Emerging PhD and Graduate School Options

Planetary Health

  • What is Planetary Health? 
    This link above provides an overview of planetary health, sometimes referred to as eco-social health. This approach has taken many forms over the last half century but has garnered more attention as of late given rapid population growth, urbanization, and inequitable approaches to health and natural resources management. Increasingly, attention has been focused on sustainable development that can maintain the balance of biogeochemical cycles essential for life. The Interdisciplinary Science Major is aligned with this approach and specifically examines the intersection of  global environmental change and human health. For example, our courses investigate the influence of environmental factors (built, social, and natural) on gene expression and how the structure of the water molecule makes it essential to life, renders it easily contaminated,  and thus, a critical factor of healthy ecosystems. The scalar nature of planetary health highlights the interrelatedness of  global and taxonomic scales and emphasizes the transactional relationships among communities, nations, organisms, and the planet. 
  • Resources: There are a number of new journals, special issues and emerging graduate programs focused on Planetary Health. The Lancet has taken the lead with a new journal in this area and a Countdown: Tracking Climate Change and Health Connections (video)  as well as a published manifesto.
  • George Washington University Global Environmental Health MPH program is aligned with the Planetary Health approach and there are no specific pre-requisites for entering the program, other than a bachelor’s degree or higher degree. This program is a good fit for anyone with an interest in the connection between the natural world, human activities, and human health. In particular, students who are especially interested in focusing on these issues in resource-poor settings, often outside the U.S. The differences between the MPH in Global Environmental Health and the MPH in Environmental Health Science and Policy are described here.

Public Health

  • What is Public Health? 
    This link above, provides an overview of public health training and career options and the distinction between public health and medicine. The menu at the top offers more advice on resources, FAQs, and information for prospective students. Please note that almost all MPH programs accept students with at least one, if not more, year (s) of experience in the field.There are many resources (PHCareers, Salaries ) that explain what a career in public health will provide and the various concentrations with some very new such as the PhD program in Health Policy  with an emphasis in Bioethics at John Hopkins U, and the combined MA and MPH in Public Health and Bioethics at Emory. Many graduate programs do not typically accept recent graduates of BA/ BS programs and they also do not have much in the way of financial aid as they are considered professional programs. That said, you may want to consider location for in state tuition or state schools to lower costs. To get the work experience and get paid, you may want to consider the CDC train/work programs as a stepping stone, or look at the alumni biographies of Alexa Riggs, Steven Houang, Alisha Racho Jansen,  Nayaab Khawar, Tammy Ha, Kimberly Libman, and Alana Proctor. Undergrads that complete the NYCDOH HRTP  (summer and academic year internship program) or any of the internships listed here  are more competitive candidates and that experience can help you determine if  the MPH, social work,  health advocacy,genetic counseling, or environmental policy grad programs might be more suitable for you.
  • Public Health at Hunter in NYC: The best part of doing an MPH trough the CUNY system is that it is inexpensive, is well connected to the NYCDOH, has several different  well developed tracks , for instance nutrition which is most science based while communication is less so, and  they offer courses at night, which means if you become a research assistant at CUNY or Hunter, you can complete the MPH going part time, tuition free ,as part of your employee benefits. Alumna Alexa Riggs is doing this and available for advising (see her bio under About Our Program in the menu).  They also offer a certificate program that can be applied to the MPH later

Environmental Studies and  Policy

  • Graduate programs in environmental studies, policy, planning and management. These graduate programs are interdisciplinary with entrance requirements varying depending on the focus of the programs.  The IS degree requirements provides sufficient natural science and quantitative background for these programs.  In addition, depending on interest, students should consider taking courses during their undergraduate studies in areas such as ecology, economics, environmental policy and planning, and urban studies.  Please note that some graduate programs may expect an undergraduate level Calculus course. Climate and Society at Columbia and the dual program at Tufts University in Water: Systems, Science and Society are examples.
  • A comprehensive list of programs in Environmental Studies 
  • Alumni of Lang who complete the Alaska Tishman Environmental Scholars Summer Experience ( Paid) or any of the internships listed here  are likely to be more competitive for programs in policy, and resource management. See alumni Allan Robles, Erik Johanson, and Eva Brill , all of whom completed the Alaska program or Steven Houang who completed the  SEA Semester.

Lab Science, Population Science, and Computational Sciences: 

Molecules 2 Man at Emory : M2M students must be admitted to an existing PhD program at Emory in order to be eligible for the M2M pathway.  Because this is a science-based program, students accepted receive full tuition and stipend for living expenses. Preference will be given to applicants who meet the criteria for admission in advanced standing (having completed at least one year of relevant postgraduate courses). We wish to recruit students with exceptional aptitude for and interest in the sciences, who also have a broad view of the context of biomedicine and a broad general worldview. We seek applicants that have a breadth of scientific and social interest that will contribute to their success in the M2M program. Students combine learning through lab bench science, population sciences, and computational sciences through one of four tracks: Biomarkers for Acute and Chronic Diseases, Predictive Health and Society, Public Health Genomics, or  Population Processes and Dynamics of Infectious Diseases,

Science and Social Justice 

  • Science and Justice Graduate Certificate Program USCS 
    This program is one  supported by NSF and provides training and support to graduate students seeking a PhD in science  by asking them to consider issues of justice not after the work is produced but while the work is produced in an effort to develop scientists that are responsive to community needs and social justice efforts
  • Feminist Biology and Women Studies
    This article reviews a new post doctoral opportunity that emphasizes the integration of biology and feminist perspectives.  The key is to notice that the Women Studies Program at University of Wisconsin embraces biology.
  • Economic Botany, Ethnobotany, and Pharmacognosy CUNY Grad Center
    This program focuses on the integration of indigenous knowledge and resources in the context of scientific innovation that promotes health, wellness, and conservation of biodiversity.See Ina Vanderbroek’s website link for more on this program. Other programs like this one can be found under the keywords ” Plant Science.”  Other programs cater to undergraduate degrees in anthropology, conservation biology, mathematics, and chemistry. The requirements vary depending on the program and students find that they can enter these programs directly after Lang or after some post-bac study. Examples include the University of Hawaii and University of Kent Masters in Science programs within Anthropology Departments.

Science Communication Programs 
These programs are located around the world with different range and focus.Robin Arnette writes about careers in Science communication and the degree granting programs in a 2005 article in Science. where the MIT, UC Santa Cruz, and Boston Programs are reviewed.

Science Art and Design
A number of new programs and companies are emerging in this area ranging from molecular modeling, medical illustration, molecular animation, and information design.  See Nature Magazine Sept , 2011 and this SEED Article on the Art of STEM… STEAM…

Big Data Programs

  • Data Science MS At Berkeley
    New online program that includes data organization storage, visualization etc.  This is part a growing number of analytics and data science programs, to read about 23 such programs and the 140,000 jobs that require these skills see this site  and for more on where these programs reside ( business, computer science, or statistics departments) and the kinds of questions you should ask yourself before pursuing look here 

Human Genetics, Reproductive Health,  Health Advocacy, and Genetic Counseling Programs 

  • Genetic Counseling/ Human Genetics Masters Program At Sarah Lawrence College These are specialized programs that require students to have a partial pre-med program completed (specifically chemistry) and some psychology and statistics. The same can be said for medical and nursing schools that have stringent requirements including one year of each of the following with lab (gen biology, gen chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, math). Students interested in these programs must complement their IS courses with summer courses, post-bac programs that offer traditional courses, Cooper courses, or Sarah Lawrence Exchange. The Sarah Lawrence Genetic Counseling  Program requires perquisites in developmental psychology, developmental biology, but they are very interested in our IS graduates. We can organize a lunch outing and they have a boot camp each summer , and a Career Info Day each June.

Bioethics, Law, Health Policy

Bioethics programs tend to cater to those with a professional or graduate degrees. However, many professional schools are now offering combined degrees or certificates. Penn State offers a Masters Program in Bioethics (MBE) and has a law school. The Harvard Petrie Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics offers a post-doctoral fellowship for those with law degrees. There is also the Summer Program/Certificate open to students and professionals interested in exploring this field.

John Hopkins has a PHD in Helath Policy and Management ith a focus on Bioethics and Health Policy

The Ph.D:  What to do with one? 

  • NatureMagazineSeriesonWhattodowithaPhD
    This series in Nature Magazine points to PHD programs that IS majors would be well suited and alternatives to the PhD that still promote deep scientific research. This particular piece is written by Alison McCook
  • Fix the PhD Editorial in Nature 
    This piece is a bit doomsday but places emphasis on choosing wisely, and getting into the workforce before diving into a long term PhD. Please note that all is not bleak, and they mention some really interesting integrative programs in business, science, and industry, as well as not for profit.