Evaluating the Current Bachelor of Public Health Programs in Saudi Arabia: A Core Competency Analysis Approach

Salah S. Alshagrawi1 , * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Public Health Journal 16 Aug 2023 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/18749445-v16-230810-2023-83



This study aims to evaluate public health programs offered at Saudi universities. Bachelor's public health programs vary in their program design, the number of credits required, and the duration of internships. This study identifies and assesses such differences using a public health program competency framework that focuses on building a public health program with an interdisciplinary approach to prepare public health professionals to address newly emerging health issues.


With the growing complexity of current public health problems and the rising recognition of the role of public health interventions in prompting modifiable risk factors, the need for a well-educated public health professional is increasing substantially. In Saudi Arabia, the burden of disease has shifted from communicable to non-communicable diseases, which also requires a unique type of knowledge and skills in understanding and promoting healthy lifestyles. Such experience, coupled with the unprecedented need for public health professionals, prompted universities to offer public health education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.


Two questions guided our investigation: 1. What is the degree of discrepancy between undergraduate public health programs offered by Saudi universities? 2. Are public health programs in Saudi Arabia meeting the updated public health competencies?


The courses of undergraduate public health programs in Saudi Arabia were systematically evaluated. The evaluation was based on the 2016 Certified Public Health (CPH) framework developed by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) and the Council of Education for Public Helah (CEPH), the accreditation agency for Public Health Programs in the US.


The findings show a deviation in most of the public health programs offered by Saudi universities from the public health core competencies. Such results should alert Saudi university officials to periodically examine their public health curricula to ensure they meet social needs and respond to current health problems.


This study can serve as a call for action to develop core competencies for public health professionals in Saudi Arabia to ensure current public health programs are providing the knowledge and skills needed to address public health issues particular to the Saudi culture.

Keywords: Public health program, Evaluating curricula, Saudi universities, Public health education, Core competency, CPH.
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