Physical Activity in Public Health - Certificate

Program Contacts

Program Director

Loretta DiPietro




The sedentary lifestyle and its consequent metabolic and cardiovascular complications now assumes a considerable public health burden in the United States. Indeed, the promotion of physical activity for people of all ages has become a top priority on public health agenda around the world. The Certificate program in Physical Activity from the Department of Exercise Science is to develop and train graduate students to integrate physical activity into the core of public health practice. The program encompasses an ecological perspective to the role of physical activity in the etiology, prevention and treatment of chronic disease at the community, national, and global levels. Further, this program is designed to train students as public health scientists and practitioners in order to assist public and private agencies with program development and evaluation with regard to physical activity, health promotion and disease prevention.


To ensure graduates:

  • Understand the pathophysiology of selected chronic disease processes;
  • Understand exercise physiology and the role of physical activity and exercise in health promotion and disease prevention;
  • Develop skills in physical activity assessment using state-of-the-art technology;
  • Utilize epidemiological methods to develop and test hypotheses pertaining to physical activity and health and disease outcomes at the population level;
  • Develop skills in designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions for improving physical activity at the community level;
  • Appreciate the role of public health policy in altering physical activity patterns at the community level.

Program Requirements

Graduate Certificate Requirements

  1. Graduate Credit Requirement for students enrolled in a stand-alone Graduate Certificate. 18 credits are required.
  2. Graduate Credit Requirement for students enrolled concurrently in a SPHHS Degree Program.  12 credits are required.
  3. The Program Director/Advisor must pre-approve all course selections and course sequencing by developing a “program of study” prior to the student’s initial registration.  Graduate Certificate students meet with their advisor each semester before registration. All changes in this program of study must be pre-approved by the Program Director/Advisor.
  4. Course Requirements.  Since most graduate certificate students are currently enrolled in an MPH program or have previously earned a graduate degree, most course credits will be selected from the program-specific course list.  Under no circumstances may a certificate student enroll in fewer than 9 credits of program-specific courses.
  5. Grade Point Requirement.  A 3.0 (B average) overall grade point average or better is required.
  6. Time Limit Requirement. The certificate must be completed within 2 years.
  7. Transfer Credit Policy.   The Program Director/Advisor may approve up to 4 graduate credits that have not been applied to a previous graduate degree to be transferred to the graduate certificate.  (Exceptions: GW master’s students and alumni may transfer up to 6 credits of the master’s degree to the Graduate Certificate.)  The course(s) must be relevant to the graduate certificate.  Credits must have been earned from an accredited institution in the last 3 years with a grade point of 3.0 or better.


See MPH, Physical Activity Program Guide

Federal Disclosure Requirements

Past Program Guides

This is the current program guide for this program. Students should follow the course requirements from the year in which they entered the program.

Past Guides:

Certificate Physical Activity in Public Health 2013-2014 

Guides that are not available online can be acquired from the Academic Affairs Program Coordinator in the Dean's Office.