PhD Environmental Health Science
Students in the Environmental Health Science (EHS) PhD program will be trained in the fundamental understanding of environmental problems and their consequences on human health and well-being. Core courses will focus on the effects on environmental perturbations on ecosystem and community function and species survival, and toxicological consequences on physiological and cellular processes, as well as genome structure and gene function. Core courses will also include workshops to provide a hands-on introduction to practical analytical tools used in environmental health sciences. During their first year, students will have the opportunity to participate in the research of three faculty labs through lab rotations, leading to the selection of a faculty dissertation advisor.
*For further information on applying to the EHS PhD Program please see the Applying to Graduate Programs page.
The PhD in Environmental Health Science (EHS) prepares students for senior-level positions in professions related to environmental health science in its broadest sense. The program trains students to become leaders in biological research relevant to environmental issues that directly and/or indirectly affect human health, and the program trains students to convey information effectively to the public. Students acquire an understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of environmental health issues from molecular to ecosystem levels. Students learn relevant research skills and conduct research under the guidance of one or more faculty members in the program. The PhD degree program requires a minimum of 55 hours beyond the Baccalaureate degree. Required and elective course work and research are listed below. At least 75% of all coursework included on the Plan of Study, exclusive of dissertation hours, must be at the 600 or 700 level.
Required Core Courses (17 hours minimum). (Need not be taken in the order listed.)
BIO 600 Introduction to Graduate Studies (1)
BIO 707 Seminar in Environmental Health Sciences (2)
BIO 731 Environmental Health Science I (3)
BIO 732 Environmental Health Science II (3)
BIO 734 Current Research in Environmental Health Science (1 credit; 3 total required)
BIO 749 Lab Rotation (1 credit; 2 total required)
STA 661 Advanced Statistics in the Behavioral and Biological Sciences (3)
Electives (9 hours minimum)
*For further information on Graduate Core and Elective courses please see the UNCG Graduate Bulletin.
Students in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee, research advisor, and/or Advisory/Dissertation Committee will select additional courses that pertain to their area of research to fulfill their degree requirements.
Research and Dissertation
The remaining credit hours to equal a minimum of 55 hours will be obtained by taking the following:
BIO 790 – Independent Doctoral Study (maximum of 12 credits)
BIO 791 – Independent Doctoral Research (maximum of 15 credits)
BIO 799 – Dissertation (12 hours minimum required by Graduate School; maximum of 18 credits)
BIO 791 and BIO 799 cannot be taken until the student has completed the comprehensive examination and has been admitted to candidacy.
Advisory/Doctoral Dissertation Committee
There are a minimum of four members on a PhD Advisory/Dissertation Committee. The chair of the PhD Dissertation Committee must be a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Environmental Health Science Program and the UNCG Graduate School, and must have an Endorsement to Chair Doctoral Committees (see Policy on Appointment to the Graduate Faculty; http//provost.uncg.edu/documents/personnel/graduate.pdf). One member on the committee must be from outside the department. PhD students must meet with their Advisory committee no later than the end of their third academic semester or prior to completion of 18 credit hours to approve their Plan of Study. PhD students may meet with individual members of their committee as often as they feel necessary. However, the full committee should be assembled to review the progress of the student no less than once per year. The date of these meetings will be recorded on the Plan of Study form. Two weeks prior to a committee meeting, students should provide a written progress report to the committee. The report should summarize the work conducted since the last meeting (including figures and tables of data), problems that are impeding progress, a plan for work to be conducted in the next year, and a timetable for completion of degree requirements. The results of this review should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in Biology in writing within one month after the meeting.
Admission to PhD Candidacy and the Dissertation Proposal Defense.
Before a student can proceed to the dissertation, he or she must write and defend a proposal, which states the goals and aims of the dissertation research, justifies the research, and provides a detailed plan to carry out the objectives of the research. The dissertation advisory committee must approve, unanimously, the admission to candidacy. The general framework for admission to candidacy via the written proposal and the oral defense of the proposal can be seen in Figure 1. The purpose of the Dissertation Proposal and defense is for the student to demonstrate that he or she has mastered technical writing skills and is able to synthesize material from courses and self-study into a plausible, testable hypothesis. Students should follow the guidelines and timelines presented below. A student should submit and defend the proposal as soon as possible during the degree program.
Plan of Study
A plan of study for the doctoral degree must be outlined by each student and her/his advisory/dissertation committee preferably in the first year and before the completion of 18 semester hours. The plan of study must be submitted to the Dean of The Graduate School for approval.
Each year every student will prepare a brief written report that details research progress made during the preceding year and that proposes a plan of action for the following year. The full advisory committee (or the Graduate Studies Committee if the advisory committee has not been selected) should be assembled to review the progress of the student no less than once per year. The date of these meetings will be recorded on the Plan of Study form. Two weeks prior to a committee meeting, students should provide a written progress report to the committee. The report should summarize the work conducted since the last meeting (including figures and tables of data), problems that are impeding progress, a plan for work to be conducted in the next year, and a timetable for completion of degree requirements. The results of this review should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in Biology in writing within one month of the scheduled meeting.
Defending the Dissertation
It is the advisor’s role to determine when the written dissertation is acceptable and defendable. A student cannot schedule a dissertation defense without the approval of the research advisor. As with the proposal, the final dissertation should not, in the advisor’s view, need major foreseeable modifications. On the other hand, the student should understand that revisions would almost certainly be forthcoming. The student must give each committee member a copy of the dissertation no less than two weeks (ten business days) prior to the scheduled defense date. Students should follow the guidelines set forth by the UNCG Graduate School when preparing the thesis.