Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) / CPH Exam


What is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)?

Certified Health Education Specialists are professionals who design, conduct, and evaluate activities that help to improve the health of all people. These activities can take place in a variety of settings: schools, communities, health care facilities, businesses, and colleges. Health educators are employed under a range of job titles such as patient educators, health education teachers, trainers, community organizers, and health program managers.  Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES) have met the standards of quality established by National Comission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) by successfully passing the CHES examination. The CHES designation after a health educator's name is one indication of professional competency.

The CHES examination is competency-based. It tests those aspects of the responsibilities and competencies of entry-level health educators that can be measured with a paper-and-pencil examination. The examination is based on the Framework Document which identifies seven areas of responsibility. Within each area of responsibility, the basic competencies necessary for health education specialists have been delineated. These delineations serve as the basis for developing the questions on the certification examination. The CHES examination, consisting of 150 multiple choice questions, measures the possession, application, and interpretation of knowledge essential to the professional practice of health education. California State University, Fullerton is proud to have a high percentage of students passing the CHES exam. We also offer a workshop for those interested in taking the CHES exam.


Basis for the CHES Examination

The CHES examination is based upon the following seven areas of responsibilities as delineated in the Framework:

  1. Assess individual and community needs for health education
  2. Plan effective health education programs
  3. Implement health education programs
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of health education programs
  5. Coordinate the provision of health education services
  6. Act as a resource person in health education, and
  7. Communicate health and health education needs, concerns, and resources


Eligibility for the CHES Examination

Eligibility to sit for the CHES examination is based exclusively on academic qualifications.  Individuals are eligible to sit for the examination if they have:

A bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree from an accredited institution of higher education; AND

  1. an official transcript (including course titles) that clearly shows a major in health education, e.g., Health Education, Community Health Education, Public Health Education, School Health Education, etc. OR
  2. an official transcript that reflects at least 25 semester hours or 37 quarter hours of course work with specific preparation addressing the seven areas of responsibility in the Framework.

90-Day Graduation Eligibility

The 90-day graduation eligibility is offered to undergraduate students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education who produce an official transcript clearly showing a major in health education and who will graduate within 90 days of the examination date. The student candidate must also submit a written assurance from their faculty advisor that the student will be academically qualified to sit for the exam.

CHES Eligibility Pre-Screening

Occasionally, applicants are unclear as to their eligibility to sit for the CHES examination. Their degree may not read "health education", yet they may have accumulated sufficient health education course work within one or a combination of degrees. Thus, they might qualify for CHES examination eligibility. The commission offers the option for pre-screening of a prospective applicant's credentials to determine eligibility. Course work deficiencies will be identified, and guidance for qualification will be provided.


applying for the CHES Examination

Applying for the CHES examination is easy. The CHES examination is conducted on college campuses throughout the United States. Any campus with a testing service is eligible as a CHES examination site. There are two publications available for use as study-guides. Information is provided with the application packet. An application can be obtained either by downloading the form, contacting NCHEC directly at (888) 624-3248, completing the application online with credit card information,
or e-mailing the exam coordinator at nchec@nchec.org.


CPH Exam

Students of CEPH-accredited schools and programs are eligible to sit for the CPH exam if they have completed or are concurrently enrolled in the graduate-level core content required for their graduate degree (eg.. biostatistics, epidemiology, health services/policy management, environmental health, social behavioral sciences).  Candidates who pass the exam under this eligibility criterion will be provisionally certified until graduation. Following confirmation of their graduation, they will be Certified in Public Health.

The guidelines upon which the new student eligibility is based are:

  • The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) does not have a requirement as to the number of graduate courses that define the core.
  • The NBPHE does not have a minimum number of graduate credit hours that must be completed by candidates.
  • Courses that are not offered for credit should be the equivalent of those have offered for graduate credit at the school or program.
  • Schools or programs must be able to demonstrate that students have successfully completed the graduate-level core content.
  • If a student took the graduate-level core in a combined or integrated format, the school or program must be able to demonstrate that content areas are covered adequately.
  • Candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree.