Clemson University’s Master of Transportation Safety and Administration (MTSA)

By Marianne Saglam posted 23 days ago

Clemson University’s Master of Transportation Safety and Administration (MTSA) is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States with a focus on the management and administration of road safety programs. The degree addresses the need for a road safety workforce capable of deploying evidence-based strategies and best practices supported by ongoing research. The recently approved graduate program is now accepting applications for students for the Fall 2019 semester. The Application Fee will be waived for the first 50 students who complete and submit their application for admission to the Fall 2019 semester class by August 1, 2019.

Clemson University’s Institute for Global Road Safety and Security (IGRSS) Launches First in the Nation Masters of Transportation (Road) Safety Administration (MTSA) Degree Program

By Institute for Global Road Safety and Security MTSA Development Team 

Dr. Kim E. Alexander

Founder and Executive Director, Chair

Clinical Associate Professor


Dr. Philip Pidgeon IV

Associate Director

Clinical Associate Professor


Dr. Bruce B. Rafert

Professor Emeritus and Visiting Professor

Senior Fellow and MTSA Program Coordinator


Terecia W. Wilson

Road Safety Professional

Assistant Director and Professor of Practice

Member, NAWHSL Board of Advisors

March 22, 2019

Clemson University’s Master of Transportation Safety and Administration (MTSA) is the first graduate program of its kind in the United States with a focus on the management and administration of road safety programs. The degree addresses the need for a road safety workforce capable of deploying evidence-based strategies and best practices supported by ongoing research. The recently approved graduate program is now accepting applications for students for the fall 2019 semester. The application fee will be waived for the first 50 students who complete and submit their application for admission to the fall 2019 semester class by August 1, 2019.

What is the MTSA?  Highway safety program administration and management is a highly interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary field, including but not limited to behavioral safety programs, infrastructure safety programs (traffic safety engineering), enforcement, emergency management services, education, planning and design, public health, communications and marketing, public policy, driver and vehicle services, finance, etc. The curriculum necessary for this field utilizes Clemson University’s faculty expertise across multiple departments and colleges, with courses modified for a specific focus on road safety and high-quality online delivery. In addition, core courses have been specifically designed for the degree.

This unique graduate degree program is a two-year, 30-credit-hour online interdisciplinary transportation (road) safety curriculum designed to develop professionals skilled at administering and managing road safety programs involving the complex interactions of the human-vehicle-road system. 

The MTSA program includes four core courses that all students must complete, and six additional three-credit hour courses which are selected to form a thematic cluster customized to fill the needs of individual students. The non-thesis program takes approximately two years to complete. The online courses will be offered asynchronously with periodic synchronous class meetings scheduled in advance. The program is offered in this format to facilitate access to working professionals around the globe. It also offers the opportunity for internships and special projects. 

The MTSA curriculum is grounded in the belief that the future of transportation safety will require creative leadership capable of working in interdisciplinary teams and applying scientific and systems approaches to road safety management. The MTSA’s online courses will create a powerful learning environment for graduate students to engage in team-based learning, class lectures, case study discussions, and experiential learning for solving the real-world problems of the human-vehicle-road system. The program engages students in activities related to current national and international issues and best practices in road safety and aligns with national and international standards for core competencies that all transportation safety professionals should possess.

A technical advisory committee (TAC) of prominent national leaders with tremendous expertise in the field of road safety reviewed and provided feedback on the overall MTSA program, including its goals and objectives, curriculum map, the competencies and knowledge domains to be addressed, and course descriptions. TAC members bring the latest industry perspectives to the program and will be offering periodic guest lectures. They represent behavioral safety programs, infrastructure programs, injury prevention, driver and vehicle services, commercial motor vehicle safety, and private industry.

Who are prospective MTSA students? The MTSA degree specifically targets the needs of current employees of both US and international corporations involved in road safety; road safety advocacy groups; safety-related non-profit organizations and professional associations; and government agencies with responsibilities for road safety at the local, regional, state, and federal levels, both in the US and internationally.  The program is designed for professionals already involved in road safety who wish to obtain an advanced degree that will enhance their skills, as well as for those who want to pursue a career in road safety.

While progress has been made to reduce roadway deaths and injuries worldwide, MTSA students will benefit from new and innovative opportunities to become even more skilled in evidence-based programming and develop a deeper understanding of government at its various levels. MTSA students will also gain critical knowledge and insight about traffic safety culture, traffic safety engineering, the public policy process, safety data and new statistical methods, strategic planning, effective communications and marketing strategies, public health models for injury prevention, the latest enforcement strategies, and a myriad of other issues that impact the effectiveness of road safety programs.

We anticipate that MTSA students will come from such organizations as the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and its various agencies (such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the Federal Transit Administration); the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); state and local Departments of Transportation (DOTs); State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO’s); State Injury Prevention Offices; State Highway Patrols and local law enforcement agencies responsible for traffic law enforcement; state driver and vehicle services agencies; metropolitan planning organizations and regional councils of government; state emergency medical services/emergency response; safety advocacy groups such as MADD National and Safe Kids; road safety-related research institutes; professional associations such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA); and other national, state, and local transportation-related groups. We are also anticipating that we will have similar professionals enroll in the MTSA program from other countries in which transportation safety is a significant issue.

The MTSA incorporates all the disciplines involved in road safety, including both the behavioral and infrastructure sides of safety. MTSA students are expected to represent education, enforcement, emergency response, engineering, research and evaluation, public policy, public health and injury prevention, driver and vehicle services, alcohol and drug prevention, communications and marketing, transportation safety planning, and transportation finance and grants administration—all the many disciplines that must work collaboratively to achieve success in efforts to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities. 

Who should consider enrolling in the MTSA program? Anyone who spends all or most of their workday on matters pertaining directly to road safety, such as assessing safety performance; planning, developing, and implementing safety initiatives; and taking specific actions related to safety should consider enrolling.   

Examples of prospective MTSA students may include but are not limited to:

  • Directors and staff members of state highway safety offices
  • Safety program educators
  • Law enforcement supervisors and senior management personnel that direct or coordinate traffic safety enforcement programs at a local, state, or national level
  • Marketing and communications specialists that develop and administer safety campaigns
  • Traffic safety engineers
  • Safety data analysts and researchers
  • Safety program developers and evaluators
  • Public health and injury prevention specialists
  • Driver and vehicle services administrators
  • Transportation safety planners
  • Alcohol and drug prevention specialists
  • Staff of safety-related legislative committees
  • Project managers and administrators of safety programs at various levels of government
  • College graduates that wish to pursue a career in road safety

With the continued high number of preventable motor vehicle traffic fatalities, injuries, and collisions that occur on roadways across the globe on a daily basis, it is imperative that we build the capacity of the road safety workforce of the future to address new and emerging technologies that can improve road safety.  It is critical that those in the road safety workforce also understand cultural trends that have an impact on the development and implementation of various road safety strategies.  We look forward to welcoming students to our program in fall 2019.

How can you apply to enroll in the MTSA program? All applications to the MTSA are made online, using the link Each applicant is required to submit the materials listed below as part of the on-line application. The application package must include the items listed below no later than 45 days prior to the start of the term you wish to enter. Items include:

  • Transcripts showing a Bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited college or university (Initially, informal transcripts or photocopies of originals may be utilized; official transcripts will later be required.)
  • A Statement of Purpose
  • A current CV
  • Three professional references
  • GRE test scores are waived for applicants who can demonstrate two or more years of employment in a transportation safety setting
  • Students from countries where English is not the native language must provide IELTS scores.

The tuition is the same price for all applicants, regardless of their location in the world. Current tuition and fees are available at Anyone already working in the transportation safety field should check with their employer regarding whether their agency has a tuition-reimbursement program and how they might participate in that program.  Applicants will also be considered for possible scholarships that are currently being established.  Interested applicants should apply NOW if interested in starting the program in the fall of 2019.

What should I know about Clemson University and the Graduate School at Clemson?  Clemson University is currently ranked Number 23 among national public universities. It is an original land grant university, founded in 1889, with a mission of teaching, research and service. The university is science and technology-oriented, with student-centered research. There are about 20,000 undergraduate students and more than 5,000 graduate students.

The campus is set midway between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina on 1,400 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the shores of Lake Hartwell.  The Clemson Experimental Forest covers 17,482 acres and has nearly 45 miles of maintained roads and more than 100 miles of designated trails. 

Clemson is an R1 ranked public research university where the student experience is second to none.  Clemson is both competitive and inclusive—a place where big ideas can and do, thrive. The university offers an overall 17-to-1 faculty/student ratio, and nearly half of Clemson’s classes have fewer than 20 students. The Palmetto Cluster ranks 8th on the list of university-owned supercomputers in the United States. Clemson offers study abroad programs on every continent except Antarctica. 

The Graduate School at Clemson offers 120 different graduate programs. One out of every five Clemson students is a graduate student. About 14 percent of the university’s resident graduate students belong to a racial or ethnic community historically underrepresented in higher education. The graduate school offers traditional on-campus programs, blended learning, and online programs. 

In South Carolina and beyond, Clemson University’s Graduate School actively focuses on the theme of transformation, helping its 5,300 students earn master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 120 credentialed programs. 

Clemson is a leader in innovation, and we are pushing ourselves every day to improve and expand our in-demand, cutting-edge programs to serve the needs of our student population, our corporate and governmental partners, and local, regional, and even international economies. Even more important is the reality that with a Clemson graduate degree, our students are transforming their professional identities and future prospects, setting themselves up for success and satisfaction in their careers, and making a difference in their communities.

Closing Comments. Globally, there are 1.23 million road fatalities each year, with injuries sustained by 20 to 50 million more people. Making all road systems safer must be a critical, worldwide priority. Newcomers to the transportation safety industry and seasoned professionals alike will make a difference in the lives of thousands, even millions of people in their communities, their states, their countries, and even our world with this innovative graduate degree. We look forward to welcoming students to our program in the fall of 2019.

For additional information about the MTSA Degree Program, contact:


Dr. Kim E. Alexander, Founder and Executive Director, Chair, Clinical Associate Professor, Clemson University’s Institute for Global Road Safety & Security


Dr. Bruce B. Rafert, MTSA Program Coordinator, Professor Emeritus, Clemson University’s Institute for Global Road Safety & Security