Doctor of Philosophy


For more information about applying to the PhD program, kindly visit the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.

The public health doctoral program with a concentration in EHS is directed toward producing graduates who will contribute new knowledge in understanding the impact of environmental stressors - physical, chemical, and biological - on human health and comfort. Students are skilled in research, assessment, and evaluation of the impact of environmental stressors; they identify potentially adverse environmental agents, assess their exposures, determine their impact on health, and estimate the consequent risk. Students can develop expertise and conduct independent research in a variety of environmental health-related areas including epidemiology, toxicology, occupational health, respiratory physiology, thermal physiology, exposure assessment, psychophysics, air quality, and risk assessment. Programs of study are planned on an individual basis to provide students with the specialized knowledge required for their selected research area as well as to provide breadth in related areas of epidemiology and public health. Courses are chosen from those available in the department and elsewhere in the University. Students entering the doctoral program typically have a strong background in undergraduate science and frequently have a master's degree in public health. (A master’s degree is not required to apply for this program.)

Core Competencies PhD

Upon receiving a PhD degree in Public Health, the student will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate public health and related literature.
  • Discuss and critically evaluate the broad literature of the student’s discipline.
  • Review in depth the background and research advances in the student’s specific research area.
  • Apply at an advanced level the research methodology of the student’s broader discipline and, in particular, the student’s specific research area.
  • Present research to colleagues and professionals on a national and international level at professional meetings.
  • Teach a course in the student’s broad discipline.
  • Explain the principles of research ethics and apply these principles to specific research projects.
  • Design and conduct an advanced, original research project in the student’s discipline.
  • Generate data to create publishable manuscripts that represent important contributions to the literature. 

Degree Requirements

PDF Version

Download the PDF version of the PhD course requirements.

  • BIS 505a, Introduction to Statistical Thinking I 
  • BIS 505b, Introduction to Statistical Thinking II 
  • CDE 508a, Principles of Epidemiology I 
  • EHS 502b, Physiology for Public Health 
  • EHS 503b, Introduction to Toxicology 
  • EHS 507a, Environmental Epidemiology 
  • EHS 508b, Assessing Exposures to Environmental Stressors 
  • EPH 600b, Research Ethics and Responsibilities
    (this course does not count towards 13 course requirements)

Students planning to specialize in Environmental Epidemiology should select the following courses in addition to the required courses:

  • BIS 623a, Applied Regression Analysis 
  • BIS 625a, Categorical Data Analysis 
  • CDE 516b, Principles of Epidemiology II 
  • CDE 617b, Developing a Research Proposal 
  • EHS 545b, Molecular Epidemiology 
  • EHS 580b, Environmental Hormones and Human Health 

Students who select specialization in an area other than Environmental Epidemiology, together with the faculty advisor will identify the specialization area and determine the selection of courses required. These course may come from other graduate programs in the department, as well as from programs in other parts of the University.

Students supported by training grants may be subject to additional requirements and should discuss this with the Principal Investigator of that grant to determine whether there are grant-specific requirements.

rev. 7.17.2012

Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying examinations in this division test the student’s knowledge in three areas—a specialty and two other areas based upon the student’s specialty. The majority of students select Environmental Epidemiology as their area of specialization, and then have Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Biostatistics as the additional areas covered in the comprehensive examinations. Specialization in other basic biomedical sciences or departments of the University is also possible.

Research Requirements

During the second term of the first year and the first term of the second year, students work with their academic adviser to participate in ongoing research activities, thereby gaining an opportunity to learn hands-on techniques in subject areas within environmental health sciences.

The Dissertation

The dissertation for the Ph.D. degree must make an original contribution to the field.


Research projects in this department cover a broad range of environmental health research in areas of epidemiology, toxicology, occupational health, respiratory physiology, thermal physiology, exposure assessment, psychophysics, air quality, and risk assessment.

Current Departmental Research Projects

  • Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors in the Development and Severity of Asthma.
  • Respiratory Effects of Various Air Pollutants in Infants and Mothers.
  • Organochlorine Compounds, Genetic Polymorphisms and the Risk of Breast Cancer.
  • Environmental Exposure and Risk of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, Hodgkins Disease and Multiple Myeloma.
  • The Toxicology of Various Metals and Particulates in both Humans and Marine Animals.
  • The Role of DNA Repair in Chemical Induced Carcinogenesis.
  • Environmental Determinants of Physical Activity and Metabolic Reserve in Aging.
  • Multidisciplinary Epidemiological, Clinical and Laboratory Studies on the Pathogenesis of Isocyanate Asthma.

Funding Opportunities

PhD students are generally funded by YSPH fellowships during the first two years of the program. Faculty research grants provide support for PhD students once they begin their dissertation research.