Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Safety Science


Occupational Safety and Health


Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


This study concurrently investigated the characteristics of 20 distance learning United States OSH M.S. programs and 101 OSH employment postings preferring or requiring candidates with an advanced degree. The goal was to determine if there was consensus in the required curricula and employer demands. Such agreement is one of the requirements for achieving occupational closure, an important step for OSH being considered a profession. The results demonstrated there is both diversity in OSH M.S. courses being offered and in knowledge, skills, and abilities being sought by employers. A Pareto comparison analysis illustrated that more OSH M.S. programs should offer courses in project management, auditing, leadership, training, and environmental, health and safety (EHS) management. Less emphasis should be given to research methods, capstone or thesis projects, and OSH management. At the OSH M.S. hiring level, there appeared to be more of an emphasis on management and soft skills than technical skills. It also appeared that many employers were hiring OSH individuals that have environmental responsibilities (not well represented in current curricula), supporting an EHS versus OSH paradigm. The most common job requirement sought by employers was regulatory knowledge, a course required in most OSH M.S. curricula. Specific recommendations are provided based on the study results to further promote the goal of OSH occupational closure.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a peer-reviewed article published by Elsevier in Safety Science, available at

Available for download on Wednesday, January 28, 2026