University of Oklahoma



Title of program

The Human Factors and Engineering Psychology Specialization is an interdisciplinary graduate training emphasis at the University of Oklahoma. Interested students should apply to one of the following primary graduate programs:

  1. The Cognitive PhD Program in the Department of Psychology

  2. The Human Factors and Ergonomics PhD Program in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Students from other OU departments and schools may also participate with faculty approval.

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established

The Department of Psychology was established in 1928. The School of Industrial and Systems Engineering was established in 1965. 

Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Department of Psychology: 
Dr. Edward Cokely or Ms. Kathryn Paine, University of Oklahoma, Department of Psychology, 455 W. Lindsey Street, Dale Hall Tower, Room 705, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019-2007; or;

Industrial and Systems Engineering: 
Dr. Ziho Kang or Ms. Cheryl Carney, School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Oklahoma, 202 W. Boyd St., Room 124, Norman, Oklahoma 73019-1022,
Voice: 405.325.3721; Fax: 405.325.7555;


Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD 

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

The human factors specialization at OU prepares engineers and scientist-practitioners for diverse careers involving analysis and optimization of human performance and sociotechnical-systems (e.g., promoting safety, health, comfort, and quality of life; improving, integrating, informing, and innovating). All graduate students receive training in state-of-the-art human factors and engineering psychology methods, including core ergonomics content. Psychology graduates may specialize in human perception and attention; memory; neurobiology; reasoning and decision making; cognitive abilities and expertise; performance assessment and modeling; training and/or user-centered design. In ISE, the core engineering and human factors curriculum also includes broad exposure to operations research, manufacturing, and statistical analysis. Opportunities to conduct applied research, including cognitive engineering and user experience optimization, make our students attractive to academic and non-academic employers, providing them with unique perspectives that extend and enrich essential strengths in basic science (e.g., theory development and testing). Field experiences and independent research provide additional exposure to human factors engineering in aviation, computer science, risk communication, industrial engineering, health, and other applied problems. Experience in college teaching is an option as are applied internships. Course structure is flexible with ample opportunity for interdisciplinary studies (industrial engineering, psychology, computer science, biology and exercise science, etc.).

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MA >5, PhD >5

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?

Yes (interdisciplinary)



Application deadline

Varies, please see website (e.g., December 31)

Application fees

$50 Domestic, $100 International



Minimum requirements

GPA: varies; >3.00 recommended 

GRE: varies; >50th percentile recommended ((v + q)/2) 

Other: Bachelor's degree in psychology, engineering, mathematics, computer science, statistics, or other related science or engineering discipline is required.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium to high

Work experience: medium to high 

Letters: medium to high 

Interview: low to medium

Tuition and fees

Resident: approximately $5,000/semester (graduate TA/GA/FA funding typically covers 100% of tuition costs).

Nonresident: approximately $10,000/semester (graduate TA/GA/FA funding typically covers 100% tuition costs).



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


Number of students accepted into the program last year


Number of students entering the program last year


Anticipated number of openings per year

5 or more most years



Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance

100% in Psychology; 50% in ISE

Amount received per year

Approximately $15,000–17,000 (range is $14,000–$24,000) 

Types of assistance available

Teaching Assistantship (TA), Research Assistantship (RA), and Fellowships (FA). Paid positions typically include tuition funding. 

When should students apply for financial assistance?

As part of admissions application



Graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD

Number of units required

MA: 30

PhD: 90

Exams required

MA: oral thesis

PhD: general exams, oral dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

MA: thesis 

PhD: dissertation, minor (e.g., quantitative, Industrial/Organizational, etc.)

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MA: 2–3 typically

PhD: 5–6 typically

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Required courses for Cognitive PhD (units): Statistics & Methods (9), First Year Research Seminars (2 semesters), Cognitive Psychology Program Core (9), and Minor Concentration Courses (e.g., Industrial/
Organizational Psychology; Quantitative Psychology) (6–9)

Required courses for ISE PhD in Human Factors and Ergonomics (units): Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, Statistical Analysis, Systems Optimization, Systems Engineering

Electives (units)

Electives: Cognitive Psychology (3), Seminar in Cognitive Processes: Engineering Psychology and User Experience (3), Problem Solving and Decision Making (3), Attention and Memory (3), Introduction to Cognitive Science (3), Quantitative Models in Cognition (3), Groups and Teams in Organizations (3), Sensation-Perception and Physiological Psychology (3), (3) Physiological Psychology (3), Physiological Psychology Laboratory (3) Advanced Tools and Methods in Cognition (3), Neurobiology of Memory (3), Human Learning and Motivation (3), Current Topics in Basic and Applied Psychology (3), Psychological Tests and Measurements (3), Exploratory Data Analysis (3), Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Models (3) Statistical Models of Tests Scores (3), Seminar in Cognitive Development (3), Personality (3), Psychology of Leadership (3), Selection and Assessment in Organizations (3), Techniques in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (3), Survey of Industrial & Organizational Psychology (3), Motivation (3), Training and Development (3). See course catalog for additional courses offered by Industrial and Systems Engineering, Computer Science, Exercise Science, Biology, and Neurobiology/Neuroscience

Number of courses outside department that are required

0–2 as determined by student’s advisory committee

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: 

The Psychology Department, School of ISE, and various institutes/centers (e.g., National Institute for Risk & Resilience) provide computerized research facilities for studies in human cognition, teaming, survey, design, and human performance. Many opportunities exist for research in decision psychology, user experience, usability, human-computer interaction, visual information processing, eye-tracking, evoked potentials, EEG, cardiovascular psychophysiology, virtual reality, attention, memory, psychometric and computational performance simulation. Please see websites for more: &

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Most students will have opportunities to teach classes or lead lab sessions (e.g., introductory psychology, statistics, or methods).

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

Faculty members in the cognitive program conduct theoretical and applied research on mental processes, including perception, attention, memory, reasoning, decision-making, skill development, and expert performance. Human factors faculty members in industrial and systems engineering conduct research relevant to a variety of human-integrated systems, including air traffic control, weather forecasting, and systems usability, among many others. Many research projects are funded by federal, state, and industry partners including the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Institutes of Mental Health, National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Health, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and others. Research opportunities generally emphasize techniques-oriented experiences including: mathematical models of memory and decision making under uncertainty and risk; adaptive computerized skills training and user-friendly decision support systems; multi-dimensional measurement modeling and computerized adaptive testing; models of attention, memory, and metamemory; cardiovascular psychophysiology and micronutrient deficiency assessment; event-related potentials, EEG, fMRI as measures of cognition and perceptual learning; computational and process-tracing eye-witness memory optimization; neural network modeling of attentional and perceptual processes; genetic influences on brain activity and heritable brain responses; conceptual knowledge acquisition and brain development; cognitive performance in microgravity; advancement of equality and diversity in teaming and education; automated eye tracking data analysis methodologies for human-integrated systems engineering. Please see individual faculty webpages for detailed, up-to-date information.


Current number of active
students in program, by gender

Cognitive program in Psychology: 6 men, 5 women 

Human factors program in ISE: 4 men, 2 women

Current number of first-year
students in program

Psychology: 4 

ISE: 3

Faculty-to-student ratio About one faculty member per 4 grads



Edward Cokely, PhD 2007, Florida State University; Skilled Decision Making; Risk Communication; Psychometrics and User Experience

Lauren Ethridge, PhD 2011, University of Georgia; Genetic Influences on Brain Activity; Autism and Genetic Disorders Associated with Autism; Sensory Hypersensitivity Disorders

Scott Gronlund, PhD 1986, Indiana University; Computational Cognitive Modeling, Memory Accuracy and Optimal Judgment; Eye-witness Testimony and Forensic Psychology

Robert Hamm, PhD 1979, Harvard University; Judgment and Decision Making; Medical and Clinical Decision Making

Ziho Kang, PhD 2012, Purdue University; Human-integrated systems engineering; eye-tracking data analysis methodologies; Usability research with applications in aerospace, weather, healthcare, and petroleum

Daniel Kimball, PhD 2000, UCLA; Memory Accuracy and Forgetting; Memory Enhancement and Metamemory; Educational and Instructional Design

David Liu, PhD 2005, University of Michigan; Acquisition of Conceptual Knowledge in Children and Adults; Developmental Neuroscience; Reasoning and Social Cognition 

Randa Shehab, PhD 1995, University of Oklahoma. Engineering Education; Cognitive Ergonomics; Human-System Integration

Michael Wenger, PhD 1994, Binghamton University; Perceptual Organization and Perceptual Learning; Computational Neuroscience and Electroencephalographic Methods; Nutrition and Cognitive Performance

[Updated August 2016]