EOHS Degree Programs

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Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Degree Programs

Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences is the field of study that involves the (1) anticipation, identification and characterization of potentially harmful physical, chemical, and biological agents in community and workplace environments; (2) identification and study of the relevant pathways of exposure; (3) assessment of the effects of such agents on the environment and human health; and (4) development of interventions to prevent or ameliorate problems associated with environmental or occupational contaminants. Biological, genetic, psychological, and social factors are also important determinants of environmental and occupational health.

The Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (EOHS) program offers three degrees including:

The MPH degrees focus upon public health practice related to prevention, assessment, control of occupational and environmental exposures, injuries and illnesses, which constitute major problems not only nationally, but worldwide. The PhD degree is designed to train professionals to develop in-depth knowledge in a particular specialty area, and a broad understanding of the complexities inherent in environmental problems with a focus on research.

Environmental Disease Prevention and Total Worker Health Tracks

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in Environmental Sciences offers in-depth didactic and research training for students who wish to focus their careers in academic, governmental or other research institutions, and/or in high-level policy/regulatory positions.  Students applying to the PhD in Environmental Sciences will select one of the following two (2) Tracks:  Environmental Disease Prevention or Total Worker Health.  Our goal in offering these two Tracks is to provide research experiences in areas that are increasingly posing public health challenges by impacting quality of life and introducing health disparities within different segments of the population.

The EOHS Program also offers a minor course of study (9 semester credit hours) for MS,and PhD students majoring in other public health disciplines  

Master of Public Health (MPH) in EOHS

This degree is designed to provide a breadth of achievement in the five core disciplines of public health, as well as additional knowledge and skills in environmental and occupational health sciences. The program provides a foundation in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, in addition to the skills needed to function as a practitioner in a variety of public health settings. An MPH in environmental and occupational health sciences prepares students to assume positions in public health practice in government or the private sector.

There are two specialized programs within the EOHS program that may also be of interest to potential students: MPH program in Industrial Hygiene and an Occupational Medicine Residency Program. Contact EOHS admissions for more information.

The Industrial Hygiene Master’s curriculum is accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012 - telephone: (410) 347-7700.

The occupational medicine residency program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), 515 North State St., Chicago, Illinois 60610-4322 - telephone: (312) 755-5000. For more information, refer to the website for the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.

Program Competencies

Upon graduation, MPH students in the EOHS program should be able to:

  • Describe environmental health hazards, propose strategies for the prevention and/or control of such hazards, and describe gaps in knowledge and in the approaches to solving environmental health problems.
  • Implement strategies for mitigating environmental health risks.
  • In collaboration with or under the supervision of senior-level scientists or administrators, identify an important environmental health problem, carry out a study to address the problem, and draw conclusions from the results.
  • Recognize the processes by which policies are developed to regulate environmental hazards.
  • Communicate effectively about environmental health hazards and strategies for mitigating risks.

Course of Study

The general requirements for the MPH degree apply. The practicum and culminating experience should have an environmental or occupational health focus. Students usually require a minimum of two years of full-time study to complete the degree requirements. The actual scope and length of the program will be determined by the student’s advisory committee based on the student’s academic objectives and prior experience.

Within the Division, the industrial hygiene master s curriculum is accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission (ASAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The occupational medicine residency program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). For more information, refer to the Southwest Center website. (hyperlink)

Special Entrance Requirements

Applicants for this degree are expected to have successfully completed coursework in mathematics, chemistry, and biological sciences and typically hold a baccalaureate or higher degree in physical, chemical, or biological sciences, engineering, nursing or medicine from an accredited university or college. Applicants with majors from other disciplines who satisfy the undergraduate course work requirements will be considered. Additional requirements apply for certain areas of study, including industrial hygiene and occupational medicine.

A test score of 1000 for the combined verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE is preferred. Test scores more than five years old will not be accepted. Applicants who have an MD or other doctoral degree earned in the U.S. or Canada may be eligible for a waiver of the GRE.

In addition to the general Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for international applicants, who have not received an undergraduate or graduate degree in an English-speaking program, the Test for Written English (TWE) will also be evaluated a score of 4.0 is preferred.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) In Environmental Sciences

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program Environmental Sciences offers in-depth didactic and research training for students who wish to focus their careers in academic, governmental or other research institutions, and/or in high-level policy/regulatory positions.

Students applying to the PhD in Environmental Sciences will select one of the following two (2) Tracks: Total Worker Health or Environmental Disease Prevention. Our goal in offering these two Tracks is to provide research experiences in areas that are increasingly posing public health challenges by impacting quality of life and introducing health disparities within different segments of the population.  

Graduates of the Total Worker Health Track will be able to conduct research that characterizes worker well-being, as well as implement policies and practices that improve workers’ health.  The Environmental Disease Prevention Track will provide students experience in identifying and measuring disease agents in various environments, and opportunities to develop ways to mitigate associated public health risks.

Special Entrance Requirements

Applicants for this degree should have a prior MS degree in Environmental Health Sciences or a related field from an accredited university. In addition, it is expected that applicants have successfully completed coursework in calculus, organic chemistry, physics, and biological sciences.

A test score of 1200 for the combined verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE is preferred. Test scores more than five years old will not be accepted. Applicants who have an MD or other doctoral degree earned in the U.S. or Canada may be eligible for a waiver of the GRE.

In addition to the general Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for international applicants, who have not received an undergraduate or graduate degree in an English-speaking program, the Test for Written English (TWE) will also be evaluated a score of 4.0 is preferred.

Course of Study

Training at the doctoral level is tailored to meet the student s goals. Students are expected to carry out original research, with a special emphasis in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. Graduates of the program are prepared to carry out research activities in governmental or private organizations or pursue academic careers.

Environmental Disease Prevention (EDP) Track

The Environmental Disease Prevention Track will provide students experience in identifying and measuring disease agents in various environments, and opportunities to develop ways to mitigate associated public health risks.  The curriculum in this Track will allow students to learn how to identify and measure disease agents in various environments, characterize these agents as human health hazards, and develop ways to mitigate their public health impacts.  In addition to exposures to chemical, physical and biological agents in community and workplace settings, diet, levels of physical activity, psychosocial stress and other stressors contribute to individuals’ exposure profiles (i.e., the exposome) and interact with their genetic and epigenetic blueprint to impact health.  In addition, recognizing the importance of “place-based” characteristics and conditions, students completing this Track will be able to apply geographical information systems (GIS) tools to display and analyze spatial data at the local, regional and national levels for disease control and prevention. 

The following are the learning objectives of the Environmental Disease Prevention Track:

  • Define the exposome and describe how it provides a framework for relating exposures throughout the life course to health.
  • Characterize different types of hazards, their sources, and primary routes of exposure in environmental and occupational settings.
  • Evaluate key issues in environmental exposure assessment, including the determinants of personal exposure.
  • Choose and perform an appropriate environmental sampling/analytical method for an environmental hazard.
  • Apply GIS tools for visualizing and analyzing spatial data. 
  • Evaluate factors, including genetic/epigenetic profiles and non-chemical stressors that enhance or ameliorate toxic responses to environmental exposures.
  • Analyze, interpret and critique laboratory data generated from environmental studies.
  • Conduct a risk analysis for evaluating and communicating environmental hazards.
  • Compare and communicate different mitigation strategies for environmental hazards.
  • Critically evaluate current environmental quality and hazard prevention policies.
  • Communicate new methods, advances, and current topics in environmental sciences research through both oral and electronic presentations.

EDP Track Degree Planner

Total Worker Health (TWH) Track

The Total Worker Health Track is an addition to the NIOSH-funded Education and Research Center (ERC) Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH).  Graduates will be able to conduct research that characterizes worker well-being, as well as implement policies and practices that improve workers’ health.  In addition to research opportunities, key elements of the Track involve practice-based training and interdisciplinary interactions with trainees in occupational epidemiology, industrial hygiene, and occupational medicine.  Specifically, the curriculum will train students to identify, characterize and integrate risk factors of worker well-being and safety, as well as develop, implement and evaluate strategies, policies and programs to improve workers’ health.

The following are the learning objectives of the Total Worker Health Track:

  • Describe the nature and interactions of the key disciplines that underlie the “Total Worker Health” concept.
  • Analyze sources and pathways of exposure to environmental and occupational risk factors, and determine vulnerable populations.
  • Assess potentially modifying factors of the impact of environmental and occupational risk factors on risks for disease or injury in worker populations (e.g., genetic polymorphisms, nutritional status, and healthy/unhealthy behaviors).
  • Develop and implement an integrated strategy (e.g., relying on clinical, epidemiological, exposure science, and/or interventional approaches) to assess risks from all environments (working, residential, larger community) for adverse health outcomes among worker populations.
  • Integrate a managerial/executive perspective in the evaluation of injury and illness risk factors and promote to varied audiences the business case in improved worker safety and health.
  • Couple fundamental concepts of occupational health and safety to health behavior and organizational theories in developing workplace interventions.
  • Review, critique and evaluate research evidence, with a particular focus on the scientific merit of the background theory, the study design limitations, and the communication of findings to the audience.

TWH Track Degree planner