Catholic University of America

Location:   Washington, DC

Department:   Psychology


Quick links:


Directory of Graduate Programs


Title of program:

Applied-Experimental Psychology (MA, PhD)

Year human factors/ergonomics
program was established:


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications:

Nancy Adleman
Department of Psychology
Catholic University
Washington, DC 20064

Catalog (free):

Office of Graduate Admissions
Catholic University
Washington, DC 20064

Academic calendar:


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered:

MA and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the programs:

Advanced training in applied experimental psychology and applied cognitive science prepares individuals for career opportunities in industrial and government labs as well as in universities. Students take general and specialty courses in basic and applied psychology and in related disciplines outside the department. Within the first year students identify a specialty related to the research-interests of a member of the faculty and receive research-intensive experience in that area. The program maintains close ties to other labs within and outside the university, thus providing students with a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary research experience.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years:

MA 2, PhD 7

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Are required courses offered during summer?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?



Application deadlines:

March 15 for admission,
January 15 for financial aid


Application Fees:




Minimum requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • GRE: 500 v, 500 q
  • GRE Verbal: no minimum
  • Other: BA degree required; courses in physics, calculus, computer programming recommended.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors:

  • Previous research activity: high
  • Relevant work experience: medium
  • Letters of recommendation: medium
  • Personal interview: medium

Tuition and fees



Number of students applying to the human factors/ergonomics program last year:


Number of students accepted into the program last year:


Number of students entering the program last year:


Anticipated number of openings per year for the next two years:



Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance:


Amount received per year:

Averages $10,000 plus tuition

Types of assistance available:

Fellowship, TA, RA, Research Fellows Program

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application by 1/15


Graduate degree offered:

MA and PhD

Number of units required:

MA: 30
PhD: 53

Exams required:

MA: oral and written exams
PhD: oral and written exams

Language requirements:


Research required:

MA: thesis
PhD: dissertation

Practical experience required:


Typical number of years required to obtain degree:

MA: 2
PhD: 5

Is there a non-thesis option?



Required Courses (units):

  • Research Methods (3)
  • Statistics 1 and 2 (8)
  • PSY 527 Human Factors
  • Foundations of Psychology 1 and 2 (6)


  • Human-Computer Interaction (3)
  • Cognitive Aging (3)
  • Visualization and Virtual Reality (3)

Number of courses outside department that are required:


Number of courses outside department that are recommended:


Average or typical class size in a required course:



Research and support facilities available to students in the program:

The program has excellent laboratory facilities for research in human perception and cognition, human-computer interaction, emotion, psychophysiology, and human performance. The nine-room Cognitive Aging Lab (director: J. H. Howard, Jr.) includes sound-attenuated testing booths as well as a network of PC and Apple Macintosh computers. The Cognition and Virtual Reality Lab (director: M. Sebrechts) includes several graphics workstations, head-mounted displays with motion sensors, two Cyber seats and a large rear-projection screen. Special facilities are also available for the use of Virtual Reality and Eye-Tracking techniques in research on autism. Other laboratories contain microcomputers and video equipment. The university's high-performance workstations are also available for students and faculty members.

Research and support facilities available to students in the program: 
Teaching assistantships are available.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Each semester the department of Psychology hires about 10–13 graduate assistants to perform various activities. The assignments are usually 10 hours per week for 17 weeks in the Fall and/or Spring semester. Most GA assignments fall into two major categories. Some assignments are to assist in the introductory research methods course. This involves preparing materials, grading papers and assisting students. Other GA assignments support introductory and intermediate statistics courses. These assignments generally involve grading papers, assisting students and helping students with various statistical software packages.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
D. Clawson: using virtual reality to study planning and prospective memory. J. H. Howard, Jr.: NIH-sponsored research on implicit learning of serial patterns in healthy elderly and other populations, neural network models of pattern learning. M. Safer: Research on applied memory and emotion. M. Sebrechts: DOD-sponsored research on virtual reality, spatial mental models, and rehabilitation; information visualization, human-computer interaction, and problem solving.


Current number of active students in program, by gender:

5 men, 7 women

Current number of first-year students in program:


Based on current graduate students in the MS in Human Systems Engineering program, the mean score on admission tests and undergraduate GPA by degree being sought are:

  • GRE 1250 v + q
  • GPA 3.1


Nancy Adleman, PhD 2008, Stanford U. School of Medicine; emotion-attention interaction, fMRI, mood effects on cognition

James H. Howard, Jr., PhD 1973, Brown U.; human cognition and perception, cognitive aging, cognitive neuroscience of aging

Martin Safer, PhD 1978, U. Wisconsin; emotion and memory, health psychology

Marc M. Sebrechts, PhD 1980, Yale U.; human-computer interaction, instructional technology, virtual reality

[Updated February 2021]