Toxicology - MS, PhD

College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

About This Degree

Toxicology is the scientific understanding of the harmful effects of natural and synthetic chemicals at all levels – whether large-scale environmental pollutants or small-scale carcinogens – that have an incremental effect over time.

Toxicology is an interdepartmental degree where students affiliate with the program through one of several departments. While students are housed in the same department as their major professor, their committees are comprised of faculty from a minimum of two to three departments, giving them multiple perspectives on their research.

Established in 1961, USU’s interdepartmental graduate program in toxicology is one of the first degree-granting graduate toxicology programs in the country. USU faculty helped establish the toxicology program at the University of Hong Kong, which is ranked by the Times of London in the top 20 universities in the world. Every professor in the program collaborates with about 10 other universities across the country and the world, giving students the opportunity to make connections and work with individuals around the globe to solve problems that affect populations and environments worldwide.

The toxicology degree is designated as a Western Regional Graduate Program, which means students from participating western states qualify for in-state tuition. For more information, visit

What You Will Learn

Students can focus their research on a wide variety of areas within the discipline of toxicology, but USU’s program is particularly strong in the following areas:

  • Molecular and biomedical toxicology: This area deals with how external agents affect the genetic structure of cells. Toxicologists at USU are developing research on the genomics of disease, cancer prevention, the mechanisms of air pollution, and more.
  • Environmental toxicology: Scientists working in this area are focused on toxins that affect the environment. Their research aims to restore ecosystems, remove toxic waste, and reduce human and animal exposure to environmental toxins. Additionally, USU scientists were among the first to use a naturally occurring fungus to digest and detoxify chemical waste.


MS: Logan (Main Campus)

PhD: Logan (Main Campus)

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Description Toxicology

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Students who graduate in toxicology can pursue the following careers:

  • Pharmaceutical research (often working for government regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Public health (industrial hygienists working to reduce workplace exposure)
  • Mining industries (reducing environmental impacts of mine waste)
  • Environmental remediation (stabilizing polluted sites)
  • Professor, academia

Graduates with a PhD are more likely to work in these areas as research project leaders than those who receive the MS.

Job Outlook


Admission Requirements

Students can be accepted from various undergraduate backgrounds. Those lacking in chemistry, biology, and mathematics coursework may have to complete prerequisite courses before beginning their graduate work in toxicology. These courses will be decided upon by the faculty in the toxicology program.

To be accepted to the program, it is recommended that applicants first contact a specific faculty member with whom they are interested in working. If the faculty member is accepting graduate students and agrees to work with the student, the student can then apply by completing the following application requirements:

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.


Students are housed in the same department as their major professor and follow the deadlines and requirements of that department. The home departments have the following deadlines:

Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Science:

  • Fall semester – March 15
  • Applications are accepted after this deadline, but students are less likely to be considered for financial assistance.


  • The Department of Biology considers applications on a year-round basis. Applications received for fall semester by February 15 will be considered for all financial awards available. Applications received after that date will be considered for the limited amount of financial awards available at the time.

Chemistry and Biochemistry:

  • Due to the nature of graduate course sequences, it is highly recommended that students enter the graduate program in the fall semester. Although there are no application deadlines, submission of all application materials by April 15 is strongly encouraged.

Civil and Environmental Engineering:

  • Fall semester – June 15
  • Spring semester – October 15
  • Summer semester – March 15 (This date also serves as first review of applications for available financial assistance.)

Plants, Soils, and Climate:

  • Applications for graduate programs are accepted year-round. However, chances for acceptance are best if students apply between October and January of each academic year. It is also encouraged that students begin in the fall if possible.

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

PhD students must pass a comprehensive exam after completing their coursework and before submitting their dissertation. The exam will have a written portion with questions set by the student’s committee and an oral component based on the student’s area of research.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS by pursuing the following option:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.

Financial Aid

The toxicology program provides funding for most of its graduate students through research assistantships, available through professors having contracts, grants, or other awards.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

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