Texas Tech University

Ph.D. Program

The Human Factors Psychology Program at Texas Tech University is fully accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

If you have any questions, please contact the Experimental program director, Dr. Jessica Alquist at jessica.alquist@ttu.edu or (806) 834-7553. We do not offer any online graduate degree programs.

The objective of the program is to prepare students for employment in academia, government and industry settings. We believe that this requires a solid research background. Research is the foundation of human factors. Thus, we emphasize research training. Students who enroll in our program are expected to engage in research continuously, publish articles, and attend and present research at conferences. Preparation includes methodological, statistical, and technical skills, knowledge of the basic and applied literature, and assimilation into the professional community. As a consequence of this training 100% of our graduates have secured employment, with typical graduates receiving multiple job offers. Our students have won a variety of awards, and our faculty serve on editorial boards, and national panels and committees.


The HF Program is committed to the integration of basic and applied research. Thus, students are trained in the fundamental processes of human behavior, quantitative methods, and multidisciplinary topics. Students take courses in psychology, experimental methods and statistics, human factors, and industrial engineering (ergonomics). They gain experience applying fundamental methods and knowledge in experimental psychology to applied problems. Hands-on research experience is considered of fundamental importance and students are engaged in research continuously during their enrollment. Research opportunities are diverse and can include collaborations with faculty in other departments as well as in other specializations within experimental psychology.

Faculty and students interact with colleagues in departments such as Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Education, Health/Physical Education/Recreation, Industrial Engineering, and the Health Sciences Center.

Job Market

The employment prospects for individuals trained in human factors psychology are outstanding. There is a shortage of human factors professionals and employers compete fiercely to fill their vacancies. There are numerous job opportunities. Salaries and benefits are high. Recent graduates have reported starting annual salaries between 80K and 100K.

Our program prepares students for employment in academia, government and industry settings. Our terminal MA program prepares students for professional employment, as in industry, or for continuation of education in a doctoral program.

Our graduates are in research positions at government and academic institutions (i.e., Lockheed-Martin/NASA-Johnson, Auburn University, Wichita State University, University of South Dakota, the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Air Force, the US Army, the US Navy, and NIOSH). We also have alumni employed in industry (i.e., General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lear Corporation, Lucent Technologies, Space Center, NOVA Research Co., Oakhill Technology, Perceptive Sciences, Roche Diagnostics, SA Technologies, SBC Technology, State Farm, Honeywell, Medtronics, Human Interfaces, BCI, and Siemens).

Student Awards and Honors

The TTU Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Student Chapter has been recognized with a Gold Level Status designation by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) for multiple years in a row. Each year, HFES performs an assessment of student chapters across the nation driven by a diverse set of criteria developed to recognize outstanding efforts, activities, and contributions. Following the assessment, chapters are awarded a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Status designation.

Many of our students have been recognized with the Student Member with Honors award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). This award is given to individual students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and have made an outstanding contribution to the discipline and/or HFES during their academic career.

Financial Assistance

Every effort is made to provide full support for entering students. Most students entering the Ph.D. program receive some form of financial support from the department in the form of scholarships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or fellowships. Stipends are competitive and scholarships and half-time assistantships carry a waiver of the out-of-state portion of tuition. In addition, half-time assistantships provide health insurance and allow the waiver of many fees.

About 95% of doctoral students in psychology are supported with a 1/2-time assistantships. The amount of financial assistance from the Department ranges from $1000 to $11000 and can be higher if students are supported on a grant. Students who are supported with a scholarship or a 1/2-time assistantship pay in-state tuition rates. The department does not provide support for terminal masters students. Students can apply for financial assistance with their application.

Teaching opportunities include undergraduate courses, some as an assistant to a faculty member and some as the instructor of record.

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, 15 hours of pre-dissertation research, 12 hours of dissertation research, 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.

PH.D. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

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.

Statistics (11 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 (required)
  • PSY 5447: Advanced Correlational Methods and Factor Analysis (required)

And any advanced statistics course taught in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Examples include:

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

Breadth area requirements: 1 course from each of the 3 core areas (9 hrs)

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

  • PSY 5370: Human Factors Psychology (required)

Cognitive and Affective Bases of Behavior

  • PSY 5356: Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSY 5353: Cognitive Neuroscience
Social Bases of Behavior
  • PSY 5328: Seminar in Social Psychology
  • PSY 5300: Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • PSY 5335: Group Processes and Intergroup Relations

Specialization in Human Factors (18 hours)

  • PSY 5372: Human Factors Methodology(required)
  • IE 5309: Human Factors in Engineering and Design (required)
  • One more IE course
  • Three more courses that the student and advisor think serve the student's goal of becoming a human factors psychologist. Common HF/E options are listed below. Students often also take additional statistics courses.
    • PSY 5001: Neuroergonomics
    • PSY 5003: Internship
    • PSY 5379: Human-Computer Interaction
    • PSY 5388: User Experience Research
    • PSY 5377: User-Centered Design

Experimental Psychology Electives (6 hours)

  • PSY 5354 Seminar in Perception: Theories and Applications (required)
  • PSY 5373 Cognitive Ergonomics (required)

Colloquium in the Teaching of Psychology (1 hour)

  • PSY 5101: Colloquium in the Teaching of Psychology (required)

This course must be taken before a student's second year in the program, unless they can demonstrate prior completion of an equivalent course on teaching.

Research Coursework

  • 15+ credits of PSY 6000/7000 (Pre-dissertation research)
    • In addition to organized coursework, continuous involvement in research is expected. This will include registering for (a) a minimum of 15 hours of enrollment in PSY 6000/7000 before graduation, and (b) enrolling in PSY 6000/7000 for 3 credit hours during each long semester and one summer term each year.
  • 12+ credits of PSY 8000 (Dissertation research)
    • A minimum of 12 hours of enrollment in PSY 8000 (only 12 will be applied to the degree audit). Continuous enrollment of at least 3 hours of PSY 8000 with the dissertation chair beginning at least in the semester in which the dissertation is proposed. Students are required to sign up for a minimum of 2 credits with every other committee member during the course of the dissertation, normally in the semesters of proposal and defense.
    • A student may not begin to enroll in Psychology 8000 until after passing qualifying examination.

Research experience is considered of primary importance and students are expected to engage in research continuously throughout the year. To develop sufficient research acumen, students should aim to conduct as much research as possible during their graduate studies.

The human factors area utilizes an apprenticeship model in which students become involved in their advisor's ongoing research. The research typically focuses on theoretical issues in Experimental Psychology that have implications for human factors applications.

Prequalifying Examination Requirements ("second-year project")

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

  • Written
    • 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.
  • Oral
    • 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.

Qualifying Examinations

Students are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy by the Graduate School after qualifying examinations have been successfully 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.

To be eligible to take the qualifying examination, students must have completed their second-year project (or thesis) including both the oral and written requirements. They should also have completed all of the coursework in their specialization.

Other PhD Requirements

The following are other skills that students in the human factors areaare required to develop. As noted below, opportunities to develop these skills can stem from topical courses, research experiences, or other program-related activities. Students are also free to seek out other opportunities to develop these skills.

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.
    • Mastery of mathematics through calculus is strongly recommended.
  • Students also must acquire computer skills that are appropriate to their course of study. This maybe 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 is strongly recommended.

Communication Skills

  • Students must develop their oral and written communication skills. This is achieved by the oral and written requirements for the MA thesis or Second-Year Project requirement for all MA and PhD students and by the oral and written requirements for the dissertation for PhD students. In addition, in the weekly Human Factors Chat, all students are responsible for one time-period per year.

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 students working together on practical problems.
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).