What degrees can I earn?
Students in engineering psychology, now more commonly referred to as human factors engineering and ergonomics, can receive a BS that focuses on the subject. Engineering psychology graduate programs also lead to an MS degree, while the top-level degrees are acquired at the PhD level. Although there is range of online courses that students can take, as well as several online certificate programs, there are currently no accredited online psychology degree programs for the subject.
Engineering psychology certificate programs online and on campus cater to students or professionals who want to further their expertise in workplace and product design. Applicants must have a bachelors degree from an accredited university or be an advanced undergraduate or graduate student who has completed coursework in the subject. Certificate programs award 9 to 12 credit hours and take up to 1 year to complete.
Engineering psychology masters programs award MS degrees. Unfortunately, there are no accredited online masters in psychology programs that provide degrees in the subject. In order to successfully apply, applicants should have a BS in psychology, industrial engineering, industrial design or a related field from an accredited university. Competitive candidates should also have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Masters programs take 2 years to complete and award 30 to 36 credit hours.
Students can pursue advanced graduate work through an engineering psychology PhD program. All PhD programs require a bachelors degree in psychology or a related field from an accredited university, as well as some coursework in calculus. PhD in psychology applicants of the most competitive doctoral programs have a minimum GPA of 3.5, strong recommendation letters and past research experience in the field. Doctoral programs take 4 to 6 years to complete and award 107 credit hours.
Are there any online programs?
Although a wide range of human factors and engineering psychology courses are offered online, there are no accredited engineering psychology online colleges that award undergraduate or graduate degrees. Currently, the best online programs only awards certificates in the field, such as Penn State’s online certificate program.
If you have some educational background in engineering psychology, such as a BS in psychology, and wish to further your expertise in the field through an online program, certificates may be the best option. They allow you to pursue coursework in a specific field such as aerospace, computer technology, healthcare, consumer products and construction. You may also transfer these credits from an accredited certificate program to advanced graduate programs should you decide to pursue a masters or doctoral program later.
In addition, there are several current trends that will most likely lead to the establishment of online accredited engineering psychology schools within the next decade, including the rapid development of technology and its social impact. Engineering psychologists have become established figures in product and industrial design teams, as industries are realizing that involving psychologists can improve product functionality and usability.
What kinds of classes will I take in my program?
Undergraduates interested in engineering psychology enroll in a range of core classes. This includes calculus I and II and general physics, which may be taken as engineering psychology online courses, as well as introductory courses in experimental, industrial and organizational and engineering psychology. Many undergraduates will also take computing, product design and engineering classes.
Graduate students take classes in biopsychology, cognition, sensation and perception as well as advanced classes in product design and social, engineering and developmental psychology. Advanced students learn how to analyze and interpret empirical research and articulate these findings into principles of human performance. Some graduate students take online psychology courses to supplement their research.
What careers can I choose from?
For engineering psychology jobs, professionals design safe, user-friendly products and are primarily concerned with product interfaces. Products developed with the help of engineer psychologists include ergonomic computers, power tools, chairs and other consumer goods.
The careers in psychology within this subfield are research oriented, and the best careers in engineering psychology include working as an academic and an industrial design and product development researcher. Engineering psychology salary ranges considerably based on your level of education and the industry you work in.
Advanced students in engineering psychology often take up an academic position at a college or university and integrate teaching and research. Engineering psychologists who work at universities conduct experiments through focus groups to determine the best design principles that maximize a product’s usability. Professionals with masters degrees, which take 2 years to complete, and who work for universities earn about $75,000 per year.
Industrial design and product development researcher
Engineering psychologists frequently take up research positions with private businesses. They develop products for consumers that strive to improve the relationship between usability and design, usually as part of a team of industrial design specialists and marketers. Most engineering psychologists hired in the private sector have doctoral degrees, which take 4 to 6 years to complete. They receive an average annual salary of about $111,400.
Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree?
Other than graduating from an advanced program that has been accredited through the Human Factor and the Ergonomic Society (HFES), engineering psychologists do not need to be state licensed or certification in order to be hired.
Many engineering psychologists are active members of HFES, which provides a range of networking opportunities, awards and fellowships. HFES also offers additional engineering psychology training opportunities through webinars, workshops and classes. Members have full access to updated educational webinars.
Professionals interested in continuing education opportunities and training can pursue psychology certifications in related fields, such as cognitive and developmental psychology. You can also pursue additional training in product and industrial design through programs offered by a diverse range of colleges and art institutes.