Health Disparities Certificate Program

Health disparities are on the national agenda. The health disparities certificate program is designed to respond to the need for current and future leaders in public health, social services, medicine, and the social sciences (public health, social work, psychology, economics, and anthropology) to be knowledgeable of the issues and strategies needed to eliminate health disparities. The goal of this graduate program is to train current students and professionals in the field to be leaders in addressing and working to eliminate health disparities. As stated by the Institute of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, central to addressing health disparities is research and practice with community partners, with the goal of building community capacity and sustainability.

This 12-credit graduate certificate, housed in the School of Public Health in partnership with the School of Education, the School of Social Welfare, and the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, aims to improve students' cultural competence and leadership skills as they gain knowledge of the causes of health disparities, the relevant issues, and potential strategies for eliminating these disparities.

The certificate program will be available to all currently matriculated University at Albany graduate students (master's or PhD or DrPH students). Current students must make a separate application for admission. Graduate students who are currently enrolled in other accredited colleges or universities or non-matriculated individuals who are practitioners in health care, counseling, social work, and public health may also apply to the certificate program, provided they have a bachelor's or r.n. degree and the required pre-requisite coursework. In order to receive the health disparities certificate, students must take four 3-credit graduate courses, for a total of 12 credits, in at least two different schools. All courses are currently offered by the Schools of Public Health, Education, and Social Welfare.

For the Center's home page and additional information about the University's research and collaborations on health disparities, please click here.



Program Description for Health Disparities Certificate

The graduate Certificate in Health Disparities is the product of a collaboration within the Education Core of the NIH Export Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities (CEMHD; at the University at Albany, State University of New York. As stated by the Institute of Medicine and NIH, central to addressing health disparities is conducting research and practice at the community level and working with community partners to build community capacity and sustainability.

The goal of the certificate program is to train graduate students or professionals working towards or currently in leadership positions in health services, policy, promotion, or provision to become leaders in addressing and eliminating health disparities. The interdisciplinary certificate aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of the causes and issues in health disparities, provide strategies for eliminating disparities while improving students' multicultural competence and leadership skills.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Institute of Medicine, there are striking differences in the burden of risk factors, such as illness and death as well as the lack of health care access experienced by various racial/ethnic groups including African Americans, Latino(a)s and Native Americans. Many other groups including the poor, people with disabilities, women, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) population also experience disparities in lack of access to care and the burden of disease and death. Health disparities are on the national agenda as a major social issue. The Education Core of the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities developed the Health Disparities Certificate in direct recognition of this key social issue and the need for current and future leaders in the social services fields (public health, social work, psychology, and medicine) to be knowledgeable of the issues and strategies needed to address health disparities.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Robert Miller, Social Welfare (
Dr. Janine Jurkowski, Public Health (
Dr. Micki Friedlander, Education (

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Certificate Requirements

In order to receive the Health Disparities Certificate, students must be formally admitted to the certificate program and take four 3-credit graduate courses, for a total of 12 credits, in at least two different Schools. All courses in the Certificate program already exist within the Schools of Public Health, Social Welfare, and Education.

Required Courses:

  • HPMB 620 Health Disparities and Community Health (School of Public Health):
    The goal of this course is to understand what contributes to health disparities in the United States. The course discusses historical contexts of race, underlying assumptions of group definitions, biological versus social definitions of race, why particular groups may experience disparities, and individual versus ecological approaches to health in our current health system. This course also covers theoretical frameworks for understanding and addressing health disparities. The course is geared for students to think critically and discuss health disparities. The knowledge gained through the class will be useful for public health practitioners and researchers as well as for those in social sciences and welfare.

In addition to the required courses, students fulfill the course requirements of the certificate program by selecting an additional two courses from two of the instructional cores – Multicultural Practice, Community Partnerships, or Public Health Leadership.

Multicultural Practice (select either one):

  • ECPY 67 Multicultural Perspectives: Counseling Theory and Practice (School of Education):
    Provides more advanced study of specialized counseling approaches and techniques, including application of counseling techniques with diverse populations.
    Note: This course is only open to students with prior coursework in counseling theory.

  • ECPY 750 Multicultural Counseling (School of Education):
    This doctoral seminar is designed to explore selected theory and research in the area of multicultural counseling. Topics emphasized include research on the influences of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and social class on the counseling relationship.
    Note: This course is only open to PhD students in counseling or clinical psychology at the University at Albany.

  • SSW 746 Cultural Diversity in Social Work Practice (School of Social Welfare):
    The goal of this course is to prepare for social work practice with clients of diverse cultural backgrounds. The course examines and discusses similarities and differences in practice among clients from selected cultures and sensitivity to the experiences of discrimination, alienation, oppression, and exclusion.

Community Partnerships (select either one):

  • SSW 792 Community Building* (School of Social Welfare):
    This course introduces community definitions and theories; examines the characteristics and functions of communities; identifies community-based services and resources; examines the role of community systems in change and development; and focuses on community building as an effective social work intervention model. Action and experiential learning are emphasized. The social worker is viewed as a professional facilitator and advocate assisting in developing community leadership, participation, enhancement, and empowerment.

  • HPM 669 Community Based Public Health (School of Public Health):
    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, American Public Health Association, and Institute of Medicine all emphasize that community based public health is essential for improving the nation's health. The goal of this course is to learn a community based perspective of public health and health promotion, stressing an understanding of social determinants of health. The course will include readings about the importance of working with diverse communities, concepts and best approaches for community based public health interventions, as well as strategies for assessing community assets and needs and strategies for working with community members to improve the health of the community. Some topics that will be covered include; coalitions, a variety of approaches for community assessment, community health workers, empowerment evaluation, and participatory health promotion approaches. The course is geared for students who are interested in working at community based organizations, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and in community based research.

Public Health Leadership (select either one):

  • SPH 569 Public Health Leadership (School of Public Health):
    Provides students an understanding of the attributes and skills/behaviors associated with effective public health leadership and the abilities required to lead communities towards improved health status.

  • SSW 793 Leadership in Human Service Organizations (School of Social Welfare):
    This course is an introduction to the theories and models of leadership that are used in human service environments. The primary objective of the course is to explore leadership as a subject central to human services administration. Special emphasis will be placed on the leadership for the delivery of social services.

Some of these courses may have prerequisites, which will be waived for students completing the Health Disparities Certificate, as endorsed by the respective Deans of the Schools of Public Health and Social Welfare.

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Application Deadline:

The deadline for admission for Spring is November 1, and for Fall is June 1.

Who May Apply?

Applicants who are currently enrolled in a graduate program (master's or PhD) at the University at Albany (or at another regionally-accredited college or university) are eligible for the Certificate program if they are in good academic standing, i.e., a Grade Point Average of at least 3.0 ("B"). Applicants who are not currently enrolled in an accredited graduate program in a relevant field (i.e., Social Welfare, Public Health, or Psychology) are eligible for admission to the Certificate program if they have a B.A., B.S., or R.N. degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the U.S. or abroad and have the equivalent of at least 6 undergraduate or graduate credits in the social sciences: psychology, social work, sociology, anthropology, or political science, women's studies, communication, economics, Africana studies, or Latin American and Caribbean studies.

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How Do I Apply?

To apply for admission to the Certificate program, current University at Albany students must:

  1. Complete the online application (see At the prompt to select a degree program, click "Health Disparities, C.G.S." on the pull down list of degrees and certificates. Complete the rest of the application and submit it, with the required fee ($75.00) as directed;
  2. Provide 3 Letters of Recommendation (preferably faculty or supervisors in a health-related field); and
  3. As directed in the online application, submit a statement of goals which must include a discussion of two issues related to health disparities in the contemporary US.

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