Title of program

Applied-Experimental Psychology (MA, PhD)

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Deborah Clawson, Department of Psychology, Catholic University, Washington, DC 20064

Catalog (free)

Office of Graduate Admissions, Catholic University, Washington, DC 20064

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Advanced training in applied experimental psychology and applied cognitive science prepares individuals for career opportunities in industrial and government labs as well as in universities. Students take general and specialty courses in basic and applied psychology and in related disciplines outside the department. Within the first year students identify a specialty related to the research-interests of a member of the faculty and receive research-intensive experience in that area. The program maintains close ties to other labs within and outside the university, thus providing students with a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary research experience.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MA 2, PhD 7

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Are required courses during summer?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadlines

March 15 for admission, January 15 for financial aid

Application fee




Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0

GRE: 500 v, 500 q

Other: BA degree required; courses in physics, calculus, computer programming recommended

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: high

Work experience: medium 

Letters: medium 

Interview: medium

Tuition and fees




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


Amounts received per year

Averages $10,000 plus tuition

Types of assistance available

Fellowship, TA, RA, Research Fellows Program

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application by 1/15



Graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD

Number of units required

MA: 30

PhD: 53

Exams required

MA: oral and written exams

PhD: oral and written exams

Language requirements


Research required

MA: thesis

PhD: dissertation

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MA: 2

PhD: 5

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Research Methods (3), Statistics 1 and 2 (8), Foundations of Psychology 1 and 2 (6)

Electives (units)

Human-Computer Interaction (3), Cognitive Aging (3), Visualization and Virtual Reality (3) 

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 program has excellent laboratory facilities for research in human perception and cognition, human-computer interaction, emotion, psychophysiology, and human performance. The nine-room Cognitive Aging Lab (director: J. H. Howard, Jr.) includes sound-attenuated testing booths as well as a network of PC and Apple Macintosh computers. The Cognition and Virtual Reality Lab (director: M. Sebrechts) includes several graphics workstations, head-mounted displays with motion sensors, two Cyber seats and a large rear-projection screen. Special facilities are also available for the use of Virtual Reality and Eye-Tracking techniques in research on autism. Other laboratories contain microcomputers and video equipment. The university's high-performance workstations are also available for students and faculty members. 

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Teaching assistantships are available.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
D. Clawson: using virtual reality to study planning and prospective memory. J. H. Howard, Jr.: NIH-sponsored research on implicit learning of serial patterns in healthy elderly and other populations, neural network models of pattern learning. M. Safer: Research on applied memory and emotion. M. Sebrechts: DOD-sponsored research on virtual reality, spatial mental models, and rehabilitation; information visualization, human-computer interaction, and problem solving.



Current number of active students in program, by gender

5 men, 7 women 

Current number of first-year students
in program


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

GRE 1250 v + q, GPA 3.1



Deborah Clawson, PhD 1994, U. Colorado; virtual reality, planning, prospective memory

James H. Howard, Jr., PhD 1973, Brown U.; human cognition and perception, cognitive aging, cognitive neuroscience of aging

Martin Safer, PhD 1978, U. Wisconsin; emotion and memory, health psychology

Marc M. Sebrechts, PhD 1980, Yale U.; human-computer interaction, instructional technology, virtual reality

[Updated May 2012]