University of Michigan



Title of program

Concentration within the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering

Joint program

Student-initiated dual-Masters and joint-PhD programs are available with several departments, including Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, Environmental Health Sciences, and Business. The key term here is "student-initiated."

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?

University of Michigan graduate programs do not seek accreditation.

Contact person for more information, including applications

Matt Irelan, Graduate Program Coordinator 
University of Michigan - IOE 
1750 IOE Building 
1205 Beal Ave 
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 

Web site

Academic calendar

The University of Michigan operates on the semester system: Fall (Sept–Dec) and Winter (Jan–April). A very limited number of classes are offered during the summer. Most students use the summer (May–August) for directed research.

Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MS/MSE and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The University of Michigan's Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE) has offered graduate education in ergonomics, human factors, and safety engineering for more than 50 years. Faculty and students in the Department's Center for Ergonomics are committed to making workplaces and organizations safe, efficient, productive and enjoyable. Our main goals are to gain and share a better understanding of how tools, technologies and work practices affect health and performance and how they can be improved through human-centered design. Our research also advances basic knowledge about people's psychological and physical abilities and limitations. Being part of the University of Michigan with over 250 degree programs provides an excellent opportunity to develop a systems-oriented and multi-disciplinary approach to engineering and design, combining cognitive, physical and organizational ergonomics and working with experts in a wide range of related disciplines.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

25 MS/MSE, 6 PhD

Can students attend part-time?


PhD: No

Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Are required courses offered at night?


Are required courses offered during summer?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

Masters: October 1 for Winter and January 15 for Fall

PhD: December 15

Are separate applications required for university and department?


Application fees

$75 (U.S.)

$90 (International)



Minimum requirements

Grade point average (A = 4.0): 3.0 / 3.5

GRE score is not required for applicants who apply for Fall 2022 PhD admission. 

Admission to the master's degree program requires a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, science, or another undergraduate program from a recognized institution.

The following undergraduate courses are recommended:

  • Calculus - 2 years (4 semesters or 6 quarters)

  • Science - 2 years (Chemistry, Physics or Biology)

  • * Probability - 1 course (Calculus-based)

  • * Statistics - 1 course (Calculus-based)

  • * Linear Algebra - 1 course (frequently included in Calculus sequence)

  • * Computer Programming - Demonstrated ability (e.g. completed coursework) to write computer programs

* Note: Many undergraduate programs in engineering and science do not require courses on these topics. Students who are deficient in these prerequisites, if admitted, will be required to elect courses in these areas and earn a grade of B or better. This requirement must be fulfilled as soon as possible after entering the program.

Admission to the PhD program does not require a Master's degree. Qualified students who hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, science, or mathematics may apply directly to the PhD program.

Tuition and fees

In-state Masters and PhD: $29,116

Out-of-state Masters and Pre-Candidate PhD: $54,046 (for the academic year – 2 semesters)

Out-of-state PhD Candidates: $19,658 (for the academic year – 2 semesters)



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

15 Masters, 25 PhD

Number of students accepted into the program last year

10 Masters, 6 PhD

Number of students entering the program last year

6 Masters, 3 PhD

Anticipated number of openings per year for the nexttwo years




Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance

100% of PhD students;  23% of Masters students

Amount received per year

PhD students: Full tuition coverage, stipend, and health care

Masters students: minimum is $10,000 for in-state students to a maximum of $46,392 for 2 terms with a teaching assistant position

Types of assistance available

Teaching assistantship (tuition exempt) - PhD: yes, Masters: infrequently

Research assistantship (tuition exempt) - PhD: yes, Masters: infrequently

Fellowships (tuition exempt) - PhD: yes; Masters: no

Traineeships (tuition exempt) - yes, must be U.S. citizen or P.R. and meet other requirements

When should students apply for financial assistance?

At the same time as submitting application for admission



Graduate degrees offered

MS/MSE and PhD

Number of units required

MS/MSE: 30

PhD: varies, typically 60–80 semester credits

Exams required

MS/MSE: none

PhD: qualifying exam (year 1), preliminary exam (year 2), oral defense of dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

MS/MSE: no formal thesis requirement; students have the option of performing up to six semester hours of directed research

PhD: dissertation

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS/MSE: 1–1.5

PhD: 4–5

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

No required courses (course selection depends on student specialization)

Number of courses outside department that are required

All graduate students (Masters and PhD) must take at least two courses outside the Industrial and Operations Engineering Department.

Number of courses outside department that are recommended

Varies by student specialization

Average or typical class size in a required course




Research and support facilities available to students in the program: 

The Center for Ergonomics (C4E) facilities include 7 laboratories for studying a wide range of topics in the areas of cognitive and physical ergonomics, as well as occupational and organizational safety. Our research involves the use and development of simulations at various levels of fidelity and related to several application domains (e.g., flight simulator, UAV control, driving simulator, space operations), robots/co-bots (e.g., Sawyer, NAO), wearable sensors, exoskeletons, tactile and multimodal displays/interfaces, and eyetracking equipment

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
A small number of Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) positions in Human Factors/Ergonomics are available each semester. These positions typically involve running laboratory sessions, running problem sessions, holding office hours, and grading.

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

In the area of cognitive ergonomics, our research focuses primarily on aspects of human-machine/robot interaction and human-autonomy teaming, modeling of human performance, empirical/simulation studies of multimodal and tactile information processing/displays, support for interruption management, decision support, human error and cultural ergonomics. In the area of physical ergonomics, our research focuses on biomechanical modeling of the musculoskeletal system, epidemiology of work-related injuries, the design of exosystems, the use of wearable sensors for real-time performance measurements and modeling, and workplace design to prevent overuse and traumatic injuries. 


Current number of active students in program, by gender

4 men, 4 women

Current number of first-year students in program


Number of current HF/E postdocs


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

Academia: 30%


Industry: 30%

Government: 40%




Thomas J. Armstrong, measurement and design of manual work; biomechanical models, analysis and design of tools for control of work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the hand and wrist

Paul Green, modeling and evaluation of driver interfaces for workload and distraction; human-computer interaction

Yili Liu, computational and integrative models of human cognitive performance; theoretical and practical issues of human cognition

Bernard Martin, motor coordination and muscle loading; vibration effects on muscle fatigue; quantification of visual fatigue

Matthew Reed, modeling of human motions; vehicle interior design models based on occupant posture requirements

Nadine Sarter, multimodal interfaces supporting human-computer interaction; human error and error management; decision support systems in complex event-driven domains

X. Jessie Yang, human-autonomy interaction, human-robot interaction, teamwork in health care, user experience design

Leia Stirling, human-automation / robot interactions, design and evaluation of multimodal human-machine interfaces, decision support system / decision aiding, cognitive task / work analysis, human and posture / motion modeling
[Updated June 2022]