Exposure Science-Industrial Hygiene

Students in hazmat suits

Occupational Health Sciences -Industrial Hygiene (OHS-IH) underpins several of the disciplines comprising the Environmental Health Sciences. When applied to occupational health, OHS-IH falls within the domain of Industrial Hygiene (IH). By tradition, the field of IH applies knowledge and principles drawn from the physical and life sciences, engineering, statistics, psychology, and program management to the protection of workers (and the general public) from chemical, biological, and physical agents of disease. Considering IH in the broader context of OHS-IH the contributions IH professionals are making in modern global society (within and beyond the boundaries of the workplace), and our evolving understanding of health risks as a function of time/life-stage, we have adopted the hybrid term OHS-IH to describe our academic program.

IH professionals are concerned with the myriad aspects of evaluating, mitigating, and managing workplace hazards, including toxic gases and vapors, dusts, (bio-)aerosols, mold, engineered nanomaterials, pathogens, noise, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, ergonomic stresses and safety hazards.

As we move toward a more holistic view of human health and well-being (i.e., Total Worker Health), the roles of IH professionals are expanding to include health promotion, wellness, and emotional and mental health issues associated with increased workloads and associated job stress.

Increasingly, responsibility for environmental issues outside of the workplace, such as hazardous waste, residential indoor air quality, ambient air and water pollution, and ecological balance are also falling within the domain of the practicing Industrial Hygienist.

Among the activities in which IH professionals may be engaged are the following:

  • Measurement of contaminant levels in the air, on surfaces, and in biological fluids
  • Design of exposure assessment strategies (e.g., for estimating health risks)
  • Statistical analysis of data sets to inform decision-making
  • Management of occupational and environmental health programs
  • Training of workers about hazards and safe practices
  • Promotion of healthy working conditions
  • Demonstration of compliance with regulations and guidelines limiting harmful exposures
  • Research on the relationships between exposure and health effects
  • Development and implementation of new monitoring technologies and methodologies
  • Provision of service to the public and/or professional societies (e.g., AIHA)
  • Maintenance of ethical practices in all aspects of their professional activities
  • Engagement in lifelong learning

IH professionals are employed by numerous private and public sector organizations include large (often multi-national) corporations; insurance companies and environmental consulting firms

 Distinguishing features of the University of Michigan IH Program include the following:
  • One of the longest-standing and most highly regarded IH programs in the country
  • Dedicated core faculty that are highly effective teachers and mentors, with active research portfolios addressing issues at the cutting edge of the field
  • Diverse supporting faculty with a wide range of experience as practicing IH professionals
  • Rigorous curricula coupled with an array of other enriching experiences to provide comprehensive practitioner and research training
  • Continuous record of accreditation by ABET for over 20 years
  • An integral component of the Michigan Education and Research Center (ERC), which has been sponsored by NIOSH for over 38 years
  • An award-winning IH student organization that provides a tight-knit community of friends/peers
  • Over 800 alumni, many of whom hold influential, leadership positions in private industry, government, and academia in the U.S. and throughout the world
  • Global Occupational Health Initiative

The Industrial Hygiene track provides additional expertise to the Environmental Health Sciences Master of Public HEalth (MPH), Master of Sciences (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Some relevant aspects include:
  • The MPH and MS require four semesters to complete
  • The MPH includes a summer internship (field experience), typically in private industry or with a governmental agency, either in the U.S. or abroad
  • The MS degree includes a focused thesis project guided by one or more faculty mentors.
  • The PhD degree entails in-depth training/mentorship in research skills, and the generation of high-impact, scholarly research findings that are published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • The curricula are comprehensive, yet sufficiently flexibility to permit students to pursue any of a number of other interests, including "minor" concentrations and Certificate Degrees
  • Applicants should have a strong interest in science and health, an undergraduate degree in some field of basic or applied science, and, at a minimum, should have taken courses in biology and/or physiology, general and organic chemistry, physics, and calculus.

Applicants to the track in Industrial hygiene must have a strong background in the natural sciences. Minimum requirements for admission include one course on each of the following topics:

  • general biology
  • general chemistry
  • organic chemistry
  • physics
  • calculus 

Some deficiencies may be made up after admission to the program. Courses taken to fulfill basic deficiencies do not count toward fulfillment of the degree's course requirements. Please visit the School of Public Health for more information on the application process for MS, MPH, and PhD. 

All MS and MPH students will be automatically considered for funding upon completing of their application. PhD students will be fully funded during their time in the program. Industrial Hygiene offers additional funding opportunities for highly-qualified students through different funding mechanisms:

  • Traineeships from NIOSH ERC (U.S. citizens and permanent residents)
  • Grants and scholarships from the School of Public Health (MPH) and the Rackham Graduate School (MS,PHD)
  • Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) posititions in EHS or outside the department 
  • Research assistantships with faculty resarch grants
  • Smaller scholarship awards from external organizations i.e. American Industrial Hygiene Foundations (AIHF), Chevron, and the 3M Corporation 

The (ExS-)IH program has maintained a 6-yr average enrollment of 24 students per year and a graduating cohort size ranging from 7-11 students. Listed below are the enrollment and graduation figures. Our record of career placement is outstanding.

Year Enrollment* Graduates*
2014-2015 21 11
2015-2016 21 7
2016-2017 26 10
2017-2018 27 11
2018-2019 30 13
2019-2020 26 19
2020-2021 15 6
2021-2022 18 9

*Enrollment and graduate data includes all degrees (MPH, MS and PhD)

Studying Exposure Science-Industrial Hygiene at U-M

  • To enroll, educate, and support top-quality students from diverse backgrounds and prepare them to be leaders in the science, practice, and further development of industrial hygiene
  • To maintain one of the leading graduate exposure-industrial hygiene programs in the world
  • To endow our students with the multidisciplinary technical foundations and attitudes necessary to continue to learn throughout their professional careers

Educational Objectives

Achievement of the goals of the ExS-IH program requires that a number of educational and administrative objectives be met.  We pledge to administer an outstanding educational experience that motivates students toward academic excellence and provides students with a comprehensive program of study that imparts the knowledge, skills, and preparation to:

  • Understand the essential scientific and practical elements of the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and management of health hazards in the workplace
  • Apply and communicate knowledge of hazards and risks, in light of applicable guidelines, regulations, and policies, to reduce unsafe exposures and promote healthy working conditions
  • Think critically in defining and solving problems
  • Work effectively in teams with other health professionals and with other stakeholders
  • Embrace the professional, ethical, and leadership responsibilities inherent to the practice of industrial hygiene

  • Apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and industrial hygiene
  • Design and conduct experiments and analyze and interpret data
  • Formulate or design a system, process, or program to meet desired needs
  • Function effectively as a member of multidisciplinary teams
  • Identify and solve problems in occupational health science
  • Understand professional and ethical responsibilities
  • Communicate effectively
  • Understand the global and societal impact of solutions to problems
  • Recognize the need for, and engage in, lifelong learning
  • Understand both historical and contemporary issues in occupational health science
  • Use the modern techniques, skills, and tools of professional practice

Specific Student Outcomes

  • Identify agents, factors, and stressors generated by and/or associated with defined sources, unit operations, and/or processes
  • Describe qualitative and quantitative aspects of generation of agents, factors, and stressors
  • Understand physiological and/or toxicological interactions of physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic agents, factors, and/or stressors with the human body
  • Assess qualitative and quantitative aspects of hazard and exposure assessment, dose-response, and risk characterization based on applicable pathways and modes of entry
  • Calculate, interpret, and apply statistical and epidemiological data
  • Recommend and evaluate engineering, administrative, and personal protective controls and/or other interventions to reduce or eliminate hazards
  • Demonstrate an understanding of applicable business and managerial practices
  • Interpret and apply occupational and environmental regulations
  • Understand fundamental aspects of safety and environmental health
  • Pursue recognized professional certification

Curriculum and Sample Schedules

MPH INdustrial hygiene COURsework

MPH students are required to complete an internship and Applied Practice Experience (APEx) during the summer before their second year begins. You will have support finding internship experiences that center around IH.

  • SPH/EHS Core Classes
    • PUBHLTH 500/501 Investigating Public Health Issues
    • BIOSTAT 521  Applied Biostatistics
    • EHS 510 Responsible Research and Scholarship (RCRS)
    • EHS 576 Biological Agents
    • EHS 602 Essentials of Toxicology 
    • EHS 603 Occupational and Evironmental Disease
    • EHS 604 Professional Perspectives in EHS (Capstone)
    • EHS 687/EHS 688/EHS 689 Professional Development in EHS
  • IH Coursework
    • EHS 556 Occupational Ergonomics
    • EHS 585 Psychosocial Factors Impacting Environmental and Occupational Health 
    • EHS 651 OSEH Program Management
    • EHS 652 Evaluation of Chemical Hazards
    • EHS 653 Environmental Sampling and Analysis Lab
    • EHS 654 Control of Exposures to Airborne Contaminants
    • EHS 658 Physical Hazards
    • EHS 668 Professional Seminars in Occupational Health
    • EHS 757 Occupational Health Aspects of Industrial Processes
    • IOE 539 Occupational Safety Engineering 

You can find more information about EHS and SPH courses on the SPH course listing website.

MS IH COursework

MS students are required to conduct research during their program which will culiminate in a master's thesis. The most important aspect of research is finding a faculty member within the department who aligns with your research interests.

  • SPH/EHS Core Classes
    • BIOSTAT 521  Applied Biostatistics
    • EHS 510 Responsible Research and Scholarship (RCRS)
    • EHS 602 Essentials of Toxicology
    • EHS 603 Occupational and Evironmental Disease
    • EHS 698 Research (6 credits minimum)
    • EHS 699 Master's Thesis 
  • IH Coursework/Electives
    • EHS 556 Occupational Ergonomics
    • EHS 585 Psychosocial Factors Impacting Environmental and Occupational Health
    • EHS 651 OSEH Program Management
    • EHS 652 Evaluation of Chemical Hazards
    • EHS 653 Environmental Sampling and Analysis Lab
    • EHS 654 Control of Exposures to Airborne Contaminants
    • EHS 658 Physical Hazards
    • EHS 668 Professional Seminars in Occupational Health
    • EHS 757 Occupational Health Aspects of Industrial Processes
    • IOE 539 Occupational Safety Engineering 

You can find more information about EHS and SPH courses on the SPH course listing website.

Our Ph.D. program is administered at the departmental level. It follows conventional norms in terms of essential coursework, proficiency examinations, proposal writing/presentation, research and professional development, and defense of the written dissertation. The program of study is tailored to each student's interests and aptitudes and is determined through consultation with the student's academic advisor.  Details are provided in the EHS PhD website.

More Information

To learn about the current research being conducted by OHS-IH faculty, please visit the individual faculty profiles. To learn more about the field of IH or to receive more information about our OHS-IH programs, please contact:

Professor Rick Neitzel 
Occupational Health Sciences-Industrial Hygiene Program Director

University of Michigan Industrial Hygiene Student Association (UMISHA)