Skip to main content

Environmental and Occupational Health - DrPH


This program is ideal because of the opportunity to learn and network with public health leaders in the heart of Washington, D.C. These collaborations provide real-world practice and the opportunity to learn from leaders within the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), amongst others.

Adrienne Phifer, DrPH student


The mission of the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Environmental and Occupational Health degree program is to educate mid-career professionals who are committed to public health protection. Graduates from this program learn to apply critical and analytic skills to better understand how environmental and occupational exposures impact human health at an advanced level. Our graduates bring these skills into the world in order to develop, implement, and evaluate environmental health practices and policies.

In addition, the DrPH in Environmental and Occupational Health degree coursework helps enhance students' capacity to think critically and creatively. At the George Washington University, we are proud to educate students who are committed to improving public health and engaging in and promoting public service. We emphasize these qualities in the DrPH in Environmental and Occupational Health program because they are essential for environmental and occupational health professionals and public health practitioners.


Applicants who have completed a MPH degree from a Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredited program are strongly preferred for admission to the DrPH Program. Applicants with a master’s degree in another field should explain their relevant training, research experience, or educational background comparable to the MPH. DrPH in Environmental and Occupational Health applicants admitted without a MPH may be required to take additional coursework at the graduate level that does not apply toward the minimum 48 credits required for the DrPH. All DrPH degree program applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within five years of the date of application. Because admission to this program is highly selective, successful applicants have competitive academic credentials and substantial prior public health professional work experience related to environmental and occupational health.  

The DrPH program accepts students every other year.  The next matriculating cohort will begin in Fall 2018. Applications will be accepted beginning August 2017 and are due no later than December 1, 2017.  Applications will be reviewed following the December 1st deadline and those applicants selected for an in-person interview (video conference if remote) can expect to be contacted by mid-February.   


DrPH Core Requirements

PUBH 8401 | Foundations in Public Health Leadership and Practice
PUBH 8402 | Leadership and Decision Making: A Skills Based Approach
PUBH 8403 | Leadership in Public Health Practice and Policy
PUBH 8416 | Study Design and Evaluation Methods
PUBH 8417 | Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis
PUBH 8418 | Applied Statistical Analysis
PUBH 8419 | Measurement in Public Health and Health Services Research
PUBH 8420 | Advanced Analysis and Dissemination


Course Descriptions

Environmental and Occupational Health Requirements

PUBH 8411 | Advanced Topics - Principles of Environmental Health Research Science (Doctoral Seminar)
PUBH 8412 | Advanced Topics - Environmental and Occupational Health Research and Practice


EOH Course Descriptions

Environmental and Occupational Health Electives

(7-10 credits in Elective Specialty Field Courses)

For the most up to date list of electives, please reference the program guide and SPH course descriptions.

Professional Leadership, Comprehensive Exams and Dissertation


PUBH 8415 | Instructional Leadership
PUBH 8413 | Research Leadership



All DrPH students are required to pass a Comprehensive Examination, which typically occurs following the Spring semester of Year 2.  Comprehensive exams must be successfully completed within three years of matriculation to the DrPH program.



PUBH 8422 | Advanced Health Care & Public Health Research Design
Prerequisites: Pass Comprehensive Exam, Approval of Program Director, & one page abstract

PUBH 8423 | Dissertation Research


Non-Academic Requirements

  • Professional Enhancement

Students in the DrPH program must participate in eight hours of Professional Enhancement. These activities are pre-approved by an advisor and may be Public Health-related lectures, seminars, and symposia related to your field of study.

Professional Enhancement activities supplement the rigorous academic curriculum of the SPH degree programs and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. You can learn more about opportunities for Professional Enhancement via the Milken Institute School of Public Health Listserv, through departmental communications, or by speaking with your advisor.

Students submit a completed Professional Enhancement Form to the Office of Student Records which is required documentation to be cleared for graduation.


  • Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training

All students are required to complete the Basic CITI training module in Social and Behavioral Research.  This online training module for Social and Behavioral Researchers will help new students demonstrate and maintain sufficient knowledge of the ethical principles and regulatory requirements for protecting human subjects - key for any public health research.


  • Academic Integrity Quiz

All Milken Institute School of Public Health students are required to review the University’s Code of Academic Integrity and complete the GW Academic Integrity Activity.  This activity must be completed within 2 weeks of matriculation. Information on GWSPH Academic Integrity requirements can be found here.


**For graduation requirements, please download the program guide.**

See the program guide, the DrPH Student Handbook, and the SPH Graduate Student Handbook for additional information.


Profiles of Current Students:


Ashely Bieniek-Tobasco
MPH, University of Michigan

Originally from Temperance, Michigan, Ashley Bieniek-Tobasco says growing up in the Great Lakes region was a major influence in developing her interest in environmental health. Significant contamination in nearby Lake Erie and the Detroit River was a frequent topic of local news and because her family’s home relied on well water, Bieniek-Tobasco says “water quality was something that was brought to mind very early.”  These experiences made her particularly interested in the relationship between the environment and human health.

Bieniek-Tobasco pursued this interest through undergraduate and graduate studies, completing her MPH in Environmental Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and becoming the first person in her family to pursue a graduate degree. After working at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan as an Environmental Health Intern and then for an international educational consulting firm, Bieniek-Tobasco says she is excited about “the next phase of my environmental health career” as a student at Milken Institute School of Public Health.



Univer Blake

BA, College of Wooster
MS, American University

After receiving her MS in Toxicology, Uni worked as an environmental consultant, in the permitting and regulatory space. Eventually she transitioned to advocacy work mostly to develop and implement risk communication strategies. Uni has always been fascinated with how environmental regulations that are protective to health are developed – the mix of public opinion, science and policy. She will continue to work  as a Scientific Advisor for a trade association in Washington, DC, while pursuing her DrPH.


Deise Galan

Deise Galan comes to the DrPH program after several years working for the Fairfax County Health Department and more recently the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). In these positions Galan gained experience working on surveillance and control programs for West Nile Virus and Lyme disease.

Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Galan felt privileged to grow up surrounded by an “amazing culture of friendly and caring people” but also witnessed the health challenges and “struggles of those who fight to keep their families safe and healthy.” One of the biggest challenges in Brazil is health, says Galan, citing the many Brazilians who die each year of longstanding infectious diseases such as dengue and influenza.

“Being surrounded by this environment has given me a sense of responsibility, compelling me to ask myself what I can do to help my country, as well as many others around the world that endure the same or even worse conditions,” Galan says. She plans to focus on environmental health problems that transcend national boundaries, such as climate change, indoor air pollution, water-borne, vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. “As a professional in this field you can see firsthand the results of your research, implement life-saving interventions and develop programs that can save millions of lives,” reflects Galan.



Adrienne Phifer

BS, University of Georgia
MS, Cornell University

Prior to becoming a DrPH student, Adrienne was an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton where she had the opportunity to serve in several meaningful roles for clients at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Adrienne aims to provide meaningful contributions to the field of Environmental and Occupational Health by helping to shape key policies, practices and programs within the field.

She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and has always wanted a career in which her passion for helping others could be paramount while still leveraging her background in environmental health, food science, and consulting for the federal government.


Jon Sharp

Jon Sharp joins the DrPH program at Milken Institute SPH with 10 years of experience working for the United States Army as an Environmental and Science and Engineering Officer. “I am proud to have the opportunity to serve my country in a role that I am passionate about,” says Sharp, describing with pride how his work has both helped the Army succeed in its missions and protects the health of U.S. soldiers.

During his career with the Army, he has held a broad range of public health positions including working in the fields of industrial hygiene, public health planning, policy development, and deployment preventive medicine.  Sharp will remain on active duty while he pursues his DrPh, serving in a student status through the Army Medical Departments Long Term Health Education and Training program. 

At Milken Institute SPH, Sharp will continue to focus on his areas of interest: preventing health hazards among deployed soldiers and civilians and working with international military public health partners.


There are numerous opportunities for DrPH Environmental and Occupational Health program graduates as the prevalence of preventable disease grows, the population ages, and natural disasters occur with increasing frequency. DrPH Environmental and Occupational Health graduates are in high demand at state and local governmental organizations, private environmental and health agencies, non-profit research centers, private industry, and educational institutions. Graduates with a DrPH Environmental and Occupational Health degree also find careers in teaching, research, and consulting.

What Alumni Have to Say

I am currently the Team Leader – Safety Services, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort.   I am responsible for ensuring the safety and health of all of our Cast Members and guests so they can enjoy the magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.   I supervise a team of 5 safety professionals and our role spans many functional areas of public health including safety, industrial hygiene, environmental health, and food safety.  The DrPH program provided me the skills to analyze copious amounts of information to identify, evaluate, and mitigate occupational/environmental health risks.   We find ourselves working as members of a diverse team, so being able to gather large amounts of information and use that to produce meaningful results is imperative.   As for insights, its not about what you know, its about how you use that knowledge to protect the safety and health of whatever population you support....REGINALD RICHARDS, DrPH 2010


I am a Principal at Ramboll Environ Corporation, Environment and Health Division, an environmental and human health consultancy with more than 80 offices around the world. I provide advice to clients on environmental and regulatory compliance issues relating to mergers, acquisitions, and other business transactions and serve as the company’s Due Diligence Practice Leader for the Americas.  My work, which routinely involves a combination of technical and regulatory assessment, relies heavily on the analytical skills obtained through the completion of classwork and dissertation research as part of the DrPH program at The George Washington School of Public Health.  Some of the greatest value from the program came from the flexibility it allows in developing an area of research and investigation and tailoring coursework toward career goals... ADAM JOHNSTON, DrPH 2013


Sample Dissertation Topics

  • Comparing Human Health Risk Values: An Analysis of Science Policy Choices...Elizabeth Holman, DrPH 2015
  • Occupational Heat-Related Mortality in the United States, 2000-2010: Epidemiology & Policy Recommendations...Dianne Gubernot, DrPH 2015
  • Public Health Implications of Arsenic in Agricultural Soils:  A Legacy of Historical Pesticide Application Practices... Adam Johnston, DrPH 2013
  • Environmental-Occupational Health Integrating Occupational Health into Life Cycle Assessment...Kelly Scanlon, DrPH 2013
  • Nurses and Standard/Universal Precaution: Analysis of Barriers Affecting Strict Compliance... Katherine Kirkland, DrPH 2011
  • Occupational Injury and Fatality Rates among U.S. Stone, Sand, And Gravel Miners... Celeste Monforton, DrPH 2009

Program Director

George Gray


Apply Program Guide