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PhD in Environmental Health Sciences

Offering Department: 
Program Description: 

The mission of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences is to develop and transmit knowledge about the links between health and the environment, and to educate scientists and public health leaders who can design science-based policies to address current and future environmental health challenges. The PhD in Environmental Health Sciences is an advanced research degree that emphasizes depth of knowledge and original research skills. Students may choose to concentrate on any field of environmental health sciences. Such areas of academic focus may include: air quality; climate change; environmental biology; environmental chemistry; built environment; environmental health practice and policy; industrial hygiene; toxicology; or water quality. Interdisciplinary research is encouraged.

Program Requirements

The doctoral program encompasses the following major elements:

  • Course work in the major field
  • Written qualifying examinations, including proposals related to the dissertation
  • Oral Qualifying Examination on the proposal for the dissertation (advancement to candidacy)
  • Dissertation
  • Oral defense of the dissertation 

Course Requirements

Students select a course of study upon consultation with Guidance Committee. Proficiency in biostatistics/statistics is required. Each specific required course can be waived if the equivalent has been successfully taken previously with a grade of B or better.

EHS required courses include:

  • EHS C200C: Foundations of Environmental Health Sciences
  • EHS 296: Research Topics in EHS required for each quarter in residence)
  • EHS 411: Environmental Health Sciences Seminar: Taken once a year for two years 
  • One full course (4 units or more at the 100 or 200 level) in Epidemiology 
  • Students who have not previously completed a CEPH-accredited degree (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree) are required to complete Public Health 201: Contemporary Health Issues.
  • EHS 414A: Research Methods and Effective Communication
  • EHS 414B: Research Methods and Effective Communication 

Written Doctoral Qualifying Exam:

The aim of the Written Doctoral Qualifying Examination is to verify that the candidate has state-of-the-art knowledge about the general areas of the major field (intended research and its relationships to environmental health sciences and to public health). The student must complete the minimum course requirements to the satisfaction of the Guidance Committee before taking the Examination. 

Oral Doctoral Qualifying Exam:

On successful completion of the written Qualifying Examination, the doctoral committee is named to administer the Oral Qualifying Examination. The exam focuses on the proposal for the dissertation. It also includes the following as appropriate: theory and background research relevant to the proposed research beyond that reviewed in the proposal; methodological and analytic considerations pertinent to the proposed research, irrespective of whether these issues have been covered in the proposal; and feasibility. The proposed research must make an original contribution to the field. 


After passing the University Oral Qualifying Examination, students may be advanced to candidacy and commence work on a dissertation in the principal field of study. The doctoral committee supervises the progress toward completion of the dissertation.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation):

A final oral examination is required of all candidates.

Time To Degree

Normative time from initial enrollment to advancement to candidacy is six to nine quarters (two to three calendar years), and from advancement to candidacy to filing of dissertation is six to nine quarters (two to three calendar years).


Desired Qualifications

In addition to meeting the University’s minimum requirements, students should have a bachelor's (or master's) degree in public health, environmental health, life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, environmental science, or a related field.  

Applicants with non-science majors who meet the following course work requirements will be considered for admission:

Course Work

  • 1 university-level course or equivalent in Calculus, Linear Algebra, or Statistics
  • 1 university-level course in Chemistry or equivalent
  • 1 university-level course in Biology or equivalent

Students who do not have the prerequisites at the time of application may take equivalent courses at UCLA in their first year.

A doctoral (research) adviser in the department, subsequent to filing the application for admission, must accept the applicant. 

Admissions Process

Applicants are typically only admitted in the Fall.  Applicants who wish to be considered for all financial aid considerations, should have their applications, letters, transcripts and official GRE scores here at the School of Public Health by December 1 of the year preceding the desired entrance year.

The application process has three steps. You must:

  1. Submit an on-line application and pay the application fee at SOPHAS,
  2. Submit an online application and pay the application fee at UCLA Graduate Admissions, and
  3. Mail required academic documents and test scores to SOPHAS and to UCLA's School of Public Health.

For complete application instructions and the list of required materials, review UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Admission Application Check List and Submission Instructions.

As we receive many more qualified applicants for the program than there are available spaces, meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission to the program. 

Tuition and Fees

For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.

Please see FSPH Financial Opportunities page for information on awards, scholarships, training opportunities, employment, summer internship funding, and need-based aid. Please note that opportunities listed under 'Summer Internship Funding' are only applicable to MPH students.


Graduates of the department have pursued careers in both the private and public sectors as researchers, educators, managers, policymakers, and practitioners.

Faculty in this Department

For a list of faculty in the department of Environmental Health Sciences, please click here.

To search all School of Public Health faculty members by name, department or area of expertise, click here.

Helpful Links

Who to Contact for More Information

For more information or questions, please contact Susana Luis at or 310.206.1619.


*This information is intended as an overview, and should be used as a guide only. Requirements, course offerings and other elements may change, and this overview may not list all details of the program. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the registrar’s office.

* Admission requirements listed are departmental requirements, and are in addition to the University's minimum requirements. Many programs receive more applicants than can be admitted, so meeting the minimum requirements for admission does not ensure admission. Every effort is made to ensure minimum admissions requirements are up to date - for the most up-to-date information on the University's minimum requirements, please visit the UCLA Graduate Division.

** Fees are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. For the most up to date fees and more information on fee breakdown, visit the registrar's office.