The graduate program in Human Factors and Applied Cognition (HFAC) provides instruction and research training (MA and PhD) for students wishing to pursue careers in the academic, public, and private sectors. Certificate programs in usability and transportation human factors are also offered. Across all areas, a strong emphasis is placed on students developing a good understanding of cognitive theory, acquiring advanced methodological and statistical skills, and learning how to apply these tools to real-world human factors problems. The program emphasizes three primary areas: human factors, applied cognition, and neuroergonomics.
Human factors involves the design of technologies and work environments to be compatible with human capabilities and limitations. Applied cognition involves the study of the characteristics of basic human perception and cognitive processes relevant to human performance at work. The methods used in this research include behavioral performance testing, eye tracking, computational modeling, and neural measures. Neuroergonomics is the study of the human brain in relation to performance at work, transportation, and other everyday settings. The Human Factors and Applied Cognition graduate program is one of the few in the country that provides training in this new area of research.
Historically, almost all of our PhD students have had tuition coverage and a stipend for every academic year of the program. For our MA students, tuition coverage and stipends are not guaranteed, but most students are able to find some support from grants or internships after they have entered the program.
Up to 9 hours of elective courses, from within or outside the department, may be taken with adviser's approval
Based on current graduate students in the program, the mean score on admission tests and undergraduate GPA by degree being sought are:
- PhD:GRE 620/161 v
- 720/156 q
- GPA 3.51
- MA: GRE 560/157 v
- 680/152 q
- GPA 3.4
Average or typical class size in a required course:
Research and support facilities available to students in the program:
The Human Factors and Applied Cognition Department research facilities include 6,000 sq. ft. of dedicated laboratory space housing computer equipment, advanced simulators, neuroergonomic recording systems, and extensive software for data collection and analysis. Facilities include officespace 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 high fidelity motion-based driving simulator, low-fidelity desktop driving simulators, humanoid robot head, an fMRI, eye trackers, 2 oculus rifts, EEG, eye trackers, ECG, EMG, TMS, tDCS, fNIRS, portable fNIRS, EDR, TCD, and Google glasses.
Applied Performance Research Lab: interruptions, multi-tasking performance, and VE/VR training
Auditory Research Group: applied auditory cognition, multimodal displays, mental workload, and individual differences in spatial navigation
Cerebral Hemodynamics Lab: how we utilize and maintain cognitive resources
Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Training Research Group: cognitive training and brain stimulation
Human-Automation Interaction Lab: supervisory control, adaptive automation, team performance, and individual differences
Mason Transportation Institute: driver-vehicle interface, collision warnings, vibrotactile signals for navigation guidance
MRES Lab: research methodology application
Neuroergonomics Lab: molecular genetics, brain stimulation, and cognitive training
Perception and Action Neuroscience Group: recognize, code, and make sense of human movement and actions
Predicting Cognition Lab: theoretical models of human error
Social Robotics and Embodied Cognition Lab: human-robot interaction, gaze following, and optimizing design thinking
Visual Attention and Cognition Lab: the interaction between attention, perception, and working memory on human performance
Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
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 number of active students in program, by gender:
Current number of first-year students in program:
32 PhD, 26 MA, 1 Certificate
Carryl L. Baldwin, PhD 1997, U. of South Dakota; auditory cognition, auditory and multimodal displays, transportation, mental workload, individual differences in spatial navigation
Deborah Boehm-Davis, PhD 1980, U. of California, Berkeley; interruptions, aviation, medical
Pamela Greenwood, PhD 1977, State U. of New York, Stony Brook; cognitive aging and Alzheimer's disease, genetics of cognitive aging, training, working memory
Patrick E. McKnight, PhD 1997, U. of Arizona; measurement, data analysis, decision-making, health services research
Matt Peterson, PhD 1997, U. of Kansas; attention, working memory, task-switching, visual perception, cognitive neuroscience
Tyler Shaw, PhD 2008, U. of Cincinnati; vigilance or sustained performance, stress, automation and team performance, Transcranial Doppler Sonography
Greg Trafton, PhD 1994, Princeton U.; theoretical models to predict and prevent errors, interruptions and resumptions, human-robot interaction
Eva Wiese, PhD 2012, Ludwig-Maximilian U. of Munich; human-robot interaction, embodied cognition in human-computer interaction, gaze following
[Updated November 2014]