About the Environment, Climate and Health Concentration
Prospective students in the Environment, Climate and Health Concentration understand that the health of the planet and the health of its people are inextricably linked. They aim to contribute innovative solutions to complex environment, climate, and health challenges: health equity in the transition to clean energy, safe drinking water for vulnerable children, protection from infection where we work and play, economically feasible actions with co-benefits for public health and climate sustainability.  If you wish to contribute to create a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future as a public health professional, this Gillings MPH concentration is designed for you. The Environment, Climate and Health Concentration, uniquely housed in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, will equip you with skills and know-how to identify and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate and environmental change on human health. Through a highly tailored curriculum and real-world experience, our students develop broadly applicable skills to address a range of exposure risks and sources, such as threats posed by climate change, emerging chemical contaminants in air, infectious agents in water, and workplace hazards.  We welcome those interested in both local and global challenges.  

What You'll Learn

As a master of Public Health (MPH) student in the Environment, Climate and Health concentration, you will gain the skills to mitigate the impact of environmental issues on human health. 

During the program, students will learn how to:

Critically and quantitatively analyze health risks and vulnerabilities to support effective environmental practices and climate action

Communicate about linkages between sources, exposures, biological responses, and disease

Lead interdisciplinary teams to design evidence-based approaches that promote a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable future.

Through collaborative work led by internationally renowned experts in environmental health, science and policy within the top public school of public health in the nation, you will graduate uniquely positioned to advance environmental health solutions.

This program will empower you with the knowledge and skills to achieve the following core competencies:

  1. Weigh the scientific basis of hazard identification, exposure and health risk assessment to support management of environment, climate and health.
  2. Evaluate the causal relationships linking sources of environmental contaminants through processes that affect movement, transformations, exposure pathways, effects and vulnerabilities and use these relationships to inform actions for public health and health equity.
  3. Describe and critically evaluate the rationale for and approaches used to measure and model the properties of environmental/human systems.
  4. Evaluate effective actions or interventions that improve environment and climate-related outcomes and be able to compare the design of policy options to achieve those outcomes.
  5. Examine and critique the ethical and legal dimensions of environment, climate and health-related actions on individuals and communities.

Required Courses & Sample Plan of Study

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 14-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take seven concentration-specific courses covering topics such as policy design and environmental processes and gain additional hands-on experience.

ENVR 430: Health Effects of Environmental Agents

ENVR 500: Environmental Processes, Exposure and Risk Assessment

ENVR 580: Policy Design for Environment, Climate and Health

At least 5 credit hrs selected graduate level coursework to enable you to specialize and distinguish yourself through deeper knowledge in an area of particular interest, such as:

– Climate, sustainability and health equity

– Exposure and risk assessment

– Community-driven research and environmental justice

– Global environmental health (including water and sanitation in low resource settings)

– Toxicology and epigenetics, supporting healthy outcomes for vulnerable populations

– Occupational health and safety

– Environmental chemical or microbial processes

ENVR 775: Global Climate Change: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

ENVR 992: Global Environmental Crisis Management (MPH Culminating Experience)

To be prepared for this concentration, you should have a bachelor’s degree with coursework in at least two of the following areas: biology, chemistry, calculus and physics.

In addition to coursework, this concentration will offer you practical, hands-on experience:

- You will engage in applied learning experiences in a professional setting, tackling real-world environmental and public health issues.

- You will develop strong teamwork skills by working in interdisciplinary groups.

- You will have the opportunity to lead a project in environmental crisis management (ENVR 992).

Environment, Climate and Health Degree Requirements and Study Plan (PDF)


Courtney G. Woods, PhD

Environmental Health Solutions Lead and associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering.

Providing Environmental Solutions for Public Health and Wellbeing
Ready to apply?

As climate and environmental change pose a greater threat to humans and the natural environment, there is an urgent need for public health professionals who are trained to lead teams that address complex problems at the intersection of environment, climate and health – to identify environment and climate-related health risks and design, implement and evaluate interventions to protect public health – and to do so through the lens of health equity.

Environment and climate-focused solutions have far-reaching implications for the field of public health, and the skills and knowledge you will accrue through this program are relevant to a wide range of sectors.

Career Opportunities

Our Graduates Work As...
Environmental Biologists
Air Quality Engineers
Research Scientists
Lab Supervisors
Consumer Health Directors
Our Graduates Work With...
Government agencies
Local and state health departments
Private research facilities
Environmental agencies
Consulting firms

99% of Gillings graduates have a job or continue their education within one year of graduating.

Learn more about the career opportunities that await you with an MPH from the Gillings School.

A word from MPH alumnus Osborn Kwena Mwenesa:

“I currently am working on the WaSH MEL project, which is dedicated to creating, sharing and implementing cutting-edge monitoring, evaluation and learning tools for water, sanitation and hygiene practitioners. Since most of the projects are public health-related, I have been able to apply much of the knowledge I learned in the classroom, especially skills related to data analysis and interpretation.”

Assistant Director of Academic Advising
Adia Ware
Rosenau Hall 202A

Concentration Leaders
Primary Contact: Courtney Woods, PhD
Co-Lead: Barbara Turpin, PhD