The environments in which we live, work and play invariably affect public health. In fact, environmental exposures – most of which can be prevented – account for nearly one quarter of all diseases worldwide.

The Environment, Climate and Health concentration, housed in the Gillings School's Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, will equip you with the skills and know-how to predict and identify environmental problems and mitigate their impacts on human health.

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Ready to Apply? Visit our Apply page for more information.

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:

  • 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.

Career Opportunities

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. Our alumni – a network now over 2,000 strong – design and implement policies, practices, and technologies, as well as measure, predict, manage and communicate to make positive, data-driven change across diverse workplace settings, including:

  • Government and regulatory agencies (such as health departments, water and sanitation departments, and the EPA, NIH, WHO and CDC);
  • Industrial health and safety offices;
  • Special interest organizations;
  • Companies; and
  • Environmental consulting firms.

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.”

Required Courses and Practical Experience

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 14-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take:

  • ENVR 430: Health Effects of Environmental Agents
  • ENVR 500: Environmental Processes, Exposure and Risk Assessment
  • ENVR 580: Policy Design for Environment, Climate and Health
  • ENVR 775: Global Climate Change: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
  • 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 992.01: Culminating Capstone Experience

Can we add a “greater than or equal to” sign?

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 lead in a complex interdisciplinary project setting in environmental crisis management (ENVR 992.01).

Concentration Competencies

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

  • Weigh the scientific basis of hazard identification, exposure and health risk assessment to support management of environment, climate and health.
  • 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.
  • Describe and critically evaluate the rationale for and approaches used to measure and model the properties of environmental/human systems.
  • 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.
  • Examine and critique the ethical and legal dimensions of environment, climate and health-related actions on individuals and communities.

Requirements and Sample Plan of Study

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

Ready to Apply? Visit our Apply page for more information.


Want to learn more?

Adia Ware, Lead Academic Coordinator
202A Rosenau Hall

Concentration Leaders

Courtney Woods, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Barbara Turpin, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering