University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Department: Industrial and Operations Engineering

Quick links:

Program Background

Admission Requirements

Financial Assistance


Student Statistics

Application Process


Degree Requirements

Research/Teaching Opportunities


Directory of Graduate Programs




Title of program

Master’s and Ph.D. Programs within the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE).
Students receive degrees in IOE, not in Human Factors.
Students interested in Human Factors are advised to take related courses and conduct research in Human Factors.

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 in IOE.
No degree is offered with the title of Human Factors.

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, IOE and Center for Ergonomics provide 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 PhD degrees granted during last 3 years

8 PhDs in IOE with dissertation research on Human Factors

Many Master’s degree are granted in IOE; some of the Master’s students had human factors as their main interest in taking courses or doing projects.

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 10

Are separate applications required for university and department?


Application fees

$75 (U.S.)

$90 (International)





Grade point average (A = 4.0): 3.0 / 3.5 is recommended.
This is not a strict minimum GPA admissions requirement. Applicants with lower GPAs may be given additional evaluations or other considerations.

GRE score is no longer required. This is now a permanent policy.

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

Most of IOE classes require and assume that the students are knowledgeable in one or more of the following subjects: Linear algebra, calculus-based probability, calculus-based statistics and computer programming.

If a student is admitted to the University of Michigan Industrial and Operations Engineering (U-M IOE) Master’s or PhD program, IOE department will provide a list of descriptions that the University of Michigan courses frequently use to satisfy the course prerequisites to help the student ascertain their knowledge of the above topics, and, if needed, attain the necessary background.

IOE Department will provide an opportunity to review the highlights of these subjects together with the fellow entering students before the fall semester begins. IOE Department will also recommend classes at the University of Michigan if a student prefers to take them during their graduate studies.

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 Master’s and PhD: $31,870

Out-of-state Master’s and Pre-Candidate PhD: $58,028 (for the academic year – 2 semesters)

PhD Candidates: $17,836 (for the academic year – 2 semesters)




Number of students applying to the IOE PhD Program with primary interest in human factors/ergonomics last year

About 20 PhD applicants

Number of these applicants accepted into the program last year

5 PhD students

Number of these applicants entering the program last year

5 PhD students

Anticipated number of openings per year for the next two years


Note: Masters’ degree in IOE does not separate those interested in Human Factors or other areas. Therefore, we do not provide statistics at the Master’s level about students’ course work or research and career interests.



Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance

100% of PhD students; 
a small percentage of Masters students

Amount received per year

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

Varies depending on many factors such as the type of support (Fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships), or in-state or out-state.


Types of assistance available

Fellowships (tuition exempt) - PhD: yes; Masters: no
Graduate Student Research Assistantship (tuition exempt): PhD: yes; Master’s: maybe
Graduate Student Instructor (tuition exempt): PhD: yes; Master’s: maybe
Traineeships (tuition exempt) - yes, must be U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident 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 in IOE

Number of units required

MS/MSE: 30

PhD: varies, typically 60–80 semester credits

Exams required

MS/MSE: none

PhD: qualifying review (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 IOE graduate students (Master’s and PhD) must take at least 3 credit hours of 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 lab experiments, field studies and surveys, the use and development of models and 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 eye tracking equipments.

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, aesthetics and cultural ergonomics. In the area of physical ergonomics, our research focuses on biomechanical modeling and physiological studies of the musculoskeletal system, epidemiology of work-related injuries, the design of exosystems, the use of wearable sensors for real-time performance measurements and evaluations, and workplace design to prevent stress and traumatic injuries. 




Current number of active students in program, by gender

More than 20 PhD students are currently doing dissertation research on Human Factors, pursuing PhD degrees in IOE, Robotics, or School of Information. About the same number of males and females.

Current number of first-year PhD students in program

5 in IOE first-year PhD program

Number of current HF/E postdocs


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


About the same numbers

in Academia,


Industry, or






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, aesthetics, and cultural ergonomics

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

Nadine Sarter, multimodal interfaces supporting human-computer interaction; human error and error management; decision support systems in complex event-driven domains
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
Oshin Tyagi, neuroergonomics, neuromodulations, occupational biomechanics, fatigue, stress, aging.

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

[Updated February 2024]