A student conducting field research in the Huyck Preserve.

Doctor of Philosophy

Environmental Health Sciences

Program of Study


This 68-credit graduate program usually requires four to five years of full-time study and research.

Core Courses and Seminar (21 credits)

  • Principles of Environmental Chemistry
  • Principles of Toxicology
  • Introduction to Environmental Health
  • Responsible Conduct of Scientific Research
  • Research Rotations in Environmental Health and Toxicology
  • Current Literature in Environmental Health and Toxicology
  • Principles of Public Health
  • Principles in Statistical Inference
  • Seminar in Environmental Health Sciences

Supporting Electives (12 credits)

Sample courses: Occupational Epidemiology; Water Quality and Public Health; Geographic Information Systems; Pollution Ecology of Freshwater Invertebrates; Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology; Risk Assessment; Atmospheric Environment and Human Welfare; Metabolism and Disposition of Xenobiotics; Immunotoxicology.

Research Tool

Demonstrate competency in a relevant research methodology by taking a technique workshop or course relevant to your research.

Doctoral Research (35 credits)

Qualifying Exams

  • Preliminary oral exam: Before the end of the second semester
  • Part I: Written and oral exam after course requirements are complete
  • Part II: Oral defense of your written dissertation research proposal


Submit a significant and original contribution in your area of specialization.

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information contact Rebecca McCarthy at [email protected].


Research Opportunities

Learn first-hand from faculty who actively address public health issues facing New York State (NYS). More than 75% of faculty in the School of Public Health hold appointments with the NYS Department of Health.

This provides many research opportunities in Wadsworth Center environmental health testing facilities, which include the primary labs of New York’s drinking water protection program.

You may also work with biotechnology firms located on UAlbany’s Health Sciences Campus and with faculty in the University’s Cancer Research Center, Prevention Research Center, Public Health Preparedness Center, and Center for Health Workforce Studies.

Research Topics

Environmental health sciences students study local environmental justice solutions and research short and long-term effects of air, water, and food quality problems and physical and psychological stresses on public health.

Frequent topics of study include: radiation science and radiological emergency response methods; sustainability and green design; environmental contamination and assessment of health risks due to chemical and microbial exposure; climate change; and toxicological studies of developmental, reproductive, and physiological processes.

Career Paths

As a graduate of this environmental health sciences program, you’ll be prepared for academic, technical, professional, and supervisory careers in higher education institutions, public health organizations, NGOs, government research agencies, medical centers and hospitals, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Sample job titles: environmental toxicologist; senior human health risk assessor; environmental health and safety analyst; industrial hygienist; ecological statistician; water quality specialist; environmental epidemiologist.


Female scientist looking into a microscope in a lab

"If you’re passionate about environmental health and want to learn from faculty who are deeply involved in the fight to make the world a better and healthier place, then UAlbany’s PhD program is for you.”

- Austin Roberts

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. International students maintaining F-1 status are allowed to apply for up to 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion/graduation from their degree program. Currently, this degree program is also designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an eligible degree for the F-1 STEM OPT work authorization extension; students who secure qualifying employment may be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension for a cumulative total of up to 36 months of F-1 OPT work authorization.

Admission Requirements


Priority: January 5

Applicants who wish to be considered for a doctoral graduate assistantship or scholarship must submit their application by the priority deadline. Some scholarships require that applications be received earlier than the published priority deadline. Students who wish to be considered for one of the early submission scholarships should consult our Financing Your Degree page and must submit the degree application and any additional required documents by the stated date for that scholarship.

Fee waivers are available for the first program you apply to in SOPHAS to cover the initial $140 application fee. There are three types of fee waivers: financial-based, service-based, and international-based. You may only apply for one type of fee waiver, and the waiver request must be submitted before you submit your SOPHAS application. Fee waivers are granted on a first come, first served basis, so applicants are strongly encouraged to apply before the priority deadline when requesting a waiver.  For more information, visit SOPHAS Fees and Fee Waivers.

Applications may be accepted on a space available basis after the priority deadline. Contact the department directly at [email protected] with questions about submitting your application after the priority deadline.

PhD Environmental Health Sciences Degree Application

The application and all supporting materials for the PhD in Environmental Health Sciences must be submitted through SOPHAS.

Visit the SOPHAS Applicant Help Center for help with starting your SOPHAS application.

Application Requirements

  • Must hold a bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing
  • Grade point average of 3.00 or better
  • A combined total of at least 42 credits in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics
  • Prior research experience, either through an undergraduate experience, enhanced summer research, or post-baccalaureate degree
  • Applicants are reviewed in the context of academic preparation and performance, potential for success, fit for the graduate program, as well as potential match with mentor

For application specific questions, contact us at [email protected].

International Requirements

  • International students must submit a minimum TOEFL score of 98, IELTS score of 7.0, Duolingo score of 125. We will only accept official scores sent by the testing institution.
  • UAlbany SOPHAS TOEFL code is 5688. We do not use department codes. 
  • Official Duolingo scores must be sent to the University at Albany (SOPHAS does not accept Duolingo scores). Students may include unofficial scores in their SOPHAS application, but official scores must be received by the University at Albany.
  • The TOEFL or IELTS is not required for international students who have completed at least four semesters of full-time study within a four-year time frame from time of application, and maintained at least a B average at a college or university in the United States or a country from an approved list.  For questions regarding English Language Proficiency waivers, please email Soha Acosta at [email protected].
  • International students must request a transcript evaluation from World Education Services (WES). The WES evaluation must be sent directly to SOPHAS, NOT the University at Albany or the School of Public Health.

Required Application Materials

Official transcripts 

  • Official transcripts from EVERY post-secondary academic institution attended, including college coursework completed during high school, must be sent directly from the institution to SOPHAS. You must report all colleges and universities attended and submit official transcripts, even if your transfer credits are listed on your primary transcript. See Sending Official Transcripts for more guidelines.
  • Applicants who use the transcript entry service provided by SOPHAS should note that the entry process adds TWO FULL WEEKS to the time it takes for an application to be verified and considered complete by the admissions committee.

Three letters of recommendation

  • A minimum of two letters must be from academic faculty 
  • At least one letter must be from a university faculty member in the major field of study
  • Applicants who have been out of school for five or more years may submit professional references
  • Letters must be signed and on institutional/organizational letterhead

Personal Statement

  • Why do you wish to pursue a career in public health and why are you interested in your chosen area of study?
  • 2-page limit
  • The personal statement must have well-defined research interests


Application Submission

Applicants should submit their application as soon as the items you have control over are complete (personal statement, resume/CV, institutions attended, coursework entry, and all other required sections of the online application). Transcripts and letters of recommendation will be added as they are received, after which SOPHAS will begin verifying your application.

Applications will not be reviewed until all required items, including official transcripts, official test scores, and required letters of recommendation, have been received and your application has been verified.  Please note that once SOPHAS has received all of your application materials, it may take up to 4 full weeks to be verified by SOPHAS.  Be sure to request all transcripts and recommendations in advance so that your application can be completed and verified by the specified application deadline.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

Core Competencies
  • Acquire basic and advanced knowledge in selected research areas.
  • Gain advanced technical experience in the use of sophisticated and state-of-the-art instrumentation in the chosen field.
  • Read, critically evaluate, and present scientific literature, including justifying the choice of methods applied to problems and the interpretation of results obtained.
  • Prepare a written thesis and describe the principles and procedures for techniques involved, quality assurance for data acquisition, and statistical analysis.
  • Present and orally defend knowledge gained in a public seminar.
  • Describe issues related to the proper conduct of scientific research, including policies of federal and state agencies, and the university regarding scientific misconduct.
  • Acquire advanced knowledge in the chosen field.
  • Acquire analytical, field, and laboratory skills through rotations and specialty courses that provide training in the use and interpretation of results from sophisticated instrumentation.
  • Read, critically evaluate, and present scientific literature, including justifying the choice of methods applied to problems and the interpretation of results obtained.
  • Demonstrate a command of the fundamentals and current state of the discipline sufficient to prepare a written proposal.
  • Develop problem solving skills through application of knowledge to a research problem.
  • Acquire broad knowledge of the field of toxicology including the basic principles, target organ toxicity, and the toxicity of a select group of compounds.   Know the basic building blocks of toxicology, and be able to build a more detailed knowledge of those particular aspects of toxicology that interest them.
  • Understand the molecular foundations of biological processes, including major current concepts in biochemistry and molecular biology, and have familiarity with the research literature in the molecular biosciences and techniques and applications of modern molecular toxicology.
  • Perform basic statistical analysis of data generated from lab experiments or field studies.
Environmental Chemistry
  • Acquire broad knowledge of the field of Environmental Chemistry including development of methods for ultra-trace analysis of pollutants in air, water, soil and biological matrices; understanding of sources, chemodynamics and fate of environmental pollutants in ecosystems.
  • Understand the methods used to assess human and environmental exposure pathways of environmental pollutants and quantitative analysis of exposure levels; environmental processes that affect the dynamics and fate pollutants; multimedia monitoring and modeling, biomonitoring and bioaccumulation of toxic chemicals.
  • Be familiar with the research literature, analytical techniques, and applications of those techniques in Environmental Chemistry.  Interpret and critically analyze the data on environmental chemical analysis; conduct research independently and be able to perform basic statistical analysis of data generated from laboratory or field studies.
Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Have a broad knowledge of the field of environmental health including an understanding of the interaction of principles contained in fundamental environmental chemistry, biology, toxicology, epidemiology and general environmental health.  Using this fundamental knowledge the students will then develop a refined knowledge related to their particular field of study within environmental or occupational health.
  • Have the skills, obtained during their course of instruction, to apply technical knowledge to both field and laboratory investigations.   This will include recognizing the elements needed for a successful investigations, acquisition and integration of the information to meet study objectives and investigation resolution.
  • Assess risks from either environmental or occupational exposures and identify measures to mitigate the risks.
  • Manage data acquired during field and laboratory investigations.  This includes the basic knowledge of statistics including hypothesis development, hypothesis testing and fundamental concepts involving data manipulation using parametric and non-parametric analyses.