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Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D.

May 13, 2024

Next Start Date


Courses Required


Cost Per Credit Hour


Total Credit Hours
(18 Coursework, 24 Research Credits)

Online Courses

Learning Format

Become a subject matter expert.

The online Occupational Safety and Health Ph.D. program is designed for students/professionals who aspire to advance their knowledge, research potential, and overall expertise to be able to tackle research and development opportunities in academia, consulting, or high-level industry positions. The program equips students with the skills necessary to tackle complex occupational safety and health challenges by seamlessly integrating structured coursework with applied research. The flexible, self-paced online curriculum allows students to balance their professional commitments while pursuing their doctoral degrees. Optional on-campus sessions and the opportunity to visit the campus to conduct lab-related research enrich the learning experience and foster a deeper understanding of the subject matter. The program's industry-focused curriculum addresses the growing demand for doctoral-level expertise in high-risk sectors such as healthcare, fire safety, construction, and more.

Occupational Safety students looking at a laptop.

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a 4 percent yearly increase in job opportunities in this field through 2024, graduates will be ready to address the needs of the public and private sectors. Specifically, the program graduates will help employers adhere to safety and health regulations, and design and implement programs to prevent disease, injury, or environmental damage.

Program Requirements

Curriculum in Doctor of Philosophy – Occupational Safety and Health
A candidate for the Ph.D. degree with a major in occupational safety and health must comply with the rules and regulations as outlined in the WVU Graduate Catalog and the specific requirements of the Statler College and the Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Department.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree with a major in occupational safety and health is administered through the college’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The research work for the doctoral dissertation must show a high degree of originality on the part of the student and must constitute an original contribution to the art and science of occupational safety and health.

All Ph.D. degree candidates are required to perform research and follow a planned program of study. The student’s research advisor, in conjunction with the student’s Advising and Examining Committee (AEC) will be responsible for determining the plan of study appropriate to the student’s needs. The underlying principle of the planned program is to provide the students with the necessary support to complete their degrees and prepare them for their career.

Required core courses for the Ph.D. program are determined by the student’s area of emphasis. The research work for the doctoral dissertation may entail a fundamental investigation or a broad and comprehensive investigation into an area of specialization.

Educational Objectives/Outcomes

Program Educational Objectives
Drawing from the university's mission, the program mission, and the needs of our constituents, the following educational objectives were developed for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Occupational Safety and Health:

  • Anticipate and recognize hazards and environmental cases requiring the application of safety and health methods in occupational settings.
  • Identify social and epidemiological trends in occupational safety and health issues at the national and international levels.
  • Identify methods of management in application of effective control techniques.
  • To demonstrate understanding of federal, state, and local regulatory agencies as they impact the practice of occupational safety and health.
  • Conduct, disseminate, and publish original research in occupational safety and health.
  • Be qualified to enter the profession as a professor, practitioner, or researcher in occupational safety and health.

Student Outcomes
In order to meet the Program Educational Objectives, students of the Occupational Safety and Health Doctoral program must be able to meet the following educational outcomes at the time of their graduation. Students will have acquired the ability:

  • To construct, manage, and evaluate a comprehensive safety and health program for large industry or government agencies.
  • To participate in the safety and health regulatory process as an individual or part of a corporation or university.
  • To critically evaluate research conducted by other individuals or corporations in occupational safety and health.
  • To provide excellent teaching at the University or corporate levels.
  • To participate in activities such as conferences or seminars for continued professional improvement.
  • To actively participate as a leader in the professional organizations that serve the occupational safety and health fields.
  • To demonstrate the highest possible ethical standards in the field of occupational safety and health.

Program Detail

The Occupational Safety and Health Ph.D. program is meticulously designed to offer a self-paced learning structure that caters to the varying needs of full-time students and/or working professionals. The program entails a total of 42 credit hours, encompassing 24 credits dedicated to research work and 18 credits attributed to coursework. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree (with significant work experience) or a master's degree in safety or related fields will be eligible for admission into the program.

Format: Online 8-week courses
Next Start Date: Spring 2024

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Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D. Admission Requirements

The qualified students must hold B.S. and/or M.S. degrees in safety-related disciplines.

A direct track option from the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree for prospective qualified students with exceptional academic records and/or professional experience is available.

  • Applicants must have earned a GPA of 3.0 or better (out of a possible 4.0) in their undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  • Applicants with a cumulative grade point average of less than 3.00 may be considered for admission if they have professional or other relevant experience.
  • A statement of purpose. Explain your motivation for pursuing a Ph.D. in Occupational Safety and Health and how your research interests align with the program's focus and faculty expertise. Discuss any personal, academic, or professional experiences that have shaped your interest in this field and the research area/topic you intend to pursue during the Ph.D. program.
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of all previous college coursework
  • International applicants must meet the WVU requirement of English language proficiency.

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Avishek Choudhury profile image.

Dr. Avishek Choudhury

Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D.
"My aim is to empower students to become not just proficient learners, but critical thinkers with a robust problem-solving toolkit that extends well beyond the confines of the classroom."

Avishek Choudhury went into his field of study because it was in the pioneering landscape where systems engineering meets cognitive human factors in healthcare.

"I found myself at the thrilling intersection of technology, healthcare, and human behavior," he says.

His work involves unraveling the intricacies of healthcare environments, fostering systems that are not only efficient and reliable but also emphatically human-centered.

"We champion innovative solutions, setting a new benchmark in healthcare delivery," he says. "The solutions are user-friendly, enhancing the safety and wellbeing of both healthcare professionals and patients alike."

But his role is also about preparing the next generation of professionals.

"This is not just a profession, it is a commitment to revolutionizing healthcare."

In his classroom, he expects his students to immerse themselves in a deep well of knowledge, venturing far beyond the pursuit of grades.

He emphasizes conceptual understanding over rote memorization and nurtures a learning environment where curiosity is not just encouraged, but is a requisite.

"My aim is to empower students to become not just proficient learners, but critical thinkers with a robust problem-solving toolkit that extends well beyond the confines of the classroom."

Jeremy Gouzd profile image.

Dr. Jeremy Gouzd

Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D.
"All students learn a little differently than others. Being able to see that and provide the material in different ways until you see the ‘light bulb’ moment is crucial."

Jeremy Gouzd decided to go into his field of study because throughout his career he enjoyed engineering and the field of occupational safety.

"Along with those fields of study, I had a passion for teaching," he says.

He tries to get as much involvement with his students as possible, because he believes this is the best way to communicate the material that is being taught.

"Teaching online is different in that the paths you need to take to connect with the student are different," he says. "The information isn't conveyed in the same manner as the traditional style of teaching."

He engages in as much feedback with students as possible, through grading comments, discussions, announcements, and emails.

"I also record shorter versions of my lectures that students seem to be more apt to watch and which highlight and move through the material as the student would, week to week."
"I think that all students learn a little differently than others. Being able to see that and provide the material, information, and lectures in those different ways until you see the ‘light bulb’ moment is crucial."

Dr. Ashish Nimbarte profile image.

Dr. Ashish Nimbarte

Department Chair, IMSE
Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D.

Dr. Ashish Nimbarte’s training and expertise is in the general areas of Ergonomics and Energy Efficiency. He joined the IMSE department at WVU in August 2009 and he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in 2015. Due to his strong interest in and commitment to graduate education, he was appointed as the Graduate Program Coordinator of the Industrial Engineering (IE) program in 2015. His research interest is motivated by the need to better characterize the factors that impede sustainability of industrial operations so that effective control strategies can be implemented.

Over the last few years, while maintaining his main research thrust in Ergonomics, Dr. Nimbarte has broadened his research expertise to the areas of energy efficiency, pollution prevention, lean implementations, and waste management to develop research projects that apply a holistic approach based on modern Industrial Engineering methods and principles. These projects involve close collaboration with regional manufacturing businesses and are aimed at productivity improvement through a synergistic integration of various production-related entities.

Dr. Nimbarte has served in several leadership positions within various professional societies. He was elected to serve as the member of the executive committee for the International Society for Occupational Ergonomics and Safety for seven years (2012-2019), becoming president of the society in 2018. He also acted as President of the Construction Division of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers in 2017. Dr. Nimbarte additionally serve on the editorial boards of five international peer-reviewed scientific journals in the areas of Occupational Ergonomics and Safety.

JuHyeong Ryu profile image.

Dr. JuHyeong Ryu

Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D.
"To adapt to the changing landscape of education, I leverage advanced web-based tools in online classes, tailoring learning experiences to individual students' needs and progress."

JuHyeong Ryu entered the field of safety engineering and management because he was driven by a strong desire to enhance worker safety, health, and productivity.

"Combining my background in architectural and civil engineering, I have developed a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on sustainability and leveraging cutting-edge technologies like human motion sensing, artificial intelligence, biomechanical analysis, and automated work systems," he says.
"Despite the challenges, I'm proud to have made a meaningful contribution to improving occupational safety in various industries."

His teaching approach is centered on facilitating meaningful and engaging online learning experiences.

"I am proficient in delivering content effectively through digital platforms, ensuring that students remain actively involved in the online classroom."
"My experiences as a research advisor, particularly in the online PhD in Occupational Safety and Health program, have equipped me with valuable insights and strategies to enhance the online education environment."
"I place a strong emphasis on personalized feedback and engagement, ensuring that students have the resources they need to excel in their academic journey."

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

WVU provides a comprehensive approach to helping you finance your education. Learn more by visiting the Student Financial Services website.

Students are encouraged to:

  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the June 30, 2024 deadline to determine their eligibility for federal and state funds as well as scholarships. WVU’s FAFSA Code is 003827; and
  • Check with your employer to see if they provide financial support for earning your graduate degree.

Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D. total degree cost: Around $30,000 to $35,000 – Residents and Non-Residents

Tuition and fees are usually not the only educational expenses you may have while pursuing a degree. You may have other costs such as books, supplies and living expenses. Please see the Estimate Costs and Aid webpage for how to estimate and plan for other potential expenses.

The future for graduates with an Occupational Safety and Health, Ph.D.

Career paths:


  • Healthcare Safety Manager: Graduates can ensure a safe environment in healthcare facilities by identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks, developing policies, and overseeing compliance to protect patients and staff from infections, injuries, or accidents.
  • Infection Control Specialist: With specialized knowledge, graduates can develop and implement infection control programs, monitor compliance, and train healthcare staff in best practices to minimize the spread of infections within healthcare settings.


  • Construction Safety Manager: With industry-specific knowledge, graduates can develop and implement safety programs for construction sites, ensuring worker safety, reducing accidents, and maintaining compliance with regulations.
  • Site Safety Coordinator: Graduates can oversee safety operations on construction sites, monitor compliance with safety regulations, conduct safety training, and investigate incidents to prevent future occurrences.


  • Fleet Safety Manager: By applying advanced knowledge of safety management principles, graduates can develop and maintain comprehensive safety programs for vehicle fleets, minimizing accidents and ensuring compliance with transportation safety regulations.
  • Rail Safety Specialist: Graduates can assess rail systems for safety hazards, develop and implement safety measures, and ensure compliance with industry regulations to maintain the safety and integrity of rail transportation systems.

Government and Public Sector

  • Occupational Safety and Health Specialist (OSHA): With a strong foundation in safety legislation and compliance, graduates can work with government agencies such as OSHA, inspecting workplaces, enforcing safety regulations, and contributing to developing new safety policies.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Specialist (EPA): Graduates can collaborate with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and enforce regulations, evaluate the environmental impact of industrial activities, and promote best practices for environmental health and safety.

A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required in all courses

Research Requirements (24)

Course Title Credit Hours
Research 24
SAFM 797 Research

Coursework Mandatory Requirements (9)

These three (3) courses must be completed:

Course Title Credit Hours
SAFM 601 Research Method 3
SAFM 602 Systems Thinking 3
SAFM 603 Applied Statistics 3

Coursework Requirements (9)

Select three (3) courses from the following based on degree path:

Course Title Credit Hours
SAFM 501 Safety Management Integration 3
SAFM 502 Controlling Environmental and Personnel Hazards 3
SAFM 505 Safety Legislation and Compliance 3
SAFM 528 Economic Aspects of Safety 3
SAFM 534 Fire Safety Management 3
SAFM 550 Loss Control and Recovery 3
SAFM 552 Safety and Health Training 3
SAFM 640 Instrumentation for Safety Managers 3

Any BIOM, BMEG, CE, CHE, CHEM, CPE, CS, EE, IENG, IH&S, MAE, MATH, MINE, PCOL, PNGE, PHYS, PUBH, SAFM, SENG, or STAT courses 500-795, as approved by the student's AEC


  • Plan of Study
  • Qualifying Exam
  • Candidacy Exam
  • Final Exam
  • Dissertation

Total Hours: 42

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the options to complete the research requirements?

The students will have three options to complete the research requirements:

  • Web-based: This option will mainly involve web-based experimentation and data collection. The student can develop games and web or mobile applications to conduct research in UX/UI, Human behavior, or Decision making. Additionally, for Artificial Intelligence /Machine Learning/ Simulation/ Management focused research, tools are available to design studies/ experiments and collect the data virtually. This option will also involve non-experimental surveys, interview-based research, retrospective/secondary data analysis, and theory development.
  • Hybrid experimental: The student will have the option to visit the WVU campus for a limited duration to conduct their experiment in our labs. Safety-related research that mandates controlled experiments will fall under this option.
  • Industry-led: With this option, the student and their research advisor will identify an existing problem within the student's workplace (industry, national lab, etc.) and will develop a theoretical framework and applied solutions to address the problem. This option will also help the IMSE department build strong industry relationships.

How will you provide programmatic support services to online Ph.D. students?

We will conduct a virtual orientation session at the beginning of every semester. The students will work closely with the program coordinator to develop a preliminary plan of study by the end of the first semester and their Advising and Examining Committee (AEC) by the end of the second semester.

What are the various program completion milestones?

  • Complete the coursework.
  • Complete the qualifying exam requirements (typically completed by the end of the second semester or completion of coursework).
  • Complete the candidacy exam requirements (completed after the qualifying exam, by the end of the second year, or once the research proposal is finalized).
  • Complete the final exam (typically completed by the end of the third year or after the completion of research requirements)

What is involved in Qualifying Examination?

This examination is designed to assess the basic competency of students in the occupational safety and health field to determine whether or not they have sufficient knowledge to undertake independent research. There are two options available to take the qualifying exam: (1) coursework based; (2) research based.

What is involved in Candidacy Examination?

In order to be admitted to candidacy, the student must pass a candidacy exam, which is designed to evaluate the student’s overall ability to engage in high-level research. A student who has successfully completed all coursework, passed the qualifying examination, and successfully defended the research proposal is defined as one who is a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.

What is involved in Final Examination?

At the completion of the dissertation research, candidates must prepare a dissertation and pass the final oral examination (defense) administered by their AEC. In order to complete the Ph.D. requirements, a student must pass a final oral examination on the results embodied in the dissertation. This examination is open to the public and, in order to evaluate critically the student's competency, may include testing on material in related fields, as deemed necessary by the AEC. In addition, since the Ph.D. degree is primarily a research degree that embodies the results of an original research proposal and represents a significant contribution to scientific literature, the student must submit a manuscript on this research to the AEC.

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