Rice University



Title of program

Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors 

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?

Yes – both PhD and the Masters program are accredited

Contact person for more information, including applications

Dr. Michael Byrne, Rice University Department of Psychological Sciences, 6100 Main Street MS25, Houston, TX 77005

Web site

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

PhD (MA earned en route to the PhD)

Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors (MHCIHF)

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors program investigates interactions among humans and other elements of a system. We are especially concerned with the interaction of humans with computer systems, in areas as diverse as mobile computing, voting, transportation, and medical systems. The department works hard to tailor a program of study that closely matches the student’s interests, and the size of the Department of Psychological Sciences (21 faculty/40 students) allows a more personalized approach.

We have two programs: One is a professionally oriented program that terminates with a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors (MHCIHF), and the other is research oriented and terminates with a PhD, although an MA is earned along the way. The goal of the PhD program is to train students to become world-class researchers, preparing students for careers in university-level teaching and research, industry, and government. The goal of the MHCIHF program is to train students to become research-capable practitioners who are equally at home in the laboratory and the field.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MA: 2
PhD: 5

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered at night, on weekends, during summer, or via distance learning?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadline

December 1

Application fee

$85, may be waived upon request



Minimum requirements

We do not require GREs (though they are recommened). We have no set specific minimum GPA; however, a GPA of less than 3.0 out of 4.0 is generally not considered competitve. 

Undergraduate degrees, backgrounds, or coursework required or recommended for admission

Students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds, including psychology, engineering, computer science, and other relevant majors can be successful in these programs. No previous work experience is required for either the PhD or MHCIHF programs.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium 
Work experience: medium
Extracurricular activities: low
Letters: high 
Interview: medium

Tuition and fees

PhD: $46,600/year, but this is wavied for all enrolled PhD students 
MHCIHF: $35,000/year



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

PhD: 25


Number of students accepted into the program last year

PhD: 4


Number of students entering the program last year

PhD: 2


Anticipated number of openings per year

PhD: 6



Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance

PhD: 100%

Amount received per year

PhD: $27,000

Types of assistance available

PhD: teaching assistantship, research assistantship, fellowships – all tuition exempt
MHCIHF: none

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application for admission



Graduate degrees offered


Number of units required

PhD: 60

Exams required

PhD: oral defense of dissertation
MHCIHF: none

Language requirements


Research required

PhD: dissertation (MA: thesis)
MHCIHF: project

Practical experience required

PhD: none
MHCIHF: summer internship

Typical number of years required to obtain degree

PhD: 5

Is there a non-thesis option?

MHCIHF is non-thesis only



Courses (units)

Required Courses
1. Psyc 502 Advanced Psychological Statistics I (3)
2. Psyc 503 Advanced Psychological Statistics II (3)
3. Psyc 520 Foundations of Cognitive Psychology (3)
4. Psyc 531 Human Factors/Human-Computer Interaction Seminar series (all semesters) (1)
5. Psyc 540 Foundations of Engineering Psychology (3)
6. Psyc 541 Human-Computer Interaction (3)
7. Psyc 561 Teaching in Psychology (3)
8. Psyc 609 Methods in Human-Computer Interaction (3)
9. Psyc 600 HCI/HF Master’s Capstone Project (6) (MHCIHF students only)
10. Psyc 660 Professional Issues (PhD students only)

Elective Courses
PhD students, 5 elective courses; MHCIHF students, 2 electives, chosen from the following list:
1. Psyc 504 Computer Applications in Psychology (3)
2. Psyc 522 Information Processing and Attention (3)
3. Psyc 524 Memory (3)
4. Psyc 525 Psycholinguistics (3)
5. Psyc 527 Reasoning, Decision Making, and Problem Solving (3)
6. Psyc 530 Foundations of I/O Psychology (3)
7. Psyc 543 Computational Modeling (3)
8. Psyc 581 Vision Science (3)
9. Psyc 601 Multivariate Statistics (3)
10. Psyc 602 Psychometrics (3)
11. Psyc 630 Training (3)
12. Psyc 634 Personnel Selection
13. Psyc 662 Non-traditional Interfaces (3)
14. Psyc 663 Medical Human Factors (3)
15. Psyc 664 Usability Assessment (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:
Human Factors researchers at Rice have access to approximately 9,400 square feet of research space. These facilities include an eye-tracking laboratory, an acoustically damped recording/testing room, a state-of-the-art usability assessment facility with one way glass and high resolution video/audio recording capabilities, and several medium fidelity driving simulators. 1,500 square feet are located in an off-campus building in the business district (the Applied Psychology Research Laboratory in the IBC Building), specifically chosen to be easily accessible to public transportation to allow for better access to the general public. We also have dedicated access to the Community Research Center (CRC), a 3,400 square foot facility located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, (the world’s largest medical complex), which allows us easy access to patient and medical personnel populations for testing. We also have access to the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), a design-teaching facility that has a full machine shop and state-of-the-art prototyping equipment and research space for student research.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
All students are required to take PSYC 561, Teaching in Psychology, to help them learn various aspects of classroom administration, pedagogical development, and teaching strategies under the guidance of a faculty member in a live classroom setting. There are opportunities for PhD students to compete for full teaching assignments each year, to aid those students who anticipate taking an academic positon upon graduation.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Human Factors research is being conducted across a wide range of areas, and is often multi-disciplinary, involving researchers from Engineering (Mechanical, Computer and Electrical, Bioengineering), Computer Science or one of the medical schools or hospitals in Houston. Major research areas include human performance modeling, cognition, visual attention, decision-making, usability, voting human factors, human computer interaction, educational technology, statistics, website design, perception of collision, motion, and depth, multisensory integration in normal and impaired vision, transportation human factors, health care, military human factors, teamwork and team effectiveness, simulation based training, and evaluation of training and development systems. For a more complete listing, please visit


Current number of active students in program, by gender

4 men, 13 women

Current number of first-year students in program


Number of current HF/E postdocs


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

We no longer require or track GRE scores.

Of the number of those graduating in the past year, students gained employment in

Academia: 0%
Industry: 90%
Government: 10%

Faculty-to-student ratio 1:2



Michael Byrne, PhD, Georgia Tech, 1996
Areas of specialization: human performance modeling, statistics, cognition, visual attention, decision-making

Patricia DeLucia, PhD, Columbia University, 1989
Areas of specialization: perception, human factors in transportation, health care, military human factors

Philip Kortum, PhD, University of Texas at Austin, 1994
Areas of specialization: usability, medical human factors, voting human factors

David Lane, PhD, Tulane University, 1977
Areas of specialization: human-computer interaction, educational technology, statistics, website design

Eduardo Salas, PhD, Old Dominion University, 1984
Areas of specialization: teamwork and team effectiveness, simulation-based training, evaluation of training and development systems

Jing Chen, PhD, Purdue University, 2015
Areas of specialization: decision-making, human-automation interaction, cybersecurity
[Updated: June 2022]