Environmental health degree programs are offered at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Students entering these programs are encouraged to have an educational background in science, laboratory work and health. Prerequisites vary from program to program, but often include a high-school diploma (or equivalent), previous general science courses, and/or degrees relating to health sciences.
Associate Degree in Environmental Health
Program participants study environmental and human health relationships, as well as corresponding ecological problems. Topics covered might include noise and water pollution, radiation and food protection, and solid and hazardous waste. Most 2-year programs in environmental health are designed for transfer to 4-year colleges and universities.
Associate degree program applicants generally must possess a high school diploma or GED. They also might be required to submit high school transcripts.
Courses in an associate's degree program in environmental health are science intensive and include laboratory work. A typical curriculum might feature classes such as environmental biology as well as the following:
- Environmental chemistry
- Environmental health science
- Environmental and human toxicology
- Instrumental analysis
- Public science health
Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Health Sciences
Bachelor's degree programs in environmental health sciences prepare students to deal with environmental issues regarding health and sustainability. Degree candidates learn to diagnose and analyze problems, such as pollution, before suggesting solutions or preventions. They also explore the use of scientific principles and technological tools for evaluation and research.
A high school diploma or the equivalent is mandatory for admission to most 4-year colleges and universities. Additionally, SAT or ACT scores and high school or 2-year college transcripts must be submitted.
Environmental health students typically take general science courses before advancing to applied environmental science classes. In their junior and senior years, students may choose special interest and specialized courses, such as the following:
- Exposure assessment
- Plant biology
- Occupational health
- Safety and health
Master's Degree in Environmental Health
Ecological research is a main component of a master's degree program in environmental health. Students explore current and future challenges facing humans and the environment. They learn about environmental engineering and management, pollution control, water technologies and health safety.
Graduate students must hold an undergraduate degree in environmental sciences or a related field and must submit their college transcripts. In-field experience often is encouraged, and GRE scores may be required.
Master's degree programs typically include general environmental health classes, in addition to specific concentration courses involving in-depth analysis of ecosystems, engineering and design. Topics of study might include the following:
- Environmental statistics
- Global environmental issues
- Research design
- Ecological engineering
- Urban area ecosystems
Doctorate Degree in Environmental Health
The goal of a doctoral degree program in this field is to train leaders in environmental health research. Doctoral candidates conduct research in environmental hazards, such as toxicology, pollution and contaminants, and design, write and defend a dissertation. Some programs provide different tracks of study, such as health and climate, occupational safety or industrial hygiene.
Applicants to doctoral degree programs in environmental health must have an undergraduate degree with an acceptable GPA. A master's degree is recommended, but may be earned in conjunction with many doctoral programs. Respectable GRE scores also are necessary.
Doctoral candidates generally work on their dissertation in tandem with laboratory and class work. This includes core courses in environmental health, as well as classes in specific areas of interest. Topics of study might include the following:
- Methods of risk assessment
- Environmental health introduction
- Environmental development
- Environmental analysis and monitoring
Popular Career Options
Environmental health jobs for associate's degree graduates typically are entry-level and may include the following:
- Field technician
- Health technician
- Industrial hygienist
Bachelor's degree holders in environmental health sciences often find work in health and safety with private or public agencies. Specific job titles might include the following:
- Registered sanitarian
- Public health technologist
Environmental health master's graduates are trained for upper-level management positions. They may choose highly specialized careers or opt for general public health work, such as the following jobs:
- Environmental researcher
- Environmental health specialist
- Industrial hygienist
Those who earn doctoral degrees in environmental health typically find work in academics or research. Available positions might include the following:
- Professor of environmental health
- Environmental health researcher
- Environmental specialist
Students interested in environmental health can earn a degree in the subject at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels. Coursework typically includes environmental chemistry and environmental health science.