Occupational Ergonomics and Health, MS


Lauren A. Murphy, PhD
Assistant Clinical Professor and Graduate Program Director

301 Robinson Hall
617.373.3161 (fax)

Occupational ergonomics and health programs are increasingly important due to the large burden of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and the increased incidence of chronic health conditions of the workforce. These initiatives are especially important with the increase in the aging workforce with their higher incidence of chronic health disorders and the increasing young population entering the workforce with preexisting chronic health issues. In the United States alone, the conservative estimates of direct costs for work-related MSDs are in the magnitude of $50 billion per year. Combined with estimates of indirect costs, these estimates reach $200 billion per year.

The focus of the Master of Science in Occupational Ergonomics and Health program is on primary and secondary prevention approaches for work-related MSDs and injuries. Worker health promotion 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, work site wellness programs, and Total Worker Health® efforts.

This master of science program will provide interprofessional training that integrates traditional health protection (ergonomics and safety) and health promotion (wellness) to increase the effectiveness of such workplace programs. Graduates from this unique master's degree program in the United States will be well suited for jobs in industry requiring integration of health and safety programs, thereby fulfilling a need to have well-trained professionals in this domain.

Students who complete the program should be able to:

  • Describe the scope and types of workplace programs for ergonomics and health
  • Compare fundamental ergonomics approaches to the prevention of work-related injuries, MSDs, and disability
  • Develop and administer integrative and innovative approaches to workplace health promotion and wellness programs
  • Work collaboratively as part of an interprofessional team
  • Analyze factors in the work environment that affect safety and pose risks to workers
  • Create worker safety and health prevention programs and apply theory and evidence to support the development of workplace safety and wellness programs

Program Description

The master's degree program requires 36 semester hours divided into 32 semester hours for courses and a 4-semester-hour capstone project. The program can be completed within a year for full-time students and within three years for part-time students. The program is offered in a hybrid format utilizing both online/distance classes when available along with on-campus classroom experiences. Some classes will be fully on-site and the rest will be hybrid (some on-site/online) and others fully online to allow schedule flexibility.   

Graduate Student Research

Graduate research opportunities are integrated into the curriculum. Students also have the opportunity to work with faculty to conduct ongoing research in world-renowned companies and in one of the twelve Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, and Rehabilitation Science’s labs and centers (e.g., Neuromotor Systems Lab, Lab for Locomotion Research, Cancer Survivorship Center, the ReGameVR Lab, Movement Neuroscience Lab, Rehabilitation and Epidemiology Trainee Program, Occupational Biomechanics and Ergonomics Lab, Neurophysiology Lab, Teaching and Learning Innovation Lab, Musculoskeletal Epidemiology and Biomechanics Lab, Cadaver Lab, and Neuroscience Wet Lab).

Progression in the Program

To progress in the program, students must maintain acceptable standards of scholarship and academic performance as stated in the academic requirements section of this catalog. Students must develop professional behaviors and emotional maturity.

Complete all courses and requirements listed below unless otherwise indicated.

Core Requirements

Required Core
HINF 6201Organizational Behavior, Work Flow Design, and Change Management3
PHTH 5214Environmental Health3
PT 5600Ergonomics and the Work Environment3
PT 5610Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion3
PT 6978Independent Study4
PHTH 5202Introduction to Epidemiology3
PHTH 5210Biostatistics in Public Health3


Complete five of the following:13-14
Understanding Culture and Diversity
Development Across the Life Span
Human Factors Engineering
Social Epidemiology
Advances in Measuring Behavior
Qualitative Methods in Health and Illness
Health Education, Promotion, and Wellness
Sociology of Work and Employment

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

36 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.000 GPA required