Title of program

Human Factors and Ergonomics

Year human factors/ergonomics program was established


Accredited by HFES?


Contact person for more information, including applications

Christopher B. Mayhorn, Human Factors and Ergonomics Psychology Coordinator, North Carolina State University, Department of Psychology (Box 7650), Raleigh, NC 27695-7650; 919/513-4856;

Web site

Academic calendar


Human factors/ergonomics graduate degree offered


Goals, objectives, and emphasis of the program

Emphasis on cognitive/perceptual aspects of human factors such as identifying design principles for effective visual displays; evaluating important factors during safety decision making processes; human-computer/technology interaction; understanding how cognitive aging impacts adoption of new technologies; and developing procedures for effective information transfer in the context of complex systems and hazardous products and environments. Students gain broad knowledge through a structured program that also allows individual specialization. Our goal is to produce HF professionals, equipped with a broad range of methodological tools, who are able to deal with a wide variety of problems in diverse settings. Although each student will also specialize in a limited topic area, such depth is expected to enhance, rather than substitute for, breadth of training. Additional outside courses may be taken in a variety of fields, including design, computer science, statistics, and industrial/organizational psychology. The psychology and industrial engineering ergonomics programs cooperate in curricula offerings. Although specific requirements differ, students from both programs take many courses together. Occasionally, psychology students work on research with ISE faculty members. Students in both psychology and ISE cooperate in running an active NCSU Student Chapter of HFES. 

Number of degrees granted during last 3 years

15 PhDs 

Can students attend part-time?


Are required courses offered through distance learning?


Are required courses offered during summer?

Research credit and statistics courses only

Does the university have an HFES student chapter?




Application deadline

December 1

Application fee

$55. The NCSU Human Factors and Ergonomics Program requests a supplementary data sheet in addition to the university application and a departmental questionnaire. The university encourages online application; the supplementary data sheet and questionnaire are available from Student Services, Department of Psychology, NCSU, or online from our forms Page (see main psychology Web site).



Minimum requirements

GPA: 3.0 (special consideration for nontraditional students; course-by-course review)

GRE: 500 v, 500 q, 500 a

Recommended: Undergraduate major in behavioral, biological, physical, or computer science, engineering, or mathematics. Successful applicants usually have a solid background in mathematics/statistics, experience in conducting research, a broad range of coursework in the sciences, experience in using computers, and at least one course in some area of experimental psychology. Recommended: Undergraduate major in behavioral, biological, physical, or computer science, engineering, or mathematics. Successful applicants usually have a solid background in mathematics/statistics, experience in conducting research, a broad range of coursework in the sciences, experience in using computers, and at least one course in some area of experimental psychology.

Importance of other criteria as admission factors

Research: medium 

Work experience: low 

Letters: high 

Interview: low

Tuition and fees

See NC State website for current 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 for the next two years




Percentage of students in program receiving financial assistance

50 (of full-time students). Historically, program students have had great success in finding a local ergonomics-related co-op or internship positions with organizations. Most students are continually employed (part-time) after their first year.

Amount received per year

Typical TA = $12,500 for 1/2-time, typical RA = $12,500 for 1/2-time

Types of assistance available

TA, RA; both usually include health insurance and tuition waivers, if certain conditions are met and the student carries a specified number of hours.

When should students apply for financial assistance?

With application



Graduate degrees offered


Number of units required

36 (if MS at NCSU), 54 (if MS completed elsewhere) 

Exams required

Written and oral qualifying exams, oral defense of proposal and dissertation

Language requirements


Research required

Dissertation research required (plus thesis, if not completed during previous MS program)

Practical experience required


Typical number of years required to obtain degree




Required courses (units)

  • Overview of Human Factors Psychology (3) 

  • Visual Perception (3)

  • Physiological Psychology (3) 

  • Cognitive Processes (3)

  • Learning (3)

  • Ergonomics Performance Assessment (3) 

  • Area Seminars or Area-taught courses (3)

  • Research Hours (3)

  • HFAC Colloquium Series (1)

Electives (units)

  • Non-core course or research hours (15)

  • Any advanced statistics course (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 Department is currently housed on two floors of Poe Hall, a modern building on NC State’s North Campus. All laboratories and offices are connected to the internet through the campus network. The following laboratories are directed by the faculty:


APPLIED COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY LABORATORY: Includes testing rooms and equipment for the display of visual stimuli and the recording of assorted behaviors, such as response time. The Applied Cognitive Psychology (ACP) laboratory is devoted to studying human attention and cognition, with applications of cognitive principles to human factors in healthcare and transportation.


COGNITIVE ERGONOMICS LABORATORY: Computers and a variety of custom-built equipment allow research to be conducted on risk perception and communication, information design, human-computer interaction, and visual search. Video equipment and a variety of computer software, including editing, database and statistical programs are available.


ERGONOMICS AND AGING LABORATORY: A number of individual computer stations and video equipment are available to test older and younger adults on a variety of applied cognitive topics such as medication adherence, human computer interaction, and product-usability evaluation. Statistical and video-editing software are available.


LEARNING, AGING, COGNITION & ERGONOMICS LABORATORY: Consists of on-campus and off campus space for testing the abilities and limitations of older and younger adults. An area is reserved for Research Assistants. Software is available for programming, designing stimuli, and statistical analysis.


S.M.A.R.T. LABORATORY: The main objective of our research lab is to examine the role of cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational self-regulatory processes during learning with advanced learning technologies (e.g., intelligent tutoring systems, hypermedia, simulations). More specifically, we aim to understand the complex interactions between humans and intelligent learning systems by using interdisciplinary methods to measure cognitive, metacognitive, affective, and motivational processes and their impact on learning and transfer. To accomplish this goal, we conduct laboratory, classroom, and in-situ (e.g., medical simulator) studies and collect multi-channel data (e.g., eye-tracking, physiological arousal, log-files) to develop models of human-computer interaction; examine the nature of temporally unfolding self- and other-regulatory processes (e.g., human-human and human-artificial agents); and, design intelligent learning and training systems to detect, track, model, and foster humans’ self-regulatory processes.


USABILITY RESEARCH LABORATORIES: Part of the Learning and Research Center for the Digital Age (LRCDA) located in D. H. Hill Library at NC State. The URL consists of state-of-the-art usability equipment capable of collecting video, audio, and recorder data in real-time for observation and analysis of user-performance test sessions. It is managed by the Digital Library Initiatives Department and the Learning Technology Service of the NC State Libraries. In the new Hunt Library, the Usability Lab on the fourth floor is equipped with a workstation and software for capturing and analyzing human-computer interaction to assess software, interfaces, and other technology products. Morae software is available for screen capture and remote viewing. Video capture is made possible by point/tilt/zoom cameras located on two walls.

Teaching opportunities available to students in the program:
Teaching assistantships are typically 20 hours/week. Some TAs assist Introductory Psychology faculty with clerical duties and tutoring; others may conduct lab sessions for the undergraduate Methods/Statistics courses. Advanced students may be assigned to independent sections of courses in their areas of specialization, during either regular semesters or a 5-week summer session. 

Current research activities and projects being carried out by program faculty and/or students: For current research interests, please see faculty webpages.



Current number of active students in program, by gender

13 men, 13 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 560 v, 600 q, GPA 3.54



Roger Azevedo, PhD, 1998, McGill U.; cognition, metacognition, complex problem solving, affect and performance, advanced learning technologies

Jing Feng, PhD 2011, U. of Toronto; attention, cognitive aging, cognitive training and intervention, human factors in driving and display design

Douglas Gillan, PhD 1978, U. of Texas at Austin; perceptual and cognitive components of information visualiation and information presentation; perception of objects, space, and motion; assistive technologies

Christopher B. Mayhorn, PhD 1999, U. of Georgia; aging, HCI, safety

Anne C. McLaughlin, PhD 2007, Georgia Tech; aging, training, feedback, video games 

Eric N. Wiebe, PhD 1996, North Carolina State U.; HCI, visual displays, cognitive ergonomics

[Updated November 2017]