Occupational safety programs carry different titles, each reflecting its own perspective on the broad field of occupational safety. Occupational safety is an interdisciplinary STEM profession that addresses the sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics and combines these studies with engineering and technology as a way to diminish the likelihood of accidents in the workplace. A quality degree from a respected program can give graduates the edge they need to make a successful start in an otherwise competitive profession. Our best value ranking of occupational safety degree programs will give you a good idea of how the best programs in the country stack up against each other. Our ranking criteria are listed below.
20 Best Values in Occupational Safety Degree Programs Methodology
We reviewed approximately 65 colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and reputable online sources that offer affordable occupational safety degree programs for less than $15,000 per year. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: regional or national accreditation, full- or part-time completion pathways, program and/or school rankings with U.S. News and World Report, and tuition/fees less than $15,000 per year. We then ranked the top 20 occupational safety degree programs according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of 20 best values in occupational safety degree programs of 2021.
#20 – Illinois State University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health
Undergraduate Tuition: $14,832
One of the best colleges for occupational safety and health on our list is Illinois State University. The safety degree is one of the few of its kind accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. The program offers a unique blend of hands-on experience and classroom work. Many courses offered through the program include a laboratory experience, simulated drills, and incident scenarios. Also, students may take part in internships that allow them to work closely with professionals in the field. All of what is learned in the Illinois State occupational health and safety program mirrors what you will do as a working professional. In addition to ABET accreditation, the school ranks ISU #206 in best national universities and #105 in top public schools.
#19 – Keene State College
Bachelor’s in Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences
Keene, New Hampshire
Undergraduate Tuition: $14,568
When earning a Keene State College health and safety degree, you will gain the qualifications needed for jobs in consulting, loss control, or risk management. Some of the courses students take during their time earning a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety health hazard identification, law and ethics in safety, safety awareness, safety chemistry, and system and behavioral sciences. While most graduates pursue employment, the program serves as preparation for graduate school. In fact, many students enroll in master’s in occupational safety degree programs following graduation. Keene State College ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 9th best regional college in the North, making it a top value school.
#18 – Ohio University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Hygiene and Safety
Undergraduate Tuition: $12,612
The bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety at Ohio University is the only safety degree of its kind approved by the Ohio Board of Regents. The program is also one of only five industrial hygiene programs awarded ABET accreditation in the entire United States, making it a highly respected program. With low tuition costs and a strong reputation, the safety degree at Ohio University offers one of the best value programs. Courses prepare students for entry-level careers in occupational health and safety or for entry to graduate degree programs. Ohio University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 176th best national university and 118th best value school.
#17 – Millersville University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Environmental Health
Undergraduate Tuition: $12,250
Millersville University ranks among our top occupational health and safety schools due to affordability and ABET accreditation. Students earning the occupational safety and environmental health degree from one of the best colleges for occupational safety and health have the option of choosing any minor from the school’s Applied Engineering, Safety, & Technology Department. These minors include advanced manufacturing technologies, construction technology, control systems technology, general applied engineering & technology, and more. Students graduating from this program are eligible for the Graduate Safety Practitioner designation from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). Courses students take while enrolled in the program include human factors, legal aspects, and OSH program management, to name a few. In addition to ABET accreditation, Millersville ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the North.
#16 – University of Cincinnati
Online Bachelor’s in Health Sciences – Occupational Therapy
Undergraduate Tuition: $11,660
University of Cincinnati offers an affordable health and safety degree designed for those seeking undergraduate programs from reputable institutions. The online safety degree consists of 52 total credits and costs less than $12,000 per year (before financial aid). Graduates of the occupational health and safety degree online program earn a bachelor’s degree in health sciences with pre-occupational therapy concentration. Classes cover topics like abnormal psychology, foundations of quantitative reasoning, health care ethics, and medical terminology. University of Cincinnati, in addition to being accredited, ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 143rd best national university. Also, the online bachelor’s programs rank #73 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
#15 – Jacksonville State University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health Management
Undergraduate Tuition: $11,120
Jacksonville State University offers an occupational health and safety degree that is ATMAE-accredited and recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. The program is ideal for students interested in managing a safe and OSHA-compliant workplace. Courses cover topics like fire safety, hazard control technology, industrial hygiene, safety management, and systems safety. Students will be happy to know that the average employment rate (five-year average) for graduates from the occupational safety and health management program is 100% in the four months following graduation, as reported by the university. Graduates from the program have found employment as loss control specialists, OSHA compliance officers, and safety auditors and inspectors. Adding to the school’s value, Jacksonville ranks #62 in best regional university in the South by U.S. News and World Report.
#14 – Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Bachelor’s in Safety Management
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Tuition: $10,507
One of the top occupational health and safety schools on our list offering a health and safety degree is Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. This program prepares students for roles in occupational and safety, including compliance officer, fire safety manager, risk manager, safety administrator, and security manager. In this program, students will gain hands-on experience through a 12-credit internship completed before graduation. Classes required for the program cover topics like contemporary safety topics and issues, construction safety, introduction to safety, and principles of industrial hygiene. Electives include topics like environmental permitting and sustainability and motor transportation fleet safety. In addition to being fully accredited, Slippery Rock ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 83rd best regional university in the North.
#13 – Eastern Kentucky University
Online Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,876
Eastern Kentucky University is recognized as one of the most affordable and best colleges for occupational safety and health. The safety degree at EKU is one of the few available online. The program is fully accredited and moves at a rigorous pace. In fact, graduates can finish their degree in approximately 2.5 years. Online courses cover topics like hazard identification and control, human factors in occupational safety, introduction to safety studies, principles of occupational safety and health, and safety training strategies. In addition to offering affordable and accredited safety degrees, EKU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 51st best regional university in the South.
#12 – Indiana State University
Bachelor’s in Safety Management
Terre Haute, Indiana
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,236
The accredited health and safety degree at Indiana State University is recognized among the best value programs on our list. What makes the school and program valuable? First, the university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. In addition to the school’s accreditation, the safety program is accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. In addition, The ATMAE (Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering) accredits the program. Also, the school states that graduates of the ISU safety program tend to begin their safety careers in mid-level management positions. A boastful placement rate of over 90% also adds value to the program. ISU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university.
#11 – Murray State University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,168
Murray State’s ABET-accredited occupational health and safety degree offers two distinct tracks of study: environmental health and safety, and occupational safety and health. The bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety is geared toward students who want to pursue careers in accident prevention, industrial hygiene, loss control management, and risk management. Students following this study track take classes like fundamentals of industrial hygiene, processes and materials, and systems approach to hazard control. Thanks to Murray State’s affordable tuition, the occupational safety and health degree is considered to be a best value program. Also, Murray State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 26th best regional university in the South.
#10 – Marshall University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health
Huntington, West Virginia
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,412
Marshall University’s occupational health and safety degree offers students preparation for entry-level positions in governmental agencies and related health and safety service industries. The program is accredited by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. Due to the accreditation proficiency standards, students are expected to achieve at least a C grade in all courses essential to the major. In addition to the bachelor’s degree, the program offers two minors, one of which is in safety technology. Course offerings for the major explore topics like introduction to safety, principles of ergonomics, and safety and industrial technology. In addition to quality program offerings, Marshall ranks with U.S. News and World Report, making it one of the best value occupational health and safety schools on our list.
#9 – Southeastern Louisiana University
Bachelor’s in Occupational, Safety, Health, and Environment
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,329
One of the best colleges for occupational safety and health is Southeastern Louisiana University. For those seeking a reputable and affordable bachelor’s degree program, SLU offers a diverse program accredited by the Applied Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. Classes are taught by qualified faculty with outstanding academic qualifications and industry experience. Courses offered throughout the program cover topics like design of hazard controls, environmental laws and regulations, fire protection and prevention, and measurement of safety. In addition to offering ABET-accredited programs, SLU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 99th best regional university in the South.
#8 – Central Washington University
Bachelor’s in Safety and Health Management
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,273
The bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety at Central Washington University is accredited by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET. The BS degree is also compliant with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) Qualified Academic Program (QAP) requirements. Courses cover advanced safety and health topics like environmental management, evolving issues in safety and health management, facility and building safety, and risk and insurance. In addition to offering quality and accredited safety degree programs, CWU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, CWU ranks 47th in best regional universities in the West.
#7 – University of Central Missouri
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,969
The occupational health and safety degree program at University of Central Missouri is a fully accredited (ANSAC/ABET) degree offering that costs less than $8,000 per year. Upon completion of the program, students earn a BS in occupational safety and health through The College of Health, Science, and Technology. To earn the degree, students must maintain a minimum 2.2 cumulative GPA and complete an assessment examination during the last semester of course work. Graduates of the program have gone on to gain employment in various settings like construction, hospitals, insurance, manufacturing and production, and utilities. UCM ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 76th best regional university in the Midwest.
#6 – University of Wisconsin
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,695
University of Wisconsin Whitewater offers an occupational health and safety degree for students looking to create a uniquely designed and tailored degree. The program has two areas of emphasis: construction safety and environmental management. Because the program is offered through the College of Business and Economics, the occupational health major emphasizes a business perspective. The program also offers several student organizations that provide opportunities for professional development and service. Access to internships also proves beneficial for occupational safety degree students. UWW ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 58th best regional university in the Midwest.
#5 – Pittsburg State University
Online Bachelor’s in Workforce Development
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,338
Pittsburg State University offers a uniquely designed occupational health and safety degree online program that emphasizes workplace development. The bachelor’s degree program consists of 60 credit hours and is an ideal program for individuals who are work bound and cannot attend on-campus courses. Three concentrations are available and allow students to tailor their degree toward areas of interest like hospitality management, human resources, or supervision and leadership. As one of the few schools to offers occupational health and safety degree programs online, Pittsburg State is an affordable choice. Also, Pittsburg State ranks #86 in best regional universities in the Midwest.
#4 – University of Houston
Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,310
University of Houston is one of the best colleges for occupational safety and health. In fact, the program is fully accredited and the school is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Once admitted, students have the opportunity to tailor their degree to align with their desired career path. Available specialization options include industrial hygiene and safety. Courses cover entry-level and advanced topics in occupational safety like environmental safety and health, industrial hygiene sampling and analysis, and principles of professional safety. The program is ABET-accredited and is approved by both the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management and Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
#3 – Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Online Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety & Health
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,750
The occupational health and safety degree online program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University helps prepare students for careers in compliance, insurance, risk, and safety. The bachelor’s degree is fully accredited and considered a Qualified Academic Program with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). Courses cover topics like fundamentals of safety engineering and human factors, industrial hygiene, introduction to occupational safety and health, and systems approach to hazard control. SOSU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 95th-124th best regional university in the West and 50th-66th top public school. SOSU is also one of the most affordable schools on our list, making it a best value institution.
#2 – North Carolina A & T State University
Online Bachelor’s in Environmental Health and Safety
Greensboro, North Carolina
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,657
The North Carolina A & T State University occupational health and safety degree programs online are accredited by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). Companies that have hired NCAT graduates include ConAgra, Department of Labor, Miller Brewing, and Toyota. All of the programs within the Built Environment Department boast an 80%-90% employment rate among graduates. North Carolina A&T is also the first university in the United States to offer a fully online bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety. In addition to accreditation, NC A&T State ranks #272 in best national universities and #68 in most innovative schools.
#1 – Columbia Southern University
Online Bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health
Orange Beach, Alabama
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,655
Columbia Southern University offers the most affordable occupational health and safety degree online program on our list. In addition to affordability, CSU’s BS in occupational safety and health meets the requirements mandated by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals for the ASP and the CSP. Courses cover topics like construction safety, environmental technology, fundamentals of occupational safety and health, and legal aspects of safety and health. Also, the school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Accreditation combined with affordability and prestige earns CSU a spot on our list for best value occupational health and safety degree programs online.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety?
Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety analyze, establish, and enforce safety regulations and procedures. They also work with a variety of other healthcare professionals in conducting safety tests. In addition, they spend some of their time educating both internal and external stakeholders and the general public on occupational safety hazards and mitigation strategies.
Occupational health and safety professionals work in a wide variety of settings including government, manufacturing, construction, and healthcare. Government and manufacturing make up over 40% of all occupational and safety jobs. They vacillate between office work and fieldwork and spend considerable time in the field traveling to job sites that may be hazardous and require the wearing of personal protective equipment known as PPE.
Communication and professionalism are an integral part of the job, as occupational and safety professionals spend a great deal of time enforcing and demonstrating safety procedures and the correct usage of equipment. In addition, they must understand educational pedagogy development, as many of them develop and teach employee health and safety programs.
The job generally offers consistent hours and schedules with occasional irregularities should there be a safety emergency or crisis. Most professionals work Monday through Friday from approximately 9 am – 5 pm.
How much money can you earn with an occupational health and safety degree?
A bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety is typically a gateway to a satisfying career with well-above-average pay. According to data provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median (average) annual wage for an occupational health and safety specialist is $74,100. Compared to the national average annual wage of $39,810 for all other occupations tracked by the BLS, one can see the occupation pays well compared to most other jobs. The lowest 10 percent earn $43,630, and the highest ten percent earn $111,130 on average.
Unlike other occupations, pay across industries is stable, ranging from $74,820 for those who work in manufacturing, to $72,840 for safety specialists that work in construction.
It is important to note that pay varies greatly between safety specialists and safety technicians. Safety technicians earn an average annual wage of $51,550. The lowest ten percent earn $32,830 and the highest ten percent earn $89,720.
Safety specialists generally have more experience and knowledge and often manage safety technicians. And unlike safety specialist pay, salaries vary greatly for technicians depending on the industry. Construction pays the top technician salaries, with an average of $58,340, compared to the lowest median pay at hospitals, which is $43,350.
What is the job outlook for a person with an occupational health and safety degree?
Occupational health and safety professionals are expected to experience an increase in job growth of 5% through 2029 according to data obtained by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The expected growth is 1% above the expected 4% growth rate of all occupations tracked by the BLS. Individuals with a background in science or experience in multiple areas of health and safety should experience the best prospects. Individuals seeking an occupational health and safety degree online should consider enrolling in a program that offers specializations or certifications that show the graduate has an area of expertise.
As with other occupations, job demand varies by geographic region and industry. More than 40% of occupational health and safety technicians and specialists work in manufacturing and government. Areas that employ high levels of safety professionals working in these industries should experience better than average job prospects.
Safety professionals and recent graduates willing to work in high-employment locations should experience better than average job prospects. According to the geographical data provided by the BLS, Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are the top three states that hire the most occupational and safety professionals. When looking at metropolitan areas, Houston, New York, and Dallas are the top three metro areas with the most occupational health and safety professionals.
What are the admission requirements for bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety programs?
Admission requirements vary by institution and program. Because a bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate credential, the candidate needs to be admitted to the overall institution first, followed by gaining admission to the occupational health and safety program housed within the institution.
To gain admission to a postsecondary institution such as a college or university, students must have a GED or high school diploma. In addition, students must complete an admission application that often includes personal essays, standardized test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
Institutions range in competitiveness from non-selective to highly selective. The more selective the institution, students will need to have higher test scores, higher high school GPAs, excellent extracurricular activities, and stellar letters of recommendation. Once admitted to an institution, students must gain admission to their respective health and safety program. Admission requirements vary depending on selectivity but commonly require students to have a 2.5 GPA as well as successful completion of science and math courses that demonstrate the ability to pass rigorous courses that exist within the major. In addition, some programs require students to interview with faculty and administrators. Courses may include biology, chemistry, environmental science, and statistics. Students generally take any prerequisite courses during their freshman and sophomore years before applying to the health and safety program.
How long does it take to earn an occupational health and safety degree?
A bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety can be completed in four years. Because bachelor’s degrees are commonly referred to as four-year degrees, the assumption is they are completed within the nominal timeframe. According to educational data, most students take between 4-6 years to complete this degree.
Like other bachelor’s degrees, the occupational health and safety (OHS) degree is approximately 120 credits, which includes general education courses, major courses, and electives. General education courses consist of freshman- and sophomore-level courses that all undergraduates must take. These courses include topics like English, communication, humanities, mathematics, sciences, and social sciences. Upon completion of general education courses, students take courses dedicated to OHS topics and skills during their late sophomore through senior years.
While the minimum completion is generally four years, there are programs designed to be completed in three years. These accelerated programs are commonly tied to the completion of a master’s degree. Those completing a bachelor’s degree have a lot of flexibility in terms of maximum time to completion. Most institutions give students up to ten years to complete their course of study. It is common for online students who are balancing work, family, and courses to take longer to complete their program.
This concludes our list of 20 best values in occupational safety degree programs of 2021.