Health and safety have a long history of accidents and illnesses as a result of dangerous and unhealthy work environments. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019 report which cited a horrifying statistic that “…a worker died every 99 minutes from a work-related injury in 2019.”
Health and safety go hand in hand when looking at the events of the past that have injured, sickened, or killed people from neglect. For instance, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, sanitation in large cities was practically nonexistent and required government intervention to construct and maintain clean water sources as well as sewer systems. Nearly 150 young women and girls died in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, as a result of the carelessness of factory owners who locked doors to prevent theft. Those locked doors prevented those inside from escape and they perished. Addressing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) concerns requires professionals from a variety of fields: medicine, engineering, construction, environment, etc.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), was created in 1970 to oversee and maintain regulations for health and safety standards across the country. Some states also began acting as regulators to assure safe and healthy environments for its citizens.
As the idea of safety and health as a critical component in the community, colleges and universities began undergraduate and graduate academic programs to educate professionals who can identify, analyze, and develop safety measures for a variety of occupations.
Schools highly recommend (some require) you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®. The FAFSA is used to determine scholarship eligibility as well as allow you to be considered for additional assistance.
Best Health Degrees has looked at schools offering bachelor’s degree programs in Occupational Health and Safety that may help you find the right program for you. We offer information giving a general idea of admission requirements, cost, coursework, school reputation, etc. This ranking provides information for first-year students, but transfer students will follow the same program guidelines. The majority of schools on this list offer generous transfer credit policies which will help speed your degree along.
The programs in this ranking are all accredited by independent agencies such as the Higher Learning Commission and as well as other Department of Education recognized agencies. Some programs have specialty accreditation. You should look for programs accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and the BS is a Qualified Academic Program (QAP) by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). The QAP meets the credentialing requirement for Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification.
Our Method: Ranking the 10 Fastest Online Bachelor’s in Occupational Health and Safety Programs
To rank the 10 Fastest Online Bachelor’s in Occupational Health and Safety Programs, Best Health Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Here’s an online BS in Safety Management which is a Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) Qualified Academic Program (QAP) and is designated as a Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) program. This designation is beneficial for pursuit of certification.
The curriculum begins with general education classes in Humanities, Communication Theory and Skills, Physical and Life Science, and others. Classes in the Safety Management major offer studies in Fundamentals of Occupational Safety and Health, Ergonomics, Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Environmental Compliance and Safety, Introduction to Health, Occupational, and Transportation Safety, etc. Elective courses help round out your studies.
The admission process begins with completing a Worldwide and Online Campus application ($50 fee). An academic transcript, ACT/SAT scores (recommended), FAFSA®, and other documents will be requested.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,296/per academic year
Fast Facts: This university is ranked by U.S. News and World Report #4 in Best Schools for Veterans and #5 in its Most Innovative Schools categories
2. University of Central Missouri
There are three options with this BS in Occupational Safety offering specialty choices in Environmental, Safety, or Health Science Management concentrations.
Among the foundational courses, you’ll take classes in Environmental Compliance, Applied Sciences for Professional Studies, Industrial Hygiene, Ergonomics in Safety and Health, Accident Investigation, Occupational Risk Management, Systems Safety, Human Biology, etc. An Internship is available. NOTE: You may consider enrolling in the Occupational Safety BS/Occupational Safety Management MS (Accelerated Program) either online/hybrid. This accelerated program, will let you earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years, rather than the six usually required for both degrees.
UCM is holistic in its admission determination. Application considerations review your high school GPA, letters of recommendation, personal statement letter, as well as activities in your community and involvement. UCM is ACT/SAT test-optional.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $8,306-$15,434/per academic year
Fast Facts: UCM ranks #16 in U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools category and cited as one of Forbes’ 2021 America’s Top Colleges
3. University of Maryland Global Campus
The University of Maryland Global is a well-known online campus that awards a BS in Environmental Management through the Healthcare and Science division.
Studies in the 120-credit hour curriculum include general education classes along with the major’s requirements. You’ll take classes in Environmental Regulations and Policy, Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental Technology, Human Health and Disease, Environmental Technology, and others. Other studies in Pre-Calculus, Environmental Chemistry, and Introduction to Statistics are required. Depending on your career choices, you’ll be able to enroll in either a Sustainability or Toxicology and Hazard Control focus.
Completion of an online application ($50 fee) is required and begins the admission process. You must submit a FAFSA® and provide all academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $7,560-$12,336/per academic year
Fast Facts: Forbes ranks this school #14 in its Top Public Colleges ranking and U.S. News and World Report considers it in the Top 100 Best Global Universities
4. Eastern Kentucky University
The BS in Occupational Safety at EKU will qualify you for the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) as the program is an Academic Program (QAP) by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
This major includes Principles of Occupational Safety and Health, Measures of Safety Performance, Human Factors in Occupational Safety, Safety and Health Program Management, Environmental Law and Management, Process Safety Management, Safety Training Strategies, as well as a Senior Capstone Project. An Internship is available with departmental approval. This curriculum is the same for online students as for those attending the Richmond, KY campus.
You’ll start by completing an application and providing academic transcripts. A 2.5 GPA is necessary and ACT/SAT scores are recommended, but not required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,876-$19,948/per academic year
Fast Facts: U.S. News and World Report rates EKU’s online programs #67 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
5. The University of Arizona
You have a choice of delivery options with this BS in Public Health with an Environmental and Occupational Health Emphasis from UA.
This four-year degree covers general education coursework as well as Public Health classes for a total of 120-credit hours. A sampling of classes available includes Introduction to Public Health, Introductory Biology (with lab), Human Anatomy and Physiology, Health Care in the United States, Global Health, Introduction to Environmental and Occupational Health, etc. Other classes include Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Topics in Environmental Justice, as well as participate in Field Work in Health Education are offered.
This degree is offered through the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. You’ll start the admission process by applying to Arizona University with an application ($50 for Arizona residents and $80 for non-Arizona residents), ACT/SAT test scores aren’t required, but you do need a high school diploma (or GED). Once you’ve completed pre-requisite courses at AU, you’ll make a supplemental application for the Public Health Major.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $12,716-$36,743/per academic year
Fast Facts: Forbes ranks AU #127 in its Top Colleges 2021 rating and U.S. News and World Report rates it at #46 in its Most Innovative Schools category
6. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Depending on your objectives, the online BS in Occupational Safety and Health in Durant, Oklahoma may be right for you.
Courses include Drugs in Society, Industrial Hygiene, Hazardous Materials, and Waste Management, Acoustics, Vibration, and Noise Control, Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health, Safety Training and Instructional Techniques, etc. A strong slate of electives from topics such as General Safety, Management, and Organizational Behavior, Special Studies, and/or an Internship complete the 124-credit hour curriculum.
You’ll need a high school diploma (or GED) with a 2.7 overall GPA (or a 20 in ACT/SAT testing). Other documents (i.e., academic transcripts) will be requested. An application ($55 fee) begins the admission process.
Estimated Tuition Costs: $293/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Niche ranks SOSU #695 Colleges with the Best Academics in America and U.S. News and World Report ranks it #50-#66 Top Public Schools
7. Columbia Southern University
This Alabama university awards a BS in Occupational Safety and Health which is recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals as a Qualified Academic Program (QAP) that will allow you to apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner® designation with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. This degree is approved through the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM).
The 120-credit hour curriculum includes studies in OSHA Standards, Fundamentals of Occupational Safety and Health, Industrial Hygiene, Interaction of Hazardous Materials, Advanced Concepts in Occupational Safety and Health, etc. A wide choice of electives will round out your OSH degree. CSU offers a generous transfer policy and considers CLEP, DSST, and Excelsior’s UExcel exams as well as possible academic credit for professional licenses, certificates, and training programs.
Admission requires you to submit an application and provide official academic transcripts from all schools you’ve attended. Additional material may be requested as your application is reviewed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $235/per credit hour
Fast Facts: CSU was established in 1993 and is accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
8. Capitol Technology University
This online BS in Construction Safety is a recognized as a Qualified Academic Program (QAP) and will allow you to make application for the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) designation. The program hold ABET accreditation.
You’ll study Industrial Hygiene, Safety Management Systems, Hazardous Materials, Ergonomics, Risk Management, a Safety Senior Project, and electives. This is a 121-credit curriculum and also includes coursework in Humanities, Social Science, Management, Mathematics and Sciences. On graduation, you’ll be eligible for entry-level positions working as Compliance Officer, Health and Safety Specialist, Safety, Security, Health & Environment Manger, and more.
You need to have a high school diploma, a 2.8 GPA, provide all academic transcripts, and the ACT/SAT test scores are optional for CTU for admission. Application for admission is offered online.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $450/per credit
Fast Facts: US News and World Report ranks CTU #216-#239 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs and CTU was established in 1927 in Laurel, Maryland
9. Waldorf University
You can choose between a BA or a BS in Occupational Safety, online, from this Iowa university. This program is especially designed for students with no background in Occupational Safety who want to enter the field or for those already working in occupational safety and want a formal education in the field. The program is recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
Coursework includes topics in fundamentals in both occupational health and safety as well as industrial hygiene. Other classes involved are in Total Environmental Health and Safety Management, Introduction to Fire Prevention, Industrial Ergonomics, Legal Aspects of Safety and Health, and more. You can also choose electives from a strong catalog of classes such as Risk Management, Leadership, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, etc.
The school has a liberal transfer policy, accepting up to 75% of the degree requirements in transfer credits or life experiences. Admission begins with an application, request for academic transcripts using the Waldorf Transcript Request Service, and additional documents as requested once your application is reviewed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $310/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Waldorf University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and was established in 1903 as a Lutheran college
10. Unity College
Maine’s Unity College bills itself as “America’s Environmental College” awards an online BS in Environmental Health and Safety and is designed to give you skills that will allow you to work in EHS safety management and compliance, as well as pollution prevention and control, waste management, etc.
Among the courses you’ll complete are core studies in Occupational Safety and Health, Environmental Psychology, Environmental Remediation and Toxicology, Fire Protection and Safety, Social Science for Environmental Professionals, Professional Skills, Building a Better World: Ethical Decision-Making, etc. General education core studies in biology, chemistry, communications, and others. A Capstone Project completes the program.
There’s no charge to apply to Unity College and you’ll simply verify that you’ve graduated high school. If you’re a transfer student, you’ll make application and submit unofficial transcripts for the determination of acceptable transfer courses.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $470/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Unity College is ranked #4 by US News and World Report’s Most Innovative Schools and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education
What are the Advantages of an Accelerated Occupational Health and Safety Degree?
Accelerated degree programs allow you to save money on tuition costs, as well as position you for job advancement more quickly. These programs attract more dedicated, working students who are eager to advance their education, and are flexible in scheduling. It’s easier for working adults to earn or complete their degree and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Colleges and universities have started offering 4+1 degree programs. These programs allow you to earn a master’s degree along with your bachelor’s degree. While undergraduate degrees typically take four years for completion and graduate degrees take two years, 4+1 curricula allows you to earn graduate credit as an undergraduate. Doing this can award you the two degrees in five, rather than six years.
These are identical degrees as the on-campus and are taught by the same on-campus faculty. Accelerated degrees are streamlined to provide more intensive class times that are faster and shorter in duration.
Frequently, you’ll find that online programs have extremely generous transfer policies as well as accepting of work-life experiences accepted to reduce the total hours required. Since most online programs are developed for the working adult, admission requirements may award credits toward your degree through College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) exams, military training, work experiences. This can significantly reduce the amount of time you’ll spend on your bachelor’s program.
How Do I Get a Job at OSHA?
As a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, has numerous health and safety positions located across the country. You can search those available positions the USAJOBS site. You’ll find positions available as: Safety and Occupational Health Specialist, Program Analyst, Industrial Hygienist, Manager, Inspector, Electrical Engineer, and more.
There are twenty-five states approved by OSHA to have state plans (using federal regulations as a base) and you may find OSHA jobs through those states’ employment sites.
You can apply through the USAJOBS link or you can look for OSH positions listed on a variety of job sites such as Indeed, PayScale, ZipRecruiter as well as GlassDoor. (These last sites may show state OSHA positions.)
Will an Occupational Safety and Health Certificate Help My Career?
Employers love certifications. It demonstrates to them that you’re serious about your career and have additional training that may better suit their needs. The type of certification you obtain will depend on your specialty area.
There are several certifications available but these are some of the most recognized:
Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Certified Safety Professional (CSP)®
American Board of Industrial Hygiene (AIBH), Certified Industrial Hygienests (CIH)®
Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM), Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM®)