Title of program

Industrial and Systems Engineering – HFE Track

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Hannah S. Parks 
Virginia Tech Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering 
233 Durham Hall, MC 0118, 1145 Perry Street, Blacksburg, VA 24061 

Web site

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MS and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics (HFEE) at VT is concerned with ways of designing jobs, machines, operations, and work environments so they are compatible with human capacities and limitations. The breadth of the field is emphasized, as HFEE researchers and practitioners are called upon both to apply existing human performance knowledge to the design or modification of equipment and also to generate new experimental data required for design. Accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years


Can students attend part-time?


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

January 15 (fall), September 1 (spring)

Are separate applications required for university and department?


Application fee




Minimum requirements

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

GRE combined: N/A
GRE Verbal: 146
GRE Quantitative: 141
GRE Analytical: 3.0

Other: ISE 3614: Human Factors Ergonomics Engineering or equivalent

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Previous research activity: high

Relevant work experience: high

Extracurricular activities: low

Letters of recommendation: high

Personal interview: low

Tuition and fees

In-State – $6,792.50

Out-of-State – $12,942.00



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

50% overall, nearly all PhD students 

Amount received per year

$30,300 – $30,800 (includes in-state tuition) 

Types of assistance available

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

When should students apply for financial assistance?

At the same time as submitting application for admission; all applicants are considered for financial assistance.



Graduate degrees offered

MS (non-thesis), MS (thesis), and PhD

Number of units required

MS (non-thesis) : 31 

MS (thesis): 31 

PhD: 91

Exams required

MS (non-thesis): none 

MS (thesis): oral defense of thesis

PhD: preliminary exam (1 written and 1 oral), oral dissertation defense 

Language requirements


Research required

MS (non-thesis): none

MS (thesis): thesis research – 10 hours 

PhD: dissertation research – 30 hours

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS (non-thesis): 1.5

MS (thesis): 2

PhD: 5 post BS, 4 post MS

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

ISE Seminar, ISE 5604 Human Information Processing, ISE 5605 Human Factors System Design I, ISE 5614 Human Physical Capabilities, ISE 5615 Human Factors Research Design I, ISE 5644 Human Audition and Auditory Display Design, ISE 6604 Human Factors in Visual Display Systems, ISE 6624 Advanced Topics in Human Factors

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: 

The HFEE program is a consortium of state-of-the-art, faculty-directed laboratories: Auditory Systems Lab, Cognitive Engineering for Novel Technologies Lab, Human-Computer Interaction Lab, Occupational Ergonomics and Biomechanics Labs, Locomotion Research Lab, Macroergonomics and Group Decision Systems Lab, and Safety Engineering Lab. In addition, students often work at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Other facilities include those normally found at a major University and include dedicated multimedia classroom space, computer laboratories, libraries and faculty and student office space.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Graduate students have opportunities to teach as TAs. Senior doctoral students have the opportunity to take full responsibility for an undergraduate course, with the assistance of a faculty mentor.

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

Research project are ongoing in many HF/E areas: aging, audition auditory perception and auditory displays, warning signals, cognitive performance, construction safety and health, consumer product design, healthcare systems, human-computer interaction, industrial ergonomics, input/control devices, locomotion and balance, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational biomechanics, safety, sociotechnical (macro) systems, training, visual perception, virtual/augmented reality, wearable computing, and workload assessment.



Current number of active students in program,by gender

15 men, 9 women

Current number of first-year students in program


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

Mean GRE Verbal: 156
Mean GRE Quantitative: 160
Mean GRE Analytical: 3.5

Mean undergraduate
GPA: 3.6

Number of current HF/E postdocs


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

Academia: 0%

Industry: 100%


Government: 0%

Faculty-to-student ratio

1 to 4




Michael J. Agnew, PhD 2008, Kinesiology, Queen's University; HFES Member; ergonomics, occupational biomechanics, psychophysics 

John G. Casali, PhD 1982, Industrial Engineering, Virginia Tech; HFES Member; product/systems design, acoustics and hearing protection, auditory displays, warning signals, aviation/driving human factors, forensics and litigation

Joseph L. Gabbard, PhD 2008 Computer Science; HFES Member; Usability engineering, human-computer interaction, cognitive human factors

Brian M. Kleiner, PhD 1990 Industrial Engineering, SUNY Buffalo; HFES Member; macroergonomics, computer-supported collaborative work, HF in complex work systems

Nathan Lau, PhD 2012, Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto; cognitive engineering, human performance, interface design, situation awareness

Maury A. Nussbaum, PhD 1994 Industrial & Operations Engineering, The University of Michigan Ann Arbor; HFES Member; occupational biomechanics, industrial ergonomics, human simulation, fall prevention

[Updated April 2015]