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Environmental Toxicology M.S. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Environmental Toxicology

Program Description

The field provides an opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge of the interactions of toxic elements and chemicals (drugs, pesticides, industrial pollutants, and natural products) with organisms and the environment. Specific disciplinary interests of the faculty range from basic studies in environmental toxicology, including biochemistry, nutrition, genetics, environmental chemistry, epidemiology, and veterinary medicine, to societal aspects such as risk communication, public perceptions, risk management, and environmental law. Detailed information is available on request from the graduate field office or online.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-2539

M10D Stocking Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • cellular and molecular toxicology
  • ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry
  • nutritional and food toxicology
  • risk assessment, management, and public policy (minor)



Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Dec 1; no spring admission;

Please note: Applications are only being accepted for the concentration of "Cellular and Molecular Toxicology."

The field is not currently accepting applications for the concentrations of "Ecotoxicology and Environmental Chemistry" or "Nutritional and Food Toxicology."

Requirements Summary:

  • all Graduate School Requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for Non-Native English Applicants
  • two recommendations
  • GRE general test
  • GRE subject test advised in Biology or Chemistry

Learning Outcomes

Learning Assessment Plan

Graduate training in toxicology at Cornell is supported and facilitated through the graduate field of Environmental Toxicology (ETOX).  Faculty in this field share a common interest in toxicology as an area of study and as an area for the training of graduate students.  The ETOX Director of Graduate Studies is responsible for handling admissions, organizing field activities and representing the ETOX field to the Graduate School at Cornell.  The director is assisted by a Graduate Field Assistant.  

The training program is very broad in scope and encompasses the range of diverse aspects of Environmental Toxicology.  There are three concentrations:  environmental, nutritional, and cellular/molecular and a minor field of Risk Assessment, Management and Public Policy.   Because of the breadth there is no standard rubric for student’s objectives and assessment.  The academic objectives and their fulfillment are determined by the special committee in conjunction with the student to meet the needs of training in the particular area of study for each student.  There are, however, general goals and expectations.  In general these are embodied by satisfactory completion of courses needed for the area of study and progress in the laboratory, evidenced in particular by publishable work.  The special committee evaluates this.  They in turn report to the field faculty in general in terms of achievement of these benchmarks.

Student Learning Outcomes

Understanding of the theoretical basis and observational methods for study of each individual concentration of the field.

Student Performance Indicator

Assessment Method

Successful completion of required and elective courses. 

Course grade must be a 3.0 or above or the student is asked to take the class again.

Successful completion of the A Exam.

Student must take the A-Exam by the 4th semester of study.

Student opinions on course content

Student evaluations of individual courses

Independent development of research design and methodologies

Faculty Special Committee evaluation of dissertation

 Knowledge of the design and use of field instrumentation, computer models, data analysis and laboratory procedures for each specific concentration of the field.

Student Performance Indicator

Assessment Method

Operation of laboratory instrumentation and analysis of data in laboratory, field and computer projects

Faculty Special Committee evaluation

Performance in summarizing research methods

Faculty and peer evaluations from laboratory meetings and dissertation review and defense

Team leadership to other scientists or students in field, lab and data analysis tasks

Faculty Special Committee and peer evaluations

 Ability to explain ideas and results through written, numerical, graphical, spoken, and computer-based forms of communication.

Student Performance Indicator

Assessment Method

Comprehensive Exams

Successful completion of core courses at a 3.0 or higher level. Successful completion of A and B-Exams.

Oral presentations and examinations

Faculty and student evaluations in annual student seminars and professional society presentations

Dissertation structure and content

Faculty evaluations from dissertation review and defense

Lectures and other instructional activities prepared by the student

Faculty and audience evaluations

Publication of research

Faculty and journal critical evaluations of articles and publishing success

Adaptability to new avenues of scientific inquiry that offer interdisciplinary and practical applications to commercial and public needs

Student Performance Indicator

Assessment Method

Application of dissertation results to broader impacts

Faculty evaluation from dissertation review and defense

Performance in interdisciplinary studies and coursework

Faculty evaluations and course grades from interdisciplinary topics

Alumni opinions while in post-graduate appointments and other career activities

Alumni surveys

 Use of Results

The Environmental Toxicology faculty will use the results of the assessment to develop recommendations on changes or additions to course content, curriculum requirements, students recruitment and student advisement. This committee will present their summary and recommendations to the Environmental Toxicology graduate faculty for discussion and action. The Environmental Toxicology faculty will also be asked to review and approve a plan for future ongoing assessment activities.

Implementation Plan

Data required for the assessment process (course grades, seminar evaluations, supervisor evaluations of research assistants, dissertation review, and defense evaluations, etc.) will be requested of the faculty during the coming semesters. The faculty will also be asked to suggest additional performance measures for graduate research projects and interdisciplinary coursework.

The Environmental Toxicology faculty will undertake the assessment process during the Fall semester and will report on possible curriculum changes and ongoing assessment methods during the Spring semester. Modifications and additions to the curriculum, recruitment and advisement will be implemented as soon as feasible while continuing to meet the programmatic needs of the students currently working on their degree.