Environmental Health Sciences Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) Degree Program

Applicants to the Ph.D. program are expected to hold a baccalaureate with a combined total of at least 42 credits in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. A minimum of 18 credits in one of these areas is required, with at least 6 credits in each of the other areas.

Doctoral programs in Environmental Health Sciences are designed to prepare students for technical, professional, and supervisory positions and careers in academic institutions, public agencies, and industry. The curricula emphasizes the application of classical biological, physical and medical sciences to help solve environmental and public health problems.

The program of study and research requires at least three academic years of full-time study and research or the equivalent over a longer period beyond the baccalaureate and, typically, may involve four or more years of full-time study.

Program of Study and Research (68 credits, minimum)

The course of study of each student is planned with a faculty advisor who takes into account the student's previous preparation, area of specialization, and professional objectives. Students are required to maintain an overall grade point average of B (3.0); however, for any core courses in which a grade of C+ or lower is received, the core course must be retaken.

  1. Core courses* (20 credits minimum):
    • Ehs 520 Principles of Environmental Chemistry (3)
    • Ehs 530 Principles of Toxicology (3)
    • Ehs 590 Introduction to Environmental Health (3)
    • Ehs 675 Responsible Conduct of Scientific Research (1)
    • Ehs 690 Research Rotations in Environmental Health and Toxicology (3)
    • Ehs 780 Current Literature in Environmental Health and Toxicology (1)
    • Epi 503 Principles of Public Health (3)
    • Epi/Sta552 Principles of Statistical Inference I (3)
  2. Supporting courses as approved by adviser and dissertation committee: 12 credits minimum.
  3. Doctoral research: 35 credits minimum (13 credits may be exchanged for elective courses with approval from advisor and from the department's Graduate and Curriculum Committee).
  4. Ehs 790 Seminars in Environmental Health Sciences (0-1 credit) - to be taken once a year for the first three years, at least one time for credit.

* Core courses may be waived on the basis of prior course experience or demonstrated competence in the subject.

Departmental Examinations

  1. Preliminary Examination: Before the end of the second semester of study an oral examination will be conducted and graded by a three-member committee comprised of a member of the academic committee (selected by the chairperson) and two faculty members from the candidate's track. The examination will encompass broad general questions in relevant areas of the selected track.
  2. Qualifying Exam, Part I: Each student who has passed the preliminary examination will be examined by the student's Dissertation Committee, at the latest, after all course requirements are completed. The student will prepare written responses to questions from the examiners and subsequently will be examined orally on the questions and responses.
  3. Qualifying Exam, Part II: This examination consists of an oral defense of a written research proposal prepared by the student. The proposal and the oral defense will be evaluated by the Dissertation Committee (Pass/Fail). The research proposal should be a detailed document outlining the background and conduct of the proposed dissertation research, which should be designed to answer a significant question in environmental health and toxicology.

Research Tool Requirement

The research tool requirement can be accomplished by demonstrating competency in a relevant research methodology, e.g., by taking a technique workshop or course relevant to a student’s research (e.g., microscopy, statistics, computer programming), and must be approved by the student’s PhD Dissertation Committee and the Department Chair.


The student must submit an acceptable dissertation which represents a significant and original contribution in his/her area of specialization.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study, 31 credits minimum;
  2. Completion of University residence requirements;
  3. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the preliminary and qualifying examinations;
  5. Approval of the proposed dissertation topic.