Purdue University



Title of program

Human Factors Engineering Option (MS, PhD) 

Joint program

Department of Psychological Sciences 

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Steven J. Landry, Associate Professor and Associate Head, School of Industrial Engineering, 315 N. Grant St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2023; 765-494-6256;


Graduate Committee Chair: Barrett Caldwell, Professor,

Catalog (free)

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of the design of tasks, equipment, systems, and the work environment. Study of human-machine computer information and control systems. Instrumentation and analytic methods for the design and execution of human factors studies. Job design, training, safety engineering, and cognitive engineering.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MS 11, PhD 17 

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), September 1 (spring) 

Application fee




Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0 (recommended)

GRE: 155 v, 162 q, 4.0 a (recommended, no minimum)

TOEFL: 570 (paper-based total) or 213 CBT (computer-based total, 77 IBT (Internet Based Test), 4.5 TWE for international students. Mathematics through multivariate calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra; calculus-based probability and applied statistics; and proficiency in computer programming. Preference given to students with undergraduate degrees in engineering, science, and psychology.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: high

Work experience: medium 

Letters: high 

Interview: low

Tuition and fees

Resident: $4,819/semester

Nonresident: $13,029/semester



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

412 (MS and PhD, all areas of Industrial Engineering) 

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


Types of assistance available

Fellowships, TA, RA, all tuition exempt

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application



Graduate degrees offered

MS (thesis), MS (nonthesis option), and PhD

Number of units required

MS (thesis): 21 units

MS (nonthesis option): 30 units

PhD: 18–24 units beyond MS

Exams required

MS (thesis): oral defense of thesis

MS (nonthesis option): none

PhD: preliminary defense of proposal and defense of thesis required

Language requirements


Research required

MS (thesis): yes

MS (nonthesis option): no

PhD: yes

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS (thesis): 1.5–2 years 

MS (nonthesis option): 1.5 years 

PhD: 3–5 years

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Design of Experiments (3)*, Human Factors in Engineering (3)*, Research Seminar in Human Factors (3)

* Course available by distance learning through Purdue Engineering Professional Education

Electives (units)

Job Design (3), Safety Engineering (3)*, Cognitive Engineering of Interactive Software (3), Human Aspects of Computing (3), Applied Ergonomics (3)*, Decision Theory in Engineering (3)*, Knowledge-Based Systems (3), Systems Simulation (3)*, Simulation Design and Analysis (3), Applied Regression Analysis (3), Sampling and Survey Techniques (3), Applied Multivariate Analysis (3)*, Psychology of Industrial Training (3), Occupational Analysis (3)

* Course available by distance learning through Purdue Engineering Professional Education

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: 

Research is conducted in both field settings and laboratories. Three laboratory facilities are available for the development of software for experimentations and for the development of experimental apparatus. Six laboratories exist for conducting experimentations, one of which is climatically controlled. The laboratories are networked, linked to the Internet and Internet2, and equipped with appropriate computing systems and a comprehensive set of cognitive tests and measures.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Teaching assistantships are available in a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses that match the student's background and interests. Research assistantships are available as University Fellowships and opportunities to work on a variety of externally funded projects.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Studies emphasize the cognitive and social aspects of designing and operating advanced technologies. These include designing human-centered home pages, key word searches, browsers, e-commerce, and distance learning. Other currently active areas include cognitive task analysis, usability testing, design for special populations, digital human modeling, engineering of socio-technical systems, modeling human performance of multiple tasks, design of alerting and warning systems, air traffic control systems, patient safety, gestural interaction, human robot interaction, and information visualization.


Current number of active students in program, by gender

13 men, 9 women

Current number of first-year students
in program


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

MS: GRE 410 v, 750 q, 4.2 a, GPA 3.4

PhD: GRE 670 v, 800 q, 4.0 a, GPA 3.4



Barrett S. Caldwell, PhD 1990, UC Davis; information technology 

Vincent Duffy, PhD 1996, Purdue U.; digital human modeling 

Steven J. Landry, PhD 2004, Georgia Tech; air traffic control 

Mark R. Lehto, PhD 1985, U. Michigan; safety engineering 

Sara McComb, PhD 1998, Purdue U.; collaborative cognition and team communication 

James D. McGlothlin, PhD 1988, U. Michigan; ergonomics 

Robert W. Proctor, PhD 1975, U. Texas-Arlington; human performance 

Juan Wachs, PhD 2008, Ben-Gurion U.; human-robot interaction and assistive technology 

Ji Soo Yi, PhD 2008, Georgia Inst. of Tech; human-computer interaction

[Updated February 2014]