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How do I Earn an Environmental Health Degree?

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  • Written By: Nicholas K.
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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An environmental health degree can open up careers in health inspection, waste management, and public health education, just to name a few. It is critical to choose a degree program with abundant research opportunities and a variety of advanced courses. You can start to earn an environmental health degree by completing lower-level science courses, although you also need to register for upper-level courses on industrial hygiene and health issues to earn your degree. Your degree program might require an internship or work in the environmental health field prior to graduation.

Your search for the right environmental health program should focus largely on opportunities to pursue your academic interests. An environmental health program might collaborate with academic institutes that work with students to produce research papers. You can review the departmental profiles of environmental health faculty to determine if classes are taught by qualified academics. You could also look at past and present courses in environmental health to choose the right program. The ideal program would feature a variety of upper-level classes that allow students to select areas of concentration.

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Most environmental health programs require a student to complete lower-level courses before pursuing advanced classes. You will likely be required to complete courses in biology and anatomy to learn about the effects of chemicals on the human body, and your program might include at least one organic chemistry course in its curriculum. It is important to surpass the program's minimum grade point average (GPA) to earn an environmental health degree. You might not be able to declare a major in environmental health without satisfactory grades.

Your degree program will usually require a handful of upper-level courses in core areas of environmental health. You will likely need to complete at least one course in occupational health and safety regulations. An environmental health curriculum can cater to future inspectors by requiring an industrial hygiene class. You might also need to take a course in toxicology before you earn an environmental health degree; this class provides information on the nature of environmental contamination, including physical symptoms and preventative measures.

An environmental health program may encourage internships and employment for advanced students. You may be able to break into a career as a health inspector by arranging for an internship with a public health agency. You will be able to develop an understanding of challenges to food health by working with a food service company. Your departmental advisor might encourage employment with a cleaning company or waste management firm to see environmental health problems firsthand. These opportunities allow you to gain professional experience as you earn an environmental health degree.

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