Graduate Academic Programs

Doctoral Degree Program (PhD)

Environmental Health Major

Description of Program

The mission of this program is to educate the next generation of environmental health professionals to understand the influences and effects of environmental factors on human health and disease with a focus on rural communities; to prepare health scientists to conduct and share through scholarly pursuits the results of original lab-based research; to emphasize the scientific, technological, policy, and management skills needed to address environmental, toxicological and occupational health concerns; and to advance the discipline of environmental health. The goal of this doctoral program is to educate future professionals who are highly qualified as independent investigators, academicians, and practitioners of environmental health.

Degree Requirements

Courses required for this degree are prescribed by an advisory committee for each individual student. Degree requirements include:

  • A minimum of 90 graduate-level credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required.
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
  • A minimum grade of C is required in each course used to satisfy the major, minor, and elective requirements of the course prescription.
  • A minimum grade of B is required in each course used to satisfy the research skills requirement of the course prescription.

Common Prerequisite

All Ph.D. degree students in the School of Public Health-Bloomington are required to complete a basic, graduate-level statistics course, such as SPH-Q 501, Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.). This course, or its equivalent from another Indiana University department or from another university, must be completed as a prerequisite to major course work. Credit for SPH-Q 501 or any statistics course at the same basic level, may not count toward a Ph.D. degree student’s 90 required credits. However, a student's faculty advisory committee may waive this prerequisite requirement upon successful completion of a more advanced, graduate-level, statistics course at Indiana University, or at another institution. At the discretion of the student's faculty advisory committee, credit for statistics courses, which are more advanced than SPH-Q 501, may count in the 90 required credits for the degree.

Common Requirements

All Ph.D. degree students in the School of Public Health-Bloomington are required to complete the following three requirements:

  • SPH-X 590, Introduction to Research in Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation (3 cr.), or its equivalent. (Note: This course must be completed as a prerequisite to major course work.)
  • SPH-X 505, Principles and Foundations of Public Health (3 cr.), or its equivalent. (Note: Students who have previously completed an MPH degree from an accredited school of public health, or accredited public health program, are exempt from this requirement. Students who are completing requirements concurrently for an M.P.H. degree and a Ph.D. degree are also exempt from this requirement.)
  • SPH-E 651, Epidemiology (3 cr.), or its equivalent.

Common Course Prescription Components

The elements of the course prescription for all Ph.D. degree students in the School of Public Health are arranged as follows:

  • Research Skills (9 credits minimum). A minimum of 9 credits of coursework providing required skills to conduct research, such as advanced courses in biostatistics. These credits count toward the 90 credits for the degree. Courses counted in this area require a minimum grade of B.
  • Major Area of Study (30 credits minimum). A minimum of 30 credits in the major area of study. These courses must be taken within the School of Public Health-Bloomington. Courses transferred from previous graduate work outside the School of Public Health-Bloomington, if within the major area of study, can be used to fulfill the major areas of study requirement, contingent upon the committee’s approval.
  • Minor Area of Study (9 credits minimum). A minimum of 9 credits of coursework in a designated area outside the department in which the major is being pursued.
  • Electives (0 to 28 credits). Elective credits may range between 0 and 28. An optional second minor may be included in the elective credit hours.
  • Dissertation (20 – 30 credits)
Special Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to enhance skills by participating in research activities independently or in collaboration with faculty members and other graduate students. Assistantships are available through our school for students admitted to doctoral degree programs on the Bloomington campus, and many doctoral students also gain experience in teaching various health topics in different settings. Students are strongly encouraged to publish research results in professional peer-reviewed journals and present their research at local and national conferences. Fellowships and scholarships are available to highly qualified students.


Graduates with PhDs in environmental health pursue careers in all sectors of the workforce including academia, government and industry. Professionals trained in environmental health, including those in toxicology, occupational health and risk assessment, will see job opportunities grow over the next several decades due to an increase in retirements and challenges in the chemical, physical, built and social environments. The increasing societal trend towards improving human health has led analysts to conclude that the job market for PhD-level individuals in environmental health and toxicology will continue to grow.

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