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Certificate in Health Equity Science (CHES)


The undergraduate Certificate in Health Equity Science (CHES) is administered through the College of Human Sciences (CHS) under the purview of the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research (CHEER).

The undergraduate CHES is part of the training mission of CHEER, which aims to cultivate scholarship on health ecology and equity, and to develop leaders committed to addressing health inequities. This is achieved by helping students acquire a foundation of knowledge on health ecology and equity issues, and by providing professional development opportunities to gain practical skills through direct engagement of disadvantaged communities. Students completing this certificate program will have a strong understanding of how multiple ecological levels, spanning from social context to biology, interact throughout human development to generate health risks. Students will also learn how this corpus of knowledge can be translated into health-promoting policies and community-level interventions.

This certificate is particularly appropriate for undergraduate students wishing to pursue future graduate studies in a health-related field, or work at a community-based organization, health center, or local or national health department. It is also highly applicable to those seeking a career in the health professions, including medicine, nursing, social work, and public health


There are growing health needs as the U.S. population ages, and relatedly, a rise in demand for qualified health professionals. Along these lines, there is also a need to understand the root causes of poor health, develop innovative strategies to prevent disease, and importantly, reduce gaps in health, particularly those experienced in groups that are most vulnerable. In this vein, the undergraduate Certificate in Health Equity Science (CHES) was created: (1) to help foster the next generation of scholarship on health equity research; (2) enhance knowledge on the determinants of health and promote the skills of those who are or will be in health professions; and (3) ultimately improve health outcomes among those groups disproportionately burdened by poor health in the effort to achieve health equity.

There is increasing recognition for the need to address health inequities in the context of an ecosocial framework that emphasizes the interplay between multiple ecological levels. This understanding of health and health inequities is also echoed by several agencies. For example, Healthy People 2020, which provides benchmarks for health for the U.S. population, has listed as its goals to “achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups”, to “create social and physical environments that promote good health for all”, and to “promote quality of life, healthy development, and healthy behaviors across all life stages.”

This multi-level perspective is an integral part of health scholarship and is also an asset for health professionals directly engaging communities and patients. The undergraduate CHES program is an invaluable resource for students to gain a broad base of knowledge on the determinants of health at multiple levels, as well as more in-depth and specialized skills pertaining to specific topic areas in health equity.


Regularly admitted undergraduate students at Auburn University are eligible to participate. Students are encouraged to enroll in the undergraduate CHES by the time they reach junior standing.

The undergraduate CHES is administered through the College of Human Sciences (CHS) under the purview of the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research (CHEER). It requires 12 semester hours, and completion of this certificate will appear on the official Auburn University transcript. Students earn the certificate by completing:

1. HUSC 5930: Society and Health (3 semester hours).
2. HUSC 5950: Seminar in Health Ecology and Equity (2 semester hours).
3. Seven (7) additional semester hours through a combination of the following:

  • Repeating HUSC 5950: Seminar in Health Ecology and Equity (2 semester hours)
  • HDFS 5300: HDFS and Social Policy (3 semester hours)
  • Honors thesis (2-6 semester hours) on a health equity topic*
  • Practicum (1-6 semester hours) in a professional setting*
  • Internship (12 semester hours) in health equity*

* Completed in student's department. Must be approved by the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research (CHEER) in order to be used towards completion of certificate requirements.