Texas A & M Health Science Center

Location: College Station, Texas
Department: School of Rural Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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Program Background

Admission Requirements

Financial Assistance


Student Statistics

Application Process


Degree Requirements

Research/Teaching Opportunities


Directory of Graduate Programs



Title of program

Occupational Safety & Health Program (MSPH, MPH)

Joint program

With Texas A&M University College of Engineering; Interdisciplinary Engineering (PhD)

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established

1969; Ergonomics program transferred to HSC-SRPH in 2002

Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Jerome J. Congleton, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, 1266 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-1266; 979/845-5574;


Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MSPH, MPH, and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Field-oriented with emphasis on occupational biomechanics, worker physiology, industrial ergonomics, industrial hygiene, occupational epidemiology, fatigue, reliability, computer usability, knowledge-based systems, consumer products, office ergonomics, and safety. Past sponsored research in industrial ergonomics, manual materials handling, seat design, upper extremity disorders, driver interface, rehabilitation. Research also focuses on intensive study of methods leading to design criteria, critique of design deficiencies, how to work with design teams, problems/solutions program, and cost/benefit analysis. 

Number of degrees granted during last 5 years

MSPH 14, MPH 63, PhD 3

Can students attend part-time?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

June 1 (fall), November 1 (spring)

Application fees

$95 through SOPHAS Organization Web-based application; $25 secondary application through SRPH Student Affairs



Minimum requirements


GRE: 500 v; competitive totals 

Other: International students, minimum TOEFL scores: 587 paper-based, 240 computer-based, 105 internet-based 

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium 

Work experience: high 

Letters: medium 

Interview: medium (if needed)

Tuition and fees

Resident: $5,476, 2008–09 Fall & Spring (20 hours) 
Nonresident: $8,860, 2008–09 Fall & Spring (20 hours) 
International: $8,860, 2008–09 Fall & Spring (20 hours)



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

Fellowships, scholarships, assistantships



Graduate degrees offered

MSPH and MPH (Nonthesis option)

Number of units required

MSPH: 36 credit hours of approved graduate coursework (30 hours class work & 6 hours thesis) 

MPH (Nonthesis option): 45 credit hours of approved graduate coursework (42 hours class work & 3 hours practicum)

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

The curriculum features substantial flexibility to tailor a program of study that meets the individual's specific career aspirations while ensuring academic excellence. Each student will choose an advisory committee that directs the thesis and must approve the plan of study, electives, and transfer credits. The Occupational Safety Program offers studies in a broad range of areas, including human factors, ergonomics, health protection, industrial hygiene, occupational medicine, occupational measurements, and system safety. Within this program are several courses specializing in ergonomics.

Core courses: Intro to Epidemiology (3), Principles of Environmental & Occupational Health (3), Rural Public Health Systems (3), Intro to Health Policy & Management (3), Social & Behavioral Determinants of Health (3), Principles of Biostatistics (3) 

Supporting Occupational Safety courses: Industrial Hygiene (3), Instrumentation of Industrial Hygiene (3), Environmental & Occupational Diseases (3), Industrial Safety Systems (3), Case Studies (3), Risk Assessment (3), Environmental Assessment (3), Evaluation & Control of the Occupational Environment (3), Acoustics & Noise Control (3), Regulations of Occupational Safety & Health (3)

Human Factors/Ergonomics courses: Human Factors and Behavior-Based Safety (3), Ergonomics I (3), Ergonomics II (3)

Number of courses outside department that are required


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: 

Excellent teaching facilities and laboratories are available for graduate instruction, demonstration, and thesis investigation and research. SRPH's new 99,000 sq ft facility includes a 7,000 sq ft., state-of-the-art environmental and occupational health laboratory and a 1500 sq ft., state-of-the-science usability laboratory, which is generally used for small-scale and ergonomic usability tests and data processing of exposure assessments performed in the field for safety and industrial hygiene review. The 7,000 sq ft. environmental laboratory space includes a sample receipt and preparation area, a cell culture room, a media preparation room, and chemical hoods and biological hoods for working with blood and urine samples. Equipment located in this area includes an Accelerated Solvent Extraction (ASE) unit and a Zymark turbovap unit for rapid drying of solvents from extracted samples. The cell culture room also includes fume hoods, as well as two bacterial incubators and a CO2 incubator for growth of mammalian cells. The media preparation room includes an Agarmatic and Pourmatic for preparation of biological media and an automatic plate counter. A teaching laboratory and an analytical laboratory are also in the new building. Instruments in the analytical laboratory include a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer, and a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph. 

Usability Research is conducted in the usability lab throughout the three phases of the usability engineering lifecycle which include: requirements analysis, design/testing/development, and installation. The usability laboratory is designed to analyze all three of the lifecycle phases. The usability laboratory has ergonomics equipment including a lumbar motion analyzer, digital and analog force gauges, goniometers, levels, scales, pressure transducers, accelerometers, digital and analog heart rate and blood pressure monitors, rulers, digital video and digital still cameras, computers with video editing software, height adjustable tables, stands and ergonomic stools and chairs. Industrial hygiene and safety equipment includes gas monitoring pumps (handheld and electronic), noise equipment (dosimeter and octave band analyzers with stands), ventilation flow sensors for air flow and volume analysis, smoke for ventilation visual checks, respirators and cartridge gas masks and dust masks, fit testing equipment (banana oil etc.) for full face respirators, HAZMAT gear/ppe (full suits, over-boots, gloves, decontamination gear, etc.), light level meter, Draeger style sampling tubes (multiple substances and ranges), dose badges, collection media, radioactivity dosimeters and geiger counter, LOTO set (locks/labels), confined space permits, extraction equipment, hard-hats, fire extinguishers and 2-way radios, and fall-protection equipment. A variety of instrumentation is available for human performance, anthropometry, work physiology, and manual materials handling. The ergonomic center's interdisciplinary team includes faculty and students from ergonomics, human factors, safety and bioengineering, kinesiology, physiology, epidemiology, statistics, occupational medicine, computer science, and psychology. The four areas of research emphasis are manual materials handling, office ergonomics, manufacturing, and fatigue and reliability. Research in manual materials handling includes energy expenditure, four-wheel cart pulling and pushing forces, two-wheel cart pulling and lifting forces, and worker conditioning, flexibility, and strength. Office ergonomics research encompasses large monitor studies, mobile computing, and input devices (keyboards, mice, etc.). Research in the manufacturing area contains work organization, work methods, risk assessment, hand tools, and heat stress. Fatigue and reliability research consists of extended work shifts, prolonged standing, and constrained standing.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Graduate teaching assistant positions are available for some courses.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Validation and refinement of the Strain Index, job analysis method to predict MSDs of the distal upper extremity; development and validation of a Shoulder Index, job analysis method to predict MSDs of the shoulder; development and validation of a Back Index, job analysis method to predict MSDs of the low back; development of a rural and urban emergency transport vehicle; energy expenditure of children in a classroom setting when sitting vs. standing; development and validation of theories to apply these risk assessment tools to jobs that involve multiple tasks. Proposed research includes: office worker obesity interventions, classroom ergonomics, manual material and patient handling, use of patient simulation in nursing and medical residency, and hospital work flow in a simulated environment.


Current number of active students in program, by gender

(as of 2008) 28 men, 41 women

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




Jerome J. Congleton, PhD 1983, Texas Tech U.; Industrial Engineering 

Mark Benden, PhD 2006, Texas A&M U., Occupational Health and Safety 

Adam Pickens, PhD 2008, Texas Tech U., Industrial Engineering

[Updated June 2010]