New information following the change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health

Key facts

  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Equivalent to 1 year of full-time study
  • Not available for international students

Protect community health

If you’re interested in protecting people’s health and wellbeing at a local community level, the Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health is for you.

What is it like?

Find out more about entry requirements, fees and courses in the planning section.

Massey’s Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health is designed to give you the technical training needed for a professional career in human health protection. You will learn how to protect people and communities from threats to health from our built and natural environments. Environmental health roles often require your initiative to devise workable solutions to problems that really make a difference.

Admission to the Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health is open to graduates who hold a relevant bachelor’s degree or equivalent. This would normally need to be in an applied science or health area, but exceptions are granted depending on other factors such as work experience.

What is environmental health?

Environmental health is the professional area concerned with all aspects of the environment that may affect human health. Threats to human health may be biological, physical or chemical, and may be caused by natural processes, human activity, or a combination of the two. You’ll study important environmental health topics including food safety, infectious disease transmission, drinking water quality, urban air pollution, the hazards of excessive noise, exposure to toxic and other hazardous substances, workplace monitoring, medical geochemistry, contaminated site assessment, waste management and climate change.

What isn’t environmental health?

The name of this discipline is well established but can still sometimes cause confusion for people who are not familiar with the area. In the health context, environmental health does not mean the health of the wider environment – for that you would study environmental science. However, there are a complex range of inter-relationships between the two areas. Climate change is a good example of an environmental impact that will have major direct and indirect impacts on human health.

Entry roles in environmental health

Massey’s Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health will prepare you for a wide range of roles, but more specifically for entry into the two key environmental health occupations:

  • Environmental Health Officer (EHO)
  • Health Protection Officer (HPO).

As with any environmental health career, your training and expertise will continue to grow after you’re employed.

As an HPO you will work with District Health Boards. As an EHO you will work in City or District Councils, or with the New Zealand Defence Force.

Entry to the EHO role is possible because Massey’s Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health is formally recognised under the Environmental Health Officers Qualifications Regulations 1993.

What to expect

The programme takes one year to complete if enrolled on a full-time basis, or two or more years if enrolled part-time to accommodate your work and other commitments.

The programme consists of eight specific courses, which are also taken by students majoring in Environmental Health within the Bachelor of Health Science degree. Five of the eight courses involve a single contact workshop component where you will travel to Wellington, meet staff and other students in the programme and learn specific skills. These range from two to five days in length, depending on the course.

A good fit if you:

  • Would like to play a key role in community health protection
  • Like communicating with people from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • Are comfortable with applied science and love a technical challenge
  • Want a job with a wide variety of work, where every day offers different challenges
  • Hold a relevant bachelor’s degree or equivalent
Neil Corlett
Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health
Senior Instructor Combat Health Support and Environmental Health Officer, Logistic Operations School, New Zealand Defence Force

“I found the programme thoroughly engaging and enjoyable…”

I was after some more applied skill-sets to stimulate more opportunity to get out of the office.

The environmental health arena is vast in its spectrum of applicability, in New Zealand as well as overseas in less developed nations. My qualification will be useful regardless of my future role – in or out of uniform.

The Graduate Diploma in Environmental Health programme was very applied – there were plenty of examples and fieldwork to ensure students had hands-on experience with the methods and techniques for environmental sampling and analysis.

This was balanced nicely with the theoretical concepts underpinning the science of environmental health. The mix of distance education and block courses was excellent for maintaining a work/study/life balance and for studying at my own pace, while also enabling social networking with potential future colleagues.

The lecturers were very experienced and had a passion for both the subject and teaching. This meant they were accessible and approachable with regard to learning support and advice for project work.

There is a range of jobs available to people experienced in environmental health, in areas such as health and safety, public health, human resources and occupational/industrial hygiene.

My role involves developing training and providing instruction to officers and soldiers on health planning considerations for military operations. Previously, I was employed as the Preventive Health Platoon Commander, in charge of one of the army’s premier force health protection units.


Environmental health jobs typically include a mix of indoor and outdoor work. Most involve working with people to promote a healthier environment in which to live.

Fields of work

Local, regional and central government

Become an EHO or HPO involved in a range of areas that can include:

  • public health advice
  • outbreak management
  • food safety
  • building inspection
  • border control
  • risk assessment
  • liquor licensing
  • resource management
  • disaster and emergency response
  • air quality
  • drinking water quality
  • contaminated sites investigation
  • waste management

Graduates working in regional councils and central government agencies have had roles such as:

  • technical advisors
  • resource consent officers
  • environment officers
  • policy analysts
  • programme managers

Private sector

You could work in consultancies or industry and be involved in:

  • food quality assurance
  • workplace and environmental safety
  • waste management
  • food safety auditing
  • environmental quality assurance

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