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PhD Environmental Health Sciences

Offered On Campus in Tucson

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The PhD in Environmental Health Sciences is offered by the Department of Community, Environment, and Policy. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Environmental Health Sciences examines the critical link between environmental and occupational exposures and human health.

The degree prepares individuals to research, evaluate, and control health risks posed by chemical and biological contaminants and physical exposures (noise, heat, and radiation) in communities and occupational environments. Students will receive advanced hands-on training and experience in the application of epidemiological research methods, statistical analysis, exposure assessment, environmental modeling, toxicology, intervention design and behavioral sciences. Graduates of this program will apply theory and methods to public health research, evaluation, analysis, and decision-making.

The PhD in Environmental Health Sciences trains students for research careers and leadership roles in academia, government agencies, research institutes, consulting firms, and industry. The program is designed for individuals with a variety of backgrounds. Our faculty and students come from diverse backgrounds with advanced training in: medicine, geology, microbiology, engineering, architecture, nutrition, and policy.

Entry into the PhD program requires successful completion of a master's degree in a related field. The PhD program requires approximately three to five years for completion, including two to three years for coursework and one to two years for the dissertation. At least 45 credits are required for the major, plus a minimum of 18 dissertation units, and at least 9 units for a minor in another department. The course of study and dissertation will be developed by the student, their faculty advisor, and their committee.


PhD in Environmental Health Sciences Competencies


Required Major Courses (27 units)

+For students who have met the core competencies in EHS 585 through prior courses, for example, as would be expected in a prior degree, minor or certificate in public health, an elective may be taken in lieu of this course.


Elective Courses (minimum 18 units)*

Students select courses in areas of emphasis:
Exposure Science and Risk Assessment; Climate and Health; Environmental Contaminant Modeling; and Occupational Health and Safety

*Students should contact their EHS Faculty Advisor for a suggested listing of elective courses. In addition, there are a great majority of other University courses that can serve as electives for the PhD in Environmental Health Sciences.  Please consult with Faculty Advisor regarding other University courses which would fulfill the elective requirements.


PhD Minor Courses (minimum of 9 units required)**

PhD students must complete a minor of at least 9 units from another area of study. Minors that may interest students in this program include Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Water Quality, Global Climate Change, Environmental Planning, Applied Mathematics, Engineering, Atmospheric Science, and Soil, Water and Environmental Science, just to name a few. With committee approval, a minor may be selected from any program of study at the University of Arizona that offers a doctoral degree.

**Requirements for a PhD minor in individual departments may vary.  Required elective hours will be reduced if the minor exceeds 9 units.


Dissertation (minimum of 18 units)


Total Minimum Credit Requirements = 72 units


PhD Minor in Environmental Health Sciences Requirements

The PhD minor in Environmental Health Sciences is for majors outside Environmental Health Sciences and is administered by the Environmental Health Sciences Section in MEZCOPH.

A total of 15 course units are required as well as successful completion of written and oral questions during the PhD Comprehensive exam and successful defense of the dissertation. Consult the UA catalog for further details on the current course schedule and specific course requirements.

Total Minimum of 15 units required, including:

A list of EHS courses can be obtained from the EHS Program Director and are listed in the UA catalog under Environmental Health Sciences (EHS).


Transfer of Credits for the PhD Minor

Graduate credit earned at approved institutions may be counted toward fulfilling the PhD Minor requirements, if approved by the minor Faculty Advisor, the the Environmental Health Sciences Program Director and the student's Graduate Committee. All transferred credit must be at the graduate level with a grade of A or B. The Doctoral Plan of Study requires a listing of all courses the student seeks to transfer from another institution. See the Graduate College website for further details.

Application Deadlines

Fall Application Deadlines

Priority:  December 1
Secondary:  April 1

Final: June 1 for US applicants only

Students who apply by the priority deadline will be given the highest priority for admissions and consideration for scholarships and assistantships.

Admissions Criteria

Admissions Criteria

  • Master's degree in Environmental Health Science or similar field with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • At least one course in college biology
  • At least one course in calculus
  • Inorganic/general chemistry
  • Organic chemistry is recommended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of purpose and objectives
  • Official GRE or MCAT scores (some waivers apply, see detailed admissions criteria)
  • Research statement
  • Mission and values statement
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants
  • Relevant work/volunteer experience strengthens all applications
  • Detailed admissions criteria

How to Apply

Apply online through SOPHAS, the centralized application service for all of the accredited schools and programs of public health.

View more details on the steps to our application process.

Additional Information

Admissions Events > Join us for an upcoming admissions event.

Meet Our Students > Get to know our students.

International Students > Find admissions information specific to international students.


Typical time to completion: 3-5 years (2-3 years for coursework, 1-2 years for dissertation work) for full-time students. 5-8 years for part-time students.

Average time to completion: 4.19 Program

Steps to Completion (Full-time student timeline):

  • Attend mandatory new student orientation
  • Students are expected to serve as a Teaching Assistant at least once during their time in the program
  • First year is devoted to course work
  • Work with Faculty Advisor to form an initial Graduate Committee
  • With the Graduate Committee, develop a tentative Plan of Study
  • Each Spring, complete an Annual Progress Report with Faculty Advisor
  • Second year is devoted to course work and forming Comprehensive Exam Committee
  • Formalize Plan of Study by end of second year
  • Second/third year formalize Committee Chair and Comprehensive Exam Committee
  • Develop a Dissertation Research Proposal and gain Committee approval
  • If necessary, begin process for human subjects approval for dissertation
  • Take and pass Comprehensive Exams (written and oral)
  • Form and formalize Dissertation Committee
  • Third/fourth year, research, develop and write dissertation
  • Fourth/fifth year, successfully defend dissertation and finalize revisions

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