Environmental Health Science Master's Programs

Oct 21, 2019

Students interested in graduate study in the field of environmental health sciences might consider earning either a Master of Science or a Master of Public Health degree.

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Individuals who specialize in the field of environmental health sciences focus on the interplay between the environment and the health of the public. Read on to consider some master's level degree options in this field as well as the courses that students pursuing this specialization might take.

Master's Degrees in Environmental Health Sciences

Individuals who wish to engage in the practice of environmental health might consider earning a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental Health Sciences.

Master of Science in Environmental Health Sciences

An MS in Environmental Health Sciences program may be the preferred graduate degree for those with an interest in technical environmental health issues or those who are utilizing a master's degree as a stepping stone to a doctoral program. The MS often requires one to two years of full-time study to complete. Students take a series of core courses and then select electives in their area of interest. A thesis or non-thesis project may be required for graduation. Applications are frequently made through the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS). Prospective students should expect to provide bachelor's degree transcripts, GRE scores, and recommendations. A resume and a personal statement may also be necessary. A supplemental university-specific application could also be required.

MPH in Environmental Health Sciences

The MPH is a professional degree program designed for students who wish to be able to pursue a broad range of career goals in the field of public health. MPH programs often take two years of full-time study to finish. Students are required to take broad-based public health courses as well as electives specializing in the area of environmental health sciences. A field placement to gain hands-on experience in environmental health might be required along with a capstone project. Many schools of public health require that applications be made through SOPHAS. Candidates usually provide a resume, recommendations, bachelor's degree transcripts, GRE scores, and a personal statement. Undergraduate coursework in the sciences and mathematics is recommended. Some programs require a university application to be filed as well.

Program Requirements

In either the MS or the MPH program, graduate students can expect to encounter courses designed to acquaint them with common concerns in the field of public health, such as epidemiology and statistics, as well as environmental health sciences concentration classes. Some of these courses are described here.

Air Quality

In a class of this nature, students might discuss sources of air pollution and how communities are impacted by pollution. Students also examine properties of different contaminants that can be present in the air, including gases and particulate matter. A meteorological approach to how pollutants are dispersed throughout the environment could be a topic of concern as well.

Hazardous Waste Management

The proper management of hazardous waste requires consideration of the societal, regulatory, and technical concerns regarding waste management, which are often explored in this course. Students could discuss hazardous waste disposal laws and regulations, the remediation of contaminated sites, and how hazardous chemicals are transported and stored. Students could also gain expertise in the communication of information regarding hazardous waste to various audiences, including the general public.

Environmental Health Risk Assessment

This course outlines four common steps to take in evaluating environmental health risks: hazard identification, dose-response and exposure assessment, and risk characterization. Students then learn how to manage these risks once an assessment is completed. Students could also explore the ways in which risk assessment impacts public health regulation.


A course in epidemiology may be a core course for students enrolled in environmental health sciences programs. Those studying epidemiology may survey basic epidemiological principles and their applications in public health. The types of epidemiology studied could be descriptive, analytic, and experimental.


A toxicology class might provide information on how to evaluate the effects of toxic environmental chemicals. Students are likely to learn how exposure to such contaminants occurs and how they are biotransformed in humans and other mammals. The impacts of these chemicals on all major organ systems may be a topic of discussion.

Master of Science and Master of Public Health programs in environmental health sciences can be completed in one to two years and cover topics such as epidemiology, hazardous waste, and air quality. These programs can prepare professionals in the field of environmental health sciences to play an important role in ensuring the safety of our communities.

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