University of Southern California
USC Master of Public Health Program (MPH)
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About the Environmental Health Concentration

Environmental health encompasses a broad spectrum of challenges. Historically, the development of sanitation and safe drinking water infrastructure resulted in the dramatic increases in life expectancy and improvements in health in the developed world in the 19th and 20th Century, goals that remain to be realized in developing countries. Among others, challenges to the environmental health practitioner in the 21st Century include assessing and managing health risks in air, water and food ranging from hazardous waste exposure, resistant bacteria resulting from use of antibiotics in raising livestock, radiation waste from nuclear power and other more ubiquitous medical and environmental radiation exposure, newly identified environmental endocrine disruptors that act like hormones in affecting sexual differentiation, neurodevelopment and other outcomes, and the likely massive but still largely unpredictable health impact of climate change. The purpose of the environmental health track is to equip students with skills to critically evaluate and address existing and emerging environmental issues affecting public health. MPH graduates of this track will have knowledge and skills to lead efforts to assess environmental hazards and risks, and to develop and lead intervention efforts in government, not-for-profit, foundation, corporate and academic positions.

The program of study is designed from the following courses:
  • Environmental & Occupational Health
  • Human Exposure Assessment for Public Health
  • Biological Effects of Environmental Toxins
  • Environmental Health, Policy, and Practice
  • Environment and Brain
  • Global Environmental Health
  • Environmental Epidemiology: Concepts, Methods, and Practice
  • Biological Basis of Disease
  • Foundations in Health Education Behavior and Promotion
  • Health Service Delivery in the U.S.
  • Principles of Biostatistics
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Practicum in Public Health

  • It is an increasingly important determinant of public health, as new technology impacts the natural and urban environment in ways that affect human health
  • It offers opportunities for health improvements through development of policies to encourage sustainable development
  • It offers approaches to identifying intervention and mitigation strategies that can have large public health benefits
  • It offers opportunities to improve public health by integrating complementary expertise in epidemiology, exposure science, and biostatistics; global issues; maternal and child health; nutrition; health education and communication; and social justice and policy
  • It is a field that will continue to require well-trained people to meet existing and emerging challenges
  • The five core courses that all MPH students complete
  • Three foundation courses in the environmental health track that provide the knowledge and practical skills to assess exposure to and risk of environmental hazards, and to develop practical solutions to these challenges
  • One track elective and one general elective
  • Identify environmental hazards, assess exposure and risk of disease
  • Organize around environmental advocacy, environmental justice and policy
  • Develop and implement programs to prevent and mitigate disease caused by environmental exposures
  • Public speaking, working with news media, developing environmental education programs
  • Develop safety programs and disaster response plans for government or industry
  • Evaluate community risks of traditional and new environmental challenges like environmental endocrine disruption, nanomaterials in air pollution and consumer products, pharmaceuticals in drinking water, exposure to antibiotic resistant organisms, and others
  • Program specialist or manager
  • Project director
  • Health advocacy director
  • Community outreach director
  • Corporate safety specialist
  • Government affairs specialist
  • Federal, State, or local public health departments
  • Not-for-profit environmental or community advocacy organizations
  • Foundations
  • Food and Drug Agencies
  • Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Administration
  • Corporate environmental health and safety departments
  • Academic/research/scientific institutes