Environmental Health Sciences

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Academic degree programs in the Graduate Group in Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) are recommended for individuals with clear research orientations who wish to complete work of an interdisciplinary nature. Applicants may apply to the MS program, the PhD program, or to the joint MS/PhD program. (Continuation into the PhD program is contingent upon successful completion of the MS requirements or the Graduate Professional MPH degree requirements). EHS is administered within the Division of Environmental Health of the School of Public Health. Although students receive their academic degrees from the graduate group (under the jurisdiction of the Graduate Division of the UC Berkeley campus), students are also affiliated with and apply to the School of Public Health.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from the British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Application to the MS or MS/PhD programs requires an undergraduate degree in one of the natural sciences, commonly biology, chemistry, engineering, or environmental sciences. Admission to the doctoral program generally requires a masters degree in similar fields or in environmental health. In all cases an important aspect of the application for admission is the personal statement indicating an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of the field of environmental health, the applicant’s future aspirations in the field, and the relevance of their previous academic background and/or their research or professional experience.

Master's Degree Requirements


Environmental Health Sciences - Required Courses
PB HLTH 270Introduction to Environmental Health Sciences3
PB HLTH 270AExposure Assessment and Control3
PB HLTH 260APrinciples of Infectious Diseases4
or NUSCTX 110 Toxicology
CY PLAN 204CAnalytic and Research Methods for Planners: Introduction to GIS and City Planning4
Biostatistics and Epidemiology - Required Courses
PB HLTH 142Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology and Public Health4
or PB HLTH 141 Introduction to Biostatistics
PB HLTH 250AEpidemiologic Methods I 13-4
or PB HLTH 250B Epidemiologic Methods II
PB HLTH 145Statistical Analysis of Continuous Outcome Data4
PB HLTH 241Statistical Analysis of Categorical Data4
PB HLTH 245Introduction to Multivariate Statistics4
Students should take a minimum of 3 courses in either one of the following categories:
  1. International Development
  2. Environmental Health Policy
International Development
PUB POL C253International Economic Development Policy3
ECON C270AMicroeconomics of Development3
ECON C275AEconomic Demography3
CY PLAN 115Urbanization in Developing Countries4
DEV STD C100Course Not Available4
ENE,RES 275Water and Development4
ESPM 169International Environmental Politics4
ESPM 260Governance of Global Production3
PB HLTH 213AFamily Planning, Population Change, and Health3
PB HLTH 226DGlobal Health Economics3
Environmental Health Policy
PB HLTH 290Health Issues Seminars1-4
PB HLTH 271EScience and Policy for Environment and Health3
PB HLTH 220CHealth Risk Assessment3
PB HLTH 235Impact Evaluation for Health Professionals3
PB HLTH 299Independent Research3-6
ENE,RES 102Quantitative Aspects of Global Environmental Problems4
GHE Project Seminar (3-6 units to be taken during the last semester or during the summer)
Elective Courses

Remaining units to be chosen from upper division or graduate courses in the above areas and from courses in a range of closely related fields, including but not limited to the following:

PB HLTH 292Seminars for M.P.H. Students1-4
PB HLTH 212AInternational Maternal and Child Health2
PB HLTH 267BCharacterization of Airborne Contaminants4
CIV ENG 111Environmental Engineering3
PB HLTH C160Environmental Health and Development4
PB HLTH 219EIntroduction to Qualitative Methods in Public Health Research3
PB HLTH 205Program Planning and Needs Assessment4
PB HLTH 260BPrinciples of Infectious Diseases4
PB HLTH 206DFood and Nutrition Programs and Policies in Developing Countries3
PB HLTH 271GHealth Implications of Climate Change3
Courses for Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies
PB HLTH 211Health and Human Rights3
PB HLTH 252CIntervention Trial Design3
CY PLAN 220The Urban and Regional Economy3
ESPM 290Special Topics in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (P009)1-4
PB HLTH 253BEpidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases3
PB HLTH 271CDrinking Water and Health3
  • No internship/fieldwork/practicum but field work common
  • Capstone/Thesis (Plan I)
  • Capstone/Comprehensive Exam (Plan II)
  • Capstone/Master's Project (Plan II)

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Normative Time to Advancement: 4 Semesters

The normal time from entry into the doctoral program to advancement to candidacy is four semesters although it is generally somewhat less for students who complete a masters degree in Environmental Health at Berkeley.

Total Normative Time: 12 Semesters

Time to Advancement


Although there are no formal course requirements for the doctoral degree students are expected to be well-versed in the material covered in the following courses at the time of the qualifying examination.

PB HLTH 241Statistical Analysis of Categorical Data 14
PB HLTH 220CHealth Risk Assessment3
PB HLTH 250BEpidemiologic Methods II 14
PB HLTH 270Introduction to Environmental Health Sciences3
PB HLTH 270AExposure Assessment and Control3
NUSCTX 110Toxicology4


A preliminary examination including a research prospectus must be successfully completed prior to the qualifying examination.

Time in Candidacy


Dissertation required.

Faculty and Instructors


+ John R. Balmes, Professor in Residence. Effects of exposure to outdoor air pollution on respiratory and cardiovascular health, immune and glucose, dysregulation, and obesity in children and adults, Effects of exposure to household air pollution (from combustion of biomass fuels for domestic cooking) on respiratory and cardiovascular health in children and adults, Effects of early-life exposure to pesticides on respiratory health later in the life course, Effects of arsenic in drinking water on respiratory health, Interactive health effects of exposures to air pollution and psychosocial stress.
Research Profile

Andres Cardenas, Assistant Professor-in-Residence. Application of epidemiological and molecular approaches to evaluate the contribution of environmental exposures in the development of disease; prenatal influence of exposure to multiple metals, air pollution, endocrine disrupting compounds, diet and maternal medication use on the epigenome of newborns and children; role of environmental exposures in utero, epigenetic modifications, and their role in the developmental origins of health and disease.
Research Profile

Ellen Eisen, Professor in Residence. Exposure-response models for occupational health studies, Healthy worker survivor bias, Occupational respiratory disease.
Research Profile

Jay Graham, Assistant Professor-in-Residence. Environmental determinants of biological hazards including antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and zoonotic enteric pathogens; applied research examining how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of well-recognized environmental health interventions, such as access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene.
Research Profile

S. Katharine Hammond, Professor. Evaluation of air pollution exposures and their effects on children, including preterm birth, birth defects, respiratory and cardiovascular health, immune and glucose dysregulation, and obesity, Development of new methods to evaluate exposures to outdoor and indoor air pollutants, secondhand smoke and occupational chemicals, Neurologic and reproductive effects of hexane on workers, Exposure and health effects of secondhand smoke and international efforts for tobacco control, Measurement of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the associated health effects from outdoor, air pollution (China and US) and also biomass burning indoors (Nepal, China, Guatemala, Nigeria).
Research Profile

Catherine Koshland, Professor. Air toxics and combustion, In situ diagnostics for combustion, air toxics and nanoparticles, Health impacts of nanoparticles, Energy, technology and social and cultural impacts, Environmental health regulation and policy.
Research Profile

Justin Remais, Associate Professor. Environmental dynamics of infectious diseases, Global environmental change and health, Methodological issues in the projection of infectious disease risks in response to environmental change Optimizing infectious disease surveillance in low- and middle-income countries.
Research Profile

Kirk R. Smith, Professor. Relationships among environmental quality, health, resource use, development, and policy in developing countries, Health effects of air pollution exposures in developing countries, particularly health effects in women and children from household air pollution due to household fuels.
Research Profile

Martyn T. Smith, Professor. Biomarkers of Carcinogenesis, Diet as a Risk Factor for Cancer, Biomarkers of Benzene Exposure and Genotoxicity, Childhood Leukemia and Environmental Exposures.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Stephen Rappaport, Professor Emeritus. Development and application of biomarkers of exposure to toxic chemicals, including benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Assessment of long-term chemical exposures for purposes of controlling workplace hazards and investigating exposure-response relationships.

Robert C. Spear, Professor Emeritus. Mathematical modeling of toxicological and infectious processes, Statistical issues in exposure assessment.

Contact Information

Graduate Group in Environmental Health Sciences

School of Public Health

2121 Berkeley Way #5302

Phone: 510-643-5160

Visit Group Website

Graduate Group Chair

Ellen Eisen


Coordinator-EHS Programs

Norma Firestone

Phone: 510-643-5160

Fax: 510-643-5160


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