Title of program

Engineering Psychology (MA, PhD)

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Jim McDonald, NMSU, Department of Psychology, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Web site

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD

Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Emphases are (1) the application of models, theories, and principles pf perception, cognition, social psychology, and other areas of psychology; (2) training in quantitative and research methods; and (3) hands-on training in usability design and evaluation, with a focus on HCI and automation. Courses include a mix of basic and applied experimental psychology with a strong statistical component. All faculty have interests in measuring mental models and user knowledge. Other specific faculty research interests include information visualization, team cognition, information retrieval, instructional technology, and assistive technologies. In addition to classroom- and lab-based training, most students participate in internships to enhance their graduate training.

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

MA 18, PhD 7

Can students attend part-time?


Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadline

February 1 (fall)

Application fee




Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0
GRE: 1000 v + q

Other: Research methods and statistics

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium 

Work experience: medium 

Letters: medium 

Interview: low

Tuition and fees

Resident: 1–11 credits $164/credit; 12–15 credits $1,968/semester 

Nonresident: 1–6 credits $164/credit; 7–11 credits $522.25/credit; 12–15 credits $6,267/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 (minimum – typical – maximum)

$14,800 – $15,000 – $15,200

Types of assistance available

Fellowship, TA, RA, scholarship, all tuition exempt

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application, or by February 15 for fall semester



Graduate degrees offered

MA and PhD

Number of units required

MA: 36

PhD: 48 beyond MA 

Exams required

MA: thesis defense

PhD: qualifying exam for admission into PhD, comprehensive exam for admission to candidacy, dissertation defense

Language requirements


Research required

MA: yes

PhD:  yes

Practical experience required

MS: none

PhD: internship

Typical number of years required to obtain degree

MS: 2–3

PhD: 5

Is there a non-thesis option?




Required courses (units)

Quantitative Methods: Basic Statistics (3), Quantitative Methods: Experimental Design/ANOVA (3), Quantitative Methods: Regression (3); Engineering Psychology (3), plus selection from the following (6 units for MA, 9 for PhD, plus 6 additional units of statistics for PhD): Cognitive (3), Perception (3), Learning (3), Biopsychology (3), Developmental (3), Social (3) 

Number of courses outside department that are required


Number of courses outside department that are recommended

Depends on student's program of study as determined with the committee

Average or typical class size in a required course




Research and support facilities available to students in the program: 

Students do research with a faculty adviser and have access to that faculty member's lab facilities (total available lab space is approximately 11,000 square feet). Lab resources include 60 microcomputers, visual research equipment (e.g., tachistoscopes and eye movement recorders), aviation simulation equipment, and EEG and ERP recording systems. We have a state-of-the-art lab for studying team performance and cognition as team members perform various synthetic tasks, a lab for studying face-to-face interactions in simulated environments, a robotics control lab, and two computer-based labs for (a) developing multimedia applications (including Web-based applications) to be used as class projects or for teaching, (b) performing statistical analyses, (c) conducting usability tests and analyzing video data from the tests, and (d) developing experiments. In addition, the Psychology Department works in collaboration with other departments and labs on campus, including the Computer Science Department and the Computing Research Lab, resulting in research, development, and evaluation opportunities in human-computer interaction. 

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
TAs lead recitation sections in Introductory Psychology and teach lab sections in Methods and Perception courses. PhD students are required to teach at least one course, but the more skilled teachers will have opportunities to teach several courses over their graduate careers. Advanced graduate students can teach in the weekend college, at the Dona Ana Branch Community College, or at branch campuses of NMSU.

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students:
Research spans the breadth of applied cognitive psychology, with strong applications to the design and evaluation of various user interfaces. Specific research projects include analyzing how trust affects operator responses to automation recommendations, how operators monitor and control mulitple UAVs, visual search during luggage screening tasks, perceptual and cognitive processes in reading, the role of monitoring in prospective memory, cultural and individual differences in cognition, the Stroop effect, acquisition of knowledge and skills, and the relation between learners' metacognitive appraisals of their knowledge and their actual abilities.



Current number of active students in program, by gender

22 men, 23 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

MA: GRE 531 v, 668 q. GPA 3.41

PhD: GRE 643 v, 683 q. GPA 3.72



Stephen Dixon, PhD 2006, U. Illinois; automation, trust, UAVs, attention, visual search

Peter Foltz, PhD 1993, U. Colorado; latent semantic analysis, information retrieval, discourse processing (on leave 2006–2007 academic year) 

Melissa Guynn, PhD 2001, U. New Mexico; prospective memory, retrieval processes in human memory 

Adrienne Lee, PhD 1993, U. Colorado; instructional technologies, learning and transfer, expertise (on leave 2006–2007 academic year) 

James McDonald, PhD 1981, New Mexico State U.; information retrieval, HCI

Dominic Simon, PhD 1997, UCLA; acquisition of knowledge and skills, metacognition