In 2020, a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2019 report which cited a frightening statistic that “…a worker died every 99 minutes from a work-related injury in 2019.”
Whenever we step outside of our home, we’re at risk of being injured, made ill, or dying from unsafe public and workplace practices. At the turn of the 20th century, adult and child miners working in poorly ventilated and unsafe situations developed Black Lung Disease, were injured, or killed. Workers in steel and automobile factories died as a result of unsafe practices due to an emphasis on production regardless of safety. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire stunned the country when 146 women, as a result of doors being locked in order to prevent theft, were killed jumping from windows to escape the inferno. There are, sadly, more examples than we can cite here.
In 1970, President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and created federal health standards and regulations across the country to protect, not only workers, but people in general. Federal, state, and local government regulatory agencies began requiring safe and healthy work environments.
To study ways to meet the obligations to create safe occupational environments, colleges and universities began academic programs to train experts to examine, analyze, and develop safety measures across a wide variety of occupations.
Best Health Degrees has looked at a range of schools to identify some of the best bachelor’s degree programs in Occupational Health and Safety to help you find a program that suits your goals. We provide highlighted information to give you a general feel for coursework, admission requirements, cost, school reputability, etc., as well as pertinent school links. This ranking looks at information for first-year students, but transfer students will follow the same program guidelines.
You’ll want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®. Even if you don’t anticipate needing financial assistance through grants or loans, the FAFSA is used for scholarship consideration as well as determining the amount of federal student aid for which you may qualify, if you choose.
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Best Online Bachelor’s in Occupational Health and Safety Programs
To rank the 15 Best 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.
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.
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 121-credit hour curriculum begins with general education classes in Communication Theory and Skills, Physical and Life Science, Humanities, etc. Core classes in the Safety Management major include studies in Fundamentals of Occupational Safety and Health, Ergonomics, Industrial Hygiene, and Toxicology. Also offered are Environmental Compliance and Safety, Introduction to Health, Occupational, and Transportation Safety, as well as elective courses.
You’ll begin the admission process by completing a Worldwide and Online Campus application ($50 fee). You should expect to submit academic transcripts, ACT/SAT scores (recommended), FAFSA®, and other documents as 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. Athens State University
This Alabama school has a BS in Occupational Health and Safety Management which is offered completely online.
The 124-credit hour curriculum is career-focused and flexible. You’ll need general education classes as well as major prerequisites. Among the courses you’ll take are topics in Risk Management and Security in the Workplace, Injury Damage Incidents Evaluation and Reporting, Environmental Health and Regulation, Ergonomics and Human Factors, Managing the Public Safety and Health Emergency, Safety Training and Development, and others. You may also participate in a management internship as well as a career seminar in your studies. Additional specifics of the program can be found on the departmental website.
You’ll start your enrollment process with the $30 application. Admission requires you have at least 36 transferrable hours from an accredited study prior to admission to the OHSM program and a 2.0 GPA.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $225/per credit hour
Fast Facts: ASU was founded in 1822 and holds accreditation from The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
3. The University of Arizona Global Campus
You have a choice of delivery options with this BS in Public Health with an Environmental and Occupational Health Emphasis from UA. The program is offered through UA’s Global Campus or the Tucson campus.
With this four-year degree, you’ll cover general education coursework as well as Public Health classes. Some of the classes you’ll take are Introduction to Public Health, Global Health, Introductory Biology (with lab), Human Anatomy and Physiology, Introduction to Environmental and Occupational Health, Health Care in the United States, etc. Classes are also provided in Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Topics in Environmental Justice.
This program is offered through the school’s Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the admission is a two-tier process. The admission process starts by applying to Arizona University as well as a submission of an application ($50 for Arizona residents and $80 for non-Arizona residents), ACT/SAT test scores aren’t required, and a high school diploma (or GED). Other information, such as academic transcripts, may be required as well. 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: U.S. News and World Report rates it #99 in Best Global Universities with Forbes ranking AU #62 in its America’s Best Value Colleges 2021
4. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
You can earn a BS in Occupational Safety degree online from this ABET-accredited program from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. This is a Qualified Academic Programs (QAPs) program.
This completely online, 120-credit hour curriculum covers Introduction to Occupational Safety & Health, Occupational Safety Management, Personal and Public Safety, Ergonomics, Principles, and Methods of Industrial Hygiene, Behavioral Aspects of Accident Investigation, Principles of Environmental Management, Personal and Public Safety, and more. The curriculum also has “unique requirements” in physics, chemistry, biological foundations, human anatomy, and physiology, etc.
Your admission begins with an application and submission of official high school transcripts (or GRE/HSED), and ACT scores are optional (will be used for English placement if submitted).
Estimated Tuition Cost: $389/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Niche categorizes UW-W #186/691 in its Top Public Universities in America and U.S. News and World Report ranks it #11 Regional Public Colleges and Universities
5. University of Maryland Global Campus
The University of Maryland is a well-respected online campus and awards a BS in Environmental Management through its Healthcare and Science division. This program is designed to prepare you to, among other things, evaluate and develop programs to manage environmental risk factors to human health.
Among the 120-credit hour curriculum includes general education classes along with the major’s requirements. You’ll enroll in classes in Environmental Regulations and Policy, Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental Technology, Human Health and Disease, Environmental Technology, and others. You’ll also be able to choose classes from either a Sustainability or Toxicology and Hazard Control focus to align with your particular career goals. Classes are offered completely online or in a hybrid format.
Completion of an online application ($50 fee) begins the admission process to UMGC. The school asks for copies of all academic transcripts and that you submit a FAFSA®.
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
6. Oregon State University
If you’re enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at Oregon State University, or looking to beef up a postbaccalaureate degree, you can earn a minor through the online academic programs at Oregon State University in Environmental and Occupational Health. The minor offers a focus of study in public health prevention strategies and more.
This minor curriculum is a 27-credit hour field of study. You’ll take required courses in Occupational Health, Foundations of Environmental Health, and Public Health Toxicology. The minor also offers classes in Agricultural Safety and Health, Food Law, Safety and Health Standards Law, Emergency and Disaster Management, Sustainability for the Public Good, Population, Consumption, and Environment, etc. The courses are designed to provide the scientific knowledge and experience to influence policies in public health, environment, and occupational health and safety.
Application for postbaccalaureate students requires you have an accredited bachelor’s degree (with a 2.5 GPA), provide academic transcripts (showing completion of English Composition and College Algebra), and a personal statement of objectives. An application requires a $65 fee.
Estimated Tuition Costs: $326/per credit hour
Fast Facts: OSU ranks #4 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and Forbes includes the school in its Top Colleges 2021 rankings
7. Oakland University
The 100% online BS in Environmental Health and Safety from this Rochester, Michigan school is offered through the Public and Environmental Wellness department.
The curriculum requires completion of the school’s general education as well as EHS degree courses. You’ll take Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry, Human Biology, Basic Statistics for Health Sciences, Introduction to Psychology, etc. Major classes provided are in Fire Prevention and Protection, Safety and Health Administration and Programs, Occupational Safety and. Health, Introduction to Ergonomics, and more. A varied slate of electives in Hospital Safety and Health, Radiation Safety, Health Care Safety, etc. is provided.
Admission for first-year students requests you have an overall 3.2 high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores are no longer required. You may be asked for additional documents, such as academic transcripts. And, of course, you’ll need to complete an application.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $478-$562/per credit hour
Fast Facts: Oakland University is ranked #122 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and #262/691 in Niche’s Top Public Colleges in America
8. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Known to students as A&T Online, this division of NC A&T State University awards a BS in Environmental Health & Safety requiring 126-credit hours.
The curriculum is developed in preparation to work in Safety and Health careers and offers an Environmental Health and Safety Management or Science Focus. Depending on your focus, classes include topics in Environmental Health and Safety, Human Factors, First Aid and Safety , Environmental Risk Assessment, Environmental & Occupational Epidemiology, Environmental Ethics, and others.
A&T Online Admission criteria indicate you must meet the admission requirements for the University of North Carolina. Among the materials needed are an application and academic transcripts. You’ll want to contact the Office of Admissions, firstname.lastname@example.org, 800-443-8964 to determine what other information is needed.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $120-$576/credit hour
Fast Facts: Ranked #8 in U.S. News and World Report’s Public Historically Black College and Universities and is one of Forbes’ Top Colleges in 2021
9. Eastern Kentucky University
The BS in Occupational Safety at EKU is offered both on-campus and online. On completion of the program, you’ll qualify 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 classes in 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. You may also qualify for an Internship with departmental approval. This curriculum is 120-credit hours and is the same for online students as for those attending the Richmond, KY campus.
You’ll begin 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
10. Indiana State University
Here’s an online/hybrid BS in Safety Management which requires you to attend a one-week residency on the Terre Haute campus, during the summer of your junior or senior year. This is an ABET accredited program.
Among the classes, the curriculum includes foundational courses such as Industrial Organizational Psychology, Industrial Supervision, and Survey of Management. You’ll enroll in classes in Industrial Hygiene, Industrial Accident Prevention, Introduction to Industrial Health and Safety, Administration of Industrial Health and Safety Programs, Current Issues and Training Concepts in Industrial Health and Safety, etc. You may also qualify for an internship (typically paid) which requires approval.
A 2.0 GPA, academic transcripts, proof of financial support, and other documents are needed for admission along with an application. ACT/SAT scores don’t appear to be required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $337-$438/per credit hour
Fast Facts: ISU ranks #250 in Forbes‘ Public Colleges in America and it ranks in the top 200 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
11. University of Alaska – Anchorage
You can earn a BS in Occupational Safety and Health from UA-A, the only such program in Alaska, which features job training internships and other practical experiences. Courses are offered online and during the evenings.
Some of the core curriculum topics are Human Factors,, Injury Prevention and Risk Management, Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene, Risk Management for Safety and Health, Principles of Ergonomics, etc. You can choose 9 hours of electives from Selected Topics in Occupational Safety and Health as well as Advanced Occupational Safety and Health Internship. You’ll complete a senior Capstone Project applying your education to real world situational problems.
Admission consideration asks you have a high school diploma (or GED certificate) and you’ll self-report your GPA (a minimum 2.5 is required) when you submit an application. Official academic transcripts will be requested; and, although not used in admission consideration, standardized tests are used in determining math and writing course levels.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $8,622-$25,228/per academic year
Fast Fact: UA-A ranks #510 in Forbes Top Colleges 2021 and #71 in Regional Universities West category of U.S. News and World Report
12. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Depending on your ultimate objectives, the online BS in Occupational Safety and Health in Durant, Oklahoma may suit your needs.
Courses in this program 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. You’ll also choose electives from topics such as General Safety, Management, and Organizational Behavior, Special Studies, and/or an Internship. The entire curriculum requires 124-credit hours.
You’ll need to have a minimum of a high school diploma (GED) and a 2.7 overall GPA (or a 20 in ACT/SAT testing). Be prepared to provide more documents (i.e., academic transcripts) when requested. An application ($55 fee) starts your 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
13. Missouri Southern State University
The online BS in Environmental Health and Safety degree is one of only 28 in the US that is accredited by National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC), which is considered the gold standard in the field.
General education classes are required for this 120-credit hour curriculum and the major studies are diverse. Among the EHS classes offered are studies in Epidemiology, Disease Vector Control, Food Safety, Environmental Health and Safety, Industrial Hygiene, Environmental Risk and Safety Management, Environmental Toxicology, etc. You’ll also complete a Field Experience by submission of a proposal and approval of the EHS Program Director, Department Chair and School Dean as necessary.
Freshmen need a high school diploma with a 2.25 GPA or higher, be in the top 50% of your class, and submission of ACT/ACT test scores for admission consideration. You should be prepared to submit academic transcripts and additional documents as requested. An application is available online. (NOTE: This program is Fast Track Incentive Grant Eligible.)
Estimated Tuition Cost: $310/per credit hour
Fast Facts: MSSU was established in 1937 and US News and World Report ranks it in the top 15 of its Top Public Schools
14. California University of Pennsylvania
If you have an Associate Degree in a related field, you may want to explore this degree completion program. Located in California, Pennsylvania, Cal U provides an online BS in Industrial Technology Management which can prepare you for a position as a Safety Manager.
Coursework involves studies in OSHA General Industrial Safety, Technical Supervision, Quality Planning and Analysis, Concepts and Issues in Technology Management, Technical Supervision, as well as an Internship or Research Project. The degree requires you complete general education studies in Humanities, Fine Arts, Natural and Social Sciences, Math, English, and Health and Wellness.
Cal U accepts either an institutional application or the Common App and both require an application fee. Official academic transcripts are necessary. Optional materials include ACT/SAT scores, personal essay, and/or letters of reference.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $328/per credit hour
Fast Facts: The Princeton Review ranks Cal U among the Best in the Northeast in its 2021 categories and it’s #204 in US News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
15. University of Central Missouri
You’re given three options for earning this BS in Occupational Safety with specialties in Environmental, Safety, or Health Science Management concentrations.
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 required. NOTE: You may consider enrolling in the Occupational Safety BS/Occupational Safety Management MS (Accelerated Program) either online, hybrid, or on campus. You’ll earn both a bachelor and master degree in five years as opposed to the six typically needed for both degrees.
UCM considers a wide scope of factors in considering students for admission. Among those application considerations are 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
Why Should I Get My Occupational Safety and Health Degree Online?
With the widespread availability of computers and the Internet in the 1990s, as well as the Covid pandemic of the 21st century, we’ve seen more colleges and universities develop online opportunities to earn college degrees. These are the same programs offered on campus with the same curriculum and faculty. Online courses typically are more intensive and typically shorter in duration and offered in short 5-8 weeks segments. This allows degrees to be earned in less time and less money. If you need to work as you pursue a degree, online classes allow you to continue working and help you to have a more balanced work-life experience.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2000, 53% of undergraduate students worked full time. In 2020, US News and World Report cited a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce that found close to 70% work while enrolled in college.
Frequently, schools offer online students in-state tuition regardless of the state of residence. This can broaden your access to schools/programs options without adding significant tuition costs. NOTE: The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is integral in allowing students to cross states to earn an online degree. You may want to check that the school(s) you’re interested in are able to accept students from your state.
Can I Get an Accredited Occupational Health and Safety Degree Online?
Short answer? Yes, the majority of only degree programs hold regional accreditation from a Department of Education approved organization, such as the Higher Learning Commission. All the universities and colleges in this ranking hold, at minimum, regional accreditation. But, accreditation doesn’t necessarily stop there, as individual programs can hold accreditation as well.
As mentioned above, there are industry agencies that provide specialty accreditation for Occupational Health and Safety education programs. You should look for programs accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and/or the BS is a Qualified Academic Program (QAP) by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).
ABET is a non-governmental agency that accredits programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology and assures you the program meets quality standards.
There are other program recognitions, such as offered by the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC).
Some programs hold designations, such as 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.
What Does a Person Do in Occupational Health and Safety?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and online job sites indicates there are numerous OSH careers available. Careers as Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) directors, technicians, analysts can be found in hospitals/health systems, manufacturing/industry, local, state, and federal government agencies, consulting services, and more.
One of the best descriptions for the field is from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to “…ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance…” OSH professionals assure that safety regulations are identified and addressed with processes developed to track compliance through analysis and written reports of the investigation of accidents, incidents, or complaints, and must more.
Other careers, as listed by the BLS, include Emergency Management Directors, Health and Safety Engineers, Environmental Science and Protection, Construction and Building Inspectors, Fire Inspectors, Environmental Scientists and Specialists, or Health and Safety Engineers, and more.