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Recently, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) formally acted to approve VCU’s request to transition to the school of public health category of accreditation. (Getty Images)

VCU School of Population Health now on formal path to accreditation as a school of public health

This transition reflects ongoing commitment to excellence in education, research and community outreach.

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Population Health has achieved a significant milestone at its one-year mark: It is now on a formal path to accreditation as a school of public health.

In April 2023, the School of Population Health became the 15th school or college in VCU’s academic enterprise. Its students are pursuing master’s degrees in biostatistics and public health, and doctoral degrees in biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, and health care policy and research.

Recently, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) formally acted to approve VCU’s request to transition to the school of public health category of accreditation. This expands the previous designation as a Master of Public Health program, accredited by CEPH since 1996.

CEPH is the accrediting body for schools and programs of public health, marking a critical step forward in VCU’s ongoing commitment to excellence in public health education and research. VCU may now include “public health” within the description of the school (currently named Population Health), and the university is in the process of requesting approval of the name change from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

“We are honored to have achieved candidacy status for accreditation from CEPH,” said Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., interim founding dean of the VCU School of Population Health. “This acknowledgment underscores our unwavering commitment to advancing public health through education, research and community outreach. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, staff and students.”

Becoming an accredited school of public health serves as an assurance to students, employers and the broader community that VCU maintains exceptional educational standards and prepares future public health professionals to address complex health challenges efficiently and effectively.

“This new school builds upon the strong reputations of the faculty and academic degree programs in the four founding departments, all of which share a commitment to improving health, well-being and equity for all,” said Kellie Carlyle, Ph.D., interim associate dean for academic affairs. 

CEPH evaluates programs based on criteria such as curriculum, faculty, research opportunities and community engagement. In addition to recognizing the school’s academic rigor, CEPH accreditation enhances opportunities for collaboration, research funding and professional development. It signifies the school’s alignment with best practices and ensures that graduates are well-equipped to make meaningful contributions to the field of public health.

The VCU School of Population Health will host its first graduation this May, which includes its first graduates from the new cancer health equity science concentration in the MPH program — the first program of its kind in the nation and a symbol of the innovation and excellence anticipated from VCU’s newest school. This week is National Public Health Week.