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Anyone else interested in human factors, ergonomics, or HCI? :)


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I wanted to see if there are some people to chat with! Although I guess it's a bit early, I am trying to narrow down my list of places to apply, and I wondered if you've encountered some of the same problems!


I'm interested in a PhD that takes a cognitive science or psychology perspective on usability (rather than engineering or computer science). My other research interests are decision-making, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. I am currently focusing on cognitive science programs, but I know there are others. I don't see any useful rankings, lots of programs don't disclose GRE ranges so I have no idea whether I'm competitive, and the programs are in a variety of different departments (Psych, Business, and Cog Sci, probably others I'm missing) 


Anyone else having a similar problem? 


I feel like there's some kind of common knowledge that I'm missing. :)


Anyway, what are you up to in your preparation? Encounter any problems? Know where you're applying? I am hoping to find some people to commiserate with, and learn alongside if I can manage it :) Doing that information-starved, research-spiral thing today. 

If there's anything I can help with in your journey, I'd love to! I can share info I've found so far. As far as my current plan, I am volunteering at two labs at UCSD (in cog sci and psychiatry) as a credible signal that I want to do research (and because OHMYGOSH its so fun!), I'm practicing teaching with a test prep company (I don't know how useful it is to adcoms, but I sure as hell needed it!), and I've gotten at least the first round of GREs out of the way with a mostly satisfactory score. Plan now is find places to apply, write SOPs, and scrounge the internet for any hint of stats or ways I can marginally improve my chances :) Thinking about learning to code or trying to write a research paper on my own (since my labs are more long-term oriented). 

Best of luck out there! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


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Thanks! Good to know this far in advance that I'll need a portfolio if I want an industry job. Sounds like my MBA won't be useless after all.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there, I'm also interested in HF and I am currently working on a master's in a related field, hoping to apply to PhD programs. From what I've heard (at least from the schools I am interested in) its your GRE score they use to determine what order they look at your application. Then from there, they choose their pool. Obviously, the higher the better in that case, but unfortunately like you said, most programs do not publish this info online. There is however an APA book that gets published every year with approximate rankings: http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4270097.aspx. Most university libraries have access to at least one edition. This is how I have been gauging myself based on the programs I am interested in. I am really hoping to get into UCF's HF program but we will see. One step at a time, need to finish my master's first. 


Sounds like you are doing a great job so far! I have also been immersing myself in research and I'm hoping my thesis will help out with that as well. I applied to a couple of HF related internships and I am currently out of state doing a research internship this summer.


I am also learning how to code, just baby steps for now. I've actually heard this is a pretty valuable skill set that HF programs like to see, but that is only through fellow graduate student friends, so taking that with a grain of salt. Just thought I would say hi! 

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Nice to meet you! Harrison Fjord! (Your sn makes me laugh-- good one :) Sounds like you're in a great place with your Master's! I have an MBA, which is all but useless, except maybe in IO? 


Thanks for the info on the GRE-- GRE is actually one of the strong points on my application, despite my expectations, so it'll be a bit of a pity for my app if they're only used once as a filter!  (I can't complain-- I know they're inherently unfair in a lot of ways.) Thanks especially for the APA link! Guess I'm heading to the library :) 


I really liked what I saw of UCF also!  I am a little hesitant to go to Florida, frankly, but looking all (literally all) of the IO psych programs I've found that publish a lot in HF are in the south (Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina). I noticed that your location is Florida-- am I being too harsh? Do you like it there? I'm also looking at cogsci programs, though, and they are in places I'd feel more at home in. Maybe it's not fair to discount them before I visit.


I keep starting to learn to code, but it's so much to learn alone and so abstract in the early stages. I started with Python, but now I'm thinking i'll learn while building something (an app for example) that I can show. It's a bit intimidating though. Do you mind my asking how you're approaching the task?


FWIW, here's the current lists of programs I've found that do work along these lines: 

in IO Psych: USF, UCF, George Mason University, Old Dominion, George Washington University, UNC, & NCSU.
in CogSci: UCSD, Stanford, UMaryland College Park.

Am I missing anything awesome? My approach to finding these is a little more scattershot than I'm comfortable with :) 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi there! 



Thanks for the info on the GRE-- GRE is actually one of the strong points on my application, despite my expectations, so it'll be a bit of a pity for my app if they're only used once as a filter!  (I can't complain-- I know they're inherently unfair in a lot of ways.) Thanks especially for the APA link! Guess I'm heading to the library :)



I don't know if this is the norm for all schools. Just from the schools I have been looking to apply to. 


UCF is a great school for HCI, Human Factors, etc. because Orlando is one of the biggest the Modeling, Simulation and Training scenes. The Institute for Simulation & Training and the area around it called "Research Park" are two of the main hubs of research in the Orlando area in HCI, Human Factors, ergonomics, HRI, etc. I honestly love UCF and I am considering some other options (San Jose State, Georgia Tech, etc.) but I really would not be unhappy if I stayed for my PhD here as well. 


I am working on teaching myself Python and hopefully then moving on to JavaScript. I haven't been able to devote as much time as I would like though. Wow! Building an app would be really cool. I am too intimidated to start doing that at this point. My coding skills are rather elementary.



I guess the main question is whether or not you want to focus on Human Factors or more I/O oriented research? That will probably help guide your decisions. 

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Thanks to both of you! 

HarrisonFjord, great stuff to know!


SJSU is a great choice, I hear! But they don't have a PhD program, do they? 

HCC at Georgia Tech looked really great, but it made me nervous that it's in the computer science department, partly because i don't have the background for a CS-heavy course load, and also because I have other psych/cog sci-related interests. 


Thanks for your thoughts! Best of luck to you!

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