Industrial and Systems Engineering

MS - Human Factors/Ergonomics

The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) administers the MS degree program in Human Factors/Ergonomics. This program is a cooperative program involving the Departments of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Psychology, Industrial Design, and Kinesiology. Additional information can be found at

Human Factors/Ergonomics

Human factors/ergonomics is the discipline concerned with the development and application of human-system interface technology to systems analysis, design and evaluation. This technology encompasses human-machine (hardware ergonomics), human-task (workplace ergonomics), human-environment (environmental ergonomics), human-software (cognitive ergonomics) and organizational-machine (macro-ergonomics) interfaces. Practitioners are engaged in developing design specifications, guidelines, methods and tools. They also apply human-system interface technology to ensure that work systems are compatible with the characteristics of the humans who operate, maintain or otherwise interact with them. Their efforts include improving the operability, maintainability, usability, comfort, safety and health characteristics of systems to improve human and system effectiveness and to reproduce the potential of injury and error (adapted from remarks published by H. Holbrook, 1995-96 President, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, HFES Bulletin, January, 1996).

This program prepares students for practice in this emerging profession through an interdisciplinary course sequence that emphasizes theory, practical applications and research. HF/E students take a group of five core courses from several different SJSU departments and elective courses in topics of their choosing. A one-semester weekly seminar is required of all students. The program culminates in a thesis or project.

Requirements for Admission to Classified Standing

Applicants must meet all university admissions requirements. Applicants who meet the following requirements beyond university requirements will be considered for admission into the ISE Department. Applicants for classified standing must have completed a BS or BA degree in Psychology, Industrial Engineering, Occupational Therapy, Industrial Design, Kinesiology, or other related field at an accredited institution. A grade point average of 3.0 ("B") or better in the last two years of academic work is preferred. Applicants for classified standing will also be expected to have completed upper division courses in statistics, cognition, and perception.

Requirements for Admission to Conditionally Classified Standing

Those who do not meet the requirements for classified standing may be admitted with specific conditions as conditionally classified; any conditions stated upon admission in this status must be fulfilled before the student can be admitted to candidacy for the degree. If the conditions are not fulfilled, the program reserves the right to dismiss the student from the program by a process known as administrative academic disqualification (see Section 41300.1, Title 5, California Code of Regulations).

Requirements for Admission to Candidacy for the MS - Human Factors/Ergonomics

Students seeking the Master of Science degree in Human Factors/Ergonomics must meet the general all-university requirements for candidacy as outlined in the Academic Requirements section of this catalog. The University requires that all graduate students complete the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) as a condition for advancement to candidacy. Please refer to the SJSU catalog section titled "Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement" for details. For graduate courses that meet the GWAR, please refer to the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations website at In addition, the applicant must demonstrate aptitude for advanced professional work in human factors/ergonomics, as measured by instructor appraisals, analysis of previous academic work or other appropriate means. Admission to candidacy and approval of programs will be handled by the student's graduate advisor.

Course Requirements

Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above in all courses taken in fulfilling prerequisites and the 30 graduate units required for completion of the program. The general requirements for the course completion are as follows:

Course Requirements

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement
At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For information on the GWAR, please see
Requirements of the Masters30
Core Courses17
ISE 210. Human Factors/Ergonomics3
ISE 212. Human Factors ExperimentsGWAR3
ISE 290. Human Factors & Ergonomics Professional Seminar2
KIN 266. Principles and Concepts of Perceptual Motor Learning3
PSYC 273. Seminar in Human Factors3
Complete one course from:
ISE 135. Design of Experiments3
ISE 202. Design and Analysis of Engineering Experiments3
ISE 211. Experiment Design for Human Factors Engr3
Approved Electives9
Elective courses must be planned in consultation with the graduate advisor
Culminating Experience4
Plan A (Thesis) or Plan B (Project)
Complete four units from:
ISE 298. Special Problems1-4
PSYC 298. Special Problems1-6
KIN 298. Special Studies3
ISE 299. Master's Thesis4
PSYC 299. Master's Thesis or Project1-6
KIN 299. Master's Thesis or Project1-6

Total Units:30

The maximum number of upper-division undergraduate units that can be applied toward the master's degree is 15.

Upon completion of the degree requirements, the student must have achieved minimum candidacy and SJSU Cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 in order to graduate.

Culminating Experience

The decision as to whether to embark on the project (Option B) or Thesis (Option A) path for the culminating experience will be made by the student in consultation with the program's assigned advisor.

Plan A (Thesis)

Students wishing to pursue the thesis option must begin by obtaining the approval of the HF/E program Director and then by securing the agreement of a qualified faculty member to serve as Chair of the candidate's thesis committee. The name of the committee Chair must be provided to the HF/E program Director prior to the candidate beginning work on the thesis. The thesis and thesis process must meet university requirements as stipulated in this catalog and in the SJSU Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation Guidelines (pdf). It will be written under the guidance of the candidate's thesis committee chair with the assistance of the thesis committee.

Plan B (Project)

The project is the expected choice for the HF/E candidate's culminating experience. Students must begin the project by identifying a qualified faculty advisor, or one will be appointed by the HF/E program Director. The advisor and the student mutually agree on the project's scope. The advisor determines when the student has met the agreed upon project requirements and when the project report is acceptable for submittal to the HF/E program, and notifies the HF/E program Director of the student's satisfactory completion of the requirement.

Three (3) elective courses must be planned in consultation with the Graduate Advisor. Electives may be selected from a wide range of graduate courses offered on the SJSU campus in industrial engineering, psychology, kinesiology and other departments. Course descriptions can be found under the listings for the respective departments elsewhere in this catalog. The program develops and offers its own elective courses from time to time in topics such as usability testing, human-computer interaction, safety and others. Please see the program website for further details.