Environmental health is a vital field that focuses on how the environment affects human health and well-being. Environmental health professionals work to prevent, identify, and mitigate environmental hazards that can harm people, animals, and ecosystems. They also promote environmental sustainability and justice and advocate for policies and practices that protect public health.
If you want to pursue a career in environmental health, you may wonder what kind of education and training you need. In this article, we will provide you with a list of environmental health programs in public health that can help you achieve your goals. We will also explain what these programs entail, what you can learn from them, and what career opportunities they can open for you.
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What is Environmental Health?
Environmental health is the branch of public health that deals with the interactions between humans and their physical, chemical, biological, and social environments. Environmental health professionals aim to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of environmental hazards on human health and well-being. Environmental hazards can include natural or man-made agents, such as pathogens, chemicals, radiation, noise, heat, or stress. Environmental health also promotes healthy environments, supporting human development and quality of life.
Why Study Environmental Health?
Studying environmental health can equip you with the knowledge and skills to address some of the most pressing global challenges of our time, such as climate change, pandemic preparedness, food security, and environmental justice. By learning how to assess, monitor, and control environmental exposures and risks, you can contribute to protecting and improving public health at local, national, and international levels. You can also develop epidemiology, biostatistics, risk assessment, policy analysis, communication, and advocacy competencies.
What are Environmental Health Programs in Public Health?
Environmental health programs in public health are academic degrees or certificates that prepare students to understand and address the complex interactions between the environment and human health. These programs typically cover topics such as:
- Environmental epidemiology
- Environmental Toxicology
- Environmental policy and management
- Environmental risk assessment
- Environmental justice and ethics
- Climate change and health
- Food safety and security
- Water quality and sanitation
- Air pollution and respiratory health
- Vector-borne and zoonotic diseases
- Occupational health and safety
- Disaster preparedness and response
- Depending on the level and focus of the program, students may also learn skills such as:
- Conducting environmental health research
- Analyzing environmental health data
- Developing and evaluating environmental health interventions
- Communicating environmental health information
- Collaborating with multidisciplinary teams
- Applying environmental health principles to practice
What are the Career Options for Environmental Health Graduates?
As an environmental health graduate, you can pursue various career paths in different sectors and settings. Some examples are:
- Environmental health specialist: You can work for government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or private companies to conduct inspections, investigations, and evaluations of environmental health conditions and compliance with regulations.
- Environmental health consultant: You can provide expert advice and guidance to clients on managing environmental health issues and projects.
- Environmental health researcher: You can conduct scientific studies and experiments to advance the knowledge and understanding of environmental health problems and solutions.
- Environmental health educator: You can design and deliver educational programs and materials to raise awareness and inform the public about environmental health topics and practices.
- Environmental health manager: You can oversee and coordinate the planning, implementation, and evaluation of environmental health programs and policies.
- Environmental health advocate: You can engage in lobbying, campaigning, or activism to influence decision-makers and stakeholders on environmental health matters.
What Types of Environmental Health Programs in Public Health are Available?
Different types of environmental health programs in public health vary in duration, requirements, curriculum, and outcomes. Some of the most common ones are:
Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental or Public Health with an Environmental Health Concentration
This four-year undergraduate program provides students with a broad foundation in public health and environmental health sciences. It prepares students for entry-level environmental health positions or further graduate study.
Master’s Degree in Environmental Health or Public Health with an Environmental Health Concentration
This two-year graduate program builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in the bachelor’s degree. It allows students to specialize in a specific area of environmental health, such as toxicology, food systems, or health security. It prepares students for advanced positions in environmental health or for doctoral study.
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Doctoral Degree in Environmental or Public Health with an Environmental Health Concentration
This four- to six-year graduate program trains students to conduct original and independent research in environmental health. It requires students to complete coursework, pass comprehensive exams, and write and defend a dissertation. It prepares students for academic or leadership positions in environmental health.
Certificate in Environmental Health or Public Health with an Environmental Focus
This short-term program can range from a few months to a year. It provides students with specialized knowledge and skills in a specific topic of environmental health, such as water quality, climate change, or occupational safety. It can be taken as a stand-alone program or as part of a degree program.
Where Can You Find EH Programs in Public Health?
Many institutions offer environmental health programs in public health around the world. Some of the top-ranked ones, according to U.S. News & World Report, are:
- Johns Hopkins University (USA)
- Harvard University (USA)
- University of California-Berkeley (USA)
- London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (U.K.U.K.)
- University of Washington (USA)
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (USA)
- Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Switzerland)
- Karolinska Institute (Sweden)
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (USA)
- Imperial College London (U.K.U.K.)
You can also find more information about environmental health programs in public health from the following sources:
- PublicHealthDegrees.org: This website provides comprehensive guides on public health degrees and specializations, including environmental health. It also features a searchable database of accredited public health programs in the U.SU.S.
- CDC’s Environmental Public Health Performance Standards (EnvPHPS): This website offers resources and tools to help state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies assess and improve their environmental public health systems and services. It also includes links to various environmental public health training opportunities.
- National Environmental Public Health Internship Program (NEPHIP): This website connects undergraduate and graduate students interested in environmental public health with local or state agencies that offer paid internships. It also provides mentorship and networking opportunities for students and agencies.
How do you Apply for Environmental Health Programs in Public Health?
The application process for environmental health programs in public health may vary depending on the specific program requirements and deadlines. However, some common steps that you may need to follow include:
- Researching different programs and finding the ones that match your interests, goals, qualifications, budget, and availability.
- Preparing your application materials such as transcripts, test scores (if required), resume or CV, personal statement or essay, letters of recommendation, portfolio or work samples (if required), etc.
- Submitting your application online or by mail before the deadline.
- Follow up with the program coordinators or admission officers if you have questions or concerns about your application status.
- Preparing for interviews or exams (if required) by reviewing your application materials, researching the program and faculty members, practicing common questions or topics, etc.
- Accepting or declining your admission offer once you receive it.
Why Should You Consider Enrolling in an EH Program in Public Health?
Enrolling in an environmental health program in public health can be rewarding for many reasons. Some of them are:
You can learn about the current and emerging environmental health issues and challenges affecting millions of people worldwide.
- You can develop the knowledge and skills to prevent, identify, and mitigate environmental health hazards and promote environmental health solutions.
- You can contribute to advancing environmental health science, policy, and practice through research, education, and advocacy.
- You can join a diverse and dynamic community of environmental health professionals who share your passion and vision for a healthier, more sustainable world.
- You can pursue various career opportunities in different sectors and settings, such as government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, private companies, or international organizations.
The Bottom Line
Environmental health is a vital field that focuses on how the environment affects human health and well-being. Environmental health programs in public health are academic degrees or certificates that prepare students to understand and address the complex interactions between the environment and human health. Different types of environmental health programs in public health vary in duration, requirements, curriculum, and outcomes.
Many institutions offer environmental health programs in public health around the world. Enrolling in an environmental health program in public health can be a rewarding choice for many reasons, such as learning about the current and emerging environmental health issues and challenges, developing the knowledge and skills to prevent, identify, and mitigate environmental health hazards, and promote environmental health solutions, contributing to the advancement of environmental health science, policy, and practice, joining a diverse and dynamic community of environmental health professionals, and pursuing a variety of career opportunities in different sectors and settings.
We hope this article has given you some helpful information and tips on finding, applying for, and succeeding in environmental health programs in public health. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. We would love to hear from you!