Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors—MS, PhD

A Multidisciplinary Endeavor, A User-Friendly End

Influence the next generation of consumer products, technological systems, or other user environments.

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences at Michigan Tech offers MS and PhD degrees in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors. This research-intensive program unites the expertise of multiple disciplines toward optimizing performance, health, and safety at the interface of humans and technology. Participating scholars include both human experts and built-systems experts, including psychologists, engineers, computer scientists, and usability specialists.

"Psychology and Engineering make an awesome, competitive pair in the job market and I couldn't turn down the opportunity to meld these two passions together. Since starting the program in January, I have found myself surrounded in support and resources from my peers and advisors, as well as lots of opportunity to put the skills in learning to practice in real world examples and exercises. I'm so glad I chose to continue my education and can't wait to see where a degree in ACSHF will take me."Erin Richie, Masters Candidate, ACSHF

Current Research

Departmental research pursues practical solutions to real-world problems. The human factors component of the program is concerned with the design and evaluation of technological systems, products, and work processes from the perspective of human characteristics, needs, abilities, and limitations; and applied cognitive science focuses on understanding and enhancing information processing within both human cognition and machines.

Research is under way in the domains of driving, education, finance, health care, military, law enforcement, medicine, sports, surgery, and other complex sociotechnical areas.


The program’s curriculum is designed to develop scholars and practitioners capable of improving sociotechnical systems through instructional and technological design, providing a strong scientific and technological basis in cognitive science and human factors. Master’s and doctoral students enrolled in this program gain core competency in understanding human behavior, conducting human-subject research, and employing the concepts, tools, and applications of human-factors psychology.

Job Market

There is a growing need for experts trained in human factors. Opportunities are expanding in all employment sectors, including industry, government, and academia. Nonprofits and consulting firms also employ human factors specialists. Common job titles in the area of human factors include:

  • Cognitive engineer
  • Customer-experience specialist
  • Ergonomist
  • Human-factors psychologist or engineer
  • Knowledge engineer
  • Usability specialist
  • Usability engineer
  • User-experience specialist
  • User-interface designer

MS Options

In addition to the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors Program Graduate Handbook, see also the Graduate School's Master of Science requirements page.

The Master’s program in ACSHF requires a minimum of 32 credit hours, including core courses and a Master’s-level thesis or report. Depending upon the background of individual students, some courses may be waived. For more information see the Graduate Program Director. Students wishing to enter the program to receive a terminal Master’s will be considered on a case by case basis (see Admission Requirements). The minimum of 32 hours of core graduate credit required for the Master’s degree are made up as follows:

Degree Components

University Degree Requirements

PhD Plan

In addition to the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors Program Graduate Handbook, see the requirements below: