation stuatus of new MPH alumni with NBPHE.

CPH Policies

  • Passing the CPH Exam became a core degree requirement for all students entering an MPH program in or after Fall 2015. This academic requirement cannot be waived.
  • Students who do not pass the CPH exam on their first attempt are required to take the exam a second time, at the student’s expense. Students use the subscale information provided by the testing service to discuss ways to strengthen their performance with their faculty advisor and Program Director before re-taking the examination.
  • Students may only attempt the CPH Exam twice.
  • The student is financially responsible for any cost associated with re-taking or re-scheduling the CPH Exam. Effective March 12, 2020, NBPHE has revised its exam rescheduling policy and will no longer charge rescheduling fees. Under current conditions, as long as candidates contact their customer service center prior to their testing window — even the afternoon before– they can reschedule for no fee. Check the NBPHE website for up-to-date information regarding the rescheduling policy.
  • Students are expected to adhere to SPH academic integrity standards while studying for and taking this off-site exam.
  • Expectations and policies can be accessed at Graduate Student Policies and Procedures.
  • see Certification tab


  • MPH students who pass the CPH Exam are provisionally certified until graduation.
  • MPH students who have passed the CPH Exam may use the CPH designation following their name only after fulfilling all graduation requirements and the MPH degree has been posted to their transcript, the official academic record. These alums then are considered fully certified, and the paper certificate will be sent to the alum by NBPHE.