Curriculum Information – Environmental Health MS (PDF)

Students of the MS program complete a mix of core courses and electives that provides a solid foundation in environmental health and prepares highly skilled public health practitioners. You will have the flexibility to pursue a general environmental health degree, or tailor the electives to explore specific areas of interest in environmental health.

Students complete at least 30 credits as follows:

  • Public health core requirements (16-19 credits)
  • Elective courses (14-17 credits)

Areas of Emphasis

Students must take at least 10 credits of Environmental Health coursework in consultation with their advisor. Students may choose to focus their electives in one of the following areas of emphasis:

Examine the interactions of pollutants with air, water, and soil, and their exposures to humans and wildlife. The curriculum emphasizes the processes that control chemical behavior, transport, and fate as a function of environmental factors and chemical properties.

Current laboratory research focuses on understanding the processes that govern organic toxicant behavior in the aquatic environment. Fundamental research in the laboratory is also conducted to develop and test hypotheses of chemical behavior in the “real world.”

Advantages of studying environmental chemistry at UMN:

  • Facilities: You will have access to the vast intellectual and technical resources available at the U of M, including state-of-the-art Environmental Chemistry laboratory.
  • Location: Minnesota offers an abundance of natural resources and lakes, rivers, and streams for aquatic research.
  • Collaborative: Multidisciplinary research opportunities exist across the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, and state agencies.
  • Research leaders:  The environmental chemistry laboratory participates in a large multi-agency effort that is developing a model for use in the Great Lakes that describes toxic chemical behavior. Additional projects concentrate on the relative roles of atmospheric versus non-atmospheric sources of chemicals to the Great Lakes and the state of Minnesota, to aid in the management and regulation of the ecosystem.

Examine the emergence of air borne, food borne, vector borne and sexually transmitted infectious diseases, and what interventions reduce their prevalence.

The environment and changing conditions in the environment can have a great impact on the distribution and occurrence of infectious diseases. Global climate change is a growing concern regarding the potential expansion of tropical vector borne diseases. In evaluating the chain of infection, the environment may play a key role in reservoir maintenance, as well as a route of transmission through food, water, and air. From basic principles of infection control to predicting the impact of emerging infections, this area of emphasis  explores the environmental factors associated with infectious diseases.

Examine the leading causes of foodborne illness, their epidemiology, sources and routes of transmission and strategies for prevention and control across food systems. Learn how surveillance for foodborne illnesses is conducted and how results of surveillance and outbreak investigations are used to improve food safety.

Identify factors that cause diseases and injuries within the environment and workplace, in order to promote disease prevention. This area of study strives to understand the causal impact of the environment and occupations on human health. The study of environmental and occupational epidemiology requires knowledge of both disease and exposure. The curriculum emphasizes both, comprising epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, basic sciences, exposure measurement, toxicology, biology, and environmental health. Students may focus on one of three components: exposures related to cancer, exposures related to injury, or epidemiologic methods.

Graduates will have the knowledge and skills needed to identify the causes of occupational related diseases, and how to improve the overall health of working populations. Learn more.

Objectives of this area of emphasis:

  • Provide an academic curriculum to develop a strong methodological foundation for epidemiologic research in working populations, including an understanding of modern epidemiologic theory, applied epidemiologic methods, and advanced statistical methods for analysis.
  • Provide a framework to integrate the fundamentals of the methods of epidemiology, both theoretical and applied, to the study of working populations and the work environment and to incorporate environmental systems concepts such as the exposome and metabolome into epidemiologic research.
  • Provide opportunities to develop scientific research capability, including hypothesis development, study design, data collection and analysis, interpretation, and communication.
  • Develop critical thinking skills and an understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of occupational and environmental epidemiology and the importance of incorporating other disciplines into their work.
  • Create a sustainable and diverse training program with mechanisms for continuous improvement.

Learn methods to identify, measure, and simulate human exposure and dose resulting from single and multiple environmental exposures. You will receive training on various aspects of exposure analysis such as measurements and modeling; chemical, biological, and physical principles required to analyze human exposure from single and multiple routes; mechanisms of exposure; development of molecular biomarkers; and genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic metrics that assess exposure in the context of health effects.

Graduates will have the skills to characterize exposures to various kinds of environmental agents, about health effects associated with these exposures, and about methods for controlling such exposures in the workplace or general environment.

Advantages of studying exposure sciences at UMN:

  • Well-rounded curriculum: Undergo training in theory, and to state-of-the-art techniques for air and biological monitoring, for characterizing aerosols, for mathematical modeling in uncertain environments, for designing control systems, and for science-based risk assessment.
  • Flexible:  Customize your graduate coursework to match your background and interests.
  • Personalized attention: By working with your EnHS adviser, you will be exposed to the fundamental elements of scientific critical thinking; how to develop an idea into a research hypothesis, how to test the hypothesis with appropriate methods, how to make scientific inferences, and how to publish the results of your work.

The Toxicology program teaches students to think analytically about the biochemical mechanisms of toxicity, how toxicology is used to protect human health through laboratory research, and the development of sound environmental policy and regulations.

Students with a strong science background who are interested in laboratory research or environmental regulation and policy are encouraged to enter this field. The curriculum emphasizes the application of basic sciences to toxicology and disease prediction and prevention. Learn more.

Advantages of studying regulatory toxicology at UMN:

  • Comprehensive curriculum: Courses range from traditional regulatory toxicology to cutting edge approaches to studying mechanisms of toxicity and their application in the development of biomarkers of exposure and disease, and in shaping new strategies for policy and regulation.
  • Dynamic community: The Twin Cities is home to an unusually rich community of toxicologists who can provide professional mentorship, introductions to a wide variety of career options, and information about the changing needs for research in and applications of toxicology.
  • Public health setting:  Coursework emphasizes disease prevention with the integration of toxicology and epidemiology.

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