Old Dominion University



Title of program

Human Factors (MS, PhD) with 8 specialized courses in HF

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

James Paulson, Assoc. Professor & Graduate Programs Director, Department of Psychology, MGB 250, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0267; 757-683-4222;

Catalog (free)

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

This program follows the scientist-practitioner model with emphasis on psychological theory and behavioral science, fundamental and innovative areas of human factors/engineering psychology, statistics and research methodology, understanding the broader organizational context for practicing human factors/engineering psychology, and practical experience. Students are encouraged to make innovative professional contributions. Performance expectations and standards are high. The organizational climate of the program is open, nurturing, and cooperative. Students play an active part in the governance of the program and are encouraged to be active in the local chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

PhD 3, MS 8

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Are required courses at night?


Are required courses offered during summer?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?



Application deadline

January 5

Application fee




Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0+

GRE: 153 v, 144 q 

GRE advanced test in psychology. Note: GRE advanced test is required only for applicants without a bachelor's degree in psychology.

For international students, minimum TOEFL score of 550 if paper-based or minimum TOEFL IBT of 79. Coursework in statistics, experimental methods, and 9 additional semester hours in psychology.

GRE scores were waived for admission in 2021.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: high

Work experience: low

Letters: medium

Interview: medium

Undergrad degrees, backgrounds, or course work required (req) or recommended (rec) for admission

BA/BS or higher in Psychology or related field

Tuition and fees Resident: $551/semester hour

Nonresident, VA domicile: $595/semester hour



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 (minimum – typical – maximum)

$18,000 – $20,000 

Types of assistance available

Fellowships, TA, RA, scholarship, most tuition exempt 

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application



Graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Number of units required

MS: 36

PhD: 48 post Master's

Exams required

MS: oral defense exam

PhD: qualifying exam, oral defense of dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

MS: thesis and first-year project research required

PhD: dissertation research required

Practical experience required

MS: thesis

PhD: one semester to one year internship/practical experience

Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS: 2

PhD: 3

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

MS required courses: Quantitative Methods (ANOVA and Regression, 8), Perception (3), Cognition (3), Research Methods (3), Development or Advanced Social (3) 

MS/PhD Human Factors Major Courses: Human Computer Interface Design (3), Ergonomics (3), Human-Computer Interaction (3), Human Factors Psychology (3), Methods, Measures, Techniques, and Tools in Human Factors (3), Attention and Human Performance (3)

Electives (units)

MS/PhD Human Factors Elective Courses:
Advanced Physiological (3), Personnel (3), Organizational (3), Grant and Manuscript Writing (3), Multilevel Models: HLM (3), Quasi-Experimental Methods (3), Psychometric Theory (3), Structural Equation Modeling (3), Various Topics (3 each; e.g. Aviation, Patient Safety, Advanced Human Factors, Human Factors in Cybersecurity). In addition, while an elective at-large, Teaching of Psychology (3) is required to be a teacher of record for a course. HF students are strongly encouraged to obtain teaching experience. 

Number of courses outside department that are required


Number of courses outside department that are recommended

Depends on student's interests (e.g., Introduction to Modeling and Simulation (3) if interested in pursuing Modeling and Simulation Certificate in HF)

Average or typical class size in a required course


Modeling and Simulation HF Certificate

An optional curriculum with prescribed coursework from the ODU Modeling and Simulation Department. A research project involving modeling and simulation is also required. Specific requirements can be obtained by emailing the Programs Director (Dr. Mark Scerbo, 



Research and support facilities available to students in the program: 

Lab facilities are available for research in human cognition, perception and performance, modeling and simulation, and psychophysiology. Facilities include personal computers, local area networked testing stations, sound-attenuated testing chambers, driving simulators (RTI and STISIM), flight simulators, robotic devices, eye trackers, and a human-computer interaction laboratory. Access to university computing and multimedia development facilities is also available. To complement the university’s emphasis on modeling and simulation, students also have access to the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC). VMASC is an ODU-affiliated research and development center where scientists from a number of disciplines create and test computer models and simulation applications to benefit industrial, academic, and governmental interests. Research is supported by private sector, local, state or federal governmental organizations (e.g., National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA, etc.), or one of the military services. Doctoral students are encouraged to become engaged in one of these research programs early in the process of their education. 

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:

All graduate students are encouraged to teach their own course of record for at least one semester before graduation. Students typically teach undergraduate courses in their area of interest. Students may teach more often if they desire. The Teaching of Psychology course (listed in the electives) is required of students who teach their own course of record. However, nearly all students will obtain experience as a Teaching Assistant as part of their funding, regardless of their later interest in teaching their own course of record.  

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:

Cybersecurity, human-computer interaction, visual and auditory display design, vigilance and attention, use of advanced automation, automation trust, attention and driving, advanced air mobility, healthcare simulation, measurement and impact of forms of computer usage on productivity, and human cognition and performance.



Current number of active students in program, by gender

6 men, 7 women

Current number of first-year students
in program

3 in 2022

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

GRE scores were not required for 2021 and 2022 admission.



Ivan Ash, Assoc. Professor, PhD 2005, U. Illinois-Chicago, heuristic formation and use, biases, expertise 

Jing Chen, Asst. Professor, Ph.D., 2015, Purdue University; human performance and decision-making, safety- critical systems such as semi-autonomous driving systems and phishing detection systems in the cyber space.

Mark W. Scerbo, FHFES, Professor, Ph.D., 1987, U. Cincinnati; development and evaluation of healthcare simulation technology, virtual reality systems, virtual environments, adaptive technology.

Jeremiah D. Still, Assoc. Professor, Ph.D., 2009, Iowa State University; human-centered authentication interfaces, intuitive design theory, use of computational models of visual saliency to predict fixations within interfaces.

Yusuke Yamani, Assoc. Professor, Ph.D.,2013, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; mechanisms of attention, human-automation interaction, eye movements of young and older drivers, and operators’ trust toward automated systems.

[Updated January 2021]