Frequently Asked Questions


General FAQs

What is the duration of the TRT fellowship?

One year. However, it is renewable for one or more further years and is subject to both a competitive re-application and a
satisfactory progress report.

What does the Targeted Research Training (TRT) fellowship provide?

Each TRT Fellowship will provide:

  • A substantial stipend to cover living expenses.
  •  Full in-state fees and tuition
  • Subject to a satisfactory research proposal, including a budget and budget justification, research funds up to $4,000 [Note: the research funds are available only for first-time TRT awardees, not applicants awarded subsequent years of TRT funding].

What criteria will be taken into account in judging applications?

The following criteria will be taken into account in judging applications:

  • Academic promise of the applicant.
  • Quality of the research proposal, including its feasibility in the time-frame proposed.
  • Progress made on the research (for continuing funding applications).
  • Level of faculty support for the research project proposed.
  •  Likelihood that the proposal will result in publishable work.
  • Degree of inter-disciplinary collaboration involved in the research proposal.

How can I apply to the Targeted Research Training Program?

  1. Participation in the seminar series and application to the fellowship are available to all applicants who are accepted into, or accepted as being eligible for, one of the above ERC programs by the Director of that program.
  2.  Preference for the fellowship will be given to doctoral students and medical residents who are part of the Northern California COEH NIOSH ERC Training Programs.

What do we submit to the accrediting agency as verification of taking courses that cover the core competencies?

You should submit the Course Completion Certificate that you will receive from us when you successfully pass/complete the course and a copy of the syllabus.  Each BCPE application is reviewed by blind reviewers so this level of detailed information is required.

Can I receive University credits for taking these courses?

No.  Although the Center of Occupational & Environmental Health is based out of UC Berkeley and includes programs at UC San Francisco and UC Davis, there is no University course credit that is available for these courses.  We find that most people in HF&E have a degree but lack HF&E courses.  Therefore, in order to keep the price down, we are offering these courses as continuing education, and participants who successfully complete the courses will receive continuing education units.  In order to receive University Credit, one would need to enroll in the in-person/on-site classes at UC Berkeley.  Please email Dr. Harris ( directly if you are interested in this option.

Who are these classes designed for?

These classes are designed for people who are new or practicing ergonomists in the field who are looking for a more formalized education to providing excellent, evidence-based services.  Many ergonomists fall into their position because they have a related degree but they lack formal education in Human Factors & Ergonomics.  Therefore, these classes are ideal for those individuals who have some background in a related field and have a Bachelors or Graduate degree.

Will these classes be available next year?

Yes.  We are committed to providing these classes annually.

What happens if I fail a course?

If you fail an exam or a course (receive less than a 70% in the class or 60% on the Final Exam), you will be asked to remediate to demonstrate that you have learned the materials.  Remediation will be specific to the individual and material.  You will have 3 months to complete the remediation, though typical remediation will be resolved within a couple of weeks.

Is there a minimum requirement to pass the course?

Yes. This course is offered on a pass / fail basis for continuing education credit. Note: Learners must obtain an overall Final Grade of 70% or higher, and a Final Exam grade of 60% or higher, to pass the course, and to obtain a Certificate of Completion.

What types of assignments are there?

Each class has 3-5 assignments and a class project.  Some assignments are individual and some are paired or in small groups. The assignments are designed to help you apply what you have learned about specific topics.  The class project is designed to help you transfer knowledge to the field.

Are there exams?

Yes.  There are online exams that are open book but timed.  Based on the honor system, they are to be completed individually.  Exams are an important way to identify topics that need further clarification from your instructors and are designed to help you learn the material.

What else do I need for professional certification?

Depending on the country you are applying for professional certification from, you will need a Bachelors Degree (BCPE) or Masters Degree in an affiliated field, and at least 3 years of experience in the field.  You will also need to pass the professional examination.

Who teaches the classes?

We have a superb group of instructors who have both professional and academic expertise.  Together, the group has decades of research, teaching, professional consulting, and program management experience.

How can I ensure that I develop my hands-on/field skills?

You will be learning about best practices while taking measurements and other hands-on skills during all 6 courses.  The Summer Skills Workshop during the 2nd week of July is the best way to practice your hands-on skills with in-person instruction.  Simulated jobs and tasks are set up to help you gain confidence in measuring exposures and estimating risk.

Why does the program include 6 courses?

We took all of the core content requirements outlined by leading professional certification authorities and mapped them to the 6 courses we designed.  This ensures that you will have been exposed to all of the content you will be assessed on during your certification exam.

Why do the courses cost $1650 each?

If you compare the cost of this course to a course taken at a University, you will quickly see that the $1650 price tag is an incredible deal.  Our goal is to provide education that is accessible from anywhere at any time yet does not compromise on the quality of instruction.  The only way to reduce costs further would be to post the material online and eliminate the instructor-led features of this course.  However, most online courses have a very low completion rate.  Our instructors will be available to teach you the material through lectures, thoughtful discussion, and feedback on assignments.  Further, instructors hold office hours each week to make sure your questions get answered.

Do I need to take all 6 courses?

No, you can pick and choose which classes will best supplement your existing education.  Not everyone will need to take all 6 courses and you should feel free to pick the courses that best fill the gaps of your Human Factors and Ergonomics Education.  However, if you have a degree in a related field but no formal education in HFE, we strongly encourage you to take all 6 courses to optimize your effectiveness in the field and prepare you for certification. You can learn more about what is required by BCPE for Certification online here: and can explore what topic areas fall into which Core Competencies for BCPE online here:

How do these courses differ from typical University courses in Human Factors & Ergonomics?

From a curricular or content perspective, they don’t.  However, since they are not offered for credit toward a degree, these courses may not be used towards a Masters or PhD Degree.

How do these courses differ from typical online education courses?

These courses are more analogous to a University course than your typical online education course primarily due to the scope and depth of the material presented and the guidance and interaction offered by instructors.  Most online courses present content but do not have an instructor that holds office hours, is available to answer your questions, and provides feedback on assignments and assessments (quizzes and exams).  Think of this as taking a University course with all that a college course has to offer, but in the comfort of your own home or office (and without the Bay Area commute!)

How much time will I need to spend each week?

They typical amount of time required to complete this course will range between 10-15 hours of time.  There will be 3-4 hours of lecture material per week, 2-4 hours of reading material, 1-2 hours spent on discussion boards/communication with students and instructor, and 2-5 hours per week spent on assignments and projects.  Remember the content from each course covers material presented in a typical semester course.

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NIOSH Traineeships FAQs

Does NIOSH fund international travel for trainees?

All proposed international travel using NIOSH funds require a pre-approval request and subsequent approval from our sponsor, NIOSH/CDC prior to any purchases intended to be paid with NIOSH funds. To request an international travel exception from NIOSH/CDC, you must provide a complete budget breakdown, narrative of reason for traveling, what, where and when you will be presenting, along with Program PI and COEH leadership approval. If trainees have questions regarding travel logistics once approval has been secured, please contact the COEH Business Manager. Please visit the 2023-2024 NIOSH Trainee Guidebook for more information. 

Does NIOSH provide travel funds for trainees? (UC Berkeley Trainees*)

For UC Berkeley Trainees Specifically: Travel funds may be awarded through the NIOSH training grant but must be discussed and approved by the NIOSH Program PI and COEH leadership. Flights purchased independently, and not through the UC travel system following approval from all necessary parties will not be reimbursed per university travel policies. For more information visit the 2023-2024 NIOSH Trainee Guidebook

Can a part-time student receive NIOSH support?

Part-time students, as defined by the institution in which they are enrolled, can receive Tuition and Fees from a NIOSH traineeship, but not a stipend.

Will NIOSH pay the fees for adding and dropping courses?

No. NIOSH will only pay fees to which all students are subject.

Is income from a NIOSH traineeship taxable?

The stipend portion of a traineeship award may be taxable, depending on trainee’s tax situation and other school expenses. It is advisable for trainees to obtain IRS Publication 4, Student’s Guide to Federal Income Tax and IRS Publication 520 on gift aid and tax requirements. The University does not issue a W-2 or 1099 and does not withhold taxes on traineeships.

Can a student receive funding from two federal sources?

Generally, trainees cannot be supported simultaneously on two federal funding sources, except in certain instances. The rule is: compensation may not be paid from a (federal) research grant which supports the same research that is part of the trainee’s planned training experience as approved in the training grant application. (NIH Guide for Contracts and Grants, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1/6/84). However, if both sources are federal training grants, and the combined support from both does not exceed the stipend ceiling, a student can receive funding from two federal sources.

How much support does a student receive from a NIOSH traineeship?

It varies, depending upon how much money each NIOSH-approved program receives in a given year, and how many students are enrolled. Support can include out-of-state tuition (first year only), fees, health insurance, travel, and a maximum stipend set by the federal government. Appointments for stipends can be made only to full-time students.

Can a student be employed by the university while receiving a traineeship?

Yes, but students receiving a stipend (plus T&F) during the academic year may be limited to how much they can work.  In the summer, employment will be supplemented only up to a GSR appointment at 100% (Northern California ERC policy).

Is there a maximum number of years allowed for receiving federal support?

Yes. The maximum number of years an individual can receive NRSA (National Research Service Award) support (including NIOSH traineeships and NIH Fellowships from all schools attended) is:  five years pre-doctoral and three years post-doctoral (for both institutional and individual awards), unless a waiver is granted.

When should the online eRA Commons platform be completed by NIOSH Trainees?

The Appointment of Trainee form (PHS # 2271) should be completed by each trainee on the online eRA Commons platform (online interface governed by the National Institutes of Health) and the program in which trainee is enrolled no later than 30 days after the beginning of the appointment. Information and Instructions for Completing Statement of Appointment is available at the following link:

For what length and period of time can traineeship appointments be made?

The minimum trainee appointment time is nine months for MPH and MS trainees. The minimum trainee appointment time is twelve months for PhD trainees. Exceptions are possible–for example, when a trainee graduates mid-year. The student’s appointment period does not have to coincide with the time period of the grant. It is possible to appoint a PhD trainee for 12 months beginning in any month of the grant year as long as the appointment ends within the 5-year grant period. Only the beginning date must fall within the grant period.

Who is eligible for a NIOSH traineeship?

Must be a US citizen or permanent resident alien (green card holder). The Northern California ERC is currently funded to support students in Industrial Hygiene, Ergonomics, and Epidemiology at UC Berkeley, Agricultural Safety and Health at UC Davis and Occupational Health Nursing and Occupational Medicine at UC San Francisco.

Is there any advantage to becoming a California resident?

Yes. Because of limited funding, the Northern California ERC will pay for out-of-state fees only for the first year. Therefore, it is important for out-of-state students to begin establishing California residency as soon as possible in their first year.  It takes about one year to complete. Reach out to your NIOSH affiliated university of attendance who handles student affairs within your program for further details.


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