State University of New York Buffalo



Title of program

Human Factors Engineering, a concentration within Industrial and Systems Engineering

Primary department sponsoring program

Industrial and Systems Engineering 

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Li Lin, Graduate Director, Industrial and Systems Engineering, University at Buffalo,
The State University of New York, 342 Bell Hall, Amherst, NY 14260 
(716) 645-2357 

Web site

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University at Buffalo has a long history of quality education and research in human factors. It has always seen its role as integrating human factors into the broader context of designing effective work systems. The program includes human-computer interaction, formal and mathematical modeling of decision making and other cognitive processes, human reliability and industrial safety, workplace design, cognitive engineering, interface design, environment design, and occupational health. Thus, students are exposed to both physical and cognitive aspects of human factors (though typically specialize in one of the areas). Students come from various fields in engineering, as well as from the behavioral and health sciences. We have an active student body, as evidenced by our award-winning student chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Graduating students regularly take human factors positions in academic institutions, federal laboratories, and national corporations.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

2014: 8 MS, 3 PhD

2013: 9 MS, 3 PhD

2012: 8 MS, 2 PhD

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?

Yes. Design and Analysis of Experiments, Human Information Processing, Human Factors in Safety, Human Computer Interaction, Work Physiology via video/online streaming, may be offered in summer. Courses count towards regular degree programs (only 50% of degree credits can be completed via distance courses).

Are required courses offered at night?


Are required courses offered during summer?

Yes, via distance

Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

Fall Admission – February 1 (requesting aid), April 15 (no aid requested, noncitizen/perm resident), August 1 (no aid requested, US citizen/perm resident); Spring Admission – August 1 (requesting aid), October 1 (no aid requested, noncitizen/perm resident), December 1 (no aid requested, US citizen/perm resident) 

Are separate applications required for university and department?


Application fee




Minimum requirements

Grade point average (last 4 yrs: A = 4.0): 3.0 

Note: GRE scores are only required for PhD applicants.
GRE combined: No minimum
GRE Verbal: No minimum
GRE Quantitative: 159
GRE Analytical: No minimum

TOEFL minimum of 550 (paper) or 79 (internet)

A baccalaureate degree in engineering or a related technical field, such as any of the mathematical, physical, behavioral, or health sciences is required. Additionally, proficiency is expected in mathematics through the level of multivariate calculus, calculus based probability and statistics, and computer programming.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Previous research activity: medium

Relevant work experience: medium

Extracurricular activities: medium

Letters of recommendation: high

Personal interview: low

Tuition and fees

Full time tuition and fee totals per semester: New York State resident – $6,242; Nonresident – $11,152



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

28 MS, 26 PhD

Number of students accepted into the program last year

11 MS, 8 PhD

Number of students entering the program last year

3 MS, 4 PhD

Anticipated number of openings per year for the nexttwo years

10 MS, 5 PhD



Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance


Amount received per year (minimum – typical – maximum)

 $16,000 – $18,000 – $22,000

Types of assistance available

Teaching assistantship (tuition exempt), research assistantship (tuition exempt), fellowships (partially tuition exempt), and traineeships (partially tuition exempt)

When should students apply for financial assistance?

At the same time as submitting application for admission



Graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Number of units required

MS: 30

PhD: 72

Exams required

MS: comprehensive or oral defense of thesis

PhD: qualifying, comprehensive, proposal defense, oral defense of dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

MS: thesis, independent study, or other similar experience

PhD: dissertation 

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS: 2

PhD: 5

Is there a non-thesis option at the Master's lever?




Required courses (units)
required courses (req)
popular elective courses (elect)
distance learning courses (dist)

Human Factors Research Methods, 3, req, MS, PhD;

Design and Analysis of Experiments 3, req/dist, MS, PhD

Human Information Processing 3, elect/dist, MS, PhD

Human Factors in Safety 3, elect/dist, MS, PhD

Human Computer Interaction 3, elect/dist, MS, PhD

Work Physiology 3, elect/dist, MS, PhD

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: 

HF students have access to a computer laboratory with 23 windows desktop computers all equipped with the software necessary for performing research and coursework tasks. The students can use the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Lab for coursework related to manual and automated manufacturing processes and equipment. Students also have access to facilities in the following research labs:

UB Center for Excellence Home-BASE – Contains "Smart" home technology such as the portable exercise measurement system.

Center for Health Systems Engineering Research – Gives Students access to healthcare facilities in surrounding Buffalo hospitals.

Ergonomics and Biomechanics Lab – Contains a 3D motion capture system, a full body dynamometer system, EMG measurement equipment, a force platform, and data collection and analysis software.

Command and Control Laboratory – Contains large screen displays for re-configurable workstations for conducting team communication and collaboration experiments, high quality speakers and headphones, and screen and audio data collection software.

Cognitive System Laboratory – Contains an interactive human-vehicle simulator, a brain signal measurement system, and an intelligent energy system test-bed.

Formal Human Systems Laboratory – Contains multiple computer workstations configured to support the computational modeling and formal verification of human-interactive systems.

Finally, students have full access to the departments meeting, presentation, printing, copying, and mailroom facilities.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Students may be offered teaching assistant positions to assist with grading, lecture preparation, and laboratories. PhD students interested in academic careers typically have the opportunity to be a full course instructor. 

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

All HF faculty are research active and pursue a wide range of projects. Work is currently being conducted in a number of domains including occupational safety, special working populations, health IT, driving and intelligent transportation, aviation, home health care, accessible design, and defense. Research is funded by multiple government agencies such as NSF, AHRQ, NASA, NIOSH, and the DoD. HF faculty often collaborate with other university units such as architecture, nursing, computer science, and biomedical engineering. 


Current number of active students in program,
by gender

men: 6 MS, 6 PhD

women: 6 MS, 10 PhD

Current number of first-year students
in program

4 MS and 4 PhD

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


  • Mean GRE Verbal: 137.42

  • Mean GRE Quantitative: 146

  • Mean GRE Analytical: 2.58

  • Mean GRE Combined: 283.42

  • Mean undergraduate GPA: 3.25

  • Mean GRE Verbal: 154.69

  • Mean GRE Quantitative: 158.50

  • Mean GRE Analytical: 3.69

  • Mean GRE Combined: 313.19

  • Mean undergraduate GPA: 3.55

Number of current HF/E postdocs 1
On average, graduates gained employment in Academia: 27%

Industry: 73%

Government: 0%
Faculty-to-student ratio 1 to 5.4



Ann Bisantz, PhD 1997, Georgia Institute of Technology; cognitive engineering, human computer interaction, human factors in health systems 

Victor Paquet, ScD 1998, U. of Massachusetts, Lowell; occupational ergonomics, universal design, occupational safety and health 

Sean (Changxu) Wu, PhD 2007, U. of Michigan; human performance modeling, transportation systems, human-machine interaction 

Lora Cavuoto, PhD 2012, Virginia Tech; physical ergonomics, biomechanics of obesity, aging and human work capacity 

Matthew Bolton, PhD 2010, U. of Virginia; human behavior modeling, erroneous human behavior, formal methods

[Updated January 2015]