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Environmental Health Sciences



What Do Toxicologists Do?

Toxicologists identify environmental and therapeutic exposures of concern, reveal mechanisms by which chemical toxicants initiate pathological dysfunction or disease, identify interventions for the prevention of adverse effects, conduct safety assessments, and estimate acceptable levels of exposure for the protection of the public health. Toxicologists contribute their scientific expertise to society by conducting research to promote better understanding of mechanisms of toxicity and teaching the fundamentals of the science of toxicology.

Toxicologists are employed by academic, government, nonprofit, and private institutions where they are instrumental in formulating environmental and occupational safety standards; overseeing regulatory compliance; communicating information and discussing health implications of toxicant exposures with the public.

Toxicologists also assist with product safety evaluations, conduct research to identify health hazards, and investigate efficacy of interventions for toxicant exposures. In many ways toxicology is the true translational science because it allows those who work in the field to extend their expertise and contributions for improvement of health outcomes from molecular mechanistic research to the medical clinic and beyond to each individual.

The Program

The University of Michigan (UM) has the oldest pre-doctoral training program in toxicology in the US. As a leading teaching and research institution UM offers a dynamic and well-funded program of study in an exciting atmosphere for graduate training in toxicology. We offer a curricula leading to MPH, MS, and PhD degrees. A broad selection of elective courses provides opportunities for specialized academic preparation.

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

Many of our graduates have combined their master of public health (MPH), master of science (MS) and PhD degrees in toxicology with human or veterinary medicine degrees, urban planning, policy, sustainability, nutrition, and many other important disciplines.

Interactions among students and faculty are facilitated by numerous activities outside of the formal classroom, including:

  • an annual toxicology symposium
  • regional and national professional toxicology meetings
  • seminar series featuring guest speakers and University of Michigan students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members across campus
  • In addition, individual laboratories or groups of researchers form journal clubs on specified topics and are engaged in numerous cross-disciplinary activities.

Faculty members have ongoing research projects that provide opportunities for research training in molecular, biochemical, cellular, pathophysiological, and epidemiological toxicology, reflecting the breadth and interactive nature of toxicological science, from the molecule to human populations. Research projects in epigenetics, developmental and reproductive toxicology, computational toxicology, cancer epigenetics/epidemiology, and other topics of current interest are being pursued.

Check out the faculty profiles to see what is going on now!

Who Should Apply?

Individuals with a background in biological, chemical, environmental, or epidemiological sciences who have a desire to improve the understanding of how environmental agents impact human health should apply. We also welcome students from other disciplines who have completed the basic science prerequisites and have a strong academic record.


Recent graduates have found excellent employment in federal agencies as scientists and regulators; in well-respected academic institutions as professors and researchers; in industry as safety study directors and scientific consultants; as professionals in chemical and environmental risk assessment, and in many other interesting and important positions.

Financial Support

For MS and PhD students, financial support may be available through fellowships from the Rackham Graduate School. Both MS and MPH students may be eligible for scholarships from the School of Public Health. PhD students who are citizens or non-citizen nationals of the US, or who have legal permanent residence status in the US, may be eligible for funding from a training grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Departmental teaching assistantships and research assistantships from individual faculty research grants comprise additional sources of financial aid.

How Do I Apply?

Applicants should have a strong interest in science and health, an undergraduate degree in some field of basic or applied science, and, at a minimum, should have taken courses in biology and/or physiology, general and organic chemistry, physics, and calculus.

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 more information please visit other pages on this website and/or contact:

Sue Crawford
Student Services Coordinator

Prof. Craig Harris
Toxicology Program Director