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Environmental Health Sciences

Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology


What Do Environmental and Occupational Epidemiologists Do?

Environmental and occupational epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans, and seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through community education and health policy.

Scientists in this field investigate air pollution, asthma, and cardiovascular disease; gene-environment interactions and the toxicity of metals and pesticides in children, workers, and other adults; the effects pesticides have on humans; male reproductive toxicity; arsenic and bladder cancer; dioxin pollution and exposure; occupation and other risk factors for cancer of the lung, breast, upper aerodigestive tract, liver, and pancreas; climate change and heat-associated morbidity; environmental influences on patterns of infectious disease; exposures to phthalates; asbestos, and much more.

The Program

As a leading teaching and research institution, the University of Michigan offers a dynamic, well-funded and exciting atmosphere for graduate training in occupational and environmental epidemiology. We offer a curricula leading to a Master of Public Health (MPH) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.

The goals of the Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology (OEE) concentration are to provide graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will allow them to study the effects of environmental and occupational exposures on human health, using the best available techniques in environmental epidemiology. The OEE concentration, a cross-disciplinary program, is designed to accommodate the interests of students in either the Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) or the Epidemiology (EPID) Departments.

Students who complete the MPH degree with a concentration in OEE will have basic and advanced training in epidemiology; the understanding and skills needed to assess the effects of environmental/occupational agents on health; expertise in exposure measurements, including the ability to interpret sampling results; and an understanding of the strengths and limitations of different environmental epidemiologic study designs.

Students who complete the PhD degree with OEE as a major discipline will have, in addition, in-depth knowledge of state-of-the art methods for exposure assessment including the application of biological markers; in-depth understanding of biological pathways linking environmental exposures with disease; and the design and execution of sophisticated cross-sectional and longitudinal epidemiologic studies. The PhD thesis will be conducted under close supervision and will take advantage of any of the many cutting-edge studies being conducted by OEE faculty.

Students who are interested in global health issues may take advantage of the department's curriculum and faculty strength in Global Environmental Health.


People around the world are increasingly conscious of and concerned about the growing challenges to occupational and environmental health. These factors create a wide variety of career opportunities with competitive salaries in occupational and environmental epidemiology. Graduates of our OEE programs find positions in federal, state, and local government, as well as private industry. Opportunities are also available for career advancement to executive levels for those with organizational and administrative skills and a record of scientific achievement.

Who Should Apply?

Individuals with a background in biological, chemical, statistical, environmental, or epidemiological sciences who have a desire to improve the understanding of how occupational and environmental agents impact human health.

Financial Support

Qualified students can receive financial support through grants from the Rackham Graduate School or the School of Public Health, traineeships from the NIOSH ERC, various scholarships, and/or research assistantships from faculty research grants. Every effort is made to provide financial aid for admitted students.

How Do I Apply?

MPH applicants apply to our program through SOPHAS (School of Public Health Application Service), a centralized application service for public health.

MS and PhD applicants apply to our program through the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School.

More Information

For answers to any questions that you might have, please contact:

Sue Crawford
Student Administrative Coordinator

Marie O'Neill
Associate Professor