May 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Safety Sciences, PhD

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Program code: SAFENM-PHD

The Doctor of Philosophy in Safety Sciences prepares safety professionals with advanced skills in the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and prevention of safety, health, and environmental hazards in the work environment. Graduates of this degree program will be able to conduct independent research.

Admission Criteria - Required

It is expected that students entering the PhD program in safety sciences will already have completed a master’s degree in safety sciences, occupational safety, industrial hygiene or other closely related discipline. A highly qualified applicant may enter the doctoral degree program with a baccalaureate degree. Such students must meet IUP’s Master of Science in Safety Sciences degree program admission requirements and complete IUP’s Master of Science in Safety Sciences degree requirements en route to the PhD.

Students with a master’s degree in safety or a closely related field seeking admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Safety Sciences degree program must meet the following criteria:

  • Have earned a master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Must have a master’s degree in safety sciences or a closely related field such as industrial hygiene, environmental health, public health, or ergonomics. Students not possessing a master’s degree in safety sciences or a closely related field but having a master’s degree in a technical field such as industrial engineering may be admitted to the program provided they can demonstrate they meet competency areas in math, chemistry, physics, safety management, industrial hygiene, fire safety, and ergonomics. The competency areas can be met through prior coursework, certifications, work experience or taking additional coursework. Applicants will also be required to demonstrate an ability to conduct independent research through a thesis, published research article, report reflecting critical thinking skills, etc.
  • Have a minimum graduate grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)

Additionally, the doctoral coordinator, after consulting with the department screening committee if required, will submit a recommendation regarding applicants to the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The following criteria are reviewed:

  • All official college transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of goals
  • Resume
  • Example of written work, e.g., thesis, articles, reports, etc.

For this review, a “competitive applicant” would have these characteristics:

  • Has at least 5 years of quality work experience in an occupational health and safety-related field
  • Holds relevant professional certifications, such as CSP, CIH, CHMM, or PE
  • Has generated a quality thesis or a capstone project as part of attaining their MS degree or peer-reviewed publications

International students must also meet Graduate Admissions requirements for international students. These requirements include:

  • Submission of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores for applicants from people whose native language is not English. The minimum TOEFL score for admission to the program is 540.
  • Submit a Foreign Student Financial Statement. International students must document their ability to assume full responsibility for the cost of graduate education per Graduate School requirements.

Application details can be found at the School of Graduate Studies and Research website:

Comprehensive Examination

Upon completion of their coursework, doctoral students will be required to arrange a written comprehensive exam with their major advisor. This pass/fail examination will encompass coursework completed to that point in the degree and focus on subject areas expected to be explored by the student during his/her dissertation research. Upon successful passing of the comprehensive examination, a student may proceed toward fulfillment of remaining degree requirements, beginning with the completion and defense of the dissertation proposal (typically the introduction and proposed methodology of the dissertation). If a student does not pass their comprehensive examination, they are allowed to retake the examination once.

Proposal Development and Defense

Students will be required to successfully complete an oral defense of their dissertation proposal before their dissertation committee. Although the format and content of the dissertation proposal will be specific to each student, it is expected that each dissertation proposal will consist of at least of the following sections: an introduction, literature review, purpose and rationale, hypotheses and proposed methodology/analysis plan. Upon completion of the proposal defense, a student may proceed toward fulfillment of the dissertation requirements.

Dissertation Defense

Upon the completion of the written dissertation, students must successfully complete an oral defense of their dissertation. The defense shall be completed before the student’s dissertation committee comprised of the Committee Chairperson and committee members. The membership and procedures of the dissertation committee shall follow the requirements of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

In accordance with university guidelines, to confer the doctoral degree, successful completion of a doctoral dissertation (12 semester hours) and defense is required.

Cohort Model

Most students entering this degree program can be expected to be full-time working professionals seeking to advance their education and, in many cases, change their careers paths to higher education. Thus, the Department of Safety Sciences will admit a limited number of students in a cohort model.

Distance Education

It is anticipated that most students seeking a doctoral degree in this program will be working, full-time, safety professionals from around the United States. To make the program available to a larger number of students, at least 24 hours of the 54 hours in the degree program will be offered through distance education during the fall and spring terms. Two courses will typically be offered as one-week courses during the summers on the IUP campus.

Part-time Study

This program may admit each year a limited number of students whose intention is to complete the program on a part-time basis. Such students are alerted that course offerings can be expected to fluctuate, especially in the expansion of new course offerings. A complete and updated description of any changes can be obtained from the Safety Sciences Department.

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