MS in Occupational & Environmental Exposure Sciences

About the Master of Science in Exposure Science or Occupational Hygiene

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 Exposure Science (ES), a Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Hygiene (OH), and a Master of Science (MS) in Applied Occupational Hygiene (AOH). These degree options train 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 MS-ES and MS-OH degree options require a research thesis and are normally completed in 21 months. 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

Students in the MS in Applied Occupational Hygiene (MS-AOH) follow an accelerated, 15-month program of study, completing an internship and project/portfolio as a culminating experience instead of a research thesis. The MS-AOH 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 MS-AOH degree 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

Complete degree requirements are available as downloadable PDF documents below.

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.