About PHAP

Associates at CDC

The Public Health Associate Program (PHAP) is designed to train early-career public health professionals who have a recent bachelor’s or master’s degree and an interest in public service and public health. Throughout the two-year training program, associates gain hands-on experience that will serve as a foundation for their public health careers. PHAP is managed by CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support.


In 1948, CDC introduced the public health advisor (PHA) job series, which brought new public health workers to the front lines of population heath 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 nationwide and within CDC.

PHAP was founded in 2007 as a pilot program to support CDC’s frontline public health focus and to meet the need for a source of field-tested, experienced, and dedicated public health professionals. Currently, PHAP has more than 300 associates fulfilling hands-on workforce needs in public health agencies across 44 states, three US territories, and the District of Columbia.

Strengthening the Future of Public Health

PHAP is training the next generation of public health professionals. Watch former CDC PHAP supervisor, Heidi Pfeiffer, describe how she works with associates, encouraging them to become the future of public health. Pfeiffer believes that the eye-opening field experience and outstanding training associates receive helps strengthen the future of public health.

To give associates the experience needed to develop into public health professionals, PHAP offers a variety of public health program work assignments for the two-year training program. Associates receive a two-year assignment in one program area selected by the host site. Program areas focus on the nation’s most pressing prevention and treatment priorities.

Host sites design their associates’ work assignments to meet their organization’s unique needs while also providing on-the-job experience and competency development to prepare associates for future careers in public health. Associate work assignments provide skill-building activities in analytics and assessment; public health science; program planning, management, and improvement; public health policy and law; professionalism; communication; cultural competency; community dimensions of public health; and financial planning and management.

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


PHAP is a dynamic and evolving workforce development program that trains associates in core public health concepts and topics to provide the knowledge necessary to succeed in their two-year host site assignment. PHAP hosts an initial orientation and two annual public health in-person trainings at CDC, as well as regular online and long-distance learning opportunities throughout the program. PHAP’s training is designed with two primary goals in mind:

  1. Provide associates with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to fulfill the program’s competencies Cdc-pdf[PDF-64KB] and increase the capacity of their host site
  2. Support the completion of performance-based learning outcomes on the job

Host sites orient their associates to their agency or organization and train associates in a range of public health competencies. This training fulfills government requirements while enhancing the associates’ work performance.

Page last reviewed: December 18, 2017