Graduate degree programs in engineering psychology are available at the master's and doctoral levels and also go by titles such as human factors psychology/engineering or ergonomics. Both degree programs prepare students for a variety of careers and typically require a culminating experience. Study some of the similarities and differences between the available degree programs below.
Master of Science vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Psychology
Master of Science in Engineering Psychology
Students can pursue a Master of Science (MS) in Engineering Psychology, Human Factors Engineering or Psychology with a concentration in human factors. A few programs in engineering psychology may not normally accept students for a terminal MS program, but typically these programs take about 2 years to complete and a few are available in an online format. It is fairly common for these degree programs to require around 30 credits and offer a thesis and non-thesis option, where students may need to complete a comprehensive exam or a final project in place of a thesis. Students in these degree programs may take courses that discuss topics in human factors psychology, design, probability and statistics, data analysis and human computer interaction. Students in these programs also receive training that can prepare them for careers in areas like workplace safety, product design, medical device design, systems design and more.
Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Psychology
Students can earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering Psychology, Human Factors Psychology or a PhD with a focus in human factors/ergonomics. These degree programs vary in credit requirements, with some programs requiring at least 30 credits beyond a master's degree and 60 credits beyond a bachelor's degree. Students in these degree programs typically need to complete comprehensive exams, maintain a particular GPA throughout the program and write and defend a dissertation, and some programs may also require hands-on learning experiences, like an applied psychology internship. Coursework for these degree programs also vary greatly to allow students to pursue research interests in their major and/or minor areas, but students may take courses in topics such as research methods, engineering psychology, cognitive psychology, sensation/perception and ergonomics. Graduates of these programs are often prepared for advanced and/or leadership positions in higher education, industry and the government.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to graduate degree programs in engineering psychology need to have at least a bachelor's degree, which may need to be in psychology or a related field, and may need to meet a minimum GPA around a 3.0, depending on the program. Some programs may also require students to have prior coursework in areas such as psychology, research methods, statistics, engineering, biology and/or chemistry and these programs usually require the GRE. Other common application materials for these degree programs include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume with prior work and/or research experience and/or a statement of purpose. Some programs may also prefer students to contact potential faculty advisors prior to applying to the program.
Students interested in engineering psychology can pursue an MS or PhD in the field and receive a variety of research and hands-on training. Students usually need to complete a final thesis, project or dissertation and may take courses from various areas of psychology, mathematics, research methods and more.