Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree focuses on research and prepares you for a career in university-level teaching and research. A dissertation with original research is part of this degree.

The department offers degrees in the following programs of study:

Environmental Health Sciences PhD

Research  areas of interest include a broad range of environmental and occupational areas.  Many topics include aspects of  Environment, Sustainability, and Heathexposure science-industrial Hygiene and occupational and environmental epidemiology

Toxicology PhD

The field of toxicology identifies environmental and therapeutic exposures of concern, reveals mechanisms by which chemical toxicants create pathological dysfunction or disease, identifies interventions for the prevention of adverse effects, conducts safety assessments, and estimates acceptable levels of exposure for the protection of the public health.

There are three major stages in the program to be completed prior to getting the PhD degree:
  • Coursework and successful completion of the Doctoral Qualifying Examination (DQE)
  • Completion of the research proposal and successful passing of the Preliminary Examination
  • Conduct dissertation and research and successfully complete and defend the research

Typically, a PhD program takes a total of 4-5 years to complete . The time frame depends largely on how soon advancement to candidacy is achieved. Once advancement to candidacy has occurred (usually after two years), students typically develop and defend their research prospectus the following year and complete their research effort (including its written presentation) in 2-3 years.

Please view the Environmental Health Sciences PhD guidelines (pdf) for a very detailed description of the requirements and process.

Degree Requirements

School of Public Health Core Requirements

BIOSTAT 521 Applied Biostatistics, 3 credits
PUBHLTH 512 Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health, 3 credits
Foundations in Public Health (online modules)

Environmental Health Sciences Core Requirements

Select one of the following:
        BIOSTAT 502 Application of Regression Analysis to Public Health Studies, 3 credits
        BIOSTAT 522 Biostatistical Analysis for Health-Related Studies, 3 credits
        EHS 655 Human Exposure Analysis, 3 credits
        EHS 674 Environmental and Health Risk Modeling, 3 credits
Select one of the following:
         EHS 576 Biological Agents, 2 credits
         EHS 652 Evaluation of Chemical Hazards, 3 credits
         EHS 658 Physical Hazards, 2 credits
EHS 510 Responsible Conduct in Research and Scholarship (RCRS), 1 credit
EHS 602 Essentials of Toxicology, 3 credits
EHS 603 Occupational and Environmental Diseases, 3 credit
EHS 899 Advanced Research (1-6)
EHS 869 Doctoral Seminar in Occupational and Environmental Health, 1 credit

School of Public Health Core Requirements

BIOSTAT 521 Applied Biostatistics, 3 credits
PUBHLTH 512 Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health, 3 credits
Foundations in Public Health (online modules)

Toxicology Core Requirements

Select one of the following:
      BIOSTAT 502 Application of Regression Analysis to Public Health Studies, 3 credits
      BIOSTAT 522 Biostatistical Analysis for Health-Related Studies, 3 credits
      EHS 655 Human Exposure Analysis, 3 credits
      EHS 674 Environmental and Health Risk Modeling, 3 credits
Select one of the following:
       EHS 603, Occupational and Environmental Diseases, 3 credits
       EHS 652, Evaluation of Chemical Hazards
BIOLCHEM 515, Introduction to Biochemistry, 3 credits (can be exempted with previous coursework)
EHS 510 Responsible Conduct in Research and Scholarship, 1 credit
EHS 602, Essentials of Toxicology, 3 credits
EHS 616, Toxicologic Pathology, 2 credits
EHS 628, Toxicology Research Analysis and Presentation, 1 credit
EHS 697, Readings , 1 credit
EHS 698, Research, 6 credits
EHS 699, Master's Thesis, 1 credit
EHS 717, Toxicological Pathology Laboratory, 1 credit
Select two of the following:
      CDB 530, Cell Biology, 3 credits
      HUMGEN 541, Molecular Genetics, 3 credits
      BIOLCHEM 550, Protein Structure and Function, 3 credits

Typical undergraduate majors among applicants admitted to the PhD program in recent years include environmental sciences/studies, public health, industrial hygiene, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering. However, prospective students with other undergraduate majors are welcome to apply. 

Students who are applying for the PhD programs must meet the following prerequisite courses listed below. Some deficiencies may be made up after admission to the program. Courses taken to fulfill basic deficiencies do not count toward fulfillment of the degree's course requirements.

  • General Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Physics
  • Calculus

 The Department is committed to providing financial aid packages to all students admitted to the department. Financial support is available from a variety of mechanism
  • Traineeships from the NIOSH ERC and ETEP
  • Grants/Scholarships from the Department, Rackham Graduate School and the School of Public Health
  • Teaching assistantships from EHS or other SPH departments
  • Research assistantships from faculty research grants

Ready to Apply?

Applications for the PhD program should be submitted through the Rackham Graduate School online application

DEADLINES

PhD in Environmental Health Sciences or Toxicology: December 1

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

  • Academic Statement of Purpose: Your SOP should be a concise, well-written statement about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan's graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. The SOP should be 1-3 pages in length and include your name, name of the graduate program, and your UM ID (if known).
  • Personal Statement: How have your background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational, citizenship status, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan? The personal statement should be 500 words and include your name, name of the graduate program, and your UM ID (if known).
  • Quantitative Statement: In an effort to get a better understanding of your abilities, we require a statement for all graduate-level applicants as part of the application process. This short essay (maximum 500 words) asks you to summarize the strength of your analytical and quantitative skills by addressing the following (if applicable).
    • List each college-level course you have taken that evaluates mathematical or quantitative skills (e.g. algebra, calculus, differential equations, statistics, physics, or courses that require data analysis using statistical software, etc.). For each course, indicate the name of the course, academic year (e.g. freshman, sophomore, etc.), and grade received. Example: Calculus I, freshman year, B+
    • Discuss specific details and examples of relevant research, work, volunteer, or professional experiences that involved analytical and/or quantitative skills and tasks. You may also incorporate instances where you worked with data.
    • If you have experience with quantitative or qualitative data, describe how you used it to solve a complex problem and include how you communicated your findings. Note: please include measurable outcomes that demonstrate your results.
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 letters of recommendation signed and on letterhead. Electronic submission is highly preferred method which will require a valid email address of your recommenders. 
  • CV/Resume: Upload your CV/Resume that describes your education, work experience, research publications, teaching experience, professional/volunteer activities, community engagement, honors, and awards. 
  • Faculty Members: Please list individual department faculty members with whom you would like to work if admitted into the program. Applicants are required to list a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 faculty members on the application. 
  • Transcripts:
    • Submitting transcript/academic records is a two-step process.
      • Upload an electronic version of your official transcript/academic record for each bachelor’s, master’s, professional, or doctoral degree earned or in progress through your ApplyWeb application account.
      • If you are recommended admission, you must submit an official or attested transcript/academic record for each institution attended. See Rackham’s detailed instructions on how to submit transcripts/academic records to the Rackham Graduate School.
    • All applicants should report their Grade Point Average (GPA) on page 5 of the online application. The GPA should be reported using a standard U.S. four point scale.  Applicants who attended an institution outside the United States should follow the instructions to convert their international average grade point to a U.S. four point GPA (see "How to Convert Grades to a U.S. GPA" here).
    • Applicants who attended or are attending a Non-U.S. Institution: Review Required Academic Credentials from Non-U.S. Institutions for transcript/academic record requirements by country or region. 
  • Standardized Tests:
    • Standardized test scores are not required for applicants applying to any master’s- or doctoral-level program for the academic year starting fall 2022. If you have taken a standardized test such as the GRE or MCAT and want to submit your scores, please note that they will not be used as an official metric during application review. Scores may be used by some programs after the admissions decision is made to inform future use of standardized test scores in the admissions process. Reach out to admissions staff at sph-inquiries@umich.edu if you have questions.
    • To submit standardized test scores, follow the instructions below.
      • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): All programs accept general official GRE scores taken within the last five years. Test scores should be submitted electronically to institution code 1954 and/or 1839; there is no need to enter a department code. 
      • Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT): MCAT scores may be submitted electronically from AAMC to UM. No code is used.
    • English Language Test Scores: The TOEFL or IELTS is required for applicants whose native language is not English. Below are the current scores required for international applicants. 
      • 100 iBT TOEFL
      • 6.5 IELTS 

APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS

The Admissions Committee will review the application and notify students regarding their admission. For answers to any questions that you might have, please visit other pages on this website and/or contact Rachel Yarbrough, Graduate Program Coordinator at ryarbro@umich.edu