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.


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. Breadth 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 5335 Group Processes and Intergroup Relations

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 (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/officialpublications/catalog/_viewcat.php). 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