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Western Kentucky University

Environmental Health

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Environment shapes health. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 initiative (2010), modifiable environmental factors account for around a quarter of disease burden worldwide. Clearly, there is a critical need for a better understanding of the complex relationship between the environment and the health of those living within it. This is where environmental health professionals come in. Public health workers in the field of environmental health conduct research, evaluate environmental risks, respond to emergencies, and make policy and programming recommendations that serve as a foundation within the field of public health.

A Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in environmental health opens the door to a great career.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) found that the 2012 median pay for environmental health specialists was $63,570 with the top 10% earning more than $109,970. With a projected job growth rate of 15%, this field is expected to have 13,200 new job opportunities and 103,200 total positions by 2022. Environmental health professionals are best known for their traditional roles in ensuring safe food, water, air quality, and sanitary conditions. The increase in environmental health threats such as E-Coli outbreaks; the emergence of new global threats such as Ebola, West Nile Virus, SARS, and bio/agro terrorism; and the human health impacts of environmental disasters exemplify the ever-growing need for an educated environmental health workforce.

The goal of the environmental health option of the MPH program is to prepare graduates who can function as professional environmental health specialists is a variety of settings. A student completing the environmental health option in the MPH program will be able to:

-          Understand basic concepts of ecology and the role of humans in altering the ecosystem

-          Assess a community to determine the presence of adverse environmental conditions and their potential impact on human health

-          Monitor the community’s environment to assure that the environmental quality is conductive to good health

-          Develop and implement strategies to remediate unhealthy environmental conditions

-          Understand the role and work with the public and private sectors in controlling adverse environmental conditions.

-          Manage resources and personnel to effectively carry out an environmental health program.

-          Identify interpret, and implement environmental health laws, regulations, and policies

-          Function effectively as a member of the public health team.

Program Requirements:

The curriculum requires completion of 14 courses or 42 credit hours, distributed among six core areas addressing epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioral sciences, public health administration, environmental health, and program evaluation or research methods. As part of the 42 hours, students will complete four courses in their chosen concentration and one elective course. Students will also complete an individualized internship or practical experience and a capstone activity involving either a 6 credit hour thesis or a 3 credit hour applied practical experience/project.

Matriculation requires commitment to a rigorous course of study, such that degree can be earned through two years of full time or four years of part time study. The MPH program is flexibly structured to meet the needs of both working professionals and students who wish to participate in full time study with classes offered in afternoon and evening sessions as well as online.



Public Health Education Concentration

Credit Hours

Required Core Courses

PH 580: Introduction to Public Health


PH 520: Biostatistics for Public Health


PH 582: Epidemiology


PH 584: Environmental Health


PH 583: Public Health Administration


PH 587: Health Behavior


PH 591: Health Program Evaluation


PH 546: Internship



Core Total


Environmental Health Concentration Core Courses

PH 510: Watershed Management and Science


PH 571: Air Quality Management


PH 577: Environmental Toxicology


EHS 580: Solid and Hazardous Waste


PH 588: PH Capstone Course*



Env. Concentration Core Total


Environmental Health Concentration Electives (3 credit hours)

PH 501: Research Methods


PH 530: Independent Investigations in PH


PH 595: Public Health Management &

Technological Disasters


EHS 572: Environmental Epidemiology


PH 620: Advanced Biostatistics


PH 639: Advanced Epidemiology


PH 599 Thesis*



Env. Concentration Elective Total






MPH Program Total


**Students who prefer to do a thesis in this concentration must replace PH 588 with PH 599 for 6 credit hours and will not need to take an elective


For more information on the MPH Health Education Concentration, please contact:

Dr. Grace Lartey

Director, Undergraduate and Master of Public Health Programs

Academic Complex 129D

Phone: 270-745-3941


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 Last Modified 8/12/15