About PHAP

The Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) is a training program for early-career public health professionals who have a recent college degree and an interest in public service and public health. Throughout the two-year program, associates complete a comprehensive training curriculum and work at a host organization to gain hands-on experience that will serve as the foundation for their careers in public health.

PHAP was designed to

  • Support associates’ attainment of required performance standards while on the job
  • Increase host site capacity

Strengthening the Public Health Workforce

PHAP is developing the next generation of public health professionals and building host site workforce capacity. Associates receive training in core public health concepts and topics, providing the knowledge they need to succeed in their assignments. Training includes an orientation and annual in-person trainings at CDC, as well as regular distance-learning opportunities throughout the duration of the program.

Boots on the Ground

In her I Am CDC video, former CDC PHAP supervisor Heidi Pfeiffer describes how PHAP creates the next generation of frontline public health professionals.

Host sites orient their associates to their respective agencies/organizations and train PHAP associates in a wide range of public health competencies. This training fulfills standard program requirements while enhancing the associates’ work performance.

PHAP offers a variety of public health program work assignments to give associates experience to develop as public health professionals. Associates are assigned to one subject area that is selected by their host sites. These subject areas focus on the nation’s most pressing public health priorities.

Associates’ work assignments provide skill-building activities in

  • Analytic and Assessment
  • Public Health Science
  • Program Planning, Management, and Improvement
  • Public Health Policy and Law
  • Professionalism
  • Communication
  • Health Equity
  • Community Dimensions of Public Health
  • Public Health Funding and Budgeting
  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Evaluation

Because of the skills and experience gained through PHAP, graduates are competitive candidates for public health positions at CDC, state and local health departments, and nongovernmental organizations. Graduates leave the program with the foundation for successful, long-term careers in public health.


In 1948, CDC introduced the public health advisor (PHA) job series, which brought new public health workers to the front lines of population health in state and local agencies across the country. PHAs shaped the delivery of essential public health services, and many of these positions grew into management roles in public health departments across the nation and within CDC.

PHAP was established in 2007 as a pilot program to support CDC’s frontline public health focus and to meet the need for a continuous source of field-tested, experienced, and dedicated public health advisors. At any given time, PHAP has more than 300 associates fulfilling hands-on workforce needs in public health agencies across nearly all 50 states, the US territories, and the District of Columbia.