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Department of Psychological Sciences

Cognitive/Human Factors

The Cognitive/Human Factors Graduate Program at Kansas State University is designed to prepare students for careers as psychologists in academia, government, and industry. The program provides students with a broad background in the research methodology used in cognitive and many other areas of psychology. Students are expected to acquire a general knowledge of the research problems and practices of current cognitive psychologists in their chosen area. Current active research areas include judgment and decision making, visual perception and visual cognition, evolutionary psychology, memory, cognitive aging, and event perception. Students interested in applied psychology careers are encouraged to undertake an internship in an applied setting.

Kansas State University has had more than 50 years of experience in preparing students for positions as applied cognitive psychologists. Graduates are now working as academic faculty in both research and teaching focused institutions, government researchers, marketing research consultants, medical researchers, grant proposal specialists, and human factors analysts. As this partial listing indicates, there have been a wide variety of openings available to graduates of our program in applied cognitive psychology. (A list of recent PhD graduates’ current positions can be seen here.)

We invite applications and inquiries about our program. Please contact Dr. Heather Bailey (hbailey@ksu.edu) at the Department of Psychological Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506-5302.

Graduate students from the cognitive/human factors program are eligible to receive the Harry Helson Award. Students are selected on the basis of both scholarship and research excellence that best typifies the excellence achieved by Harry Helson, a prominent experimental psychologist who was on the faculty at Kansas State University.

Before applying, please check the research interests of our faculty on the website to ensure that someone at KSU is doing research of interest to you. We encourage you to directly contact professors whom you believe share similar research interests with you.



Deadline: 12/20 for full financial support consideration. Fee: $50.

Admission Criteria

  • GPA: 3.0 minimum, successful applicants typically have over 3.5 GPAs.
  • GRE (general test only): no minimum, but successful applicants typically have over 150 in both the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections.
  • (for foreign students): TOEFL score of at least 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 79 (IBT – internet based) are minimum requirements for consideration. Competitive applicants generally have scores above 600/250/100.
  • Undergraduate major in psychology is not essential. It is recommended that applicants have a minimum of 15 hours in psychology (including experimental methods), plus 3 hours of statistics.
  • The Cognitive/Human Factors faculty also consider applicants’ actual research experience, work experience (if relevant), letters of recommendation, coursework history, and the degree of fit between the applicants’ interests and the research areas of our current faculty.


During typical years the program will receive about 20-30 graduate applications, of which 3-4 will be accepted.

Financial Assistance

About 75-80% of admitted students receive support from the department, typically in the form of part-time assistantships. Graduate teaching assistants within the department usually receive a salary (contact us for the amount) and also receive full tuition waivers. Research assistant positions are available on-campus and typically pay significantly more, but they do not include tuition waivers. Graduate research assistants usually do received out-of-state tuition waivers.

Degree Requirements


  • A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit
    • A minimum of 22 credit hours of coursework
      • This coursework must include PSYCH 802, PSYCH 805 and PSYCH 968
    • A minimum of 6 Master’s thesis research credit (PSYCH 899)
  • Thesis
    • Oral examination of thesis ideally will be completed by the end of the third year
  • Non-thesis option: no
  • See Graduate catalog for more information


  • 60 units (beyond MS)
    • Typically 30 credit hours of coursework
      • Any coursework requirements set by the Psychology Department that were not completed as part of the Master’s Program of Study must be completed in the Doctoral Program of Study
      • This coursework requirement may be fulfilled by core courses, seminars, Teaching Apprenticeship courses or other advanced courses in or outside of the department
        • 15 credit hours should be at the 800-level or above
        • No more than 6 credit hours of 500-level courses are permitted (none of these can be from the Psychology Department)
        • A minimum of 30 dissertation research credit hours (PSYCH 999)
  • Preliminary exams
    • After earning a Master’s degree, all students must pass a preliminary examination in order to become a Doctoral candidate
  • Oral examination of dissertation
  • Research required (dissertation)


1. Students are required to take the following sequence of courses during their first three semesters:

  • Psychological Research Design and Analysis I (802)
  • Psychological Research Design and Analysis II (805)
  • Following the above two courses, one of the following courses:
  • Multivariate Analyses of Behavioral Data (961)
  • Seminar in Mathematical Models of Behavior (958)

2. All graduate students must take the Seminar in Professional Problems:

  • Seminar in Professional Problems (968)

3. In addition, all cognitive graduate students must take:

  • Perception (812)
  • Advanced Cognitive Psychology (814)
  • Physiological Psychology (803)

4. Students are also required to take at least 2 of the following 6 courses:

  • History of Current Trends (775)
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology (804)
  • Learning (810)
  • Health Psychology (816)
  • Personality Theory and Research (820)
  • Pro-Seminar in Social Psychology (830)

5. Other elective courses may be taken, in consultation with advisors. Recent examples include:

  • Core courses taken after meeting basic requirements
  • Psychology of Aging (715)
  • Judgment & Decision Making (825)
  • Seminar in Cognitive Processes (957)
  • Engineering Psychology (625)
  • Advanced statistics courses (STAT 703 / 705 / 720)
  • Seminar in Sensory Processes (952)
  • Seminar in Experimental Psychology (954)

Required courses (units)

  • Quantitative Methods (4)
  • Experimental Design (3)
  • Multivariate Measurement (3)
  • Perception (3)
  • Advanced Cognitive Psychology (3)
  • Physiological Psychology (3)
  • Seminar in Professional Problems (3)
  • Seminar in Cognitive Processing (or similar) (3)
  • and additional graduate core courses


  • Engineering Psychology (3)
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3)
  • Judgmental Processes (3)
  • Seminars in Human Factors (3)
  • Psychology of Aging (3)
  • Computer Science (3)
  • Psychology of Language (3)
  • History of Current Trends (3)
  • Health Psychology (3)
  • Personality Theory and Research (3)
  • Learning (3)
  • Pro-Seminar in Social Psychology (3)

Required courses outside department: 0. Recommended courses outside department: 2.

Research Facilities

The Psychological Sciences Department is located on the top two floors of Bluemont Hall, in the middle of the K-State campus, and includes several modern laboratory facilities, most of which are available for hands-on use by students. Resources include an electrically shielded 64-channel electroencephalograph (EEG) system, eye tracking equipment, several rooms for individual and group testing, several computer laboratories, and a media editing lab.

Teaching Opportunities

Opportunities range from assisting a faculty member in teaching a course to having sole responsibility for the preparation and teaching of their own course, depending on experience. There is also an optional Teaching Apprenticeship Program designed to give formal training and supervision in teaching at the university level.

Current Research Activities

Current research activities include projects in film and scene perception, film, pictorial, and reading comprehension, human-computer interaction, judgments and decision making, working memory, cognitive aging, metacognition, problem solving, social reasoning, statistical inference, social cognition, psycholinguistics, and mass communication.


Heather Bailey
PhD, Kent State University, 2009
(785-532-0807, hbailey@ksu.edu)
Research Interests: Memory, Aging and Cognition, Metacognition (thinking about one’s own cognitive processes), Reading Comprehension

Gary L. Brase
PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997
(785-532-0609; gbrase@ksu.edu)
Research Interests: Judgments under Uncertainty, Social Reasoning and Decision Making, Human Rationality

Lester Loschky
PhD, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, 2003
(785-532-6882, loschky@ksu.edu)
Research Interests: Film Perception and Comprehension, Scene Perception, Eye Movements and Attention, Visual Cognition, Language Comprehension, Human-Computer Interaction

Michael Young
PhD, University of Minnesota/Twin Cities, 1995
(785-532-0602, michaelyoung@ksu.edu)
Research Interests: Decision Making in Dynamic Environments, Impulsive and Risky Choices in Immersive Environments, EEG During Choice