Environmental Health Sciences Major, B.S.P.H.

Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Visit Program Website

161 Rosenau Hall, CB# 7431

(919) 966-4818

Barbara J. Turpin, Chair

Louise Ball, Program Co-Director

lmball@unc.edu

Jason Surratt, Program Co-Director

surratt@unc.edu

Jennifer Moore, Academic Coordinator

jenjoyce@email.unc.edu

The undergraduate major in environmental health sciences is designed to develop a comprehensive understanding of the environmental factors that impact human health; the physical, chemical, and biological processes that underlie the impact of human activity on the environment and human health; methods used to assess the impact of human activity on the environment and human health; and science-based solutions for environmental problems. Students may choose to emphasize environmental chemistry, environmental health biology, or environmental physics by selecting those concentrations. Admission into the program requires satisfactory completion of coursework in basic sciences and mathematics. Recent graduates have entered graduate programs in environmental science, microbiology, marine science, applied mathematics, and environmental engineering. Students who pursued employment after completing the B.S.P.H. degree are working in environmental advocacy organizations, environmental consulting firms, industry, and investment banking firms.

Upon completion of the B.S. in environmental science and engineering, students should be able to:

  • Define current major issues in environmental health, sciences, and engineering
  • Provide quantitative answers to complex environmental questions and describe the potential underlying uncertainties
  • Describe linkages between sources of environmental contaminants, ambient concentrations, human exposures, and possible solutions
  • Describe the mechanistic basis for environmentally induced disease and methods for prevention

Prerequisite Courses Required for Admission

Applicants should have earned a grade of C or better from UNC–Chapel Hill in at least one course per group in three of the following groups:

Group 1
BIOL 201Ecology and Evolution H4
BIOL 202Molecular Biology and Genetics H4
Group 2
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
CHEM 261Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H3
Group 3
COMP 116Introduction to Scientific Programming3
or approved alternatives:
BIOL/MATH 553Mathematical and Computational Models in Biology3
GEOG 597Ecological Modeling3
Group 4
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H4
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H4
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H4
Group 5
PHYS 114General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences4
PHYS 115General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences4
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity4
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta4
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Admission

The undergraduate degree offered is the bachelor of science in public health (B.S.P.H.). Four majors are available to undergraduate students: biostatistics, environmental health sciences, health policy and management, and nutrition. Each of these combines features of a broad-based education with concentrated study in a specific public health discipline. The programs prepare individuals for preprofessional positions in health-related fields and provide a firm base for graduate study. Students are permitted to pursue two majors in the school. Students are subject to the requirements in place when they are admitted to the Gillings School of Global Public Health; consequently, requirements described in this catalog particularly apply to students admitted to the school during the 2020–2021 academic year. In addition to the information presented below please see the Gillings Program Search (GPS) for the most up to date information on the school.

Students who wish to obtain the B.S.P.H. degree typically spend two years in the General College of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (or in an equivalent core program of academic study elsewhere) and two subsequent years under the administration of the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Enrollment in the B.S.P.H. degree programs is limited. Typically a student is selected in the latter half of the sophomore year and admitted on a competitive basis for junior year entry to the major. The minimum recommended grade point average for admission to programs in biostatistics, environmental health sciences, health policy and management, and nutrition is 3.0.

For current UNC–Chapel Hill students, the initial step of B.S.P.H. application is available in ConnectCarolina under the "Apply Majors" tab.

Transfer students interested in biostatistics and health policy and management majors must apply through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions using the Transfer Common application. Transfer students interested in environmental health sciences and nutrition majors must be accepted to UNC–Chapel Hill first and then satisfy campus residency requirements during their first and/or second semester at UNC–Chapel Hill, and then apply as a current UNC–Chapel Hill student.

For high school seniors, our four majors participate in the University Assured Enrollment Programs under EXCEL@Carolina. Assured enrollment programs guarantee students a spot in an undergraduate major within one of Carolina’s professional schools or a spot in an accelerated undergraduate/graduate program. Programs include unique opportunities such as early access to classes, individualized mentorship, and career connections. For additional information, please visit EXCEL@Carolina.

Requirements

In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

The major in environmental health sciences includes several concentrations:

Requirements for All Concentrations

Core Requirements
Public Health Core Courses:
BIOS 600Principles of Statistical Inference3
EPID 600Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health3
SPHG 351Foundations of Public Health3
SPHG 352Public Health Systems and Solutions4
Other Core Courses:
ENVR 205Engineering Tools for Environmental Problem Solving (spring)3
ENVR 230Environmental Health Issues (fall)3
ENVR 403Environmental Chemistry Processes (spring)3
ENVR 430Health Effects of Environmental Agents (fall)3
One of the following:3
Senior Capstone Course (to be taken in the senior year)
Undergraduate Practicum in Environmental Health Sciences (with approval)
Undergraduate Research
Honors Thesis (with approval)
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
101L
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
4
BIOL 201Ecology and Evolution H4
BIOL 202Molecular Biology and Genetics H4
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
CHEM 261Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H3
One of the following:3-4
Introduction to Scientific Programming
Mathematical and Computational Models in Biology
Ecological Modeling
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H4
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H4
PHYS 118Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity 1,24
or PHYS 114 General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences
PHYS 119Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta 1,24
or PHYS 115 General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences
Students must satisfy the experiential education, global issues, U.S. diversity, and two additional Connections requirements.
Total Hours70-71
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

General Concentration

Environmental Health Electives
All students should complete two advanced undergraduate or graduate level courses (400-level or above) that provide in-depth study of environmental health. Courses should be listed or cross-listed as ENVR courses. ENVR 400, ENVR 403, ENVR 430, ENVR 593, ENVR 600, ENVR 601, ENVR 695, ENVR 691H and ENVR 692H are excluded.6-8
Total Hours6-8

Environmental Chemistry Concentration

Environmental Health Electives
All students must complete two advanced (400-level or above) courses selected from:5-7
Aerosol Physics and Chemistry
Chemical Equilibria in Natural Waters
Elements of Chemical Reactor Engineering
Global Climate Change: Science, Impacts, Solutions
Principles of Chemical Carcinogenesis
Air Pollution, Chemistry, and Physics
Additional Requirements
CHEM 481Physical Chemistry I3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours15-17
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Environmental Health Biology Concentration

Environmental Health Electives
All students must complete two advanced (400-level or above) courses selected from:6
Laboratory Techniques and Field Measurements
Ecological Microbiology
Environmental Health Microbiology
Industrial Toxicology
Introduction to Health Physics: Radiation and Radiation Protection
Occupational Safety and Ergonomics
Health Hazards of Industrial Operation
Biochemical Toxicology
Temporal GIS and Space/Time Geostatistics for the Environment and Public Health
Environmental Risk Assessment
Global Perspectives on Environmental Health Inequalities
Systems Biology in Environmental Health
Environmental Exposure Assessment
Total Hours6

Environmental Physics Concentration

Environmental Health Electives
All students must complete two advanced (400-level or above) courses selected from the following list:6-7
Aerosol Physics and Chemistry
Elements of Chemical Reactor Engineering
Groundwater Hydrology
Numerical Methods
Environmental Physics I
Quantitative Risk Assessment in Environmental Health Microbiology
Air Pollution, Chemistry, and Physics
Additional Requirements
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H4
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations H3
Total Hours13-14
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
MATH 231 Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H 4
BIOL 101
101L
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
4
Hours 8
Spring Semester
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
COMP 116 Introduction to Scientific Programming 3
MATH 232 Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H 4
Hours 11
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
BIOL 201 Ecology and Evolution H 4
Hours 8
Spring Semester
BIOL 202 Molecular Biology and Genetics H 4
CHEM 261 Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H 3
Hours 7
Junior Year
Fall Semester
ENVR 230 Environmental Health Issues 3
PHYS 118 Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity 4
SPHG 351 Foundations of Public Health 3
Hours 10
Spring Semester
ENVR 403 Environmental Chemistry Processes 3
SPHG 352 Public Health Systems and Solutions (Public Health Systems & Solutions) 4
ENVR 205 Engineering Tools for Environmental Problem Solving 3
PHYS 119 Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta 4
Hours 14
Senior Year
Fall Semester
ENVR 430 Health Effects of Environmental Agents 3
ENVR 468 Temporal GIS and Space/Time Geostatistics for the Environment and Public Health 3
BIOS 600 Principles of Statistical Inference 3
Hours 9
Spring Semester
ENVR 575 Global Climate Change: Science, Impacts, Solutions 3
ENVR 698 Senior Capstone Course 3
EPID 600 Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health 3
Hours 9
Total Hours 76
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences

Dual Bachelor's-Master's Degree Program

The Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering offers a dual (or "+1") master's degree for students who have completed a B.S.P.H or any B.S. in a STEM field from UNC–Chapel Hill. A dual master's degree has the same overall credit requirements as a regular master's degree, but it allows a student to potentially finish in a single year. The dual degree M.S. and M.S.P.H. degrees are research-focused; the M.P.H. is focused on coursework and public health practice. These degrees prepare students to work as researchers, program officers, or consultants in industry, government organizations, and the non-profit sector; many graduates have gone on to complete doctoral degrees at UNC–Chapel Hill or elsewhere.

Students interested in the dual degree program must have completed their B.S. or B.S.P.H. in the previous academic year. Students progressing to an M.S. can transfer up to nine hours of graduate-level (400 or above) coursework that did not count toward their bachelor's degree program; M.P.H. and M.S.P.H students may transfer up to twelve hours. For the M.S. and M.S.P.H., it is strongly recommended that students have identified an advisor and made progress toward their master's research as early as possible, preferably by their senior year.

Honors in Environmental Health Sciences

Students who have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher are eligible to participate in honors research and to write an honors thesis.

Study Abroad

There are several opportunities for pursuing environmental study abroad, both through the department and through the UNC Study Abroad Office.

Undergraduate Research

Many undergraduate students participate in the research programs of the department. Students are encouraged to consult individual faculty members for opportunities to participate in such research. In addition, the department has information concerning fellowships and internships, some of which are combined with research opportunities in laboratories or field settings.