Auburn University

Location:   Auburn, Alabama

Department:   Industrial and Systems Engineering

Quick links:

Location:   Auburn, Alabama

Department:   Industrial and Systems Engineering

Quick links:

Directory of Graduate Programs


Title of program:

Center for Occupational Safety, Ergonomics, and Injury Prevention

Year human factors/ergonomics
program was established:


Accredited by HFES?


Joint program:

Program is part of the NIOSH-supported Deep South Education and Research Center (ERC), which includes programs in occupational safety & ergonomics, occupational injury prevention, industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, and occupational health nursing.

Contact person for more information, including applications:

Mark Schall, Ph.D., CPE
Director, Center for Occupational Safety, Ergonomics, & Injury Prevention
3323 Shelby Center, 345 W. Magnolia Way, Auburn, AL 36849


Academic calendar:


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered:

  • MS;
  • MISE;
  • PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the programs:

The mission of the Center for Occupational Safety, Ergonomics, and Injury Prevention is to address occupational health and safety burdens by shaping the future of work through innovative research, instructional excellence, and continuing education. Two academic research training programs are the emphasis of the center: Occupational Safety and Ergonomics (OSE) and Occupational Injury Prevention (OIP).

The overarching goal of the OSE program is to train graduate-level professionals with strong backgrounds in engineering or physical sciences to a) identify, analyze, control, and prevent OSE hazards through engineering methodologies and design; b) conduct research in OSE; and c) participate as a member of an interdisciplinary occupational safety and health team. An integral part of the program is instruction in managing safety and ergonomics programs, including functioning as leaders in occupational health and safety. In light of these goals and consistent with the missions of Auburn University as a land-grant institution, the specific objectives of the OSE program are as follows:

Objective 1: Training. To provide a) excellent breadth and depth of OSE graduate course work to prepare the next generation of OSE researchers and practitioners; and b) comprehensive OSE educational off-campus opportunities for both full-time and part-time master's and doctoral students as well as OSE practitioners via distance (streaming) course offerings.

Objective 2: Research. To advance: a) knowledge in OSE through faculty and student research in direct support of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) culminating in scholarly publications; and b) the research capabilities of OSE students by involving them in faculty-supervised research activities.

Objective 3: Extension (Continuing Education [CE] and Outreach). To provide: a) opportunities for both basic and advanced level CE in OSE for practicing engineering, supervisory, occupational medicine, and safety personnel; b) OSE educational opportunities for full-time on-campus students at the undergraduate level; and c) non-fee consulting and technical assistance to those facilities and individuals seeking OSE guidance.

The primary purpose of the OIP program is to train graduate-level professionals with backgrounds in engineering or physical sciences on the public health model as applied to occupational injury prevention. Specifically, trainees are taught to (1) conduct occupational injury research through interdisciplinary collaborations with experts in occupational epidemiology, public health, medicine, nursing, safety engineering, and human factors/ergonomics, thus encouraging them to employ resources and knowledge beyond their primary area of expertise, and (2) address occupational injury issues through interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving using the public health model (i.e., identify and prioritize problems, quantify and prioritize risk factors, identification of strategies to prevent injuries, implement and evaluate controls, and monitor intervention efforts). Consistent with the missions of Auburn University as a land-grant institution (i.e., instruction, research, and extension), the objectives of the OIP program are as follows:

Objective 1: Instruction. To provide interdisciplinary occupational injury prevention doctoral-level educational opportunities for full-time trainees. 

Objective 2: Research. To provide opportunities for independent occupational injury prevention research and to enhance the injury research capabilities of OIP students facilitated through faculty-supervised interdisciplinary research activities.

Objective 3: Extension (Continuing Education and Outreach). To provide a) opportunities for both basic and advanced level continuing education in occupational injury prevention for practicing engineering, supervisory, occupational nursing, medical, and safety personnel; b) OIP educational opportunities for full-time on-campus and other degree-seeking students at the graduate level; and c) assistance to industry and individuals seeking occupational injury prevention information as time and resources permit.


Number of degrees granted during last 3 years:

  • MISE: 15
  • MS: 1
  • PhD: 6

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Are required courses offered during summer?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?



Application deadlines:

MS and MISE: There are no deadlines for admission since we accept students Fall and Spring terms and review applicants continuously.

PhD: January 15 (fall), August 15 (spring)

Application fees:

$60 domestic students, $70 international students


Minimum requirements

All MS and MISE applicants who have an undergraduate degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited program and a 2.75 or higher GPA are not required to submit a GRE score; however, all PhD applicants are required to submit a GRE score.

Applications must include completed application form, official transcripts, official GRE (if required) and TOEFL (if applicable) scores from ETS, Research Statement (PhD applicants only), and paid application fee. The departmental admissions committee evaluates the candidate and makes a recommendation to the Graduate School.  The department will send an email to the prospect informing them of the recommendation. The Graduate School notifies the candidate of the decision.

Please refer to the following website for more information:

Importance of other criteria as admission factors:

  • Work experience: low
  • Letters: medium
  • Interview: n/a

Tuition and fees

Visit for up-to-date estimations.


Number of students applying to the human factors/ergonomics program last year:


Number of students accepted into the program last year:


Number of students entering the program last year:


Anticipated number of openings per year for the next two years:



Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance:


Amount received per year:


Types of assistance available:

NIOSH stipends/fellowships (for U.S. citizens), TA, RA, tuition exemption

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With Application


Graduate degree offered:


Number of units required:

  • MS: 34 units
  • MISE: 33 units
  • PhD: at least 60 hours beyond the bachelor's degree including an industrial systems and engineering core of 10 hours

Exams required:

  • MS: oral exam
  • MISE: oral exam
  • PhD: general and oral exams

Language requirements:

  • MS: none
  • MISE: none
  • PhD: none

Research required:

  • MS: research plan of at least 4 hours
  • MISE: none
  • PhD: research plan of at least 10 hours

Practical experience required:

  • MS: none
  • MISE: none
  • PhD: none

Typical number of years required to obtain degree:

  • MS: 2
  • MISE: 2
  • PhD: 4-5

Is there a non-thesis option?

  • MS: no
  • MISE: yes
  • PhD: no


Required courses (units)

The OSE program requirements for the three degrees (MISE, MS, and PhD) are described in Table 1. The expectations for OSE Master’s students (MISE and MS) are identical except that MS students complete a thesis under the supervision of an OSE faculty member in place of three credit hours of classroom instruction. By the end of the third semester in residence, OSE MS students are expected to have filed a plan of study and selected a permanent thesis committee consisting of at least four faculty members, three of whom should be OSE faculty members and one other ISE (or ERC) faculty member. Doctoral students follow this same general advisory process, but are not expected to have study plans solidified until their doctoral research project/area is defined (typically during their second year). In addition, NIOSH-supported doctoral students are strongly encouraged whenever possible and appropriate to have a non-OSE ERC faculty member on their advisory committee to promote an interdisciplinary approach to improving worker safety and health.

Table 1. Minimum OSE Program Requirements for each degree (MISE, MS, and PhD).





OSE program required semester hours beyond Bachelor's degree




Minimum Industrial and Systems Engineering core requirement including departmental seminar (3 3hr. courses + 1 1hr. dept. seminar)




Minimum OSE 3 hr. courses (7 for MISE, 6 for MS, 10 for PhD )




Minimum thesis / dissertation hours (INSY 7990/8990) required




All NIOSH supported students enroll in the OSH Forum/Practicum series




* OSE PhD trainees must take an additional 6 hours of coursework or research/dissertation hours to graduate

OSE students enroll in both ISE and OSE core courses. The OSE core consists of six (6) courses including two safety engineering courses (INSY 6010, 7020), two ergonomics courses (INSY 7060, 7070), one human factors engineering course (INSY 7080), and the interdisciplinary Research Methods in Occupational Safety, Ergonomics, and Injury Prevention course (INSY 8020). These core courses are taught on an alternating year basis. In addition, three advanced courses are taught approximately every two years to support the matriculation of the Master’s and doctoral students: INSY 8010 (Advanced Safety Engineering), INSY 7050 (Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Hazards), and INSY 7040 (Cognitive Engineering and Systems Design). INSY 8060 (Contemporary Ergonomics) is taught periodically to support the curriculum and expose students to innovative topics of contemporary interest. Further, all OSE students participate in ERC Interdisciplinary activities. The OSE program director may occasionally allow minor deviations/substitutions to the typical plan of study for students to matriculate on schedule upon consultation with the program faculty.

While the Auburn ISE Department offers graduate degrees at both the MS and PhD levels, OIP students are only accepted for doctoral training. Graduates receive the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering. The OIP option is a focus area within the broader Industrial and Systems Engineering curriculum and uses many of the same resources and coursework provided by the OSE program. An important distinction between the OSE and OIP programs, however, is the focus of OIP on occupational injury epidemiology/statistical methods and the public health model. While OSE is more focused on the engineering solutions to OSH problems, OIP focuses more on defining and studying the underlying problems themselves and on scientifically measuring the effectiveness of OSH solutions.

OIP core courses consist of earning a Graduate Minor in Statistics (GMS) along with supplementary coursework and/or short courses in topical areas (Epidemiology, Design of Experiments, Survey Design) specified by the OIP Program Director and the trainee’s committee chair. The GMS at Auburn University requires 4 or more graduate statistics courses (12+ hours), Statistics Department approval, and inclusion of a doctoral committee member from the Statistics Department.  Students opting for the GMS OIP path are encouraged to supplement their statistics education with one or more epidemiology/public health short courses.  All OIP students must enroll in INSY 8020 (Research Methods in Occupational Safety, Ergonomics and Injury Prevention), a course that emphasizes study designs, interpretation of epidemiological data, preparing manuscripts, and an overall appreciation for how engineers can apply the public health model in professional practice.


Number of courses outside department that are required:

Depends on the degree path

Number of courses outside department that are recommended:

TBD depending on student's background

Average or typical class size in a required course:



Research and support facilities available to students in the program:
State-of-the-art laboratory and computer facilities are available for research in safety engineering, ergonomics/human factors, and injury prevention.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Graduate students are encouraged to serve as teaching assistants or as the primary instructor in basic undergraduate courses in statistics, engineering economy, work measurement, and ergonomics.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Workplace assessment and design; safety communication; evacuation modeling; manual material handling; evaluation and control of work-related musculoskeletal disorders; operations research applications to occupational safety; ergonomics/human factors; technological innovation and adoption; artificial intelligence.


Mark Schall, PhD, CPE, 2014, University of Iowa.

Yadrianna Acosta-Sojo, PhD 2020, University of Michigan.

Richard Sesek, PhD, MPH, CPE 1999, University of Utah.

Richard Garnett, PhD, P.E., CSP 2017, Auburn University.


Emeritus Faculty:

Sean Gallagher, PhD, CPE, FAIHA, 2003, Ohio State University.

Jerry Davis, PhD, CSPret., 2001, Auburn University.

Robert E. Thomas, PhD, CPEret., 1988, Texas A&M University.

[Updated February 2024]