Human factors psychologists study behavior in the context of technology and apply the results to the design of tasks and equipment. The field strives to make it easier and safer for people to use machines such as cars, airplanes, and computers, and to improve home, work, and leisure environments. Human factors psychologists study human capabilities and limitations and apply that knowledge to systems and environments to enhance human performance.
Our Human Factors program provides a strong foundation in research design and methodology within the wider context of basic and applied experimental psychology. Some of our current human factors research involves pilot decision making styles, the legibility of fonts, aging and multitasking, and information visualization in complex displays. The mean time to complete the program, including a six-month internship, is five years.
The Human Factors Program at WSU
We believe that the best way to prepare human factors psychologists for the applied environment is to provide general training in experimental psychology as well as specific experience conducting research on specialized topics.
The successful applicant should have interdisciplinary strengths in the sciences, mathematics, computer technology, or other fields. Coursework in the core areas of psychology will normally be completed in the first two years of study. The core requirements are Research Design, Biological, Cognitive, and Social/Developmental Foundations of Behavior, and Personality/Individual Differences. All students complete an independent research project, attend research seminars, take 24 hours of electives, and complete a two semester internship. Doctoral candidates must demonstrate professional competence in their specialty by passing a written comprehensive exam before beginning their Doctoral Dissertation.
Students should have an undergraduate major in psychology or related area with coursework in statistics, research methods, and systems and theories (history) of psychology. Other courses may be required as well. Admission to the program requires a minimum GPA of 3.0; submission of scores on the GRE (Verbal and Quantitative); four letters of reference; and a career/goals statement. Application materials must be postmarked by January 15 .
The curriculum is consistent with scientist-practitioner and action-research models of education. It uses individual, ecological, and social contextual theoretical orientations to prepare graduates to work in human factors related organizations. There is an emphasis on the integration of theory, research and action, and on intensive, individual supervision of research and practice experiences.
Each student will have at least one Concentrated Specialty. This Specialty is determined by the students’ electives, chosen in consultation with the students' advisor. The intent is for the student to develop expertise in one or more specific areas such as research methodology, ergonomics, human-computer interaction, usability, etc. The specialty(ies) is declared at the time the student requests to take the Qualifying Exams.
An internship is required of those in the human factors program for completion of the Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology. The internship typically involves 6 months of intensive training and supervised experience in a human factors related position. Past internships have involved paid employment with Boeing, IBM, Kodak, Microsoft, NCR, Raytheon, SBC, and many others.
Students are to take electives both within and outside of the Psychology Department. Outside of the department, there are opportunities to take courses on many of the University's graduate programs including departments such as Computer Science, the Elliott School of Communication, Frank Barton School of Business, and the College of Engineering.
A limited number of research and teaching assistantships are available. They are for up to $6500 a year and carry some fee and tuition remission. A separate application form is required for these awards.
The Psychology Department does not offer a terminal Master's degree. After a student has successfully completed their Foundations Courses, their Research Methods Courses, Predoctoral Research, including their Second Year Project and an additional six hours, the degree of Masters of Arts will be awarded.
Or Address Inquiries To:
Dr. Barbara Chaparro
Coordinator, Human Factors Psychology
Department of Psychology
Wichita State University