No minimum education or experience is required to take the CPHQ examination.

A common question that I get is: “I have (ABC education credentials and XYZ number of years of experience). Can I sit the CPHQ exam?”

The Healthcare Quality Certification Commission’s statement on the eligibility requirements for the CPHQ examination can be found in the CPHQ Examination Candidate Handbook (Page 8 of the current, i.e. 2020 issue):

All candidates have complete access to the examination process. Those who aspire to excel and demonstrate their competency in the field of healthcare quality have a chance to do so and achieve certification.

After years of extensive experience in testing research and development and after observing the extraordinarily diverse backgrounds of exceptional candidates who have been successful on the examination and as CPHQs, the commission is confident that the carefully crafted CPHQ examination will differentiate between candidates who are able to demonstrate competence and those who are not. It is with this confidence that HQCC celebrates the elimination of barriers such as minimum education and/or experience requirements that are not objectively linked to success on the examination and effectiveness as a healthcare quality professional.

(It amazes me how the NAHQ/HQCC’s wording on this matter has not changed in more than a decade!)

Our plain-English version of the statement is that anyone, regardless of their education credentials or work experience, may sit the exam.

This, however, should not be misconstrued as meaning that it is appropriate for anyone with some experience in healthcare quality to apply for the exam. Although each case should be judged on its own merit, persons considering CPHQ certification should be aware that the historical pass rates for the CPHQ exam, especially among international candidates, have been quite poor. On average, about 75% of US candidates pass the exam within a calendar year (with reattempts included), while the pass rate among international candidates is substantially lower – 45% in 2018 (the HQCC didn’t publish the 2019 data in its 2020 edition of the International CPHQ Candidate Examination Handbook).

In summary, “anyone” can sit the CPHQ exam. But, based on past data, only about three out of four domestic (i.e. USA) candidates, and only about one in every two international (non-US) candidates, will pass this certifying exam.