Human Factors/Industrial Psychology, PhD

Parent Entity: 
Science and Mathematics, College of » Psychology
Program Type: 
Degree Type: 
Doctor of Philosophy

Program Description:

Human factors (HF) and Industrial/Organizational (IO) Psychology are fields that explore basic theories of human and group performance and the practical implications for improving the quality of socio-technical systems. The HF program places special emphasis on human perception and cognition. The IO program emphasizes individual, group, and organizational behavior in work settings. Together these programs provide a strong foundation for applying psychological theories to the design of more effective technologies and work organizations. Our program offers unique opportunities to collaborate with local industries and government laboratories such as the Human Effectiveness Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB. It also provides opportunities for students to participate in interdisciplinary collaborations on problem-centered research projects associated with interface design, training, selection, decision-making, and team coordination. These problems can be explored in a wide range of application domains, including aerospace, healthcare, public and private sector businesses, military operations, and emergency operations.

Admissions Requirements:

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program should have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a major in psychology or at least 16 semester credit hours of psychology. Students should have completed courses in cognition or human learning, sensation and perception, social or organizational psychology, personality or test and measures, or abnormal, experimental design/statistics, and experimental methods. Ideally, students should also have completed a year of physical or biological science, courses in mathematics, and computer science. Students who are missing one or more prerequisite courses will be expected to complete appropriate remedial course work at the onset of the program, in addition to degree requirements.

All prospective students must submit an official transcript from each institution attended. Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative) also must be submitted. Three letters of recommendation must be received from previous university professors or relevant professionals. Applicants also must submit an essay describing their professional goals and current academic interests in human factors or industrial/organizational psychology.

All admissions are competitive. Applications will be evaluated to determine the likelihood of success in the program and potential for a career in human factors or industrial/organizational psychology. Evaluation criteria will include: cumulative grade point average, verbal and quantitative Graduate Record Examination scores, performance in relevant course work, letters of recommendation, previous research experience, relevant job experience, and other information about writing and quantitative skills. Applications are due by January 1 for fall consideration.


The programs in human factors and industrial/organizational psychology are a major focus of departmental activity; two-thirds of the faculty in the department specialize in one of the two program areas. Students enter a program with a critical mass of faculty and students and a wide variety of research opportunities.

The Department of Psychology maintains general laboratories to support teaching and research. There are three computer laboratories each containing 17 Apple intel-based computers with flat screen LCD color monitors and two printers. For flexibility of application, each computer can boot either the Mac OS or Windows. The individual computers are interconnected via a local area network. Special purpose equipment, such as a Prichard Photometer, Kay Sound Spectrum Analyzer, and Hewlett-Packard Color Scanner are available. The Department has a variety of other general-purpose facilities for individual and small group testing. These include audio-visual equipment for taping or presenting information to group, observation rooms with one-way windows, and laptop computers for field research.

The Department of Psychology has research space, faculty and graduate student offices, and general classroom space all located in Fawcett Hall. The Department occupies the third, fourth, and fifth floors of Fawcett Hall. The fourth and fifth floors consist of 20,000 square feet of space exclusively for psychology research. Each Psychology faculty member currently maintains a laboratory to support his or her research activities. Specialized equipment in these research laboratories supports research on sensory process, motor control, spatial orientation, human-computer interaction, display design, flight simulation, memory, aging, expertise, teamwork, assessment, training, and stress in the workplace. Computer facilities include UNIX workstations, PC's, and Mac's. Descriptions of faculty laboratories are given under the appropriate faculty's individual Web page. These laboratories are well equipped for behavioral research.

The department of Psychology maintains a Psychology Computer Services (PCS) facility to support research and teaching. The PCS has one computer engineer and one student assistant. The PCS provides software, hardware, and network support.

Students and faculty also have access to specialized laboratories and equipment that are unique to the Dayton metropolitan area. The Department of Psychology at Wright State University and several research laboratories at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have official Memorandums of Agreement that facilitate the sharing of equipment, facilities, and personnel. Sophisticated high fidelity simulators and other test facilities, such as the Auditory Localization Facility for free field binaural research and an immersive 4-wall Cave VR system, are off-campus facilities that are available and have been used by Department of Psychology faculty and students. In addition, the Department has excellent working relationships with other laboratories and facilities. Several faculty and students have conducted research at the Crew Station Evaluation Facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Department of Psychology faculty also have excellent working relationships with area corporations and industries.

Dayton is also an area of considerable industrial and corporate strength. Industrial/organizational research is conducted in conjunction with local firms. Faculty and students interact with many colleagues in government and the private sector.

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