Northeastern University Occupational Ergonomics and Health



Title of program

MS in Occupational Ergonomics and Health


Department sponsoring program

Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Lauren A. Murphy 
Northeastern University 
301 Robinson Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue 
Boston, MA 02115 

Web site

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered


Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The focus of the Occupational Ergonomics and Health Program is on both primary and secondary prevention approaches for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injuries as well as integrating worker health promotion activities. Such approaches include workstation configuration and design; modifying work tasks; training workers, supervisors, and caregivers; as well as creating ergonomics management systems, organizational policies and practices, worksite wellness programs, and total worker health efforts.

This program is the only degree program that combines ergonomics and health programs. What also makes this program unique is the emphasis on not just physical ergonomic factors, like the design of tools and equipment, but also the importance of organizational ergonomic factors, like policies, communication, and teamwork. The management of workplace ergonomics and health programs requires a multidisciplinary set of skills based on understanding the interaction of the work environment, including the physical and organizational factors. These skills include a leadership role in an interprofessional approach to injury management, hazard recognition and control, and worker education and training. Overall, ergonomics and health professionals must be able to look beyond the task demands of a job and incorporate a systems approach to the prevention of injury to improve the overall health of today's workers.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

N/A (new program)

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?

Yes, there are online courses

Are required courses offered at night? 


Are required courses offered during summer?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

April 1 for fall admission (domestic and international students), October 1 for spring admission (domestic students only)

Application fee


Are separate applications required for university and department?




Minimum requirements

Grade point average over last 4 years of 3.0 (B) or higher on an A = 4.0 scale

GRE combined: 50th percentile

Other: It is recommended that students have either a bachelor's or higher degree in a technical discipline (e.g., industrial engineering), social science discipline (management, human resources), or health science discipline (e.g., nursing, medicine, physical therapy, pharmacy, public health, exercise science, occupational therapy). However, there are no prerequisites.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Previous research activity: low

Relevant work experience: low

Extracurricular activities: low

Letters of recommendation: high

Personal interview: n/a

Tuition and fees

$1,388 per credit hour for 2016–2017



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

Teaching assistantship: select opportunities (not tuition exempt)

Research assistantship: select opportunities (not tuition exempt)

Fellowships: select opportunities (not tuition exempt)

When should students apply for financial assistance?

At same time as submitting application for admission



Graduate degrees offered


Number of units required


Exams required


Language requirements


Research required


Practical experience required

Capstone (4-credit course)

Typical number of years required to obtain degree


Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Epidemiology (3)

Biostatistics in Public Health (3)

Organizational Behavior, Work Flow Design, and Change Management (3)

Environmental Health (3)

Ergonomics and the Work Environment (3)

Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion (3)

Electives (units)

Five electives are required from the following courses:

Understanding Culture and Diversity (3)

Development Across the Life Span (3)

Human Factors Engineering (4)

Social Epidemiology (3)

Advances in Measuring Behavior (3)

Evaluating Scientific Evidence (3)

Qualitative Methods in Health and Illness (3)

Health Education, Promotion, and Wellness (3)

Sociology of Work and Employment (3)

Number of courses outside department that are recommended


Average or typical class size in a required course




Research and support facilities available to students in the program: 

The Occupational Biomechanics and Ergonomics Laboratory research aims to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by understanding injury mechanisms through laboratory and field studies that utilize biomechanics, neuromuscular, exposure-response, and intervention study designs and methods. Located on the ground floor of Robinson Hall, this space contains a state of the art office space for research staff and trainees and a human movement and biomechanics laboratory space, both approximately 600 square feet. The flexible design of biomechanics laboratory space allows for a range of experiments investigating thumb movements while using mobile computing technology to the ergonomics of dynamic office workstation designs. The laboratory contains equipment to measure human motion and posture, surface electromyography, and applied forces. Human motion equipment includes Northern Digital Optotrak system and Ascension Technology Mini-Bird systems. Electromyography equipment included 12 channel Delsys and an 8 channel wireless Mega systems. Load cells to measure force include custom made force plates for computing to ATI 3-axis force-torque sensors.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Teaching opportunities would involve teaching one or two lectures for a course.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Current research conducted by faculty aims to prevent work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) through multiple research approaches that in general examine how the design of the environment, both built and organizational, affects worker health outcomes. This research is based on a systems approach articulated through the goal of modern ergonomics, which is to optimize system performance and human wellbeing. Work is also being done that examines the safety climate of organizations within the trucking and construction industries, and how psychosocial factors impact workers' health and safety.



Current number of active students in program, by gender


Current number of first-year students in program


Based on current graduate students in the program, the mean score on admission tests and undergraduate GPA by degree being sought are


Number of current HF/E postdocs 0



Lauren A. Murphy, PhD, Portland State U., 2011 — safety climate; macroergonomics; work-family integration

Jack Dennerlein, PhD, U. of California, Berkeley, 1996 — ergonomics and safety; occupational biomechanics

Alycia Markowski, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Northeastern U., 2007 — manual physical therapy; treatment for neck pain, low back pain, and headaches; movement re-training of motor control

Maura Iversen, Doctor of Science, Harvard U., 1996; Doctor of Physical Therapy, MGH Institute of Health Professions, 2005 — rheumatology; clinical epidemiology; behavioral science

[Updated November 2016]