In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), creating a federal administration created to develop and create a set of regulations and health standards across the country. This act was followed by states and cities creating concrete policies to ensure workplaces were safe and healthy environments.
In 2019, there were 5,333 fatalities in the US construction industry. This is one of the ten most frequently cited Occupational Health and Safety dangers reported by the U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). Other dangers cited are respiratory protection, hazard materials, falls, eye and face protections, machinery, etc. OSHA reports that worker fatal accidents, injuries, and illnesses were down in 2019.
Health and safety in the workplace has spawned an academic field to advance the science and development of health and safety protocols. Colleges and universities devote speciality studies in engineering, public health, and other departments to study and improve workplace environments. These undergraduate and graduate programs prepare technicians and specialists to examine, analyze, and develop safety measures across a wide spectrum of settings; and, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates a 7% job growth in the occupational health and safety fields, which is as fast as the national average.
Best Health Degrees has looked at several graduate programs to identify some of the best master’s degree programs in Occupational Health and Safety. We synthesized information to provide you a general overview of coursework, admission requirements, cost, school rankings, etc.
The programs listed here are all accredited by independent agencies such as Applied Science Accreditation Commission of ABET, The National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC), or Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) as well as other Department of Education recognized groups. Online, accredited degree programs are eligible for financial aid. You’ll want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® for consideration for departmental scholarships or stipends, as well as graduate student loans.
Our Method: Ranking the 10 Fastest Online Master’s in Occupational Health and Safety Programs
To rank the 10 Fastest Online Master’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
If you’re currently a working professional or military veteran, the online Master of Science in Occupational Safety Management (MSOSM) offers several ways to apply for previous educational credits from academic programs to work-life experiences toward the 30-credit hour program.
Studies include classes in Environmental Protection for the Safety, Health and Environmental Manager, Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response, Safety, Health and Environmental Legislation. Additionally, you’ll take coursework in Litigation & Compliance, Occupational Safety and Health Management, Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Human Factors and Ergonomics, etc. You’ll also complete a Graduate Capstone Course. This curriculum is designed to qualify you for management roles in healthcare, manufacturing, military, and other areas requiring critical safety needs.
For admission consideration, you’ll begin by submitting an application and supplying official academic transcripts from all schools, military training, or educational programs you’ve attended.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $623-$743/per credit hour
Fast Facts: U.S. News and World Report ranks this university #4 in Best Schools for Veterans as well as #5 in its Most Innovative Schools categories
2. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
This 100% online, part-time program is ideal for the working professional and awards a MS in Environmental Safety and Health degree.
You can transfer up to 12 credit hours from previous graduate work toward this 32-36 credit hour degree. You can choose one of two track options: research or coursework. Courses include studies in Principles of Occupational Epidemiology, Advanced Ergonomics, Disaster Planning and Response, Environmental and Safety Management, and more. If you follow the research track, you’ll also complete a Capstone Project which requires a research paper. There’s a wide choice of electives from which to choose which covers topics such as healthcare safety, industrial hygiene, management of workplace, airborne hazards. Classes are provided in 8-week sessions.
Departmental admission requires a bachelor’s degree as well as at least one-year of professional work experience. Your transcripts should show twenty undergraduate credits in science, business, math or engineering. Admission to UW-W begins with an application and requests academic transcripts and you may be asked to provide test scores, letters of recommendation, etc.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $652/ per credit hour
Fast Facts: Ranks #54 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value Schools and one of Niche’s Best Colleges in America
3. Murray State University
Murray State University is located in Kentucky, but you’ll won’t be required to go to the campus with this MS in Environmental Safety and Health that you can complete in less than two years.
This 30-credit hour degree is offered in 10 classes with enrollment in two classes per semester. Among the courses are Biostatistics and Probability, Industrial Hygiene and Safety Program Development, Occupational Safety & Health Organizational Leadership & Management, Current Literature and Research in Safety and Health, Safety and Health Program Management and Training, etc. You’ll also complete a Cooperative Education/Internship. The curriculum is designed to provide you the basis you’ll need for management roles in occupational health and safety areas
General admission to Murray State begins with an application ($40 processing fee) and submitting your academic transcripts demonstrating your completion of an undergraduate degree. GRE test scores aren’t required and you may be able to earn program credit for work experience.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $549/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Forbes rates Murray State University #416 in its Top Colleges in 2021 ranking and U.S. News and World Report includes it at #34 in its Best Value Schools category
4. University of Wisconsin – Stout
You can earn this MS in Risk Control and Safety Management in 30-credit hours which is divided into three areas: Risk Control/Safety/Property Protection, Management/Applied Research, and Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Health. This MS is recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and is designed to enhance your problem solving skills and the integration of theory with practice. It’s possible to earn the degree in 9 or 16 months.
Classes include Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Risk Management Applications, Industrial Hygiene, Process Hazard Management, Risk Control Systems, etc. You’ll also complete a Risk Capstone Project. You’re blend technical applications with You can participate in live-streamed lectures or watch recorded lectures in your timeframe.
You need to have a conferred bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA and provide official academic transcripts to be considered for admission.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $406-$876/per credit hour
Fast Facts: UW-Stout is ranked #249 in Niche’s Top Public Universities in America category and #in 69 in Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News and World Report
5. Rochester Institute of Technology
As the school’s website states this is, “A degree driven by real-time employer demand.” You can earn the online MS in Environmental, Health, and Safety Management from Rochester Institute of Technology in 30-credit hours.
This curriculum is comprised of 18 hours of core courses, 6-12 hours of electives, and the choice of a Comprehensive Exam, Graduate Project, or Thesis. Among the classes you’ll take are Corporate Social Responsibility, EHS Internal Auditing, Environmental, Health and Safety Management, EHS Management System Design, etc. Depending on your choice, you’ll take Research Methods and Thesis Planning (thesis option) or Graduate Project (capstone option), or a written Comprehensive Exam. You may be able to transfer relevant coursework to the program with the approval of the department.
You’ll file a Graduate Application and provide transcripts showing completion of a bachelor’s degree, submit a resume/CV, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. You may also be required to provide GRE scores and two writing samples.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $1,237/per credit hour
Fast Facts: RIT ranks #52 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value Schools and one of Niche’s Top Private Schools in America
6. Columbia Southern University
This Alabama school awards a MS in Occupational Safety and Health you can earn online and has a generous 18-credit hour transfer policy. The program is recognized as a Graduate Safety Practitioner® Qualified Academic Program by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
The curriculum has core classes in Advanced Toxicology, Training and Development, Safety and Accident Prevention, Safety Engineering, as well as Research Methods. Courses in the concentration include Integrated Safety Management Systems, Business Ethics, Emergency Management, and System Safety Engineering. This program blends theory and technology to prepare you to develop strategies and health and safety plans, as well as provide management tools. The program is designed for working professionals and is one of the most flexible we’ve found, with no set start or complete dates and short, nine-week terms.
Admission begins with a free application and offers three options for online students: LifePace Learning, Term Enrollment, and Veterans Flexible Enrollment. You’re required to hold a baccalaureate degree and provide academic transcripts. Be prepared to submit additional documentation if requested.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $325/per credit hour
Fast Facts: CSU is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and was founded in 1993
7. Eastern Kentucky University
The College of Health Sciences at this Richmond, Kentucky university awards a Master of Public Health with an Environmental/Occupational Health & Sustainability specialty. This program offers classes in the evening, on Saturdays, and online for the convenience of working adults.
The CEPH accredited program has core classes and curriculum in Biostatistics, Public Health Organization and Administration, Introduction to Environmental Health, Research Methods in Public Health, as well as a Capstone Project. Studies in your concentration will cover Air Quality Assessment, Total Worker Health, and Environmental Toxicology. You’ll also complete an Environmental Health Applied Practice Experience and an Integrative Learning Experience prior to graduation. The department also offers an Industrial Hygiene Graduate Certificate.
Besides the application, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree, statement of personal and professional goals, letters of recommendation, as well as academic transcripts are required for admission. Be prepared to submit additional documentation if needed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $9,900-$13,950/per academic year
Fast Facts: EKU ranks at #40 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value Schools category and #25 in the publications Top Public Schools rankings
8. Indiana State University
Whether you’re looking for a MA or MS in Occupational Safety Management, Indiana State University has a degree for you. You even have the option to attend classes on the Terre Haute campus or 100% online.
The 33-credit hours curriculum requires you take research classes in Statistics for Experimental Research in Technology and Research Methods. You’ll then choose 12 hours from several subjects such as Human Factors/Ergonomics in Safety Management, Process Safety and Hazardous Waste Operations Management, Safety Legislation, Litigation, and Compliance, Administration Procedures for Occupational Safety Management, and others. Other courses can be taken outside of the department with approval and electives from within the College of Technology. The MA track requires you complete a thesis and the MS calls for you to complete a field research project.
To be considered for this program, you’ll make application for admission. Masters students must hold a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.7 GPA. You may need to provide GRE scores and other documents so you’ll want to discuss admission procedures with an advisor with the College of Graduate and Professional Studies.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $432-$562/per credit hour (NOTE: there is no residency requirement for online students)
9. Montana Tech – The University of Montana
If you have two years employment in the health and safety field, this hybrid MS in Industrial Hygiene may be for you. It’s designed to give you the tools to advance your career.
You’ll take 28-credit hours of core classes in a range of topics. Classes include Industrial Hygiene Management, Principles of Epidemiology, Sampling & Evaluation Of Health Hazards, Ergonomics for Industrial Hygienists, Sampling and Evaluation of Health Hazards Lab Residency (a 5 day on-campus laboratory held in the summer term), and more. The program offers elective courses in topics such as Respiratory Protection, Occupational and Community Noise, Radiological Health & Safety, and more. You’ll complete a written and oral exam to finish the degree. Be sure to check if your work experience and/or any previous academic courses can transfer as part of the 37-credit hour degree.
Admission requires you hold a baccalaureate degree and, as stated, have two years professional experience. You can apply online (with a $50 fee), and will be asked to provide official academic transcripts for all schools attended, letters of recommendation, as well as a resume. The GRE is not required for IH graduate students.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $261/per credit hour
Fast Fact: MTU is rated #15 in U.S. News and World Report’s Top Public Schools and Forbes included it at #448 in its Top Colleges 2021 ranking
10. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Located, as the name implies, in Pennsylvania, Indiana, IUP provides a MS in Safety Sciences which is 100% online and a qualified program of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
This 36-credit hour curriculum can be completed, full-time, in 3 semesters (6 semesters part-time). Some of the classes offered are Preventing Unsafe Acts, Applied Industrial Hygiene, Accident Investigation, Safety Health and Environmental Administration, Disaster Preparedness, Human Relations in Safety, Radiological Health, etc.
You’ll need a baccalaureate degree in safety sciences to be eligible for admission. (If your degree was in a non-safety discipline, you may still be able to be admitted by completing some prerequisite coursework.) An application is required (with a $50 fee) and you’ll be asked provide official academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume/CV, as well as a personal goal statement.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $516-$593/per credit hour
Fast Facts: IUP is ranked #593 in Forbes Top Colleges 2021 and #156-#209 Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report
What are the Advantages of an Accelerated Master’s in Occupational Health and Safety?
As the old saying goes, “time is money” and accelerated educational programs allow you to not only save money on tuition costs, but position you for job advancement more quickly. These programs tend to attract more dedicated, working students who are eager to advance their education, and are flexible in scheduling. In short, it’s easier than ever before for working adults to earn, or complete, their graduate education.
Accelerated programs are the same degrees as those offered on-campus and taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus. You won’t miss any crucial studies, it’s just that accelerated degrees are streamlined to provide faster, shorter, and more intensive class times.
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 graduate programs are geared toward the working adult, admission requirements may be more lenient in awarding credits through College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) exams, military training, work experiences.
How Do I Get a Job with OSHA?
OSHA is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor and has several health and safety positions across the country available for qualified applicants through the USAJOBS site. Some of the positions available include: Safety and Occupational Health Specialist, Program Analyst, Industrial Hygienist, Manager, Inspector, Electrical Engineer, and more. Other federal agencies may hire qualified health and safety personnel such as the Department of the Interior.
Twenty-five states are approved by OSHA to establish state plans (with federal regulations as a base) so you may also find OSHA jobs through those states’ employment sites.
You can apply through the USAJOBS link or you can explore the OSH positions listed on Indeed, PayScale, ZipRecruiter as well as GlassDoor. (These last sites may show state OSHA positions.)
Should I Get a Certification Instead of a Master’s?
Depending on how you want to advance in your career a combination of an advanced degree and certification is very attractive to most employers. In general, certification and a Master’s degree demonstrates to employers that you have additional training that best suits their needs.
There are several certifications available but these are some of the most recognized:
Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Certified Safety Professional (CSP)®
Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM), Certified Safety and Health Manager (CSHM®)
American Board of Industrial Hygiene (AIBH), Certified Industrial Hygienests (CIH)®
Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE), Certified Professional Ergonomist
You can find more information and certification training sites on this OSHA site.
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