Engineering Psychology PhD Programs

Jan 31, 2019

PhD in Engineering Psychology degree programs are fairly uncommon and may go by different names. Learn about some graduation requirements, course topics and admission standards for these programs.

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering Psychology degree programs also go by the name of human factors psychology and may offer additional focuses in the field, such as ergonomics. These degree programs typically require comprehensive exams and a dissertation and prepare students for careers in higher education, industry and the government. Explore some more program details below to see if this program is right for you.

Information for Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Psychology

PhD in Engineering Psychology degree programs may require as much as 90 credits, may allow students to earn a master's degree and write a master's thesis along the way and usually require students to take core courses and courses from a minor area or electives. Although students usually can pick and choose from different courses and course names vary greatly amongst programs, here we discuss a few common course topics which students may encounter.

Research/Experimental Design

Students in these PhD programs may take 1 or 2 courses that discuss topics in research design that are also specific to engineering and/or psychology. These courses generally include foundational concepts and may include experimental, correlational and statistical design and methods. Specific topics may include, but are not limited to regression, ANOVA, technical writing, grant writing, quasi-experimental designs and the scientific method.

Engineering Psychology/Human Factors Psychology

These courses vary in their names, but students typically take 1 or 2 courses that discuss engineering or human factors psychology. Students in these courses explore human and system interactions to evaluate performance, increase user satisfaction and ensure safety. These courses may also cover research methods, theory, display use, new technologies and other ways to address human factors problems.

Cognitive Psychology

It is fairly common for students to take a seminar or advanced course in cognitive psychology to learn about standard research methods and basic theories in the field. Students may also explore current research and important findings in the subject. Specific topics for these courses may include memory, decision making, problem solving, attention, concept formation and semantics.


Students usually take a course in human perception, but some of these courses may also include topics in sensation or performance. Courses that include sensation discuss how humans process the world around them from various perspectives, such as psychological, ecological or psychophysical. Courses in perception and performance may explore how factors like perception, sensory characteristics and vision may affect task performance or machine operation.


These PhD programs may include stand-alone statistics courses or combine statistical and quantitative methods with research design courses. Students usually take at least 2 of these courses that explore statistics utilized in the field of psychology, which may allow some courses to designate one course for descriptive statistics and another for inferential statistics or other data analysis techniques. Specific topics for these courses may include linear models, ANOVA and regression.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students applying to PhD programs in engineering psychology need to have at least a bachelor's degree and typically need to take the GRE. Programs may like to see that students have prior coursework in areas like research methods, statistics, cognition and perception. As a part of their application, students will usually need to include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and any relevant research and/or work experience in the field. Although it is not necessarily required, some programs may like to see this experience in a resume and/or prefer students to also include a writing sample.

Students in engineering psychology doctoral programs are usually expected to complete a dissertation and doctoral exams. Coursework for these programs vary, but typically include multiple courses in research concepts/methods and various areas of psychology.

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