Cornell University

Location:   Ithaca, New York

Department:   Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences

Quick links:

Directory of Graduate Programs


Title of program:

Year human factors/ergonomics
program was established:


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications:

Tracey Sherwood, Graduate Field Assistant,
Cornell University, Design and Environmental Analysis,
MVR Hall,
Ithaca, NY 14853-4401

Academic calendar:


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered:

MS and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the programs:

Focus is on human factors aspects of environment design. Course covers human-environment topics and ergonomics design issues. Emphasis is also placed on applied techniques and research methods.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years:


Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?



Application deadlines:

January 5, fall admission only

Application Fees:



Minimum requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • GRE: >1200 v + q
  • Other: TOEFL (overall) score should be 105, but section minimums must meet Cornell Graduate School's minimum scores. Psychology or related behavioral science, engineering, computer science, social science, design

Importance of other criteria as admission factors:

  • Research: medium
  • Relevant work experience: medium
  • Letters of recommendation: high
  • Personal interview: high when requested, but not required if application clearly meets criteria

Tuition and fees

Resident and nonresident: $20,800/year


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

MS 30, PhD 30

Number of students accepted into the program last year:

MS 16, PhD 4

Number of students entering the program last year:

MS 9, PhD 3

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

5 – 8


Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance:


Amount received per year:

Possible TA-ships (full fees +); summer support available on a competitive basis

Types of assistance available:

Fellowships, TA, RA, all tuition exempt

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application


Graduate degree offered:

MS and PhD

Number of units required:

MS: Required units vary, typically 60 credit hours
PhD: Required units vary, typically 60 credit hours

Language requirements:


Research required:

MS: Thesis research required
PhD: Dissertation research required

Typical number of years required to obtain degree:

MS: 2
PhD: 4

Is there a non-thesis option?



Required Courses (units):

Making a Difference: By Design (audit); Intro to Human/Environment Relations (audit); Programming Methods in Design (4); Human Factors: Ergonomics-Anthropometrics (4); Human Factors: The Ambient Environment (4); Research Methods in Social Sciences (4); Applied Ergonomics Methods (4); Universal Design: Ergonomics and Accessibility (3); Statistical Methods (6–8)


One from Directed Readings in Human Factors (4); Empirical Research in Human Factors (4); Supervised Fieldwork in Human Factors (4); Planning and Managing the Workplace (4); Minor electives (3–12)

Number of courses outside department that are required:

2 -5

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:
New research labs for environment simulations. Climate-controlled research laboratory. Extensive computer, electrophysiological, and environmental monitoring equipment, eye tracking, 3-D video motion capabilities, Faro arm. Whole-body scanner, hand scanner, and fMRI available. Biochemical analytic facilities available.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Teaching assistantships can include occasional class teaching.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Research on human-computer interaction, input device (e.g., keyboard and mouse) design, ergonomic workplace design, scientific visualization methods, lighting and visual performance, noise and stress, ergonomics and health, personal environmental control systems, alternative work spaces, telecommuting, health care, universal design, aging and design.


Current number of active students in program, by gender:

1 man, 3 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 557 v, 757 q
  • 3.84 a
  • GPA 3.41


Franklin D. Becker, PhD 1972, UC Davis; psychology

Gary Evans, PhD 1975, U. Massachusetts Amherst; psychology

David Feathers, PhD 2006, U. Buffalo; industrial & systems engineering

Alan Hedge, PhD 1979, U. Sheffield; psychology

Ying Hua, PhD 2007, Carnegie Mellon; architecture

Joseph Laquatra, PhD 1984, Cornell U.; consumer economics & housing

Lorraine Maxwell, PhD 1990, City U. of New York; psychology

William Sims, Jr., PhD (Emeritus) 1974, MIT; planning

Nancy Wells, PhD 2000, U. Michigan; psychology and architecture

[Updated May 2011]