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.


The DrPH program accepts students every other year.  The next matriculating cohort will begin in Fall 2020. Applications will be accepted beginning August 2019 and are due no later than December 1, 2019.  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 is required. 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.  



DrPH Core Requirements

PUBH 8401 | Foundations in Public Health Leadership and Practice (3 credits)
PUBH 8402 | Leadership and Decision Making: A Skills Based Approach (2 credits)
PUBH 8403 | Leadership in Public Health Practice and Policy (2 credits)
PUBH 8416 | Study Design and Evaluation Methods (3 credits)
PUBH 8417 | Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis (3 credits)
PUBH 8418 | Applied Statistical Analysis (3 credits)
PUBH 8419 | Measurement in Public Health and Health Services Research (3 credits)
PUBH 8420 | Advanced Analysis and Dissemination (2 credits)


Course Descriptions

Environmental and Occupational Health Requirements

PUBH 8411 | Advanced Topics - Principles of Environmental Health Research Science (Doctoral Seminar) (3 credits)
PUBH 8412 | Advanced Topics - Environmental and Occupational Health Research and Practice (3 credits)


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


Credit per course varies. Most students will take 2 credits Instructional Leadership.

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 (2 credits)
Prerequisites: Pass Comprehensive Exam, Approval of Program Director, & one page abstract

PUBH 8423 | Dissertation Research (6-9 credits)


Non-Academic Requirements

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Program (GTAP)

All PhD, SBS 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. 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 48-credit minimum required for the DrPH degree.

  • 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.

Program Guides

Past Program Guides

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

**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

I am currently a fifth year DrPH Candidate in the Environmental and Occupational Health Department. My research and professional interests are in the areas of risk communication and the intersection of environmental health science and policy, particularly in the realm of climate change. My dissertation research focuses on assessing public responses to climate change communications through both qualitative and quantitative methods. I'm specifically interested in the impacts of narrative engagement and storytelling on audience responses to climate communications.

Since joining the DrPH at GWSPH I've also sought out work opportunities to develop professional experience. I served as an intern at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and coordinated STEM education policy efforts at the Michigan Department of Technology Management and Budget. Currently, I am an ICF contractor to and Health Program Coordinator at the U.S. Global Change Research program where I support and coordinate federal interagency climate change research and the development of the National Climate Assessment.

Prior to the DrPH program, I held internships at a local non-profit and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. I earned my B.S., M.P.H. and a certificate in Risk Science and Human Health at the University of Michigan.



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.


Ans Irfan

Ans Irfan

Department: Environmental and Occupational Health

I am a physician by training but fell in love with public health during the final year of medical school. Ever since, I am a kid in a candy shop when it comes to public health. I had done some public health-related work before without knowing it was public health. Before starting the DrPH, I have been involved in several public health research, practice, and consulting projects in all-things-public-health, for the past decade or so. I also teach public health. I will continue to work as I pursue this DrPH as a public health practitioner, researcher, and a lecturer.

I teach public health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health as a Professorial Lecturer. Moreover, I am engaged in several public health consulting and research projects in a variety of fields.

Growing up in a rural part of Pakistan, I first hand observed environmental injustices and health disparities which became more pronounced down the socioeconomic ladder. Observing upstream systematic issues such as religious and sexual minorities’ oppression, and workers’ rights violations leading to poor health outcomes led to my eventual career focus on health equity, particularly within environmental and occupational health.

Improving the conditions where folks live, work, and play so they can enjoy an equitable health, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I am particularly interested in occupational health as a social determinant of health.

I enjoy the wilderness, hiking, reading, movies, philosophy, politics, food, the ironies and the Oxford Commas. The most important man in my life is my overweight Golden Retriever - Buster. Almost all of my time outside of school and work is spent on public health-related volunteer work with the national and international organizations such as the American Public Health Association and the UN.


Danny Malashock jpg

Danny Malashock

Department: Environmental and Occupational Health

Danny is a commissioned Environmental Health Officer (EHO) in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps. Currently, he is assigned to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP). As an environmental health scientist working on children’s environmental health (CEH), Danny supports EPA's assessments of children’s environmental health exposures and risks, and promotes the integration of CEH in regulatory and science policy actions. Previously, Danny was stationed within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Health Affairs, where he supported DHS efforts related to national and global health security, specifically focused on chemical and biological defense and pandemic and emerging infectious diseases. In his role as a Public Health Service Officer, Danny is occasionally called upon to respond to public health emergencies. In November 2017, Danny deployed with a team of Commissioned Corps officers to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria.

Danny has always hoped that his career would somehow benefit others and his community. He is specifically interested in the field of environmental health, because it brings together his interests in environmental protection and public health. According to Danny, the "field is constantly evolving as we better understand the wide range of environmental threats at home, outdoors, and in the workplace, and consequently with more understanding comes a need for public health interventions that measurably change and improve the lives of others." Danny's interests span many environmental health topics, including air quality, climate change, and chemical exposures and risk assessment. In particular, he hopes to continue to explore the implications of air pollution and climate change, from local to global scales, and further research the unique risk and vulnerability to children associated with exposure to a variety of airborne contaminants.

When Danny is not working or in school, he enjoys spending time with friends, going to concerts, painting, and cooking.



Adrienne Phifer

BS, University of Georgia
MS, Cornell University

In addition to pursuing a DrPH, Adrienne is an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton where she works with clients at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to optimize laboratory safety programs. Adrienne has also supported clients at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement a Center-wide quality management system, maintain readiness for external CLIA audits, and enhance training programs for stakeholders under the Global Health Security Agenda.

At GW, 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. Her research interests include assessment of endocrine disrupting chemicals and emerging methods for chemical risk assessments. Adrienne 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.


Natalie Pritchett

Department: Environmental and Occupational Health

I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I focused my studies on Global Health and Research Methods. Since I left Chapel Hill I have completed a Peace Corps service in Nicaragua, worked as an Oncology research assistant in Rwanda for Partners in Health, and most recently moved back to the US to work at the National Cancer Institute.

My work these days is focused on analyzing environmental exposures that contribute to esophageal cancer in high risk areas. I am also the secretariat for the African Esophageal Cancer Consortium (AfrECC).

During my Master’s program I worked with Dr. Douglas Morgan and traveled for my summer internship to Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras, a region of high gastric cancer incidence. I got to work on several projects there, including setting the groundwork for a Gates funded comparative effectiveness study of H. pylori (a bacterial infection which causes stomach cancer) eradication medications. That research experience became the basis for my Master’s project, which sparked my interest in cancer research and international field work.

I am originally from North Carolina, and my grandfather was a tobacco farmer. I think it is really coming full circle that now I am studying indicators of smoke exposure and the associated risk for developing cancer.

I believe there are great possibilities for future cancer prevention efforts if we can better understand the role of the environment in cancer etiology.

I did my first sprint triathlon in Cuba last year, and now I am training for an Olympic distance race. I have also been doing some top rope rock climbing and hope to learn how to lead climb.


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.



Veronica Tinney

Department: Environmental and Occupational Health

Prior to beginning my DrPH at GWU, I was a Research Associate at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. I will also be starting a position with ICF International, working on chemical safety and security, and plan on working throughout my DrPH.

I was also previously a Recommendations Specialist with the US Chemical Safety Board. My first position in public health was as a Project Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment. In my subsequent roles, I have tried to approach my positions in a way that ensures the consideration of vulnerable populations, such as children, to environmental hazards.

I’m interested in several areas of environmental health, including reproductive and children’s environmental health, air pollution and climate change, and chemical safety.

I am excited about environmental health because there is still so much research that needs to be done and environmental health is an area that needs scientists that understand health research, but can also communicate research findings to policy makers.

I enjoy running and hiking. I am involved in Washington, DC’s local running store, Pacers Running, and compete with their racing team.


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