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health physics practicum in the environmental health section

 Today, the health physicist is called upon to help society make judgments concerning the balance of risks and benefits from new technologies that depend on radiation.

Health Physics

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 Fukushima Student Ambassador Program

Fukushima student ambassador video

What is Health Physics?

Health Physics is the discipline associated with using radiation for the benefit of society. This includes applying scientific as well as practical knowledge in order to obtain these benefits without unreasonable risks to man or the environment.

The profession has evolved into a necessary part of all programs that involve radiation, including anything from naturally occurring radioactivity to man-made sources of radiation.

Sources of radiation range from naturally occurring radioactivity to reactors. Successful persons in health physics have broad backgrounds in physics, biology, instrumentation and have an understanding of risks and risk analysis.

Health Physics Programs

ERHS offers a comprehensive program leading toward an MS in Health Physics or PhD in Health Physics.

The Master of Science degree with a specialization in Health Physics is accredited by the Applied Sciences Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Required course work is structured to provide a sound foundation in the basic skills essential to the health physics profession. Students may concentrate on specific areas of interest through a wide selection of elective courses. Formal course work is supplemented by extensive laboratory exercises, field trips and research.

Health Physics is one of five different training programs within the Mountains and Plains Education and Research Center.

PRIOR TO APPLYING: Students are strongly encouraged to contact a Health Physics faculty member to ensure availability of program space and/or funding.

Want to learn more? Visit the Health Physics admission requirements and deadline webpage.

What is the Difference Between Health Physics and Medical Physics?

Medical Physics is mostly concerned with the treatment of patients, both in a diagnostic and a therapeutic setting.  Medical Physics is patient-oriented and includes the calibration and quality assurance for radiation generating machines used in medicine,  the calculation of dose to an irradiated organ or tissue, etc. 

Health Physics and Medical Physics are similar, but different:

  • Medical physicists apply physical principles of radiation, ionizing and non-ionizing, to treat and diagnose disease.
  • Health physicists apply the same physical principles to ensure a safe working and/or public environment.

Health Physics, on the other hand, focuses on the protection of people from adverse effects of radiation. It is applied in occupational health considerations where radiological sources are in use in industry, medicine, or research, where it is concerned with worker safety by e.g., monitoring radiation levels at the work place, monitoring occupational dose, implementation of dose optimization procedures, etc. Work for a Health Physicist might also include public exposure considerations due to naturally occurring radioactive material or due to transport of man-made radionuclides through our ecosystem.

Introduction of a Medical-Health Physics Track

ERHS now has a medical-health physics track by adding diagnostic imaging physics and radiotherapy physics courses to our ABET accredited HP program while providing the opportunity for a more clinical oriented project utilizing the outstanding resources in our veterinary teaching hospital.

A health physics degree with a medical physics emphasis prepares you for health physics opportunities in a clinical setting, such as a hospital Radiation Safety Officer, and opens the door to a medical physics residency or entry level medical physics position in a radiotherapy clinic or radiology department.​

​Health Physics News


  • Fukushima, japan, students, ERHS, health physics
    Students from Fukushima recently visited CSU, and our grad students in Health Physics traveled to Japan, to learn from radiation experts in the two places. For CSU students, the cultural exchange shone new light on the nuclear accident.​​
  • Fukushima University students visit CSU
    ​Students from Fukushima University visited CSU recently as part of growing collaboration between radiation programs in Japan and the CSU Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences.