PhD in Environmental Health

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Health program gives students specialized training and research experience. The doctoral program prepares graduates for roles as research scientists in environmental and occupational epidemiology, exposure assessment, risk assessment, toxicology, urban environmental health, or environmental and occupational health policy. It also prepares graduates for management and staff positions in organizations concerned with environmental management and regulation as well as with public policy affecting environmental or occupational health. Graduates of the doctoral program continue the department’s tradition of rigorous, innovative, and socially engaged research.

Most doctoral students choose one of the four established areas of study within the department: environmental epidemiology, urban and community environmental health, toxicology, or exposure and risk assessment. Alternatively, a student may design an individualized set of requirements if the student’s desired program of study is not otherwise achievable. All students must meet the same set of degree requirements and may draw on the course offerings of the Department of Environmental Health and other departments within the School. All doctoral candidates also participate in research rotations through which they clarify their research interests.

Doctoral students take part in a weekly seminar series that focuses on topics chosen each semester by the department’s faculty and students. Recent topics include gene/environment interaction, obesity, immunotoxicology, exposure assessment, environmental health law, and global climate change. A proseminar offers an informal setting in which students may present on their own evolving research interests or hold sessions on a range of topics intended to help them move successfully through the doctoral program.

To receive the doctoral degree, candidates entering the doctoral program must complete the equivalent of 64 credits (sixteen graduate-level courses), complete three research rotations, pass a qualifying exam, and complete a dissertation. Students must earn a B in all core courses for their program.

Core courses include:

  • BS 723 Introduction to Statistical Computing
  • EH 710 Physiologic Principles for Public Health
  • EH 717 Foundations of Environmental Health
  • EH 725 Analytical Methods in Environmental Health
  • EH 768 Introduction to Toxicology
  • EH 804 Exposure Assessment
  • EH 805 Environmental Health Science, Policy, and Law
  • EP 713 Introduction to Epidemiology

Candidates who have already earned the MS or a related master’s degree must take eight graduate-level courses (32 credits) beyond the master’s degree and complete a dissertation; at least 16 credits of the coursework must be in environmental health.


Students must complete their coursework and pass their qualifying examination prior to beginning their dissertation. Students working on their dissertations must register for continuing study, EH 980, each fall and spring semester until the dissertation is defended orally and accepted. EH 980 is ungraded and zero credits; students pay the equivalent of 2 credits per semester plus student health insurance. Students are certified with full-time status.

The dissertation demonstrates to the student’s thesis committee that the degree candidate has designed, performed, and reported on substantial independent research in his or her chosen field. It is an original research effort judged to meet the publication standards of peer-reviewed journals in the candidate’s field of concentration. Students must adhere to dissertation submission deadlines and requirements.

All PhD students must adhere to the PhD Graduation Calendar in preparing and submitting their dissertation in 2013–2014.