General Program Information
Graduate School Contact:
Alondra Robbins; firstname.lastname@example.org; (423) 439-4302
Kurt Maier, Ph.D., Chair and Graduate Coordinator
55 Lamb Hall
Ying Li; Kurt J. Maier; Tricia A. Metts; Phillip R. Scheuerman; Kenneth Silver.
The purpose of the Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. Program is to promote the environmental health sciences, and identify, prevent, and manage disease and injury. This purpose will be fulfilled through dedication to higher (doctoral level) education and training, distinction in research, innovation in policy development, and improvement of health strategies. The doctoral program will prepare professionals in the environmental health sciences to:
- reduce the burden of environmentally associated diseases by defining:1) how environmental exposures affect human health; 2) how individuals differ in their susceptibility to these exposures; and 3) how these susceptibilities change over the life span.
- develop and implement effective strategies and programs for the maintenance of health and the prevention and management of disease and injury.
- serve as faculty and instructors for academic programs in environmental health.
- develop effective environmental health policies.
- design and conduct quality research that contributes to improvements in environmental health.
- collaborate and work with communities for the promotion of health and the prevention and control of disease.
- meet the increasing need for trained professionals in environmental health, including those who can analyze and address environmental health issues.
- investigate environmental conditions that may affect a community’s health status, and provide technical assistance and leadership to address the concerns of communities.
- provide skills and knowledge in the public health core area of environmental health.
Program Admission Requirements
The Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. Program Committee will review applications for admission to the program. Admission decisions are made on the basis of an overall evaluation of the applicant’s ability to complete advanced study in the Environmental Health Sciences. The applicant must have earned an appropriate M.S. or more advanced research-based (thesis) degree in appropriate field of study or a MPH or more advanced degree in a research-based (thesis) option from an accredited institution. Exceptions are made for outstanding students holding appropriate baccalaureate degrees. Admission is based on the GPA, GRE scores, quality of reference letters, strength of background (coursework, college attended and work experience), and available space in the program. The program can grant unconditional admission with provision(s) to candidates not meeting certain minimum requirements. For example, work experience and letters of reference can be used to justify provisions for students not meeting one of the minimum requirements (e.g., GRE score or GPA below what the program considers acceptable). However, work experience cannot be substituted for one of the requirements. All students must submit an official transcript, a statement of purpose, GRE scores, three letters of reference, and current curriculum vitae (CV) or resume before their application will be considered.
All applicants must submit a statement of purpose explaining their motivation for the proposed course of study. The statement is a concise, well-written essay about your background, research interests and experiences, career goals, and how the graduate program will help you meet your career and education objectives. The Admission Committee evaluates not only the academic preparation of candidates, but also the degree to which the candidate’s goals are appropriate for the program. Students that enter the program without clearly defined research interests will determine them during the first academic year through consultation with the assigned academic advisor, and the use of research group rotations (ENVH 6900).
Students are encouraged to interact with and identify a research advisor prior to applying to the program. Students who have not selected a research advisor prior to admission may become familiar with the variety of research opportunities available through a flexible program of research group rotations and must enroll in ENVH 6900 during the first semester. After selecting a research advisor and topic, students receive individualized training.
Note: Applicants who wish to enter the Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences should make initial application through SOPHAS.
Program of Study
The course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree will be specifically designed to allow the student to achieve his or her stated interests and goals. It will take into consideration the student’s prior training and experiences, and the specific background required for demonstration of competence in an area of Environmental Health Science. Students are encouraged to take an active role in developing their program of study. A minimum of 72 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree, or 36 to 42 semester hours for students entering with a master’s degree, is required. The minimum semester hours required for students entering with a master’s degree will be determined by the Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. Program Committee based on the student’s academic record and achievements. Additional hours beyond the minimum may be needed for completion of the degree program.
Total Hours Required: 72 Credit Hours
An academic advisor will be appointed at the time of admission by the Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. Program Committee. The academic advisor will assist the student in planning the program of study through the first year, qualifying examination, and approval of the dissertation research proposal. Each student will select a research advisor within the first year. The research advisor will assume primary responsibility for the student’s academic and research mentorship. Prior to the beginning of the second year of study, students will form a graduate advisory committee. The committee will consist of at least five members of the graduate faculty, with three members from the Department of Environmental Health. The student’s research advisor will serve as chair of the committee and must hold full or associate graduate faculty status. Other members of the committee will be selected by the student and research advisor and will be approved by the Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. Program Committee and the Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies. The committee will be responsible for overseeing the student’s overall academic program, including the program of study, qualifying examination, dissertation research proposal, advancement to candidacy, and preparation and defense of the dissertation. The advisory committee should meet formally with the student at least once each year to review the research and academic progress.
The Qualifying Examination
A qualifying examination will be administered by the student’s advisory committee, which is chaired by the academic advisor. The examination will be given prior to the beginning of the third year of study. The examination will be designed by the advisory committee to evaluate the student’s potential to complete advanced study in the Environmental Health Sciences. Successful completion of the examination will demonstrate that the student has obtained a breadth of knowledge in the environmental health sciences, using the information obtained in the core and elective courses. The student will also demonstrate ability and expertise in their selected area of research. The examination will have written component followed by an oral component.
The student with the advice and approval of the research advisor and graduate advisory committee will select the dissertation topic. The student will prepare and defend a research proposal based on the selected dissertation project. The academic advisor, research advisor, and student’s advisory committee will review and approve the dissertation research proposal prior to the beginning of the third year of study. The proposal should demonstrate the student’s ability to develop and conduct doctoral level research.
The format of the research proposal will be similar in style to a research grant application. The topic will be selected by the student in collaboration with the research advisor and approved in advance by the committee. Students will be required to formally submit the research proposal to an appropriate funding agency (if a request for proposals is open).
The student will orally defend the dissertation proposal.
Advancement to Candidacy
The student will be advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the qualifying examination and proposal defense.
All doctoral candidates must complete a dissertation as a major requirement for the Ph.D. The dissertation will be based on original scholarly research suitable for publication in nationally and internationally recognized professional journals. The candidate with the advice and approval of the research advisor and graduate advisory committee will select the dissertation topic. After the dissertation research has been conducted, analyzed, written, and accepted by the committee, it must be prepared in the proper form and submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for approval at least one week prior to graduation. Students must submit dissertations in one of the prescribed electronic formats.
The final evaluation will be oral and will focus on a critical analysis and defense of the student’s dissertation. A student must be formally admitted to doctoral candidacy for one full semester before being eligible to defend the dissertation. Students will not be allowed to complete a program during the same semester in which they are formally admitted to doctoral candidacy. The defense of the dissertation will not be scheduled until the student’s advisory committee accepts the dissertation. However, this approval and the final oral examination must take place by the deadline in the university calendar. The School of Graduate Studies will publicly announce each dissertation defense. It will be an open defense, and all interested persons will be allowed to attend.
The evaluation of an advanced graduate student is the function and responsibility of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The latter has full authority for program planning and the evaluation of all requirements, provided that all university and programmatic requirements have been met. The Ph.D. degree is not earned or awarded solely on completion of the specific degree requirements, but rather on the student’s scientific and professional achievements and contributions to the Environmental Health Sciences. These include, but are not limited to, creativity, the ability to integrate new scientific advances into research, the ability to conduct quality research and defend its interpretation, and the ability to develop an independent research program.
Change in Program of Study
The Dean of Graduate Studies and Environmental Health Sciences Ph.D. Program Coordinator must approve changes in the planned program of study. Forms for program changes are available in the Graduate Studies office.
The Ph.D. is a research-based degree. Full time residency is required after the first year until completion of the degree program.
Credit received more than seven years prior to the awarding of the degree will not be accepted as part of the degree requirements.