Skip to main content

Accessibility menu

Skip to main content Skip to footer

Public Health & Community Health Education

Public Health and Community Health Education Major

CEPH accredited seal
The Bachelor of Science in Public Health program at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse is currently accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) as a standalone baccalaureate program (SBP)

Welcome to the Public Health and Community Health Education Major

Funding for the video was provided in part by Scenic Rivers Area Health Education Center in association with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.


Healthier people participating, learning, and living in healthier communities.


To prepare leaders in public health and community health education through the bridging of competency and standard-based education, scholarship, advocacy, and service-related endeavors, thereby contributing to healthier people and healthier communities.

To pursue this mission, we (department faculty, staff, students, and others) collaborate to:

  • Advocate for the advancement of the profession.
  • Provide the highest quality of professional preparation.
  • Prepare students, professionals, and academic programs for credentialing processes.
  • Provide innovative professional development opportunities.
  • Offer authentic life-enhancing service-learning opportunities.
  • Strengthen health-related community capacity through collaboration and service within our world.
  • Aim to cultivate motivated, self-directed, continuous life-long learners.


  1. To prepare Public Health and Community Health Educators through the necessary coursework in entry-level public health core areas and health education competencies.
  2. To prepare Public Health and Community Health Educators who will work with a variety of population demographics, settings, and cultural perspectives within the primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention domains of health education and health promotion.
  3. To engage Public Health and Community Health Education majors in Preceptorship experiences which enable candidates to become more competent within the eight entry-level Areas of Responsibility.

BS-PH CHE Objectives:

By the end the BS-PH CHE program, at the entry level, candidates will have experience in all core competence for public health professionals

The BS-PH CHE program is the only one of its kind in the University of Wisconsin System. The Eight Areas of Responsibility for a Public Health and Community Health Educator are emphasized in the courses.


Eight Areas of Responsibility:

  • Area I: Assessment of Needs and Capacity
  • Area II: Planning
  • Area III: Implementation
  • Area IV: Evaluation and Research
  • Area V: Advocacy
  • Area VI: Communication
  • Area VII: Leadership and Management
  • Area VIII: Ethics and Professionalism

The Public Health and Community Health Education Program prepares students for careers in:

  • private health agencies and insurance companies
  • hospitals and health clinics
  • both governmental and non-governmental health agencies
  • not-for profit, for profit, and voluntary organizations
  • schools, universities and many other community-based agencies 
  • business and industry

Courses emphasize administrative issues, health promotion skill-building, program planning, implementation and evaluation, motivational interviewing, grant writing and marketing strategies. Students learn how to prepare written materials as well as electronic media presentations for mass audiences. Upon graduation, students can take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination. Course work included in the program includes epidemiology, biometrics, environmental health, program planning, grant writing, mental and emotional health, sexual health promotion, nutrition education, motivational interviewing and theories of health behavior.

For information about the Public Health and Community Health Education (PH CHE) program, please contact:

Sarah Pember Giannini
Associate Professor
PHCHE Undergraduate Program Director
418I Wimberly Hall

"Community health is almost anything that involves making people’s lives better." -CHE student

"One of the best things I feel this program offers is the opportunity to learn about such a broad base of health issues and to work with literally every demographic of people out there." -CHE student


PHCHE Faculty and Students attend SOPHE Advocacy Washington DC

What is Public Health and Community Health Education (PH CHE)

The purpose of public health education is to positively influence the health knowledge and behavior of individuals and communities, as well as the living and working conditions which influence their health. Public health education draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical and medical sciences to promote health, prevent disease, disability and premature death by educating individuals and communities to voluntarily change their attitudes and behaviors to improve their health and well-being.  

Public health educators work to enhance the quality of life for all people. By focusing on prevention, public health education helps to reduce the both the financial and human costs to individuals, employers, families, insurance companies, medical facilities, communities, the state and the nation spend on medical treatment.  

Where are Public Health Educators Employed

Public health educators work in schools, hospitals or clinics, with community organizations, non-profit agencies, with companies and with governmental agencies [i.e. The CDC located in Atlanta, GA]. Public health educators work to promote better overall health on individual, community and policy levels. This is done by writing grants, researching, identifying resources, assessing individual and community needs, planning, implementing, and managing education programs. 


Accreditation Reports: During 2014, both the BS-PH CHE and the MPH programs were nationally re-accredited through the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) for the full seven-year period until December 31, 2021.  The Department of Public Health and Community Health Education's undergraduate major Public Health and Community Health Education completed their CEPH accreditation for the PH-CHE standalone baccalaureate program and is fully accredited through July 1, 2027. The final self study document is available for online viewing. 


Department of Health Education Health Promotion Public Health and Community Health Education Self-Study


CEPH Official Accreditation Report 2022.pdf

CEPH Program Accreditation Seal

For more information on the CEPH accreditation please visit the Council on Education for Public Health website. 

[The Department of Public Health and Community Health Education was formerly know as the Department of Health Education and Health Promotion]

Where do I go to declare PH CHE as my major?

Guy Herling
Academic Services Director
105 Graff Main Hall

Where can I find more information about a career in Public Health and Community Health Education?

1. Keely Rees, Ph.D., CHES  
Department Chair
Department of Public Health and Community Health Education
418N Wimberly Hall
La Crosse, WI 54601

2. PH CHE Faculty

  • Dr. Anders Cedergren
  • Dr. Gary Gilmore
  • Dr. Sarah Pember (Giannini)
  • Dr. Michele Pettit
  • Dr. Keely Rees
  • Dr. Karen Skemp
  • Katie Wagoner, MPH
  • Dr. Emily Whitney
  • Angela Gelatt, MPH
  • Audrey Seitz, MPH

3. National professional websites:

  1. National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. 
  2. Society for Public Health Education
  3. American Public Health Association
How do I get an academic advisor?

Once you declare Public Health and Community Health Education as your major in Guy Herling’s office [or by using the CSH online change of program/plan form], you are then assigned to a PH CHE Faculty member for your academic advising.

What if I do not have a specific passion or target population I want to work with?

That is perfectly fine. Your coursework, volunteer or service learning projects often stimulate ideas or areas of interest which lead to a passion.

Do Public Health and Community Health Educators actually educate or just arrange for others qualified in specific areas to educate populations?

Both. We often find the resources, experts, or facilitators for a specific health issue or topic, or we often need to act as the resource and become prepared to facilitate or teach in that specified area.

Where can Public Health and Community Health Educators work other than health departments?
  • Corporations (Worksite Wellness, Employee Health)
  • Health Care/Hospital and Clinic Settings
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • School Districts
  • County or State Health Agencies
What minors go well with Public Health and Community Health Education?
What are the benefits of a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification?
  1. Encourages networking with other health education professionals
  2. Improves professional practice through continuing education
  3. Provides a quantifiable measure of quality assurance
  4. Recognized and desired by employers
  5. The CHES is valued, validated, and accredited

For more information check out the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing


Information current students want other students to know:

  • The other people in community health are a lot like me. Just because we talk about optimal health practices does not mean we can not hangout socially in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • There are graduate students in our classes. This is a great time to hear about projects they are working on, hear about what it is like to be a health educator in our community, and to see what lies ahead if we choose to get a master’s degree.
  • The professors in our major are very knowledgeable and recognized within community health with diverse work backgrounds.

National Professional Organizations: 

Scholarship Resources:

  • Students interested in the PH-CHE program at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse can find more information regarding financial aid, application and deadlines on the UWL Office for Financial Aid page under one of the three undergraduate tabs on the left hand side of the page.
  • For help with external undergraduate scholarship opportunities, please visit the UWL Scholarship Resource Center and click on their Outside Scholarship Database link, or set up an appointment with one of their staff for more assistance.  The site will require you to log in with your UWL Office 365 Net ID. Check out the UWL Scholarship Resource Center's Scholarship FAQ for additional helpful information.
  • Students interested in the PH-CHE program can find out more information about internal scholarships and apply online at the UWL Foundation Scholarship.

Coulee Region and La Crosse Organizations:

Other Resources:

PH CHE Major

For more information on Public Health Community Health Education Major degree requirements and sample schedule please visit the UWL Records and Registration Undergraduate Catalog site.  

Download the Advisement Checklist: 

PH-CHE Program Advising Sheet updated Feb 2023.pdf


The Code of Ethics provides a framework of shared values within Health Education professions. The Code of Ethics is grounded in fundamental ethical principles, including: value of life, promoting justice, ensuring beneficence, and avoiding harm. A Health Education Specialist’s responsibility is to aspire to the highest possible standards of conduct and to encourage the ethical behavior of all those with whom they work.

Health Education professionals are dedicated to excellence in the practice of promoting individual, family, group, organizational, school, community, public, and population health. Guided by common goals to improve the human condition, Health Education Specialists are responsible for upholding the integrity and ethics of the profession as they perform their work and face the daily challenges of making ethical decisions. Health Education Specialists value equity in society and embrace a multiplicity of approaches in their work to support the worth, dignity, potential, quality of life, and uniqueness of all people.

Health Education Specialists promote and abide by these guidelines when making professional decisions, regardless of job title, professional affiliation, work setting, or populations served.

Article I: Core Ethical Expectations

  1. Health Education Specialists display personal behaviors that represent the ethical conduct principles of honesty, autonomy, beneficence, respect, and justice. The Health Education Specialist should, under no circumstances, engage in derogatory language, violence, bigotry, racism, harassment, inappropriate sexual activities or communications in person or through the use of technology and other means.
  1. Health Education Specialists respect and support the rights of individuals and communities to make informed decisions about their health, as long as such decisions pose no risk to the health of others.
  1. Health Education Specialists are truthful about their qualifications and the qualifications of others whom they recommend. Health Education Specialists know their scope of practice and the limitations of their education, expertise, and experience in providing services consistent with their respective levels of professional competence, including certifications and licensures.
  1. Health Education Specialists are ethically bound to respect the privacy, confidentiality, and dignity of individuals and organizations. They respect the rights of others to hold diverse values, attitudes, and opinions. Health Education Specialists have a responsibility to engage in supportive relationships that are free of exploitation in all professional settings (e.g.: with clients, patients, community members, students, supervisees, employees, and research participants.)
  1. Health Education Specialists openly communicate to colleagues, employers, and professional organizations when they suspect unethical practices that violate the profession's Code of Ethics.
  1. Health Education Specialists are conscious of and responsive to social, racial, faith-based, and cultural diversity when assessing needs and assets, planning, and implementing programs, conducting evaluations, and engaging in research to protect individuals, groups, society, and the environment from harm.
  1. Health Education Specialists should disclose conflicts of interest in professional practice, research, evaluation, and the dissemination process.

Article II: Ethical Practice Expectations

Section 1: Responsibility to the Public

Health Education Specialists are responsible for educating, promoting, maintaining, and improving the health of individuals, families, groups, and communities. When a conflict of issue arises among individuals, groups, organizations, agencies, or institutions, Health Education Specialists must consider all issues and give priority to those that promote the health and well-being of individuals and the public, while respecting both the principles of individual autonomy, human rights, and equity as long as such decisions pose no risk to the health of others.

A: Health Education Specialists advocate and encourage actions and social policies that promote maximal health benefits and the elimination or minimization of preventable risks and health inequities for all affected parties.

B: Health Education Specialists contribute to the profession by redefining existing practices, developing new practices, and by sharing the outcomes of their work.

C: Health Education Specialists actively involve individuals, groups, stakeholders, and communities in the entire educational process to maximize the understanding and personal responsibilities of those who may be affected.

Section 2: Responsibility to the Profession

Health Education Specialists are responsible for their professional behavior, the reputation of their profession, promotion of certification for those in the profession, and promotion of ethical conduct among their colleagues.

A: Health Education Specialists recognize the boundaries of their professional competence and are accountable for their professional activities and actions.

B: Health Education Specialists maintain, improve, and expand their professional competence through continued education, research, scholarship, membership, participation, leadership in professional organizations, and engagement in professional development.

C: Health Education Specialists contribute to the profession by refining existing professional health- related practices, developing new practices, and by sharing the outcomes of their work.

D: Health Education Specialists give recognition to others for their professional contributions and achievements.

Section 3: Responsibility to Employers

Health Education Specialists are responsible for their professional behavior in the workplace and for promoting ethical conduct among their colleagues and employers.

A: Health Education Specialists apply current, evidence informed standards and theories when fulfilling their professional responsibilities.

B: Health Education Specialists accurately represent and report service and program outcomes to employers.

C: Health Education Specialists maintain competence in their areas of professional practice through continuing education on a regular basis to maintain their competence.

Section 4: Responsibility in the Delivery of Health Education/Promotion

Health Education Specialists deliver evidence informed practices with integrity. They respect the rights, dignity, confidentiality, inclusivity, and worth of all people by using strategies and methods tailored to the needs of diverse populations and communities.

A: Health Education Specialists remain informed of the latest scientific information and advances in health education theory, research, and practice.

B: Health Education Specialists support the development of professional standards grounded in theory, best-practice guidelines, and data.

C: Health Education Specialists adhere to a rigorous and ethical evaluation of health education/promotion initiatives.

D: Health Education Specialists promote healthy behaviors through informed choice and advocacy, and do not use coercion or intimidation.

E: Health Education Specialists disclose potential benefits and harms of proposed services, strategies, and actions that affect individuals, organizations, and communities.

F: Health Education Specialists actively collaborate with a variety of individuals and organizations, and demonstrate respect for the unique contributions provided by others.

G: Health Education Specialists do not plagiarize.

Section 5: Responsibility in Research and Evaluation

Through research and evaluation activities, Health Education Specialists contribute to the health of populations and the profession. When planning and conducting research or evaluation, Health Education Specialists abide by federal, state, and tribal laws and regulations, organizational and institutional policies, and professional standards and ethics.

A: Health Education Specialists ensure that participation in research is voluntary and based upon the informed consent of participants. They follow research designs and protocols approved by relevant institutional review committees and/or boards.

B: Health Education Specialists respect and protect the privacy, rights, and dignity of research participants and honor commitments made to those participants.

C: Health Education Specialists treat all information obtained from participants as confidential, unless otherwise required by law, and inform research participants of the disclosure requirements and procedures.

D: Health Education Specialists take credit, including authorship, only for work they have performed and give appropriate authorship, co-authorship, credit, or acknowledgment for the contributions of others.

E: Health Education Specialists report the results of their research and evaluation objectively, accurately, and in a timely manner.

Health Education Specialists promote and disseminate the results of their research through appropriate formats while fostering the translation of research into practice.

Section 6: Responsibility in Professional Preparation and Continuing Education

Those involved in the professional preparation and training of Health Education students and continuing education for Health Education Specialists, are obligated to provide a quality education that meets professional standards and benefits the individual, the profession, and the public.

A: Health Education Specialists foster an inclusive educational environment free from all forms of discrimination, coercion, and harassment.

B: Health Education Specialists engaged in the delivery of professional preparation and continuing education demonstrate careful planning; state clear and realistic expectations; present material that is scientifically accurate, developmentally appropriate and inclusive; conduct fair assessments; and provide reasonable and prompt feedback to learners.

C: Health Education Specialists provide learners with objective and comprehensive guidance about professional development and career advancement.

D: Health Education Specialists facilitate meaningful opportunities for the professional development and advancement of learners.

Code of Ethics Taskforce Members:

Christopher Ledingham, MPH, PhD (Co-Chair) Keely Rees, PhD, MCHES® (Co-Chair) Andrea L. Lowe, MPH, CPH

Elisa “Beth” McNeill, Ph.D., CHES® Fran Anthony Meyer, PhD, CHES®

Holly Turner Moses, PhD, MCHES®, FESG Larry Olsen, MAT, MPH, Dr. P.H., MCHES® Lori Paisley, B.S., MA.

Kerry J. Redican, MPH, PhD, CHES ®

Jody Vogelzang, PhD, RDN, CHES®, FAND Gayle Walter, PhD, CHES®


Suggested Citation:

Code of Ethics for the Health Education Profession®. (2020). Coalition for National Health Education Organizations (CNHEO). [Document].


The Code of Ethics for the Health Education Profession® update by the CNHEO Task Force: Christopher Ledingham, MPH, PhD (Co-Chair) Keely Rees, PhD, MCHES® (Co-Chair) Andrea L. Lowe, MPH, CPH Elisa “Beth” McNeill, Ph.D., CHES® Fran Anthony Meyer, PhD, CHES® Holly Turner Moses, PhD, MCHES®, FESG Larry Olsen, MAT, MPH, Dr. P.H., MCHES®, Lori Paisley, BS, MA, Kerry J. Redican, MPH, PhD, CHES ® Jody Vogelzang, PhD, RDN, CHES®, FAND, Gayle Walter, PhD, CHES®. The Task Force was organized by the CNHEO Committee in 2019. Significant contributions to the Code were also made by the broader CNHEO members and full memberships. This Code was updated from a Task Force in 2011 and adopted by the CNHEO in February 2020.


This Code may be published without permission as long as it is not changed in any way and it carries the copyright notice. Copyright (c) 2020 by the CNHEO.

Drs. Rees, Pettit, Cedergren, Pember and Gilmore at the 2022 APHA annual conference
PHCHE faculty and students at the 2023 Madison Advocacy Experience

WI Policy Forum report disparities in death rates

WI Policy Forum

New report finds disparities in Wisconsin's death rates

An independent research group, the Wisconsin Policy Forum, provides data and analysis of critical policy issues. The non-partisan group recently released a report on mortality in Wisconsin.