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Grad Program: Toxicology

Basic Information

Toxicologists research the effects of toxins on living organisms and create products and public and scientific policy to mitigate those effects. The field is inherently interdisciplinary: Environmental toxicology, food toxicology, forensic toxicology, industrial toxicology, medical toxicology, and molecular toxicology are all possible career routes, and programs combine chemistry, biology, biochemistry, ecology, environmental science, statistical analysis, pharmacy studies, and other disciplines from a variety of departments. When searching for the right program, students should keep in mind that toxicology programs can be embedded within Environmental Science, Biology, Integrative Sciences, Pharmaceutical Studies, and other departments.

Degree Information

Master’s programs (such as the M.S. in Toxicology and Master’s of Environmental Toxicology) typically take two to three years to complete. Completion of the degree usually requires taking a combination of oral and written exams as well as a thesis research project. Though less common, some programs offer dual degrees (for instance, the M.S./J.D.) In general, though, the master’s degree is rarely seen as terminal, and most students continue on for another four-plus years to earn their Ph.D. Also, medical toxicology is an officially recognized as a medical subspecialty, so students must receive a medical degree (M.D.).

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Do you want to work in academia, government, private industry, non-profit, or clinical care?
  • Does the institution offer a “just master’s” option?
  • What lab resources does the institution have? What connections to outside institutions?
  • What research is the faculty doing?
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