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Environmental Health - PhD


The mission of the Environmental Health PhD program is to prepare researchers to make significant contributions to the field of environmental health by developing innovative research, including new data, new analyses and new insights.  Graduates will have in-depth knowledge and experience at the intersection of quantitative and biological sciences and their applications.

Our students will work closely with faculty mentors to develop advanced skills and knowledge and to contribute new knowledge to the scholarly literature. Our faculty members have expertise in a wide range of areas, including:

  • epidemiologic and biostatistical theories and methods
  • environmental public health risk sciences
  • general and specialized concepts and methodologies for scientific research in environmental health including laboratory research in reproductive health, environmental microbiology and antibiotic resistance and molecular toxicology
  • environmental health disparity issues related to environmental justice, occupational exposures and global inequities in exposures and susceptibilities.

Our graduates will have the opportunity to work in inter-professional settings, such as in collaboration with quantitative, environmental, physical and social scientists. We emphasize compliance with ethical research practice and responsible conduct of research, working with communities who are most impacted by the research, conduct of research and data analysis, and communication of research findings to scientific and lay audiences.


The PhD program will accept students every year. Applications will be accepted beginning in August each year and are due no later than December 1st. 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.

A Master's degree in Public Health, sustainability, or environmental sciences is required. Prior studies in the natural and physical sciences, public health, social sciences, mathematics, or engineering programs are also a particularly good fit, but any major is acceptable as long as students show requisite knowledge and skills for the degree as judged by the EOH Admissions Committee. 

GRE scores are required.  All applications are submitted through (Please see for Milken Institute School of Public Health information and policies.) 

Among factors we will evaluate in admissions, in the context of the focus area a student indicates, are performance in relevant courses including mathematics, statistics, environmental sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics, biochemistry, risk assessment, environmental communications, and microbiology. In addition, we will thoroughly examine the research background of our applicants and give preference to students who have worked on research teams/laboratories or otherwise demonstrated research interest and aptitude. Letters of recommendation and essays will be important sources of insight. We will review all information and conduct interviews to identify outstanding candidates who have research interests that overlap with those of members of our faculty.


Required PhD Foundation Courses

PUBH 6080* | Pathways to Public Health (0 credits)
PUBH 6421 | Responsible Conduct of Research (1 credit)
PUBH 6862 | Applied Linear Regression Analysis for Public Health (3 credits)
PUBH 6247 | Epi Methods I: Design of Health Studies (3 credits)
PUBH 8099 | PhD Seminar: Cross Cutting Concepts in Public Health (1 credit)

*Find FAQs on the Advising page here.


Required Core Courses

PUBH 8411 | Advanced Topics – Principles of Environmental Health Risk Science – Doctoral Seminar (3 credits)
PUBH 6144 + 8144 | EH Data Development & Modeling + Advanced EH Data Development Modeling (2 +1 credits)
PUBH 6121 | Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology (3 credits)
PUBH 6123 | Toxicology: Applications for Public Health (3 credits)
PUBH 6126 | Assessment and Control of Environmental Hazards (3 credits)



Tailoring Courses

Please see the program guide for examples.  

Tailoring (Elective) credits may come from any graduate-level PUBH course offered through either the Department of Enviornmental & Occuplational Health (EOH) or other SPH departments.  Your plan for selecting elective coursework should be reviewed in advance with your advisor.



Course Descriptions

Comps and Dissertation


All PhD 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 PhD program.



PUBH 8435 | PHD Dissertation Proposal Development (2 credits)
Prerequisites: Pass Comprehensive Exam, Approval of Program Director, & one page abstract

PUBH 8999 | Dissertation Research (6-12 credits)


Course Descriptions


Non-Academic Requirements

Graduate Teaching Assistant Program (GTAP)

All Environmental Health PhD students must enroll in UNIV 0250- Graduate Teaching Assistant Certification, administered by the University. Successful completion of this Certification is a pre-requisite/co-requisite to taking on a role as a Teaching Assistant, which is a requirement of the program. The University does not allow students to be Teaching Assistants unless this certification is completed. The 1-credit, online certification is paid for by GW, however the 1-credit does not count toward the credit requirements for the PhD.

Professional Enhancement

Students in the PhD 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.  This online training module  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.

Past Program Guides

Past Program Guides

Students in the PhD in Environmental Health program should refer to the guide from the year in which they matriculated into the program. For the current program guide, click the "PROGRAM GUIDE" button on the right-hand side of the page.

PHD, Environmental Health 2021-2022

PHD, Environmental Health 2020-2021

To view sample schedules and learn about the core competencies developed within the program, see the degree program guide.



Our faculty at the Milken Institute School of Public Health are involved in a national profile of strategic research and serve as mentors to students across departments based on areas of specialized interest. 

View a complete list of faculty in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.