University of Massachusetts Lowell



Title of program

Occupational Ergonomics and Safety

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Bryan Buchholz, Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854; 978/934-3241;

Catalog (free)

Sokny Long, Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1 University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854; 978/934-3255,

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered


Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The master's degree program is designed to give the student a broad education in the protection of health and safety in the workplace. Occupational ergonomics is concerned with occupational safety and health and, specifically, the prevention of injuries, upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders, and low back injuries, as well as the effects of psychosocial stress through design of the workplace, tools, and environment. A student concentrating in occupational ergonomics and safety is also required to take introductory courses in industrial hygiene, epidemiology, and work environment policy to complete this education. The doctoral program is built on the substantial didactic training gained with the master's degree, with advanced courses selected from biomechanics, human factors, work methods analysis, and others. Research possibilities include development and application of biomechanical models, work analysis through laboratory simulations and field studies, injury surveillance and epidemiological techniques, and studies of macroergonomics, psychosocial stress and work organization.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MS 8, ScD 1

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered at night?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

For financial aid consideration: April 1 (fall), October 1 (spring)

Application fees




Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0

GRE: 290 q + v (1100 for tests taken prior to August 1, 2011, waived for those holding a relevant graduate degree).

Other: Courses in math, biology, and physics required. 

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium

Work experience: medium

Letters: medium

Interview: low

Tuition and fees

Resident: $5,352/semester

Nonresident: $9,902/semester



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




Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance


Amounts received per year (minimum – typical – maximum)

$5,352 – $15,680 – $25,000

Types of assistance available

Fellowship, TA, RA (all tuition exempt)

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application



Graduate degrees offered


Number of units required

MS: 36

PSM: 36

ScD: 18 units beyond master's

Exams required

MS: oral defense of thesis 

PSM: none 

ScD: qualifying exam, oral defense of proposal and oral defense of dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

MS: yes 

PSM: no 

ScD: dissertation

Practical experience required

MS: no

PSM: internship 

ScD: no

Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS: 2 

PSM: 2 

ScD: 3 beyond master's

Is there a non-thesis option?

MS: yes



Required courses (units)

Introduction to Ergonomics and Industrial Hygiene (3), Occupational Biomechanics (3), Human Factors (3), Methods in Work Analysis (3), Occupational Safety Engineering (3)

Electives (units)

Occupational Biomechanics Lab (3), Advanced Biomechanics (3), Healthy Work Organization (3), Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Disorders (3). Exposure Data Analysis (3), Macroergonomics (3), Accident Prevention Principles (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: 

The program's Occupational Biomechanics Lab, which is continuously being expanded and enhanced, has a video camera and playback system for observational job analysis, strain gauge load cells and hand dynamometers for static strength measurement, electromyographic equipment, anthropometers and goniometers, including various electrogoniometers, a lumbar motion monitor and 6 DOF motion tracking equipment, accelerometers for both segmental and whole-body vibration, vibrometer for sensory nerve function testing, heat stress monitor, and noise dosimeter. The lab has microcomputers dedicated to analog-to-digital data conversion and collection, as well as data loggers and telemetry devices for data collection in the field. The department has additional personal computers available for general coursework.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
TAs may serve as guest lecturers, lab instructors, and graders. Also available are opportunities for attending and presenting papers at professional conferences and providing consultative services to local industries.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:

Evaluation of work-related musculoskeletal disease risk and development of ergonomic interventions in automobile and large appliance manufacturing, as well as the construction, fishing, and healthcare industries; identification of production, ergonomic, and work organization factors associated with psychological stress; development of a biomechanical model of the hand for predicting the grip posture and grip force capabilities as a function of the hand anthropometry and size and shape of the object grasped for the evaluation of tool design and usage for performance and safety; and lab studies of bioinstrumentation to determine applicability for ergonomic exposure assessment.


Current number of active students in program, by gender

6 men, 7 women

Current number of first-year students in program




Maria Brunette, PhD 2002, U. Wisconsin; macroergonomics, occupational health and safety

Bryan Buchholz, PhD 1989, U. Michigan; biomechanics, ergonomics

Robert Karasek, PhD 1976, MIT; psychosocial stress, work organization

Laura Punnett, ScD 1985, Harvard School of Public Health; ergonomics, epidemiology

[Updated: May 2012]