MPH Program

The Master of Public Health (MPH) program in Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) is designed to prepare students for employment in organizations concerned with environmental and occupational exposures to chemical and physical agents. Graduates pursue careers in academia; chemical and pharmaceutical industries; federal, state, and local environmental protection agencies; health departments; hospitals; and public interest groups, among others.

Students Entering by Fall 2011

Because the field of environmental health sciences is so broad, students who start the program by Fall 2011 enter in one of four specialty tracks:

Each of the four specialty tracks offers students a specific set of competencies. Students will also achieve both Department-wide (see below) as well as School-wide MPH competencies. 

MPH Programs Launching Fall 2012

The School recently launched a full review of the MPH program, consulting with students, alumni, potential employers, and our faculty.  This led to our restructured 2-year Columbia MPH program and a new one-year Accelerated MPH program—both debuting in 2012. The new programs offer integrated interdisciplinary school-wide curriculums.

The Department of Environmental Health Sciences will only offer an MPH through the 2-year Columbia MPH program. Columbia MPH students will also select and apply for a Certificate which provides a secondary area of expertise in addition to students’ departmental focus. EHS-based certificates include: Climate and Health; Environmental Health Policy; Molecular Epidemiology; and Toxicology.

Individual certificates may have their own prerequisites. Visit the Prospective Student site for more information about the Columbia MPH and the Certificate programs.  

Degree Requirements

The Department’s MPH degree requirements for Fall 2011 candidates include:

  1. An Applications course (1 credit), P6301 that should be taken in the first semester and is offered only in the fall. (1 credit)
  2. A Practicum (Internship) experience. Approximately 150-300 hours of work experience is required, as per the Mailman School of Public Health guidelines. The information gained from this experience must be documented in a Practicum Form (PDF) and submitted to the Academic Associate Director and the Office of Student Affairs. The Global Health and the Policy Tracks have specific practicum requirements.
  3. A Capstone requirement (4 credits), consisting of either a) a Topics course P9300 (4 credits), b) Master’s Essay courses P9361 (2 credits) and P9362 (2 credits), or c) Critical Literature Review P9360 (4 credits). The Global Health Track has a capstone requirement specific to that track while the Health Policy Track has a combined Capstone/Practicum requirement.

Students must complete a minimum of 45 credits for the MPH degree plus any required courses as specified in their EHS Track. After required courses are completed, electives may be taken within our Department, other Mailman School departments, or other graduate schools throughout Columbia University (Cross Registration Form (PDF).

Department-wide MPH Competencies

Upon satisfactory completion of the MPH degree in EHS, graduates will be able to

  • Identify important chemical, physical, and other exposures in the environment that can affect the health of human populations;
  • Analyze how environmental contaminants (chemical, physical, and other exposures) interact with biological systems, including mechanisms of their adverse effects on humans;
  • Describe genetic and physiologic factors that affect susceptibility to adverse health outcomes following exposure to environmental contaminants;
  • Critically evaluate the current literature in environmental health sciences including identifying gaps and uncertainties in the knowledge base and in the methodological approaches to solving environmental health problems;
  • Evaluate the risk of environmental exposures to human populations through the incorporation of exposure, toxicologic, and other relevant data into risk assessment methodology, including hazard identification, exposure assessment, dose-response evaluation, and risk characterization;
  • Specify approaches for assessing, preventing, and controlling hazards that pose risks to human health and safety;
  • Identify the use of biomarkers in evaluating environmental exposures;
  • Communicate effectively in writing and orally a knowledge of environmental hazards to other professionals and the public, including effective risk communication; and
  • Recommend appropriate interventions to control environmental risks and evaluate environmental control programs.