Academic Programs

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The Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. degree is intended for students who excel academically and would like to pursue advanced studies in ergonomics. Students entering the Ph.D. program are expected to meet common academic standards, but the course work and areas of study are generally tailored to meet the interest of the student and available resources. During their first year in the Ph.D. program, students will focus primarily on course work that will introduce them to areas of possible research and prepare them for work in those areas. The first year culminates in a qualifying examination that evaluates their readiness for advancing in the program. During the second year, students will continue to take courses, but will also work with individual faculty to define their research topic. This second phase of the program concludes with the preliminary examination which evaluates the student’s readiness to conduct a proposed research project. Students are then advanced to candidacy and select a faculty dissertation committee who will oversee their research. This last phase culminates in a public defense of the research dissertation.


The MS Program

The Masters degree is intended for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering or physical science.  Most students can complete the Occupational Safety Engineering/Ergonomics (OSE) option in 10-16 months, starting in either September or January.  Students have flexibility in selecting course work to match specific interests, including cognitive ergonomics, physical ergonomics, safety engineering, and safety management.  Those wishing to pursue a Ph.D. degree will find that the M.S. program provides excellent preparation.


Select Graduate-Level Courses

IOE 430 – Global Cultural Systems Engineering (3 credits)
Selected topics of systems engineering are examined from the global cultural perspective. Topics include global cultural issues of design, marketing, and communication; engineering aesthetics and ethics; individual and aggregated behavioral decision making; social networking and online communities; research and evaluation methods, applications in many areas of systems engineering.  Atlas Course Information

IOE 432 – Industrial Engineering Instrumentation Methods (3 credits)
The characteristics and use of analog and digital instrumentation applicable to industrial engineering problems. Statistical methods for developing system specifications. Applications in physiological, human performance and production process measurements are considered. Atlas Course Information

IOE 434 – Human Error and Complex System Failures (3 credits)
The course covers a wide range of factors contributing to system failures: human perceptual and cognitive abilities and limitations, the design of modern technologies and interfaces, and biases in accident investigation and error analysis. Recent concepts in the area of high reliability organizations and resilience engineering are reviewed. Students perform systems analyses of actual mishaps and disasters in various domains, including various modes of transportation, process control, and health care. Atlas Course Information

IOE 436 – Human Factors in Computer Systems (3 credits)
This course discusses how to design and evaluate computer systems for ease of use. Topics to be covered include keyboards and how people type, vision and video display design, human body size and computer furniture, regulations concerning working conditions, software issues, methods for studying user performance, documentation, and information systems of the future. Atlas Course Information

IOE 437 – Automotive Human Factors (3 credits)
This course provides an overview of human factors and driving to help engineers design motor vehicles that are safe and easy to use, and to provide basic knowledge for those interested in conducting automotive human factors/ergonomics research. The focus is on the total vehicle (all aspects of vehicle design) and for an international market. Key topics include design guidelines, crash investigation and statistics, driving performance measures, vehicle dynamics, occupant packaging, and driver vision. Atlas Course Information

IOE 438 – Occupational Safety Management (3 credits)

IOE 463 – Measure & Design of Work (3 credits)
Design of lean manufacturing systems requires knowledge and skills for describing manual work, identifying value and non-value added work elements, designing efficient work equipment and methods, preventing fatigue and related worker health problems and predicting work performance. Atlas Course Information

IOE 533 – Human Factors in Engineering Systems (3 credits)
The course is designed to provide a basic perspective of the major processes of human motor behavior. Emphasis will be placed on understanding motor control and man-(machine)-environment interaction. Information processing will be presented and linked to motor behavior. Application of theories to the design of the work-place, controls and tools will be underlined and illustrated by substantial examples. Atlas Course Information

IOE 534 – Biomechanics (3 credits)
Anatomical and physiological concepts are introduced to understand and predict human motor capabilities, with particular emphasis on the evaluation and design of manual activities in various occupations. Quantitative models are developed to explain: (1) muscle strength performance; (2) cumulative and acute musculoskeletal injury; (3) physical fatigue; and (4) human motion control. Atlas Course Information

IOE 536 – Cognitive Ergonomics (3 credits)
Theories and concepts of human information processing are introduced to analyze human perceptual and cognitive performance in human machine information systems such as intelligent transportation and manufacturing systems. Conceptual and quantitative models, interface design techniques, and research and evaluation methods are presented. Samples of on-going research are also discussed. Atlas Course Information

IOE 537 – Ergonomics for Inclusive Design (3 credits)
Population again, obesity and disability prevalence has increased the profile of inclusive design as an approach to accommodating the broad spectrum of human physical, perceptual and cognitive abilities. This course is a graduate-level study of contemporary ergonomics research methods for examining human performance variability associated with again, disability and health-related factors and its relevance to inclusive systems engineering and design. Atlas Course Information

IOE 539 – Occupational Safety Ergonomics (3 credits)
Recognition, evaluation, and control of generic safety hazards (confined spaces, electricity, fire, mechanical energy, etc.) found in contemporary workplaces, using case studies from manufacturing, transportation and power generation. Students perform an interdisciplinary team project using contemporary systems safety methods (e.g., fault tree analysis, failure modes and effects analysis, or job safety analysis) to redesign a work station or consumer product. Atlas Course Information

IOE 593 – Directed Research/Professional Project (2-4 credits)
Students work as part of a team within a production or service organization on a design project that emphasizes the application of ergonomic principles to enhance the safety, productivity, and/or quality aspects of a human-machine system. Student(s) must register for the section number of the instructor/advisor. A maximum of six credits of IOE 590/593 may be counted toward the IOE Masters Degree.

IOE 836 – Seminar in Human Performance (1 credit)
Case studies of research techniques used in the human performance and safety fields. Speakers actively engaged in research will discuss their methods and results. Atlas Course Information

IOE 837/EHS 668 – Seminar in Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (1 credit)
This seminar provides an opportunity for graduate students interested in occupational health and safety engineering problems to become acquainted with various related contemporary research and professional activities, as presented by both staff and guest speakers. Atlas Course Information


Funding Opportunities

Ph.D. Funding

The Ph.D degree requires 4 to 5 years, with one to two years of intensive course work and two to three years of intensive research. The PhD is intended for students who wish to conduct, manage or interpret research in academic, industry or government settings. Please note:

  • You may apply to the Ph.D degree directly from an undergraduate degree. You do not need to start with a Masters degree.
  • Full Fellowship funding is standard for admitted students.

Masters Funding

The Masters degree is intended for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering or physical
science. Most students can complete the OSE option in 10-16 months. Students have flexibility in
selecting course work to match specific interests, including cognitive ergonomics, physical
ergonomics, safety engineering, and safety management. A list of commonly-elected classes is
available on the following pages. Those wishing to pursue a Ph.D. degree will find that the M.S.
program provides excellent preparation.

A limited number of traineeships (tuition and/or stipend support) are available from the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents who
are interested in OSE professional and research careers. All NIOSH trainees are required to take the
following core courses in safety, ergonomics, and public health.

The below required courses applies to incoming NIOSH trainees only.

OSE Required Courses 

Safety/Occupational Health Core – 14-15 credits 

  • EHS 601 (Exposure Science and Health; 3 credits) or EHS 652 (Evaluation of Chemical Hazards; 3 credits) 
  • EHS 658 (Physical Hazards; 2 credits)
  • IOE 438 (Occupational Safety Management; 2 credits) or IOE 434 (Human Error and Complex System Failures; 3 credits)
  • IOE 539 (Safety Engineering Methods; 3 credits) 
  • IOE 837 (Occupational Health and Safety Engineering Seminar; 1 credit) 
  • EHS elective in either Occupational and Environmental Disease (EHS 603; 3 credits) or Essentials of Toxicology (EHS 602; 3 credits) or Biological Agents (EHS 576; 2 credits) 

Epidemiology and Statistics Core – 6 credits 

  • PUBHLTH 512 (Principles of Epidemiology For Public Health; 3 credits) 
  • IOE 465 or IOE 570 (Design of Experiments; 3 credits) 

Seminars and Research – 4-7 credits 

  • IOE 836 (Human Performance Seminar; 1 credit) 
  • IOE 590 (Directed Research; 3-6 credits) 

Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCRS) training is required for all students (EHS 510; 1 credit).

NIOSH trainees must complete a Master’s research project (IOE 590) and must earn a minimum of 36 credit hours to receive financial assistance through the NIOSH grant. 

Students who do not receive NIOSH funding can complete the M.S. degree with 30 credit hours and
have more flexibility in course selection. Specific requirements for the IOE M.S. degree can be found
HERE.