University of South Dakota



Title of program

Human Factors

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Jan Berkhout, University of South Dakota,
414 E. Clark St., Vermillion, SD 57069-2390;

Catalog (free)

Graduate School, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD 57069-2390

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered


Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Trains PhD-level professionals to serve as human factors/human engineering specialists in industry, government, the military, and academia. Apprenticeship-style training combines classroom instruction in core areas of human factors with individualized development of competency in research and problem solving.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MA 3, PhD 3 

Can students attend part-time?

No, for first year

Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadline

February 15 (late applications accepted)

Application fees




Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0

GRE: 1000 v + q

Other: All of the following are recommended: introductory psychology, experimental psychology, statistics, calculus, computer programming. 

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium

Work experience: medium

Letters: high

Interview: low

Tuition and fees

Resident: $155 per credit hour ($1,869/semester) 

Nonresident: $350 per credit hour ($4,200/semester)



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 for the next two years




Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance


Amount received per year

$4,400 – $8,400

Types of assistance available

Reduced tuition for RA and TA positions: $1,100/semester

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application



Graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD

Number of units required

MA: 30

PhD: 54 units

Exams required

MA: oral defense thesis

PhD: 12 hours written exam, oral defense dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

MA: thesis research 

PhD: dissertation research

Practical experience required

MA: no

PhD: internship recommended

Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MA: 2

PhD: 2–3

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Seminar in Sensation and Perception (1), Seminar in Physiological Psychology (1), Seminar in Developmental Psychology (1), Seminar in Social Psychology (1), Seminar in Personality Theories (1), Quasi-Experimental Design (1), Learning, Memory, and Cognition (3), Research Design and Statistics I and II (6), Master's Thesis Research (6), Human Performance (3), Human Engineering (3), Seminar in Sensation and Perception (3), Human Factors Psychology (3), Methods and Instrumentation (3), Multivariate Statistics (3), Doctoral Dissertation Research (12–18)

Most of the courses listed are offered once every two years. The Research Design courses are usually offered annually.

Electives (units)

All 3 credits: Information Processing, Cognitive Psychology, Psycholinguistics, Physiological Psychology, Psychobiology of Substance Abuse, Psychology of Aging, Psychology of Safety, Industrial Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, Human Factors in Computer Systems, Psychoacoustics, Psychological Tests and Measurement, Program Planning and Evaluation, Seminar in Personnel Selection and Training, Seminar in Human Engineering, Seminar in Human Factors Research, Seminar in Human Information Processing, Seminar in Artificial Intelligence, Seminar in Statistical Topics (may be repeated), Seminar in Survey Research Methods

Most of the courses listed are offered once every two years. The Research Design courses are usually offered annually.

Number of courses outside department that are required

Not required, but 6 credit hours (typically 2 courses) advised.

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: 

Some graduate students are supported as graduate research assistants. The Heimstra Laboratories include an HCI/Applied Cognitive Psychology suite with four testing rooms, an acoustically shielded lab, an electrically shielded lab, a driving simulator, and a vision alley. Students have 24-hour/day access to computing equipment. Two eye-tracking devices are available, one is vehicle-mounted.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Opportunities are available both as lab and lecture instructors.

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

Driving safety, aging and ergonomics, visibility and glare, keypad design, flashing lights on emergency vehicles, VDT data layouts, 3D terrain displays for aircraft, geographical knowledge and retrieval, decision making and assessments of risk, acoustic warning signals, analysis of highway accidents in construction and work zones.


Current number of active students in program, by gender

11 men, 6 women

Current number of first-year students in program


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

GRE 1100 v + q, GPA 3.40



Jan Berkhout, PhD 1962, U. Chicago; vision, safety, psychomotor performance

Michael M. Granaas, PhD 1986, U. Kansas; data displays, modeling 

Doug Peterson, PhD 1998, Kansas State U.; aviation psychology 

Frank Schieber, PhD 1985, U. Notre Dame; aging, vision, driving 

Holly R. Straub, PhD 1989, Texas Tech U.; cognitive geography, labeling, evolutionary psychology 

Xiao Tian Wang, PhD 1993, New Mexico State U.; cognitive psychology, decision making, perception and management of risk

[Updated May 2012]