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Information for Students


Title of program: Human Factors Engineering, a concentration within Industrial and Systems Engineering
Year human factors/ergonomics program was established: 1963
Accreditation: Accredited by HFES
Primary department sponsoring program: Industrial and Systems Engineering
Person(s) potential students can contact for more information, including applications:
Name: Li Lin, Graduate Director, Industrial and Systems Engineering
Institution: University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
Address: 342 Bell Hall, Amherst, NY 14260
Phone: 716-645-2357
Web site:
Is this program a joint program? No
Academic calendar: Semester
Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered: MS, PhD
Number of degrees granted during Last 3 Years: 2014: MS–8, PhD–3; 2013: MS–9, PhD–3; 2012: MS–8, PhD–2
Can students attend part-time? Yes
Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program: The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University at Buffalo has a long history of quality education and research in human factors. It has always seen its role as integrating human factors into the broader context of designing effective work systems. The program includes human-computer interaction, formal and mathematical modeling of decision making and other cognitive processes, human reliability and industrial safety, workplace design, cognitive engineering, interface design, environment design, and occupational health. Thus, students are exposed to both physical and cognitive aspects of human factors (though typically specialize in one of the areas). Students come from various fields in engineering, as well as from the behavioral and health sciences. We have an active student body, as evidenced by our award-winning student chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Graduating students regularly take human factors positions in academic institutions, federal laboratories, and national corporations.
Are distance learning courses offered as part of this degree program? Yes

Application deadline(s): Fall Admission – February 1 (requesting aid), April 15 (no aid requested, noncitizen/perm resident), August 1 (no aid requested, US citizen/perm resident); Spring Admission – August 1 (requesting aid), October 1 (no aid requested, noncitizen/perm resident), December 1 (no aid requested, US citizen/perm resident)
Application fees: $75
Are separate applications required for university and department? No

Minimum requirements:

  • Grade point average (last 4 yrs: A = 4.0): 3.0
    Note: GRE scores are only required for PhD applicants.
  • GRE combined: No minimum
  • GRE Verbal: No minimum
  • GRE Quantitative: 159
  • GRE Analytical: No minimum
  • Other: TOEFL minimum of 550 (paper) or 79 (internet)
Undergrad degrees, backgrounds, or course work required (req) or recommended (rec) for admission: A baccalaureate degree in engineering or a related technical field, such as any of the mathematical, physical, behavioral, or health sciences is required. Additionally, proficiency is expected in mathematics through the level of multivariate calculus, calculus based probability and statistics, and computer programming.
Importance of other criteria as admission factors:
  • Previous research activity: Medium
  • Relevant work experience: Medium
  • Extracurricular activities: Medium
  • Letters of recommendation: High
  • Personal interview: Low
Tuition and fees: Full time tuition and fee totals per semester: New York State resident – $6,242; Nonresident – $11,152

Number of students applying to the human factors/ergonomics program last year: MS–28, PhD–26
Number of students accepted into the program last year: MS–11, PhD‐8
Number of students entering the program last year: MS–3, PhD–4
Anticipated number of openings per year for the next two years: MS–10, PhD–5

Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance: 46.43%
Amounts received per year (Minimum – Typical – Maximum): $16,000 – $18,000 – $22,000
Types of assistance available:

  • Teaching assistantship: Yes (tuition exempt)
  • Research assistantship: Yes (tuition exempt)
  • Fellowships: Yes (partially tuition exempt)
  • Traineeships: Yes (partially tuition exempt)
When should students apply for financial assistance? At the same time as submitting application for admission

Graduate degree offered: MS
Number of units required: 30
Exams required: Comprehensive or oral defense of thesis
Language requirements: None
Research required: Thesis, independent study, or other similar experience
Practical experience required: None
Typical number of years required to obtain degree: 2
Is there a non-thesis option at the master's level? Yes

Graduate degree offered: PhD
Number of units required: 72
Exams required: Qualifying, comprehensive, proposal defense, oral defense of dissertation
Language requirements: None
Research required: Dissertation
Practical experience required: None
Typical number of years required to obtain degree: 5

Titles of required courses (req) and popular elective courses (elect) taught on a regular and frequent schedule; distance learning courses (dist) are available where indicated:

  • Human Factors Research Methods, req, 3, MS, PhD
  • Design and Analysis of Experiments, req/dist, 3, MS, PhD
  • Human Information Processing, elect/dist 3, MS, PhD
  • Human Factors in Safety, elect/dist, 3, MS, PhD
  • Human Computer Interaction, elect/dist, 3, MS, PhD
  • Work Physiology, elect/dist, 3, MS, PhD
Number of courses outside department that are required: 0
Number of courses outside department that are recommended: 0
Are required courses offered at night? Some
Are required courses offered on weekends? No
Are required courses offered in summer? Yes, via distance
Are required courses offered through distance learning? Yes. Design and Analysis of Experiments, Human Information Processing, Human Factors in Safety, Human Computer Interaction, Work Physiology via video/online streaming, may be offered in summer. Courses count towards regular degree programs (only 50% of degree credits can be completed via distance courses).
Average or typical class size in a required course: 15

Research and support facilities available to students in the program: HF students have access to a computer laboratory with 23 windows desktop computers all equipped with the software necessary for performing research and coursework tasks. The students can use the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Lab for coursework related to manual and automated manufacturing processes and equipment. Students also have access to facilities in the following research labs:

UB Center for Excellence Home-BASE – Contains "Smart" home technology such as the portable exercise measurement system.

Center for Health Systems Engineering Research – Gives Students access to healthcare facilities in surrounding Buffalo hospitals.

Ergonomics and Biomechanics Lab – Contains a 3D motion capture system, a full body dynamometer system, EMG measurement equipment, a force platform, and data collection and analysis software.

Command and Control Laboratory – Contains large screen displays for re-configurable workstations for conducting team communication and collaboration experiments, high quality speakers and headphones, and screen and audio data collection software.

Cognitive System Laboratory – Contains an interactive human-vehicle simulator, a brain signal measurement system, and an intelligent energy system test-bed.

Formal Human Systems Laboratory – Contains multiple computer workstations configured to support the computational modeling and formal verification of human-interactive systems.

Finally, students have full access to the departments meeting, presentation, printing, copying, and mail room facilities.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program: Students may be offered teaching assistant positions to assist with grading, lecture preparation, and laboratories. PhD students interested in academic careers typically have the opportunity to be a full course instructor.
Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students: All HF faculty are research active and pursue a wide range of projects. Work is currently being conducted in a number of domains including occupational safety, special working populations, health IT, driving and intelligent transportation, aviation, home health care, accessible design, and defense. Research is funded by multiple government agencies such as NSF, AHRQ, NASA, NIOSH, and the DoD. HF faculty often collaborate with other university units such as architecture, nursing, computer science, and biomedical engineering.
Number of current HF/E postdocs: 1

Current number of active students in program, by gender: men: MS–6, PhD–6; women: MS–6, PhD–10
Current number of first-year students in program: MS–4, PhD–4
Based on current graduate students in the program, the mean score on admission tests and undergraduate GPA by degree being sought are:

Degree: MS

  • Mean GRE Verbal: 137.42
  • Mean GRE Quantitative: 146
  • Mean GRE Analytical: 2.58
  • Mean GRE Combined: 283.42
  • Mean undergraduate GPA: 3.25

Degree: PhD

  • Mean GRE Verbal: 154.69
  • Mean GRE Quantitative: 158.50
  • Mean GRE Analytical: 3.69
  • Mean GRE Combined: 313.19
  • Mean undergraduate GPA: 3.55
On average, graduates gained employment in:
  • Academia: 27%
  • Industry: 73%
  • Government: 0%
Number of current HF/E Faculty: 5
Ann Bisantz, PhD 1997, Georgia Institute of Technology; cognitive engineering, human computer interaction, human factors in health systems
Victor Paquet, ScD 1998, U. of Massachusetts, Lowell; occupational ergonomics, universal design, occupational safety and health
Sean (Changxu) Wu, PhD 2007, U. of Michigan; human performance modeling, transportation systems, human-machine interaction
Lora Cavuoto, PhD 2012, Virginia Tech; physical ergonomics, biomechanics of obesity, aging and human work capacity
Matthew Bolton, PhD 2010, U. of Virginia; human behavior modeling, erroneous human behavior, formal methods
Faculty-to-student ratio: 1 to 5.4

[Updated January 2015]

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