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Experimental Psychology: Human Factors Psychology

Human Factors Ph.D. Curriculum

Students must fulfill the requirements of the Department of Psychological Sciences and the Experimental Psychology Division. The Graduate School requires that students complete degree requirements within 8 consecutive years from the semester of initial enrollment to ensure that student’s preparation remains current and that they are able to make timely progress.

Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology: 45 hours of substantive coursework, 18 hours of research, 12 hours of dissertation, prequalifying examination, qualifying (comprehensive) examination, dissertation proposal defense, and final dissertation defense. A graduate student must earn a B- or better in every required course.

Please refer to the Experimental Psychology Graduate Student Handbook for further details. It is the official curriculum with which you must comply.


All doctoral students in Psychology must complete the following requirements. Some courses may have prerequisites, so students should make sure they meet the necessary prerequisites before registering.

I. Statistics (9 hours)

The graduate core statistics requirement for the Department of Psychological Sciences is completion of three graduate level statistics courses taken within the Department of Psychological Sciences. PSY 5447 and PSY 5480 must be completed within 24 months of the official enrollment in a doctoral program in Psychology at TTU.

  • PSY 5480 Experimental Design
  • PSY 5447 Advanced Correlational Methods and Factor Analysis

And one of the following:

  • PSY 5348 Advanced Multivariate Statistics for Psychologists
  • PSY 5360 Structural Equation Modeling for Psychologists
  • PSY 5367 Analysis of Repeated Measures and Intensive Longitudinal Designs

II. Bread area requirements: 1 course from each of the 4 core areas (12 hrs)

Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior

  • PSY 5356 Seminar in Cognition
  • PSY 5354 Seminar in Perception: Theories and Applications

Biological Bases of Behavior

  • PSY 5301 Biological Bases of Psychological Functioning
  • PSY 5351 Psychophysiology
  • PSY 5382 Psychopharmacology of Psychoactive Drugs
  • IE 5303 Work Physiology

Social Bases of Behavior

  • PSY 5328 Seminar in Social Psychology
  • PSY 5330 Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • PSY 5340 Automaticity and Control in Social Behavior

Applications (courses listed below are only for Experimental Division students)

  • PSY 5370 Human Factors Psychology
  • PSY 5372 Human Factors Methodology
  • PSY 5373 Cognitive Ergonomics

NOTE: This counts toward the specialization as well as long as students complete 15 organized courses.

Teaching of Psychology (1-3 credit hours; at least one credit hour is required)

  • PSY 5101: Colloquium of Teaching of Psychology

III. Specialization in Human Factors (12 hours)

In collaboration with their advisors, students will identify any 4 courses that serve their goal of becoming an applied cognitive, human factors, or social psychologists. These courses will typically be experimental psychology courses, but can be from any area of psychology or any other field.
NOTE: Some of these may be listed under the Experimental Electives.

Current Selection of Courses in Human Factors Psychology:

  • PSY 5370 Human Factors Psychology (required)
  • PSY 5372 Human Factors Methodology(required)
  • PSY 5354 Seminar in Perception: Theories and Applications (required)
  • PSY 5373 Cognitive Ergonomics (required)
  • PSY 5379 Human Computer Interaction
  • PSY 5003 Practicum in Human Factors Psychology (Up to 3 credits of internship or practicum can be used to fulfill the total number of required courses)

IV. Courses from Industrial Engineering Department (6 hours)

One of the following:

  • IE 5303 Work Physiology (has a lab)
  • IE 5301 Ergonomics and Design (has a lab)


One of the following:

  • IE 5301 Ergonomics and Design (has a lab) *if not selected from above options
  • IE 5302 Bayesian Analysis for Human Decisions
  • IE 5303 Work Physiology (has a lab)
  • IE 5306 Safety Engineering
  • IE 5308 Risk assessment for human behaviors
  • IE 5309 Human Factors in Ergonomics and Design (has no lab)
  • IE 5329 Project Management
  • IE 6304 Control Theory for Humans

V. Experimental Psychology Electives (9 hours)

Three additional courses taught by Experimental Psychology Faculty, which may include further work in the specialization.

VI. Research Experience (PSY 7000; 15 hours minimum and 2nd yr project)

Research experience is considered of primary importance and students are expected to be engaged in research continuously throughout the year. The Human Factors Psychology Program utilizes an apprenticeship model to train students in research. Enrollment requires (a) a minimum of 15 hours of enrollment in PSY 7000, and (b) enrollment in PSY 7000 for 3 credit hours during each long semester and one summer term each year.

VII. Quantitative and Computer Skills

Students must acquire quantitative skills that are appropriate to their course of study. This may be achieved in various ways such as coursework, research experiences, and independent study. Examples include statistics, linear algebra, trigonometry, calculus, or computational modeling.

Students also must acquire computer skills that are appropriate to their course of study. This may be achieved in various ways such as coursework, research experiences, and independent study. Examples include statistical software packages (SPSS, SAS), prototyping and simulation tools, MATLAB, JAVA, Visual Basic, and C++.

Mastery of a higher-level programming language and mathematics through calculus are strongly recommended.

VIII. Communication Skills

Students must acquire experiences to develop their oral and written communication skills. This is achieved by the second-year project requirement for all MA and PhD students and by the dissertation proposal and defense for PhD students. In addition, in the weekly human-factors chat, all students are responsible for one time period per semester.

IX. Teamwork Experience

Students are exposed to multidisciplinary team experiences in various ways such as coursework (Human Factors, Human Factors Methodology, Human-Computer Interaction), the HFES TTU Student Chapter, and practical experiences such as internships. Examples include collaborative class assignments and projects, feedback from fellow students on class presentations, and student working together on practical problems.

X. Prequalifying Examination Research Requirements (“second-year project”)

Students must complete both the following written and oral portions of this requirement by the end of their second year:


Prior to taking the qualifying examination, each student will be required to complete at least one three hour enrollment in PSY 7000 Research, and to complete an empirical study that is deemed appropriate by a two person faculty committee (including the student’s faculty advisor). The two person faculty committee may consist of any two members of the Department’s graduate faculty. Alternatively, students can fulfill this research requirement by submitting a formal master’s thesis in psychology. Students who have conducted independent research elsewhere at the graduate level, or who have completed a master’s thesis in psychology may wish to submit these for approval in order to meet the requirement. Those who obtain approval for previous research will have the written requirement waived.


Each student also is required to make a brief, ungraded, oral presentation of the research used to satisfy the above written requirement. The oral presentation should be made only after the full results of the study are available and should include as much of these results, and their interpretation, as is feasible given time constraints during the presentation.

XI. Qualifying Examinations

Graduate School Requirements:

Students are admitted to candidacy by the Graduate School after major (i.e., Psychology) and, if any, minor qualifying examinations have been completed. Other requirements for admission to candidacy are given in the Graduate Catalog.

Qualifying Examination in Human Factors Psychology:

Successful completion of the qualifying examination in Human Factors Psychology documents that the student has 1) mastered the foundations of the field, and 2) become an expert in one of the field’s identifiable sub-specialties. The qualifying examination has three sections: Section I: Fundamentals of Human Factors Psychology, Section II. The Student’s Research Specialty, Section III. Applying Knowledge from the Specialty Area.

XII. Dissertation (12 hours minimum)

Doctoral students in Psychology are required to complete a dissertation in compliance with the guidelines established by the Graduate School. The graduate catalog provides further details ( In fulfilling its responsibility regarding those requirements, the Psychology faculty is particularly concerned that students have gained thorough understanding and mastery of matters of design and statistical treatment. In addition to the traditional components, the dissertation in human factors includes a section on practical implications. Students are encouraged to include a faculty member from industrial engineering (ergonomics) to serve on their dissertation committee.

XIII. Practice

Doctoral students are expected to acquire experience working on practical problems. This may include an internship, practicum, consulting with industry or other clients, or other practical experiences. Previous examples include course practica , course projects, and internships at SA Technologies, Honeywell, Motorola, Sprint, Sandia National Laboratories, NASA-JSC, USAF and the FAA. Local practical experiences also have been developed, for example, at Texas Tech’s Information Technology Division, Usability Laboratory (Housed in English Department in the Technical Communication Program); Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center, Office of Planning and Assessment, and the UMC Southwest Cancer Treatment & Research Center. Other opportunities are available through the Industrial Engineering Department (e.g., Frito Lay, Lubbock AeroCare, Texas Instruments).

Training in Teaching (if hired to teach by the Department):

  • PSY 5101 Colloquium in Teaching of Psychology