Environmental Health Sciences

The PhD degree in Environmental Health Science is designed to train professionals for advanced basic research, teaching, and leadership positions in the area of environmental health sciences. A small student-to-faculty ratio, along with dedicated, world-class faculty, helps to provide ample opportunity for PhD candidates to work closely with our faculty members on their multidisciplinary collaborative research projects.

The Department is also home to three research centers: the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, the Columbia Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan (CCEHNM) and the Superfund Research Program. Doctoral students work closely with faculty on research that includes laboratory-based and applied investigations to better understand molecular and pathological mechanisms by which environmental chemicals and physical agents affect human health.

The faculty's collaborative research spans the Columbia campus and extends beyond the university. Several investigators conduct projects abroad, in countries including Bangladesh, China, and Kenya providing many opportunities for students to be involved in international research. Our research is broad in scope, ranging from molecular epidemiology to genetics to neurotoxicology.

Full funding is available for all PhD candidates.  In addition to research, teaching is considered an important aspect of the training of doctoral students. Thus, all PhD candidates serve as Teaching Fellows; as such they collaborate annually with a faculty member on a course taught to Master's of Public Health students.  Candidates obtain research experience by fulfilling up to three rotations with members of the training faculty.

Applicants can select a focus in one of three areas: 1) molecular toxicology – including a new concentration in neurotoxicology, 2) molecular epidemiology, and 3) climate and health.

Admission Requirements

The Department looks for applicants who are committed to public health research and practice. Thus, past research and/or other work experience relevant to environmental health sciences are viewed favorably.  We value diversity in our matriculating students in terms of gender, race and ethnic background and areas of interest or expertise.

Course work and a strong background in biology, biochemistry, environmental sciences or other life sciences as well as mathematics (e.g. calculus) and statistics are strongly recommended. Strong oral and written communication skills are also recommended. 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one official transcript showing courses and grades for each school attended, a Statement of Academic Purpose and three letters of evaluation from academic sources. All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

Deadline for Fall AdmissionDecember 1
Deadline for Spring AdmissionNo spring admission
Writing SampleYes*
GRE GeneralYes
GRE SubjectNo

* The writing sample should be a paper of which the applicant is an author, or co-author, focused on a health-related topic. If the applicant does not have a publication, the writing sample can be a paper written from an undergraduate or graduate science course.

Approved Dissertation Sponsors

See list of faculty.

Learn More

View competencies, course requirements, sample schedules and more in our Academics section. 


Nina Kulacki