MS in Occupational & Environmental Exposure Sciences

About the Master of Science in Occupational & Environmental Exposure Sciences

How does a person’s environment affect their health? To answer this question, we must be able to define and measure exactly what we mean by “environment,” whether it is at work, at home, or in the community. We also need to know how a person interacts with their environment, that is, what is their "exposure." The science dedicated to quantifying environmental exposures is called exposure science.

Our department offers a Master of Science (MS) in Occupational and Environmental Exposure Sciences (OEES) (view/download the brochure here). This degree option trains scientists and professionals to recognize, evaluate, and prevent exposures that may increase the risk of disease or injury. Students work with faculty members to research a variety of health problems and identify, quantify, reduce, or eliminate hazards on the job and in communities. Research topics include biological, chemical, and physical hazard assessment and controls; respiratory, reproductive, and chronic diseases; epidemiology of occupational and environmental cancers; bio-monitoring and medical surveillance; and occupational or environmental health policy. Students gain a comprehensive knowledge of health and safety principles, strong technical skills, and practical experience. 

The regular MS-OEES degree option requires an MS research thesis and is normally completed in 21 months. Optional specialized training in Occupational Hygiene is also available. Students receiving this specialized training are required to take additional courses and can choose to either:

  • Follow an accelerated, 15-month path of study, completing an internship and project/portfolio as a culminating experience, or
  • Follow the full 21-month program and write an MS research thesis as a culminating experience. 

The MS thesis is oriented toward students interested in building their research skills and in applying advanced scientific tools available in their thesis work. The portfolio option expands the opportunities for development of practical skills for students focused on professional careers. Students selecting the portfolio option complete an internship, a field-based project and written report, and document their educational experience in a web-based e-portfolio. Although students opting to write an MS research thesis are not required to do an internship or develop an e-portfolio, they are encouraged to do an internship as part of the professional development. 

The 15-month accelerated path

The accelerated path to the MS OEES degree is designed for students who plan to pursue careers as industrial hygiene practitioners, and who have prior experience in the fields of Industrial Hygiene or Health and Safety. Students in the accelerated path complete most of their required coursework during their first three quarters in the program. They then complete a practice-based internship during summer quarter, collecting and analyzing the data that will form the basis of their project/portfolio. During their fifth and final quarter, they complete, present and defend their project/portfolio. Many students choose to work full-time in their chosen field during this final quarter while they prepare and present their project/portfolio. Since the 15-month path to the MS OEES is intended as a non-research pathway, students electing to enroll in this option are not eligible to receive research assistantships from DEOHS.

Our Graduates

MS-OEES Graduates become experts in exposure assessment for a wide variety of health hazards. Many establish careers as health and safety professionals and obtain certification as Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH), Certified Safety Professionals (CSP), or Certified Professional Ergonomists (CPE). 

Our emphasis on field research and practical training prepares MS-OEES graduates for entry into the professional workforce and makes them uniquely qualified for positions in private industry, non-profit organizations, consulting groups, and government agencies in the Pacific Northwest, as well as nationally and globally.  

Student Research & Internships

Visit our Student Research Page to learn more about the wide range of research projects undertaken by former MS-OEES students. Choose a year, then click on the arrow next to "OPTION SHORT NAME" to sort by degree option. Projects completed by students in this degree option are indicated by the short name "ES." 

In addition to (or as part of) their research, our graduate students are encouraged to seek internships as a way of building professional experience. For more information on the internship program and other career services, please visit the Careers section of our web site

Funding Opportunities

Tuition and salary support may be available for students in the MS-OEES degree option through the Northwest Center for Occupational Health & Safety or other funding mechanisms. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis. 

A Commitment to Diversity

Our department recognizes the value of diversity in both our own institution and the broader field of environmental and occupational health. We strive to provide an educational environment that encourages participation by students with diverse backgrounds and experiences, including under-represented minority, first-generation college and economically disadvantaged students. 

Degree Requirements

The MS-OEES degree course of study covers a diverse range of topics. These topics are selected to be responsive to the needs of students, professionals, and employers in the rapidly evolving field of environmental and occupational health. Degree requirements include DEOHS core courses, degree option specific courses, and electives. Students who choose to pursue the regular, 21-month program write and defend a master's thesis for their culminating experience. Students who choose to receive specialized training in occupational hygiene and complete the program in 15-months are required to do an internship and complete a project/portfolio as a culminating experience. A minimum of 53 total credits is required to complete this degree, although students receiving specialized training in occupational hygiene will exceed this minimum threshold due to additional course requirements. Upon satisfactory completion of the MS-OEES degree, students will be able to demonstrate the competencies detailed on the School of Public Health competencies page.

DEOHS Core Courses
BIOSTATISTICS Requirement (Choose One 2-Course Series):
BIOST 511 & 512 1 orMedical Biometry I (AUT, 4 credits) & Medical Biometry II (WIN, 4 credits)
BIOST 517 & 518 1Applied Biostatistics I (AUT, 4 credits) & Applied Biostatistics II (WIN, 4 credits)
EPI 511 2Introduction to Epidemiology (AUT, 4 credits)
ENV H 501Foundations of Environmental Health (WIN, 4 credits)
ENV H 505 Fundamentals of Environmental and Occupational Toxicology (SPR, 4 credits)
ENV H 551Human Exposure to Environmental Contaminants (AUT, 4 credits)
RISK ASSESSMENT Requirement 3 (Choose One):
ENV H 543 orQuantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (SPR, 3 credits)
ENV H 572 orEnvironmental Risk and Society (AUT, 3 credits)
ENV H 577Risk Assessment for Environmental Health Hazards (AUT, 3 credits)
ENV H 580Environmental and Occupational Health Seminar  (AUT/WIN/SPR, 3 quarters of 1-credit each = 3 credits)
Degree Option requirements
ENV H 553Environmental Exposure Monitoring Methods (WIN, 4 credits)
ENV H 557 4Exposure Controls (WIN, 3 credits)
TBDAdditional elective courses as needed to reach 53 total credits
Students electing to do a MASTER’S THESIS:
ENV H 583 5 andThesis Research Proposal Preparation (1 credit) AND
ENV H 700Master’s Thesis (9 credits)
Students electing to do a PROJECT/PORTFOLIO:
ENV H 598 andDegree Program/Project Portfolio (3 credits)
ENV H 599Field Studies (Internship) (3 credits)
  1. Students selecting the project/portfolio option are only required to take BIOST 511 or BIOST 517 (4 credits). 
  2. Students can substitute a higher level EPI course for EPI 511.
  3. Students who are receiving specialized training in occupational hygiene and who select the project/portfolio option may not have room in their schedules to accommodate the risk assessment component of the required common core course series. This requirement may therefore be waived for those students.
  4. This 3-credit course is required for all students in the degree option, but students receiving specialized training in occupational hygiene are required to take an additional 1-credit optional ventilation module (see table below of additional requirements for specialized training in OH).
  5. ENVH 583 requires that students take 2 credits of either ENVH 700 (Thesis Preparation) or 600 (Independent Study) concurrently. 
ENV H 550Occupational and Environmental Disease (SPR, 3 credits)
ENV H 555Instrumental Methods for Industrial Hygiene Measurement (WIN, 3 credits)
ENV H 557Exposure Controls (Ventilation Module) (WIN, 1 credit)
ENV H 560Occupational Safety Management (SPR, 4 credits)
ENV H 564Recognition of Health and Safety Problems in Industry (AUT, 2 credits)
ENV H 590Health and Safety of Physical Agents in the Workplace (SPR, 3 credits)

Contact Us

For more information about the MS-OEES degree option, please contact Trina Sterry, Manager of Student & Academic Services, at   or 206-543-3199.