Global Environmental Health

Global environmental health (GEH) is an emerging, exciting, diverse, and competitive field.  The goal of this new program is to train future leaders and practitioners in the field of global environmental health.  It responds to a growing interest in global health issues by students applying to graduate schools, and builds on the considerable expertise in global environmental health within the Environmental Health Sciences department.

Graduates of the program will gain valuable knowledge and skills for addressing global environmental health disparities through coursework for concentrated learning within the discipline of environmental (and occupational) health; opportunity for experiential learning through internships in resource-poor countries; exposure to the large and diversified research and learning opportunities in global health in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the School of Public Health and the university as a whole.

Why Global Environmental Health?

Interest in global health has grown dramatically among public health students over the past decade. Amongst students enrolling for the EHS MPH, there is an interest in focusing on global environmental health issues. More broadly, prospective students are actively seeking public health programs offering a Global Health track.

Graduates of the GEH focus area will find employment opportunities in international consulting firms or corporations, government agencies and with professional associations, or national and international nongovernmental groups. Their skills will be invaluable within agencies or organizations involved in planning and/or delivering environmental interventions programs and health care, advocacy groups, countries, United Nations' agencies, global health initiatives (e.g. the Global Fund to Fight Malaria) or with donors such as governmental agencies, foundations, trusts, corporations, etc.

What Is the Difference between the GEH Program and the SPH Global Health Certificate?

All students in EHS including those in the GEH focus area have the option of also completing the SPH Global Health Certificate, which is a multidisciplinary public health training focused on the health problems of lower- and middle-income countries.

Admission to the EHS Global Environmental Health focus area will be selected by the Admission Committee based on academic standing and expressed interest in the application statements. EHS global health students will receive supplementary support for their internships and specialist advising from the EHS global health faculty. All students can take the EHS global health courses as electives regardless of whether they have been formally admitted to the focus area.

The SPH certificate is a broadly based coursework offering which is awarded at graduation to students who have completed the necessary courses. While the current Certificate in Global Health provides some perspectives on global environmental problems, it does not provide students with a robust environmental health science perspective on global health issues. The GEH focus area meets a desire by a growing number of students who wish to have more in-depth competency in global environment and human health.

How do I apply?

You should note in your application that you want to be considered for the GEH focus area. Explain, in your application statement, why you would be a good candidate for a challenging international career track and what your contributions could be.

Competencies and Course Requirements

Students in any one of the specific MPH sub-plans or tailored EHS may wish to enroll if they take two additional EHS courses, out of three offered, geared to global health careers and skills. The philosophy is that the sub-plans provide valuable general skills, but that international work requires additional understanding of the major environmental forces that influence the health of individuals and populations around the world. Students in the GEH track should have a basic understanding of the complexity of global environmental health issues, especially in low-resource settings and be able to identify sources of information concerning global environmental health topics. They should be able to articulate the role of environmental health scientists as advocates for using environmental interventions to improve the health of individuals and populations in their communities and around the world. The additional competencies will be achieved through a selected number of focused courses in combination with coursework within the different sub-plans and opportunity for experiential learning through internship in resource-poor countries.

Students in the GEH focus area will need to take EHS690 and two of the other three courses listed below. Taking the EHS global environmental health sequence does not preclude taking the SPH global health certificate courses, and the SPH Certificate is a particularly good fit with students interested in public health work in developing countries. The GEH courses do not have graduate prerequisites and are open to other EHS students.


Upon admission, GEH program students are assigned to EHS faculty with projects overseas according to interests. Many EHS faculty are involved in research and mentoring students overseas. In addition, GEH students may work with other faculty within or outside EHS and the School of Public Health to develop their research interests and internship projects.

More Information

For answers to questions about the GEH Program, please contact

Sue Crawford
Student Administrative Coordinator

Tim Dvonch, PhD
Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences

Internship Researching Chronic Arsenic Poisoning Yields Great Lessons

MPH student Kate Helmick spent part of summer 2014 in Thailand visiting families and gathering biological samples for a research project involving chronic exposure to arsenic. This public health adventure was her field experience, an integral part of the EHS MPH program. The University Record published a story about Helmick in the December 14, 2014 issue. The story is also available online, including video of Helmick in Thailand discussing her experiences. Read the Full Story