Doctor of Science in Work Environment

The UMass Lowell Department of Public Health offers a doctoral program that focuses on occupational and environmental hygiene, ergonomics and safety, epidemiology, work environment policy and cleaner production, pollution prevention.

Admission Requirements

Doctoral training is built upon the substantial didactic training gained in the master’s degree programs. To be eligible for admission to a doctoral program, an applicant will need to demonstrate appropriate undergraduate education with adequate preparation in quantitative sciences and a master's degree in work environment or a related field. He or she will need to provide a minimum of three letters of reference attesting to the ability to perform advanced graduate work and to provide a written statement of career objectives and the relationship of doctoral training to those objectives. Evidence of academic ability must be provided in the form of undergraduate and graduate transcripts detailing an acceptable grade point average (generally a minimum of 3.0, with 3.5 in quantitative sciences). Performance on the Graduate Record Examination Aptitude Test must be at a high level. Discussions and visits with potential faculty advisors are encouraged and an interview may be required.

Academic Advisor

For a doctoral candidate, the primary responsibility for evaluating progress will rest with the student’s academic advisor along with the Dissertation Committee. Upon matriculation, the student will be assigned an advisor in conjunction with the Graduate Student Coordinator and the student. The advisor must be from among the faculty of the Work Environment Program. The advisor will assist the student in complying with all the university requirements in achieving eligibility for the degree, including selection of courses and aiding in the development of the dissertation.

Requirements for the Doctoral Degree

Degree requirements include: six to eighteen credit hours of courses beyond the master’s degree plus twelve to 24 credits of dissertation research for a total of 30 post-master's credit hours. A student with a master’s degree from another institution will need to show knowledge in all subject areas required for the equivalent Work Environment master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Courses will be selected to ensure each student has met all the major master's competencies and is adequately prepared in research methods and background needed for their dissertation. At least two semesters of Advanced Research methods (PUBH.6050) and 1 semester of Work in Progress Seminar (PUBH.6090) are required of all doctoral students. There is no language requirement but each major area may require additional advanced research methods courses. The student will work with a doctoral program advisor to propose a set of courses to meet the requirements and to prepare a preliminary thesis proposal. Following completion of all required course work, the student will be eligible to take a written qualifying examination. The exam will be designed to test the knowledge in the major field. Upon meeting the course and written exam requirements, the student must pass an oral qualifying exam based on his or her written dissertation proposal.

Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation will be based on a substantial body of original research carried out by the candidate. The selection of the research topic will be the responsibility of the student in consultation with the academic advisor. The student and advisor will develop a Dissertation Committee of at least 3 faculty members, with at least two from the Department of Work Environment. The committee will review the student's progress and approve the dissertation. The dissertation will, in general, be in the form of three publishable manuscripts and will include an appropriate literature review and overview of the dissertation research. At a minimum, one of these manuscripts must be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal before graduation. The student is required to give an oral defense of the dissertation before the Committee and other faculty members. The defense is open to the public.

Occupational and Environmental Hygiene

Likely areas of research include: Exposure science and biomarkers, exposure hazards and controls in health care, indoor air & healthy buildings, exposure hazards and controls in nanotechnology, sampling & analytical methods fro airborne contaminants, exposure assessment for epidemiology, noise hazard assessment and control, toxic use reduction or integration of sustainable production an occupational hygiene, exposure hazards an controls in construction.

Occupational Ergonomics and Safety

Areas of doctoral research include: Field evaluation of ergonomic and safety exposures and hazard surveillance, biomechanical modeling, psychophysical methods for exposure assessment; technical and social factors in reorganizing work; strategies for injury prevention and control; macroergonomics, evaluation of control measure effectiveness.


Examples of areas of research in which doctoral work is encouraged include: respiratory epidemiology, injury epidemiology, exposure modeling for epidemiology, occupational disease surveillance, epidemiolody and musculoskeletal disease and occupational cancer epidemiology.

Work Environment Policy

Areas of research include: International occupational and environmental health policies, economic impacts of occupational injury and illness, integration of materials policy and health policy, environmental justice an urban ecology, labor and technology, occupational health and labor/management programs, alternative methods of risk assessment, health and safety impacts of new technologies, management of chemical information, toxic use reduction.

Cleaner Production and Pollution Prevention

Areas of research include: sustainable product design, integrated product policy, green chemistry, product take back, ecological taxes, materials policy, sustainability indicators in the workplace, environmental management systems and integrating occupational health and pollution prevention.