Option in Human Factors

MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors









Click here to meet the Human Factors program students
CSULB Human Factors alumni are listed here.

Visit our tumblr blog: www.CSULBPsyGradPrograms.tumblr.com/


Student Learning Outcomes   
MSHF Application Prerequisites 
MSHF Degree Requirements
Department Facilities
MSHF Faculty

Organizations Employing MSHF Alumni

Application Procedures  
Program Description Brochure     

Current Students Main Menu   
     Program Handbooks from previous years   

MSHF Theses Abstracts      
Psychology Graduate Advisor


Human factors (also known as ergonomics or human engineering) is a scientific discipline which examines human behavior and capabilities in order to find the best ways to design products, equipment and systems for maximum safe, effective, satisfying use by people. Professionals in the area of human factors apply their skills in a variety of areas, including aerospace systems, computer software and hardware design, industrial and office settings, educational technology, consumer products, usability analysis and virtual reality. Employment areas may be in Academic Institutions, Industry, Military-related Research Centers and Independent Consultant. Job titles include professor, human factors engineer, ergonomist, technician specialist, safety scientist, consultant and research scientist.

Human factors research and engineering are concerned with enhancing the productivity of workers and increasing the level of satisfaction of workers with their jobs, in addition to improving the safety of work situations. Equipment design can be blamed, at least in part, for many of the errors that people make, both on the job and elsewhere.

The MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors at CSULB is designed to prepare students to apply human factors skills to the design of jobs, information systems, consumer products, workplaces and equipment in order to improve user performance, safety and comfort. The Human Factors program is designed as a terminal MS degree, but it also provides excellent preparation for advanced graduate work. This program is accredited by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the accrediting board for human factors programs in the U.S.

Faculty in the CSULB MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors program are currently working on a number of topics such as human-computer interaction, usability testing, auditory/visual display design, knowledge engineering and decision making. Students in the program acquire a background in experimental psychology and research methods. They are trained in the application of the material through courses in human factors, computer applications and interface design. Special topics seminars, in areas such as large-scale simulation and usability testing, complement the core program of study. Finally, students complete a thesis in their chosen area of human factors.

Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (optional)

Note that students are not required to receive external certification to obtain work in the field after graduation.  However, if students are interested in certification, the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics provides professional certification for practitioners of human factors/ergonomics/user experience (HF/E/UX) who demonstrate expertise and comprehensive understanding of the discipline.  Please see the CSU Notice to Students Regarding Professional Licensure and Certification  for more information on professional licensure and certification.    

Links to information regarding Human Factors:

Publications about the CSULB MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors program:

Return to top

Student Learning Outcomes

Knowledge Base in HF/E related fields

By the completion of the Master’s degree, students will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of established research and theories of human capabilities and limitations in the areas of:
    • Perception
    • Attention
    • Learning and memory
    • Reasoning and Decision Making
    • Action performance
    • How the environment influences decision making and performance
  • Demonstrate Knowledge of human-computer interaction including:
    • Usability testing
    • Auditory/visual display design
    • Knowledge engineering and decision making

Research Methodology in HF/E related fields

By the completion of the Master’s degree, students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to apply Evidence-Based HF/E Methods to the design of:
    • Jobs
    • Information systems
    • Consumer products
    • Workplaces
    • Equipment to improve user performance, safety and comfort.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply methodologies that are used in the design of human-machine systems
  • Demonstrate the ability to investigate basic and applied issues in Human Factors related areas.

Practical (applied) HF/E experience

By the completion of the Master’s degree, students will:

  • Engage in real-world research and practice in the field
  • Use academic knowledge and professional skills to help create Human Factors solutions for clients


By the completion of the Master’s degree, students will:

  • Independently create professional manuscripts and reports
  • Accurately report analysis of data
  • Effectively orally communicate HF/E knowledge


By the completion of the Master’s degree, students will:

  • Demonstrate professional team management and organizational skills
  • Demonstrate collaboration in the production of verbal and manual reports of field knowledge

Return to top

MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors – Degree Application Prerequisites

Applicants to the MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors (MSHF) program are expected to have a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology or 24 upper division units of Psychology coursework. The following courses (or their equivalents) must be included. Students may be admitted to the Human Factors program if they lack only the intermediate statistics course (PSY 310).  This course must be completed within the first semester of graduate study. 

Prerequisite Coursework must include the following CSULB courses (or equivalents, to be determined by Psychology Dept.):

  • PSY 310 (Intermediate Statistics)
  • PSY 331 (Sensation & Perception)
  • PSY 332 (Cognition)

See Prerequisite course descriptions below:

PSY 310. Intermediate Statistics (3)
Prerequisites: PSY 110 or introductory statistics course.
Basic theoretical concepts of statistics and the use of these concepts in the selection and development of model testing, hypothesis testing and parameter estimation procedures. Both single measure (univariate) and correlational (bivariate) concepts will be covered.

PSY 331. Sensation and Perception (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 210.
Basic phenomena of the senses, their physiological correlates and integration in complex perceptual judgments.

PSY 332. Human Cognition (3)
Prerequisite: PSY 210. Study of higher-order processes basic to the acquisition of knowledge. Includes thinking, problem solving, creativity, information processing, decision making, judgment, concepts and imagination.

You may offer equivalent courses for evaluation by the Graduate Advisor (at the time of application):

100. General Psychology (3)
Introduction to the scientific study of human behavior.  Designed to provide the student with a basic background for further study and for practical application in everyday life.

110. Introductory Statistics (4)
Prerequisites: PSY 100 and completion of a mathematics course suitable for General Educational credit.  Calculation and meaning of statistical measures.  Descriptive and inferential statistics: probability, normal curve, correlation, sampling, hypothesis testing.

220. Research Methods (4)
Prerequisite: PSY 110 or introductory statistics course.
Introduction to basic research methods in Psychology.  Principles of experimentation, naturalistic observation, correlational studies.

241. Psychobiology (3)
Prerequsite: PSY 100.  Introduction to the study of behavior from a biological point of view.  Biological systems and processes underlying behavior, with emphasis on brain mechanisms, presented in the context of fundamental concepts and issues in psychology.

Return to top

MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors – Degree Requirements

Current MSHF Program Handbook     


  1. PSY 511 Statistical Design and Analysis of Experiments
  2. PSY 518 Computer Applications in Psychology
  3. PSY 527 Human Factors
  4. PSY 533 Research in Cognition and Learning Or PSY 633 Seminar in Perception and Attention Or PSY 634 Seminar in Cognition
  5. PSY 627 Human Factors’ Methods 
  6. PSY 689 Practicum in Human Factors 
  7. MAE 508 Systems Engineering and Integration
  8. CECS 448 User Interface Design [No longer available; must be substituted]  
  9. PSY 698 Thesis (6 units)

And two elective courses chosen from the following:

  • PSY 512 Multivariate Analysis
  • PSY 544 Cognitive Neuroscience
    PSY 635 Seminar on Situation Awareness [Not currently being offered]  
  • PSY 696 Research Methods
  • PSY 697 Directed Research
  • ENGL 419 Writing in Science and Technology


The department is located in the Psychology Building, a four-story structure which houses faculty and graduate student offices, a newly constructed computer lab, and laboratories for faculty and student research in the major areas of Psychology.  Human factors experience can be obtained in two Centers and various laboratories in the Psychology Building:

  • The Center for Human Factors in Advanced Aeronautics Technologies (CHAAT), a state-of-the-art facility for research and simulations of advanced air technologies and air traffic management issues. You must be a US citizen to participate in CHAAT.     
  • The Center for Usability in Design and Assessment (CUDA), a usability testing laboratory that provides real-world hands-on experience in usability testing and interface design.   
  • Perceptual, cognitive, and neuroscience research laboratories provide ample space and equipment for research in a variety of areas including auditory and visual perception, cognitive psychology, aviation psychology and human-computer.

Return to top

MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors – Faculty and Associates

Gabriella Hancock   
Assistant Professor
PhD, University of Central Florida 
Human performance under workload and stress; human-technology interaction;
psychophysiological underpinnings of cognition; cognitive neuroscience:
individual differences

James Miles
Associate Professor
PhD, University of Virginia
Cognitive control processes; stimulus-response compatibility effects;
goal intentions and environmental biases interaction

Thomas Strybel
PhD, University of Arizona
Auditory-visual space perception; auditory-visual displays;
multisensory interaction; human factors; human-computer interaction
University Achievement Award

Kim Vu
PhD, Purdue University
Human factors, cognition, performance, human-computer interaction
Inside CSULB article on Research
Early Career Excellence Award
Inside CSULB article on Excellence Award

Return to top

Examples of Organizations Employing MS in Psychology, Option in Human Factors Alumni

Enterprise Rent-a-Car
Hewlett Packard

Return to top


Psychology Department Graduate Assistant Positions

The Psychology department has a number of graduate assistantship positions available.  These provide financial support and professional experience, as well as additional contact between students and faculty.  These positions are awarded on a competitive basis to new and continuing students.  Types of positions include graduate assistants in department laboratory and other courses.

Students interested in serving as a Graduate Assistant (GA) should submit a GA application to the Graduate Advisor.  Applications and appointments are semester specific.  Positions are open until filled.  Applications are due April 15th for the Fall semester and November 15th for the Spring semester.
Applications are accessed and printed from the department web site.  Applications should be sent to the Graduate Advisor’s Office.

Each semester the department of Psychology hires about 10-13 graduate assistants to perform various activities.  The assignments are usually 10 hours per week for 17 weeks in the Fall and 17 weeks in the Spring.  Most GA assignments fall into two major categories.  Some assignments are to assist in the introductory research methods course.  This involves preparing materials, grading papers and assisting students.  Other GA assignments support introductory and intermediate statistics courses.  These assignments generally involve grading papers, assisting students and helping students with various statistical software packages.  Both research methods and statistics GA positions also involve providing support for the department computer lab.  An EEO/AA/Title IX policy is followed.


  • Financial: If appointed for 10 hours of work each week, a first year GA receives approximately $5000 per year.  There are some 10 hour per week positions available.
  • Educational: By teaching, GAs can further develop their own psychological skills.
  • Experiential: Working closely with a faculty member can add to a GA’s knowledge and experience.
  • Convenience: Having a job on campus can save travel time and study time.

J. Robert Newman Scholars Program

Due to a generous bequeathment from a faculty member beloved by students, staff and colleagues, the Psychology department is able to award three students funding that will cover a portion of the cost of enrollment fees.  The three master’s program committees may each select an outstanding incoming or continuing student as a J. Robert Newman scholar.  The MSHF recipient receives $2000, awarded for one semester.


Return to top