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Distance Learning Toxicology Degree Program Information

Learn about online toxicology degrees at the master's level. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field along with potential career outlook.

Essential Information

Toxicology degree programs are not widely available in a distance learning format. Master's degrees in toxicology are more commonly offered online than doctoral degrees. Example program titles are Master of Science in Clinical Toxicology and Master of Public Health in Environmental Health and Toxicology. Students who would like an introduction to the field but aren't sure about committing to a master's degree program may consider a graduate certificate instead.

These programs may be designed as continuing education programs for professionals like nurses or poison control responders, or they may be open to students with a biology, chemistry or related science bachelor's degree who want advanced training that can prepare them for a career in toxicology.

Some programs occur entirely online, but potential students should be aware that certain programs may require an on-campus component for practical curriculum requirements, like laboratory work, and for examinations. Online students may have open access to relevant campus facilities.

More Information and Requirements

Students may earn a toxicology degree in their particular area of interest. For example, a student interested in criminology could pursue a forensic toxicology degree, while an environmentalist might choose to study how toxins affect various ecosystems. A program in veterinary toxicology might include a course on how drugs affect both humans and non-human mammals.

To enroll in a distance-learning toxicology master's degree program, students must have a bachelor's degree in a related field. They must often submit letters of recommendation and documentation of any relevant experience, along with graduate college entrance exam scores. Since graduate toxicology programs are math- and research-intensive, students with a background in these areas may have an advantage.

Online programs use Internet 'classrooms.' They may participate in discussions through forums and interact with professors using e-mail, instant messaging, chat features and video conferencing. Access to course websites is sometimes tracked by program staff in order to verify participation.

Students may need to participate in a brief campus residency to complete final exams or other coursework or lab work. Since students are required to either own or lease up-to-date computer hardware and software in order to participate in distance learning, computer costs may be included in financial aid packages.

Courses

While specific courses vary with regard to toxicology concentrations, core courses are similar despite the ultimate specialty.

Basic Toxicology

Introduces students to the principles and processes of the mechanisms, absorption and excretion of toxins. These effects are typically studied in relation to mammalian organ systems. May also cover the toxin-based development of cancer cells, mutations and malformations.

Toxic Materials

Students learn about arsenic, ethanol, mercury, carbon monoxide and other toxins. Additionally, they study how to care for a poisoned patient.

Research and Scientific Literature

As a final project, this course typically requires students to research and write an in-depth paper on a toxicology topic of their choosing. The course surveys current toxicology findings and introduces students to online research resources like scientific e-journals.


Careers

According to the Society of Toxicology (SOT), toxicologists study the cellular, biochemical and molecular structures of disease in order to develop treatments or cures, determine a substance's risk to humans or to the environment and conduct studies to determine how to safely use chemicals. Toxicologists perform research, test for product safety, teach and consult with government and private organizations.

In the SOT's 2015 survey, it found that approximately 13% of toxicologists worked in academia, and just over 45% worked in industry; of the industry workers, about 66% worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Over 86% of toxicologists held a doctoral degree in 2015, though almost 10% were employed with a master's as their highest degree.

Continuing Education

Doctoral programs in toxicology are widely available, though they're not commonly offered through distance learning. At the Ph.D. level, students can further focus their research on their chosen area of specialization; for example, a doctoral student studying environmental toxicology might specialize in aquatic toxicology, air pollution or environmental risk assessment.

Students have the opportunity to earn certificates or a degree in toxicology in either a fully online or hybrid format, dependent on their preferences. Different courses that students may take include basic toxicology, toxic materials, and research.


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