MS in Environmental Toxicology/Applied Toxicology

Two students working in a lab.

The field of toxicology is focused on developing improved ways to identify and reduce the harmful effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents at all levels of biological organization, from molecules to humans to complex ecosystems. This Master of Science degree in Environmental or Applied Toxicology trains students to identify, understand, and analyze toxic agents and their effects on human health and the environment. The curriculum includes courses in the supporting sciences of biostatistics and epidemiology, as well as foundational courses in exposure science and environmental health. Additional courses provide in-depth training in risk assessment and the fundamentals of toxicology, including organ system toxicology and the effects and mechanisms of toxicity of a wide range of toxic agents. Students earning an MS in Environmental or Applied Toxicology are well prepared to develop, interpret and utilize toxicological data to solve environmental health problems.

Career Paths of Recent Graduates

Graduates from the MS in Environmental or Applied Toxicology programs pursue careers in environmental health practice, research, or consulting, or continue on to doctoral work in the field.  Recent graduates from this degree option are currently working as:

  • Senior Associate at Amgen, a multinational biotechnology company (Class of 2011)
  • A Senior Environmental Toxicologist at Amec Foster Wheeler, a multinational consultancy, engineering and project management company (Class of 2013)
  • Five students who graduated from the MS in Environmental Toxicology program between 2011 and 2016 are currently pursuing PhDs in our Environmental Toxicology Program.

Student Profile Photo of Kevin Heffern

Current Student Profile

Kevin Heffern

"My high school science teacher required students in his class to compete in a local science fair and my mentor for the project happened to be a marine biologist who studied the toxicological risks crude oil posed to salmon. I became interested in the field and ended up working in his lab after finishing my undergraduate degree, eventually applying to the MS in Environmental Toxicology program here at University of Washington.

My current research is focused on identifying and understanding the effects that certain types of metals found in polluted water systems like the Lower Duwamish Waterway may have on a fish's sense of smell. This sense of smell, called olfaction, is critical to numerous behaviors in fish. When I finish my degree, I plan to work for a state or federal agency as an aquatic toxicologist."

Degree Options

This degree offers two distinct options. The MS in Environmental Toxicology is a 2-year degree that requires a thesis as a culminating experience. The MS in Applied Toxicology is an accelerated 5-quarter degree that requires and project as a culminating experience. 

MS in Environmental Toxicology

The 2-year MS in Environmental Toxicology degree option is ideal for students interested in gaining the expertise and research skills necessary to solve environmental health problems in a variety of settings, including governmental agencies, private industry, or academia. Students in this degree option propose and conduct an original research project and write and defend a master’s thesis as a culminating experience in year two. A complete list of course requirements for the MS in Environmental Toxicology is available here.

MS in Applied Toxicology

The 5-quarter, 15-month accelerated MS in Applied Toxicology degree option was developed for students looking for training in the practice of toxicology in order to be able to compete for jobs in private industry, federal, state or local government agencies, or academic institutions that require an MS degree. Students in this degree option complete the same course requirements as students in the MS in Environmental Toxicology, but conduct a supervised field study project at a training site (e.g., Region 10 EPA, NOAA, Public Health Seattle & King County, Veritox, and local biotechnology companies) during summer quarter of their first year instead of writing a research thesis as a culminating experience. A complete list of course requirements for the MS in Applied Toxicology is available here.