General Information

SJSU HF/E Program Overview

Application and Admission Details

Application Deadlines

Application Contents


Letter of Intent (Statement of Purpose)

Letters of Recommendation



GPA Questions

Delivery of Application

Admission "Standings"

Semester Admission

Housing - On and Off Campus

Fees and Financial Aid Details

Tuition/Program Fees

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Program/Degree Specifications

Prerequisite Courses

Program Details

Classes and Schedules

Program Duration


Assistantships, Internships, and Career Options



Career Options

STEM Certification

Is the MS-HFE program STEM certified?

Yes, the MS-HFE program is a STEM program.

General Information

Office Hours

Please email Dr. Anil Kumar to set up an appointment.

Dr. Anil Kumar HF/E Program Director, Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor


Normal Office Hours for the ISE Dept. are Mon. – Fri. 9am-5pm, closed for lunch from 12–1pm.

Location and Contact Information

The office is located in the Engineering Building, 4th Floor, Room: Engr. 485.

SJSU Main Campus Map

The Engineering Building is between 7th and 8th streets on San Fernando Street. Park in the 10th Street garage (North Garage) with the entrance on San Fernando between 10th and 9th streets. Pay to park in the automatic ticketing machine on each floor above the 2nd floor. Please see Map to the ISE Office.

The HF/E Department is located within the ISE Department office.

Please mail to:

Graduate Program in Human Factors & Ergonomics
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
San Jose State University
1 Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0085

Disclaimer: Please note that taking prerequisite courses before admission into the program or following advice in these answers does not guarantee admission to the program.

SJSU HF/E Program Overview

Why is this Human Factors & Ergonomics program under the engineering department while other universities list theirs under the psychology department?

This program is interdisciplinary (psychology, kinesiology, engineering, etc.) but housed in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department. Most HFE programs are in IE (Industrial Engineering) or Psychology.

Because IEs are firmly anchored in researching, studying, and applying Ergonomics and Human Factors in relation to promoting safety, quality, and effective human system interactions, we are proud to be within the ISE department. The systems view of the human in the loop emphasizes the reason for this field of study in ISE. However, our faculty range from different backgrounds and departments at SJSU (psychology, kinesiology, engineering, etc.), and the ISE faculty is not involved in the HFE policies or program management.

How long has this program been established?

The program has been running for more than 25 years. We have over 400 graduates.

How has the curriculum evolved to meet the demands of tech companies?

Our HFE program has added classes in HCI, Usability, Cognition and Perception, Human Factors Experiments, Experimental Design, Ethnography, and others as the needs of tech companies has changed, and they like our product. Many of our graduates are hiring managers, so they come back to their alma mater for new staffing needs. See course listings.

How are advisors, research labs, and projects/thesis chosen for students?

Dr. Kumar is the academic advisor for all of the students, and meets with each student once a semester or more often, if necessary, to plan the academic progress that fits the student’s situation best. We do not assign students to research labs; we have one lab that students may use for conducting their culminating project, which they may sign up for on their own. Students choose and define their own culminating projects, where some are work related, but the rest may just be a topic the student has an interest in exploring.

The project is done during the last two semesters, so there is plenty of time to consider topics. Dr. Kumar has been the advisor for 10 - 15 projects each semester for the past couple of years. Other faculty (Andre, Laraway, Feria, Moallem, Rosenberg, Wughalter, and Jordan) have also been advising from 1 to 5 additional projects each. More faculty information.

Is the information on the HFES website up-to-date as far as with current research?

This program is primarily oriented toward professional practice. Most students are aiming toward entering industry in professional practice as a Human Factors, UX, UI, usability or ergonomics professional. Hence their focus is on internships and applied R&D rather than research. We do have research projects ongoing within the faculty from time to time, but it is not the primary focus of the academic agenda. Hence, the information on the website may not be current.

Application and Admission Details

Application Deadlines

What is GAPE?

Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations. This is the SJSU graduate admitting office. They receive your official transcripts from your issuing institutions, match them with your on line application, and conduct the initial Graduate School evaluation of your qualifying institution, degree, and GPA. Your application must pass the GAPE review stage to proceed to the next stage, which is evaluation by the HF/E admissions committee.

After you are admitted and begin the program, GAPE monitors your progress through the program and finally certifies that you have completed the degree requirements so that your degree can be awarded.

When is the application start date for Fall intake? If I do not make the cut off for the Fall semester, can I apply for the Spring semester?

The on-line application window is from Oct. 1st to Feb. 1st. Documents must be received by Feb 20th. 

We do NOT offer Spring admissions.

How soon after March 1st are decisions made? 

The HF/E program review is based on both portions of the application package. So the sooner GAPE can complete its review of its portion and forward its portion of the package to the program, the sooner the program can start the review process.

The HFE Department plans to notify applicants between early March and late April, depending on when GAPE forwards its portion of the package for program review.

Application Content

Where do I send my official transcript?

Have the registrar at the issuing institution(s) mail the official (sealed) transcript(s) to GAPE. Be sure and direct them to use the full extended GAPE zip code: 95192-0017. All transcripts pertaining to all degrees listed on your application must be received before GAPE can consider your application complete and ready for review.

How do I confirm my status as a CA resident before applying?

Please contact GAPE for further information about your status as an applicant.

How do I apply as an International Student? What are the requirements?

Information about international applications can be found on the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE) website. Follow the instructions for international applicants. You will need to submit a current TOEFL score. See the GAPE website for information for international applicants. Also, International Students will need to submit a Financial Statement as part of the application package due by March 1st.

International applicants are required to provide a bank statement showing sufficient resources to fund their educational goals. How much money would you suggest for me to have in my bank account (and how long prior to admission) to confirm my admission? Also, are any other financial documents required?

There is information on the International and Extended Studies webpage about requirements for International Student applications, including the Financial Statement required. Please see the Bursar’s website. Look in the Non-Resident category. Fees are "by the unit" for non-residents. A full time International Student minimum class load is 9 units (3 classes) per semester.

The Bursar’s fee table for International Students. Look at the bottom right corner for the semester total fee for graduate students taking 6.1 or more units (International Students must be full time–taking 9 or more credits per semester, see maintaining F-1 visa Status until they are in their final semesters when a waiver from full time enrollment can be granted. More visa information.

Is there any help for International Students regarding the filing of a student visa?

We do provide I-20 processing for International Students once you have been admitted. See more I-20 information.


What type of Bachelor’s degree is required?

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from recognized accredited institutions are both accepted.

Since the program is very involved with engineering and the sciences, what experiences do you expect from competitive applicants without an engineering degree?

We do not expect experience or degrees in engineering. In fact, only a few students have an engineering background. Most are from BS or BA programs in Psychology, Design, Computer Science, or a field of Business.

I have a bachelor’s degree from India. Am I eligible for the program?

This program will only admit applicants with 4 year Bachelors or 3 year Bachelors with an additional one or 2 years of academic study that has resulted in a Certificate or Master’s.

What should the letter of intent include? 

Contents should be as follows:

  1. Why you selected this degree program for your next academic agenda
  2. How this degree ties into your future career goals
  3. Relevant past experiences to help application reviewers understand your rationale for applying to this program

Letters of Recommendation

 Where do I submit my letters of recommendation? Can I send them by snail mail? 

The letter of intent, letters of recommendation, resume, and portfolio (optional) needs to be submitted with the online application. Do not send any of these documents to the department.

Do all letters of recommendation need to be from faculty, or is it acceptable to have one or more from a former employer or supervisor?

At least one letter should be from a faculty member, if possible. If not, then ask people who can best speak to your preparedness for this area of study and practice, as well as any who have supervised you in a professional setting in the past.


The website says the GRE is not required, but is it preferred?

The HF/E Admissions Committee does not require the GRE and usually does not receive them from any applicants. Scores do not help with the application process.


Am I allowed to submit my unofficial transcripts to GAPE?

No. The GAPE requirement is for Official Transcripts. They must be received by GAPE in sealed envelopes from the issuing university registrar. Usually, the issuing institution will send them directly to GAPE for you if requested and if the GAPE mailing address is provided by you for that purpose.

What is the best way to send in my transcripts? 

Your transcripts should be sent to GAPE at the zip code: 95192-0017 by the Registrar from the issuing school/s. Instructions for admissions and directing transcripts to GAPE.

Should I provide transcripts for classes taken before college and/or during college summers at a community college in the education section of the application?

The HFE Department requires transcripts for any and all classes taken after high school that have been counted towards your Bachelor’s degree. The same is also required for any and all colleges you attended for classes counted towards your Bachelor’s degree.

Can my transcripts be sent to SJSU before I submit my application?

It is not recommended to send the transcripts before completing the online application. When you submit the online application, an SJSU student ID number is assigned to you. This number needs to be used on your transcripts as well when they are matched to your application. All transcripts are scanned, so the SJSU ID number is an important part to have available for that procedure.

If your transcripts arrive before you have completed the on line application, then your transcript processing in GAPE is slowed when GAPE is trying to recognize that your package is complete and ready for GAPE review.

If I have taken post-graduate classes, or have a previous post graduate degree, can I submit transcripts for them?

Yes, if you have post graduate classes taken at an accredited institution, you may submit them to be included in your application package.

If I send my degree transcripts now, would you be able to confirm admission for me at this time?

Please refer to the Admissions information for graduate students for deadlines related to applications (one for the online application, one for the receipt of all required documents). We accept on a batch admission process with no individual decisions made. For more details, please see the Application Deadlines section.

GPA Questions

What is the minimum GPA required for admission?

SJSU requires a minimum undergraduate GPA in the last 60 semester units (last 2 years) of the Bachelor’s degree program to be above 2.5 on a 4.0 point scale.

What if I have taken classes after I graduated, can they count? 

Yes. The GPA is calculated on the last 60 semester units taken. So if you submit transcripts for post graduate work, those grades will be used to calculate your GPA qualification for admission.

Is the HF/E GPA requirement higher than the University’s?

The University allows graduate programs to set their own minimum GPA for admission to their program. The HF/E program generally prefers students with GPA’s at 3.0 or above. In the past several years, the average GPA of the groups of admitted students was in the range of 3.3-3.4. In exceptional cases, the faculty has approved admission of an applicant with a GPA below 3.0.

Delivery of Application

Where and how should the application packet be submitted?

The application package is composed of 2 parts:

1. The GAPE portion, which GAPE receives and assembles for its qualification review, includes your on line application and your official transcripts.

2. The HF/E program portion consists of the GAPE portion plus 3 letters of recommendation, your statement of purpose, and your portfolio (if submitted for review).

All documents need to be submitted online through Cal State Apply.

Admission "Standings"

What is the difference between "Classified" and "Conditionally Classified" standing?

Both are "admitted" statuses and allow you to take classes as a matriculated student.

Conditionally Classified standing means:

  • Applicant has been admitted with certain "conditions"
  • Conditions could include completing prerequisites (see Prerequisite Courses section) or providing a final semester’s transcript or showing proof of graduation
  • Conditional standing will be changed to Classified standing once these items are completed. This is done by submitting a form to GAPE called the Change of Classification in Master’s Program.

Classified standing means:

  • Student has met all conditions (completed all assigned pre-requisites)
  • Student is eligible to process toward graduation when all degree requirements have been met.

Semester Admission

Would it be possible to take 1-2 classes beginning in Spring or must I wait until fall?

You may be able to enroll through Open University in classes. But in order to enroll in this manner, you have to attend class on the first day to obtain the instructor’s permission. Up to 6 Open University credits (2 Open University classes) can be counted towards your degree.

Disclaimer: please note that taking prerequisites before admission into the program or following the advice in these answers does not guarantee admission to the program. See more about Open University.

Can I enroll for the next Fall session with this year’s admission?

We do not allow deferrals; admission cannot be used to enroll for the following year.

What is the current acceptance rate for students applying to the HF/E program at SJSU?

The average over the last two years has been 45% with 35 – 40 students per year accepted into the program.

Housing - On and Off Campus

 Are there any facilities available for housing and what are the costs?

All of the information pertaining to housing.

Fees and Financial Aid Details

Tuition/Program Fees

What is the total program fee? Where can I find tuition costs?

Tuition details and information about fees can be found on the Bursar’s website. You can start to explore. This page has the fees schedule for the Fall semester (there are 2 semesters each year).

You will need to calculate based on 2 semesters per year and 6 - 9 units per semester, for about 2 - 2.5 years. We typically do not offer summer classes.

Where can I find fees for non-California residents?

Non-California Resident Students: Pay the amount in the table. For information on residency rules and regulations, visit Office of the Registrar Residency. Please note that international students may have separate or additional fees. Please see the International Students section for more details.

The Bursar’s fee table for International Students. Look at the bottom right corner for the semester total fee for graduate students taking 6.1 or more units (International Students must be full time–taking 9 or more credits per semester, see maintaining F-1 visa Status until they are in their final semesters when a waiver from full time enrollment can be granted. More visa information.

Financial Aid/Scholarships

Do you provide any kind of financial assistance via assistantships or any scholarships for this program?

There is no financial assistance available for students from within this program. However, a number of financial assistance programs are available through the University. You can contact the Financial Aid Office for further information. Please see the Financial Aid link on the Bursar’s website for available funding options.

Most students work locally, in HCI, User Experience (UX) or usability related internships on a half time or full time basis, while taking courses at SJSU. International Students are eligible for the CPT program (Curricular Practical Training) after one year of full time study which allows them to work as interns while completing their studies. See more about CPT.

Please refer to the Assistantships/ Internships section for more information. Please see the International Students section for more details. Funded internships are widely available in the area and most students take advantage of these opportunities while taking courses in the HF/E program.

Program/Degree Specifications

Prerequisite Courses

Are there any prerequisite courses?

Yes, 3 classes are required. Their SJSU course numbers are listed below in parenthesis:1. Statistics (equivalent to STAT 115)2. Cognition (equivalent to Psych 135)3. Perception (equivalent to Psych 158)

All must be taken for credit and must be recorded on your transcripts with a final grade of B or better. SJSU does not offer these courses online. Online equivalents may be taken, however. Write to Dr. Kumar for a current list of approved online equivalents. Or, find a possible equivalent and provide a syllabus for the class to Dr. Kumar for approval BEFORE enrolling. Students are required to earn a "B" or above in each pre-requisite class.

Are there online prerequisite courses that are approved?

Yes. All must be taken for credit and must be recorded on your transcripts with a final grade of B or better.

If you find other online or on campus courses that you would like to consider, please provide us a syllabus before registering so that we can confirm that the alternative meets the department’s requirements.

Do prerequisites need to be taken prior to admission to the program?

No, prerequisites can be taken during the first two semesters on campus following admission, along with selected core courses in the curriculum. However, you can start taking classes through Open University on a space available basis. You may also take approved equivalents off campus or online. They must be taken for a letter grade and must be approved prior to your registration for the class. Note: Taking prerequisites before admission into the program does not guarantee admission to the program.

Do I have to take the prerequisite courses at SJSU?

Prerequisite courses can be taken at SJSU with some of the other classes in the program, once you start. If you are considering taking them at another university, please contact Dr. Kumar (anil.kumar@sjsu.edu) before enrolling so he can approve the courses.Disclaimer: please note that taking prerequisites before admission into the program or following the advice in these answers does not guarantee admission to the program.

Are the prerequisite courses offered at a community college so they can be transferred?

Since all of the courses are upper division, you will not find equivalent courses at a community college. Please note that taking prerequisites before admission into the program or following the advice in these answers does not guarantee admission to the program.

Program Details

Some Core and Elective courses in the HF/E program list their own pre-requisites. Am I expected to take those cores specific pre-requisite classes before taking the Core and Elective courses themselves?

No. For graduate classes, prerequisites may be waived by the course instructor. Most instructors do waive them for HF/E students, since often listed pre-requisites for HF/E Core and Elective classes are there for majors in the offering department (to assure proper sequencing for the department’s majors). Occasionally pre-requisites for a course are there for required content. Check with the course instructor (or Dr. Kumar)if you are unsure.

HF/E core classes do not require any prerequisites other than the three HF/E program prerequisites, STAT 115, Psych 135, and Psych 158, which may be taken concurrently with some HF/E core classes (see Prerequisite Courses section). Scheduled advisement sessions will address your concerns after admission and prior to registration on these matters.

Are all of the core courses required or can they be switched for other courses? 

All of the core classes (or approved equivalents) are required for every student. There are three electives within this program. Since this is a Master’s Degree program, the core classes have been chosen to cover a breadth of material.

Does this program offer a specialization in Human Computer Interaction?

This program has many students aiming toward professional practice in HCI. Many find internships or jobs in HCI related fields, while also studying for their degree and even choose this area for their culminating project. There are several courses in the elective group to help prepare students for working in HCI jobs, but there is only one degree: MS in Human Factors & Ergonomics, with no "tag" line on it as to area of specialization.

Does this program also offer the education for UX design and interaction design? 

This program does provide insight on User Experience (UX) design and interaction design, and many of our students are focusing on careers in that direction.

Classes and Schedules

How are the class schedules structured throughout the program?

Are they always the same days and times to accommodate working professionals, so that we can still be able to attend classes?Generally, classes meet from 5:30 or 6:00 pm to 8:45 pm once per week. At least 2 required classes (Dr. Andre’s: ISE 290, Psych 273) meet at 3:00-5:45 pm in the afternoon once a week (one on Tuesdays and one on Thursdays). If necessary, students typically make an arrangement with their supervisors so they can attend class at that time. Some elective courses meet in the mornings or afternoons (around 3:00 pm), so students may choose electives based on their scheduling limitations.The curriculum is designed so students may work and attend class, with a few late afternoon courses and/or evening classes. Most classes are only offered once a year, in the spring or fall semester.

What is the class size or number of students in your program?

Class sizes are about 25 to 35 students. There are about 85 students in the program.

What is the perspective in which the courses will be taught? 

Professors teach to educate the students with respect to the subject matter of the class. However, about 80% of the students in this program focus on HCI (Human Computer Interaction), so generally, class discussions and class projects tend to lean in that direction.

Are there online courses available for this program?

No, there are no courses offered online. There are three prerequisite classes (Statistics, Cognition, and Perception) that have equivalents available online. Please see Prerequisite Courses section for more details.

Program Duration

What is the duration of the program? 

Most students complete the program in 2 to 2 ½ years.

How many units per semester are normally advised to take to make sure I can complete the program in 2 to 2 ½ years?

Each course is 3 units, and a full time graduate student load is usually considered to be 9 units (where international students must take 9 units, per semester, to keep their F-1 Visa status; see IPS page for more details. A course load that would meet the 2 – 2.5 year program completion timeline is about 6 units per semester. Typically, students attend school part to full time and work off campus to gain experience in the field while they are in the program.

Work experience differs for international students who must wait for 1 year before using the CPT program to work off campus, but many do that. Please see the International Students section for more details.

What is the minimum time frame to graduate?

In general, the minimum period would be three semesters, presuming that you have completed all prerequisites before starting. You can take these before arriving, or plan to take them during your first two semesters at SJSU. You can take some of the graduate courses concurrently with the prerequisites. Please see the Prerequisite Courses sections for details on these courses at SJSU and online.

We do not encourage the minimum period as a target. Students should avail themselves of the internship opportunities to gain experience, even if it will take an extra semester or two to graduate.


Does this program offer a certificate or a degree?

This program offers a degree: MS in Human Factors & Ergonomics. It is awarded upon completion of the 30 credit program.

I am interested in obtaining my Master’s in Human Factors with an emphasis in either Cognitive Psychology or Human-Computer Interaction. Do I need to specify just one?

Although the emphasis areas are listed, we do not require that students choose one, nor do we manage the electives or project to any specific emphasis area. Students are free to choose electives across emphasis areas if they prefer to do that.

Assistantships, Internships, and Career Options


Are there any assistantship opportunities available to International students?

International Students may work on campus only for the first year, then after 1 year on an F1 visa, click here for more information. They are eligible to work off campus through the CPT program for 2 semesters and a summer. Click here for more information. We do not have funded on-campus assistantships or research positions for our grad students, so you should plan on personally provided funding for the first year, at least.

I am interested in the connection to the NASA Ames research facility; are their internships fairly competitive?

Yes, they are fairly competitive.

What does a typical NASA assistantship look like?

These are typically 20 hour per week appointments working under the direction of a project manager at NASA in Mountain View. Several students are working there now full time after having had intern positions as students. We do not generally have research assistantships for HF/E students.

Would I have the opportunity to work in student research assistantships at NASA Ames?

The person to contact regarding this is Dr. Sean Laraway at sean.laraway@sjsu.edu . He is a faculty member in Psychology at SJSU and is associated with the program that funds student interns. Note: Funded internships are widely available in the area and most students take advantage of these opportunities while taking courses in the HF/E program. Please see below for a list of companies.


Are students expected to do internships? 

Internships are not required for the degree program. However, the area is renowned for its multitudes of companies doing software and systems design and development work, and the field of human factors has been gaining rapid recognition in the UX and UI fields. Students are encouraged to find and take advantage of internships, although they may slow their academic studies to a 2 year plan, they are gaining on the job experience while completing their studies.

How do we go about finding internships?

Students must find internships on their own, although we do post them on the student Yahoo groups site when they arrive. Also, students who are in internships or full-time positions often post them directly when they learn that their company is opening another one. With 80+ students in the program, and around 200 graduates in the area, we are hearing about internships fairly regularly, finding them is not as big a problem as you might think. Please see below for a list of companies.

Are there opportunities to work directly with companies?

Yes, this is how most students arrange things. They take an internship in a local company and take classes part time. In this way, they complete the program in 2 years or so, but gain experience while they are doing so. Internships are generally announced through a student Yahoo Group site. A list of companies for potential internships and job opportunities is below:

Partial list of local companies writing to seek SJSU HF/E students to apply for Internship and full time positions in the past 18 months:

  • Adchemy
  • Apple
  • AT&T Foundry
  • Cisco
  • Citrix Online
  • Disney Interactive Media
  • Dell/Wyse
  • eBay
  • EchoUser
  • Electronic Arts
  • Ellie Mae
  • EORM
  • Fluidgm
  • GE San Ramon
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Heart Flow
  • Humantech
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Immersion Corporation
  • Intel
  • Interface-Analysis
  • Intuit/Demand Force
  • McAfee
  • Mahindra-AmpHere
  • Model N
  • NASA
  • Ooyala.com
  • Oracle
  • Outsource Consulting Svcs
  • Panasonic Labs
  • Plantronics
  • Randstad Technologies
  • Realtor.com
  • Riot Games
  • Roku, Inc.
  • Samsung Research America
  • SAE- Palo Alto
  • Seagate
  • St. Jude Medical
  • Symantec
  • Systems Teaching Institute (NASA)
  • Trend Micro
  • Trulia
  • Udacity.com
  • UE Group
  • UserTesting.com
  • Verisign (Symantec)
  • VMware
  • Walmart Global ecommerce

Career Options

What are the main job titles for someone who is getting or who has their MS in HFE?

Generally, the job titles are within the UX/UI area, so titles like User Experience Researcher, User Experience Designer, UI Architect, UX Engineer, etc. We also have Ergonomists, or Usability Engineers.

What is the scope of my career after pursuing Master’s in ergonomics?

This is a Master’s in Human Factors & Ergonomics. Your career options may span physical workplace design and assessment, injury prevention and mitigation, employee safety and health, HCI, UX, usability, and many fields depending on your interests. You may want to check on the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society website for information about career paths.