GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
Department of Psychology
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Title: Human Factors and Applied Cognitive Program (HFAC) (PhD, MA, Certificate)
Est: MA 1972, PhD 1990, Cert 2006
Granted last 3 years: PhD 10, MA 31, Cert 4
Part time: PhD no, MA yes, certificate yes
HFES student chapter: yes
PhD: The doctoral program emphasizes research that applies cognitive science theory to human factors concerns. Our emphasis is twofold: (1) research that extends cognitive theory in areas where practice has found it deficient; and (2) research that applies cognitive theories to build tools that can be used by practitioners to design human-machine systems. Our faculty conduct basic and applied research in such domains as surface and air transportation, human-computer interaction, robotics, and health care systems. Behavioral and computational methods are the primary research tools, but neuroergonomics methods (ERPs, fMRI, TCD, etc.) are also used in many of our research programs. Students who do not have real-world experience and desire such can be placed in a part- or full-time practicum or internship with industry or government before completing their degree. The Washington, DC area boasts one of the largest concentrations of human factors professionals in the nation. The historically strong concentration of government organizations (such as the Naval Research Laboratories, Army Research Institute, Census Bureau, National Institutes of Health, Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Agency, and NASA) has been augmented by a growth in the software industries and government contractors. This concentration benefits GMU's HFAC program in many ways. We draw upon these professionals as a source of adjunct faculty to supplement the expertise of the full-time faculty. Furthermore, the various laboratories, agencies, and industries provide numerous opportunities for practicum placements as well as job possibilities after the PhD.
MA: The HFAC specialization trains students in the application of cognitive science to "real-world" problems. Students gain expertise in such areas as cognitive system engineering, usability testing, surface transportation, aviation, human-computer interaction, and neuroergonomics. Faculty members help place students who do not have real-world experience in a part- or full-time practicum before completing their degree. MA students can elect to focus on either professional training or preparation for doctoral programs. Both tracks stress the analytic and empirical methodologies that are used in all phases of interactive systems design (where this is broadly defined to include any human-machine system). The professional training track emphasizes course work and practical experience; the doctoral preparation track involves students in ongoing research projects.
Contact: For the PhD Program: Raja Parasuraman, George Mason University, MSN 3F5; Fairfax, VA 22030; 703/993-1357; firstname.lastname@example.org, http://archlab.gmu.edu/. For the MA Program: Matthew Peterson, George Mason University, MSN 3F5; Fairfax, VA 22030; 703/993-4255; email@example.com,
Catalog: Available online http://catalog.gmu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=19&poid=17998
Deadline: Jan. 1 for PhD, Mar. 1 for MA and Cert.
Fees: $60. Separate applications required for university and department.
GPA: PhD 3.0, MA 3.0, Cert 3.0
GRE: PhD 1200 v + q, MA 1000 v + q, Cert 1000 v + q
Other: In keeping with the eclectic nature of the field, candidates with eclectic backgrounds are preferred. We try to evaluate the candidate as a whole to find trade-offs among undergraduate degree, work experience, research experience, and other factors. Some of the skills we value in a candidate include knowledge of human information processing (recommended); experimental design (rec.); statistics (rec.); computer programming (rec.); and/or evidence of an interest in applying cognitive theory to real-world problems (rec.). Special consideration is given to those with engineering or computer science bachelor's degrees.
Research: PhD high, MA low, Cert low
Work experience: medium
Letters: PhD high, MA medium, Cert medium
Interview: PhD medium, MA low, Cert low
Students applying last year: PhD 58, MA 35, Cert 4
Accepted: PhD 12, MA 21, Cert 2
Entered program: PhD 6, MA 16, Cert 2
Openings/year: PhD 4-7, MA 15-20, Cert 1-4
TUITION AND FEES:
Residents: $478.75/credit (about 9 credits/semester for full-time students)
% receiving: PhD 100, MA 75; Doctoral students: 100% who wish support are receiving support. Master's students: For those who wish support, approx. 75% receive support after acceptance into the program but before beginning the program. The remaining master's students are placed with local agencies and companies after they begin the program. In the last five years, all master's students have had some support before completing their first semester.
Amount: PhD $14000-$25000/year + tuition. MA $9000-$14000/year with partial support for tuition
Available: fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, scholarships, all tuition exempt
Apply: with application
PhD: 72 units, comprehensive exam to advance to candidacy and oral defense of dissertation required, no languages required, research required, practical experience required, 4-6 years
MA: 32 units, no exams or languages required, research and practical experience encouraged but optional, 2 years
Nonthesis option: yes
Cert: 15 units, no exams or languages required, practical experience encouraged, 1 year
Required courses (units): Cognitive Engineering: Cognitive Science Applied to Human Factors (3); Task Analysis, Cognitive Task Analysis, and Protocol Analysis (3); Advanced Statistics and Research Methods Psych (8). Required or elective courses: Seminar in Human Factors & Applied Cognition (3); Seminar in Human-Technology Interactions (3); Advanced Topics in Cognitive Science (3); (With permission of adviser, the above 3 courses may be repeated for credit; most are run as special topics. MA students must take 2 of the above 3 courses.); Cognitive Neuroscience (3); Special Topics (3).
Required courses outside department: 0
Recommended courses outside department: Up to 9 hours of elective courses, from within or outside the department, may be taken with adviser's approval
Required courses offered: nights: yes
Class size: 10-18
Research facilities: The Human Factors and Applied Cognition program is housed in the Arch Lab. Facilities include office space for faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and students, as well as research labs, data collection rooms, a seminar room, and a sound attenuated room for audiometric assessment. Several types of specialized research equipment are available, including a flight simulator, an air traffic control workstation, a high-fidelity driving simulator, two desktop driving simulators, a virtual reality system, and low- and high-fidelity simulations of unmanned vehicles and robots. The data recording facilities include multiple low- and high-speed eye-trackers, speech analysis and synthesis systems, 128-, 64-, and 32-channel EEG systems, a transcranial magnetic stimulation system (TMS) with optical stereotaxy, an MRI analysis lab, facilities for collecting DNA samples for genetic studies, and access to the Krasnow Institute's 3T MRI scanner. Extensive contacts among the transportation and military research communities facilitate the collection of off-site data in these domains, when needed.
Teaching: All doctoral students are encouraged to work one or two semesters as a teaching assistant. Courses typically available to HFAC students include undergraduate statistics, memory and cognition, and perception and sensation (lab course). In addition, advanced doctoral students may teach one of these courses as the instructor.
Current research: Faculty members in our program are engaged in a range of human factors, applied, and basic cognitive research using behavioral, computational, and neuroscience methods. The constant thread throughout the lab is the focus on developing and applying cognitive theory to real-world problems. We are involved in understanding visual attention, auditory cognition, working memory, and cognitive neuroscience and applying that understanding in domains such as aviation, driving, human-robot interaction, and virtual environments. Specific research topics include auditory warnings and multi-sensory displays, cognitive aging, task switching and interruptions, attention in working memory, visual-spatial cognition, spatial navigation, genetics of cognition, biological motion, and training and educational technologies.
Active: 19 men, 19 women
First-year students: 6 PhD, 16 MA, 2 Cert
Mean scores: PhD: GRE 590 v, 680 q, GPA 3.67; MA: GRE 540 v, 650 q, GPA 3.55
Carryl L. Baldwin, PhD 1997, Univ. of South Dakota; surface and air transportation, auditory and multisensory displays, aging, auditory cognition, neuroergonomics
Deborah Boehm-Davis, PhD 1980, Univ. of California, Berkeley; human-computer interaction, transportation (aviation, highway), interruptions
Pamela Greenwood, PhD 1977, State Univ. of New York, Stony Brook; cognitive aging and Alzheimer's disease, genetics of cognitive aging and Alzheimer's disease, visuospatial attention, working memory, relation of attention to working memory
Patrick E. McKnight, PhD 1997, Univ. of Arizona; measurement, data analysis, decision-making, health services research
Raja Parasuraman, PhD 1976, Aston Univ., Birmingham, U.K.; attention, human-automation interaction, robotics, neuroergonomics, cognitive neuroscience, aging
Matthew S. Peterson, PhD 1997, Univ. of Kansas; attention, working memory, task-switching, visual perception, cognitive neuroscience
Tyler Shaw, PhD 2009, Univ. of Cincinnati; vigilance, personality, stress, Transcranial Doppler Sonography, human-automation interaction
James C. Thompson, PhD 2002, Swinburne Univ. of Technology, Melbourne; human-computer cognitive neuroscience, biological movement
J. Gregory Trafton, Princeton Univ.; complex cognition, interruptions and resumptions, complex visualizations, scientific reasoning, human-robot interaction
Robert Youmans, PhD 2006, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago.; fixation in design; human-computer interaction
[Updated May 2012]