Environmental Health Science Master's Programs

Oct 11, 2019

Those 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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Those 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 those 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

The MS in Environmental Health Sciences may be a preferred graduate degree for those with a specialized technical interest in environmental health; or those who are utilizing the 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 will 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 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 choose electives specializing in the area of environmental health sciences. A field placement to gain hands-on experience in environmental health might be required, as well as a capstone project. Most schools of public health will require that applications be made through SOPHAS. Candidates usually provide a resume, recommendations, 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 a variety of courses designed to acquaint them with common concerns in the field of environmental health sciences. Some of these courses are described here.

Air Quality

The quality of the air has significant impacts on public health. In a class of this nature, students might discuss sources of air pollution, how communities are impacted, and properties of different contaminants that can be present in the air, including gases and particulate matter. Meteorological impacts of 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. Within a course of this nature, students could discuss hazardous waste disposal laws and regulations, the remediation of contaminated sites, and how hazardous chemicals are transported and stored. Students could gain expertise in the communication of information regarding hazardous waste to various audiences, including the general public.

Environmental Health Risk Assessment

Those who are assessing environmental health risk must follow appropriate steps utilizing a scientific process to evaluate concerns. This course could provide four common steps to take in evaluating environmental health risks: hazard identification, dose-response, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. How to manage these risks once they are identified might be reviewed.


A course in epidemiology may be a core course for those enrolled in environmental health sciences programs. Those studying epidemiology may survey basic epidemiological principles and the role of epidemiology 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 about how exposure to such contaminants occurs and how they are biotransformed in humans and other mammals. The actions of these chemicals within all major organ systems may be a topic of concern.

Those in the field of environmental health sciences play an important role in ensuring the safety of our communities. 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.

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