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Molecular and Environmental Toxicology

Administrative Unit:Molecular and Environmental Toxicology
College/School: College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, School of Pharmacy, School of Medicine and Public Health
Admitting Plans:M.S., Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: See Faculty on program website.


Molecular and environmental toxicology is a multidisciplinary subject that involves the study of mechanisms of action of environmental toxicants on humans and other organisms and the behavior of these toxicants in the environment. The UW–Madison Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center's graduate program provides students with expert knowledge in at least one specialty plus a broad understanding of other specialties that contribute to the resolution of environmental toxicology problems. The center is sponsored by the School of Medicine and Public Health as well as the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the schools of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy. The center links researchers in numerous academic departments who are working on problems in this area.

An interdisciplinary graduate program leading to the doctor of philosophy or a master of science in molecular and environmental toxicology is offered by the center under the direction of a steering committee composed of faculty affiliated with the center. The program offers two general approaches: mechanisms of pathobiology of chemically induced disease and environmental activities of chemicals. Each approach is subdivided into focal areas including metabolic and genetic toxicology, neurotoxicology, and immunotoxicology; and ecotoxicology, bioremediation, and distribution and assessment of environmental chemicals. All students participate in a core curriculum that addresses these various areas and that is supplemented by other advanced, specialized courses. Students perform research under the guidance of one of the center's graduate faculty members.

Recipients of graduate degrees in molecular and environmental toxicology pursue careers in governmental agencies (policymaking, regulations, standard setting, or research), private industry (e.g., hazardous waste management, occupational safety, consumer affairs, research and development, or regulatory compliance), and the academic community (teaching and research). The center office maintains specific information concerning career placements.

Doctoral Minor 

Students in other fields who elect to minor in molecular and environmental toxicology must satisfactorily complete a total of 10 credits in the program. Satisfactory completion of the minor requires a B average or better in the selected courses.

Financial Aid 

Financial aid is provided to all students, usually in the form of grant-supported research assistantships, institutional fellowships, or advanced opportunity fellowships for minority or disadvantaged students.  Students are encouraged to contact individual professors in their areas of interest to determine whether support is available for working in that lab


To qualify for graduate study in molecular and environmental toxicology, applicants should normally have a bachelor's degree in a biological or physical science, with at least a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). The following courses should be completed before entrance to the program: four semesters of chemistry, including at least one of organic (depending on the planned direction within the program, a semester of either analytical chemistry or biochemistry is highly recommended); one semester of math-based physics (a second semester is highly recommended); and three semesters of biology, including coverage of introductory genetics. One or more semesters of calculus is highly recommended. If applicants have not taken one semester of statistics, biometrics, or an equivalent course, and one semester of biochemistry equivalent to UW–Madison Biochem 501, then these courses must be taken as part of the program and will fulfill credit requirements for the major. Students with a limited number of deficiencies may be admitted, but must eliminate these deficiencies early in their graduate study. Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

For more information: Mark Marohl, Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center, 1530 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706; 608-263-4580; mdmarohl@wisc.edu; metc.med.wisc.edu/metc/