Environmental Health Sciences

For detailed information about our PhD program, including advising, program requirements, and dissertation, please consult the Department of Environmental Health Sciences Doctoral Student Handbook.


The PhD degree in Environmental Health Sciences prepares students for advanced research, teaching, and leadership environmental health positions in academia, not-for-profit, government, and the private sector.

Doctoral students develop competencies in environmental health risk assessment and policy, and the physiological, cellular, and molecular mechanisms of environmental agents on human disease and health. The Department offers four PhD tracks: 1) Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 2) Environmental Epigenetics and Molecular Mechanisms, 3) Environmental Prevention and Mitigation, or 4) Climate and Health.

Upon completion of the PhD, graduates will be able to identify important public health issues related to environmental health sciences and use advanced scientific methods and techniques to conduct independent, scholarly research to solve problems related to how environmental exposures affect human health.  ​



The PhD degree program utilizes classroom instruction, seminars, journal club qualifying exams and, most importantly, research to train students to become independent researchers in environmental health sciences.

Upon satisfactory completion of the PhD degree in EHS, graduates will have achieved competencies enabling them to:

  • Conceive, develop, and test hypotheses by conducting original research through basic science methodologies leading to advances in basic knowledge in environmental health sciences;
  • Communicate effectively in writing and presenting the results of research findings to the public and other professionals:
    • Compose a research article for submission to a peer-reviewed, scientific journal;
    • Critically review and analyze professional literature and research findings;
    • Report research findings at professional meetings; and
    • Summarize research findings for a non-technical audience;
  • Describe the underlying molecular mechanisms of epidemiological results, environmental exposure, and the effects of radiation exposure;
  • Identify significant gaps in the current basic knowledge in environmental health sciences and develop approaches for filling those gaps;
  • Develop a cohesive research grant proposal in a standardized format to address significant environmental health studies issues, and which incorporates a feasible and appropriate budget;
  • Establish, organize, and operate an independent applied research program in environmental health sciences.
  • Provide leadership in research and management to contribute to the effectiveness and quality of environmental health science policies and programs; and
    • Teach graduate students and health professionals in an academic setting:
    • Plan seminar and lab projects;
    • Demonstrate skills in conveying complex information to students effectively;
    • Assist students facing challenges in the material; and
    • Grade papers and exams uniformly using graduate-level educational standards.


ninakulacki [at] columbia.edu (Nina Kulacki)