University of South Florida

COPH expands reach with new online master’s degree in Health Safety and Environment

Professionals around the world have access to an online USF master’s degree in environmental health and safety, and graduates of the program are helping meet the ever-growing demand around the world for qualified environmental health and safety professionals.

This win/win scenario is thanks to an online Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Safety and Environment (HSE) based in the USF College of Public Health, a new program that has attracted applicants from other states and other countries. The HSE concentration focuses on preventing incidents or accidents that might result from abnormal operating conditions and reducing adverse effects that come from normal operating conditions, as well as understanding the relevant regulatory requirements and their implications.


Alison Oberne, MA, MPH, CPH, an instructor in the USF College of Public Health, narrates a lecture for an undergraduate public health course using the recording space in COPH used for recording content for the lectures and modules of most of the College’s online degree programs.

“Heavy industry has moved out of the United States and dirty industries are growing in foreign countries, which have little regulation,” said Steve Mlynarek, PhD, CIH, QEP, professor of occupational and environmental health at the USF College of Public Health. “There is a lack of trained professionals in those countries to tackle the current and impending problems. We need to train more.”

Student applicants represent India, South America and Central America, and reflect today’s savvy student who seeks quality education from an institution with a strong reputation, Dr. Mlynarek said.


Dr. Steve Mlynarek

“Environmental health is an important aspect of public health and traditionally we had campus-based programs, but needs have changed, and we have developed an exceptional online program to reach people worldwide,” he said.

Robert Meyer is one such student.

Based in Houston, TX, Meyer was looking for a quality degree program that would help propel his career, but he didn’t have the flexibility to move. The USF MPH in HSE stood out among the many other online courses he saw.

“My main reasons for selecting USF are because it is a prestigious school, and it can create great opportunities for me residing in Houston, TX, with the big oil industry as a future HSE specialist,” Meyer said. “I currently am working and the scheduling is vital for me due to the flexibility.”

The HSE degree program is one of several offered online by the USF College of Public Health, a pioneer in providing online degrees and remote access to public health education.

“We’re the only college of public health founded by legislative order and our founding mandate is to train the workforce in Florida,” said Jay Evans, MBA MPH, associate dean for Finance, Operations and Human Resources at USF COPH. “Well, now we’re expanding the borders of Florida and even beyond the country. We’re expanding the university’s reach and ability to train public health professionals and it’s all being done in-house, right here.”

In support of the legislative mandate, the USF COPH was among the first schools of public health to offer a distance-based MPH program. The College partnered with Florida Department of Health to deliver this MPH through satellite technologies to more than 30 satellite host sites within the state and country. This early effort quickly established USF as a leader in distance learning and public health education.

The newly offered Health Safety and Environment online concentration was built from scratch and is based on the current curriculum for on-campus courses.

And there is no real cap on how many students can be accepted.

The bottom line is that the online HSE degree is helping both the professional in the health and safety industry and industry itself.

“There needs to be more professionals trained in environmental health and safety to meet the demand worldwide,” Dr. Mlynarek said.

“This knowledge and understanding achieved by earning this degree advances careers and creates safer work environments.”

For more information about the HSE program, check out COPH’s website for all of its online offerings.



Story by Sarah A. Worth, photos by Eric Younhans, USF Health Office of Communications


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