Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The doctoral program in Environmental Health Sciences is designed to prepare students for scholarly and professional positions and careers in academia, government and industry.  The program emphasizes the application of biological, physical, and medical sciences to the solution of environmental and public-health problems  The objective of doctoral study is to develop each student's ability to conduct original, advanced research as an independent scientist.  In keeping with this goal, each student is expected to guide his or her own research project, under the supervision of a faculty member, with a high level of effort and accomplishment, and thereby gain the capacity to be self-teaching and the ability to design and conduct research on important issues in the student's chosen field.


Ph.D. Students are expected to complete a minimum of 66 credits.

Core courses - 20 Credits-Should be completed in the first year of study.

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 Laboratory Rotations (3)
EHS 780 Current Literature in Environmental Health (1)
EPI 501 Principles and Methods of Epidemiology I (3)
EPI 551 Introductory Applied Statistics (3) OR EPI 552 Principles of Statistical Inference 1 (3)
Environmental Chemisty/Toxicology students will take EPI 551: Environmental and Occupational Health Students will take EPI 552 (fall) and EPI 553 (spring).

In addition to the Core Courses students also take:
EHS 790 (0) Seminar every semester.
A "Communication in Science" Workshop (optional, but highly encouraged)
Supporting Courses (minimum of 12 credits)
Doctoral Research (minimum 35 credits- 6 credits may be substituted for elective courses)

Students are expected to recieve a B average or better in all coursework and maintain a 3.0 average.

Other Doctoral Requirements:

Selecting a Dissertation Advisor and Committee
Pass the Preliminary Exam
Pass the Qualifying Exam Part 1
Pass the Qualifying Exam Part 2
Complete the Research Tool
Public Dissertation Defence
Submit the Written Dissertation


Dissertation Advisor - selected by beginning of 2nd semester of study
Preliminary Examination - completed at end of 2nd semester of study
Dissertation Committee - formed at beginning of 3rd semester of study
Qualifying Examination Part I - completed by beginning of 4th semester of study
Qualifying Examination Part II - completed at end of 5th semester of study
Research Tool Requirement - completed at end of 5th year of study
Admission to Candidacy - completed by end of 6th semester of study

Dissertation Advisor and Committee:

By the beginning of the second semester of study, the Ph.D. Dissertation Advisor should be selected. After selecting a dissertation advisor, the student together with the advisor will select a dissertation committee, which must be formed no later than the beginning of the third semester of study. The Dissertation Committee is chaired (in the usual case) by the research mentor (a non-voting member except in the event of a tie) and is comprised of at least four other members - two faculty members from the student's track, one faculty member outside the program area and one member whose primary academic appointment is outside the EHS Department, and who may be from another institution. The composition of the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee will be reviewed by the Graduate Academic Committee and Department Chair for final approval.

Preliminary Examination:

All students, regardless of previous experience or degrees, are required to take a Preliminary Examination. This exam is administered to first year students at the end of the second semester of study and to students with advanced standing at the end of the first semester of study. The purpose of this exam is to test the student’s ability to critically analyze data and to effectively communicate their ideas. The exam will be oral and based on a paper selected by the examination committee that spans, to the extent possible, the disciplines represented in the core curriculum, which includes environmental health, toxicology, environmental chemistry, epidemiology, and statistics. Students will also be responsible for material covered in core courses and laboratory rotations.

Qualifying Examination, Part 1:

Each student who has passed the preliminary examination will be examined by the student's Dissertation Committee by the beginning of the fourth semester of study. This examination will be in the major area of the anticipated research specialization. Each committee member will provide one written question to the student, with all questions being provided at the same time. The student will have one week to write a response to all questions. Each written response should be double-spaced typed pages. The student may use all of the resources of the library in formulating responses to the questions, but should not obtain help from other faculty members or students. The student will, shortly after submission of the answers, complete an oral examination, administered by the Dissertation Committee. The committee will assign a Pass/Fail grade to the student. A student who fails may be reexamined within one semester with the scope of the examination being determined by the committee. A student who fails to pass on the second try will be required to take an M.S. degree or leave the department. Part 1 of the Qualifying Examination must be passed before proceeding to Part 2.

Qualifying Examination, Part 2:

This examination must be completed by the end of the fifth semester of study. The 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 exam will test the student's depth of knowledge in his/her chosen area of specialization as well as his/her ability to write and defend a research proposal. This examination is to be on a topic intended to serve as the basis for the student's Ph.D. dissertation research.

Research Tool Requirement:

The research tool requirement must be completed, at the latest, by the end of the third year of study. The research tool will comprise the preparation of a poster describing aspects of the student’s research program. The format of the poster will follow the requirements of the School of Public Health’s poster day or those of relevant scientific society meetings. The poster will be presented to the student’s dissertation committee at the time of the Qualifying Examination Part II and will be accompanied by a brief oral discussion by the student of the poster’s content. The dissertation committee will grade the research tool based on the presentation of the data, the content of the poster, and the clarity of the oral presentation, as S/U.

Dissertation Defense and Submission of Written Dissertation:

The Dissertation Committee also is responsible for evaluating and accepting the final written dissertation and conducting the student's oral dissertation defense. The completed thesis must be submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least one month before the oral defense. A shorter interval is permissible only if all committee members agree. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange a date for the defense that is acceptable to the committee members, and to adhere to the one month interval. In the event that revisions to the dissertation are required, the committee will have two weeks in which to review the revisions. Acceptance of the dissertation will be by majority vote of the Dissertation Committee and is subject to the approval of the University.


For more detailed information please see the Program of Study