MS in Human Factors Engineering - Thesis Option

Applicants are admitted to this program on the basis of their educational qualifications. It is expected that applicants to the Human Factors program will have an acceptable BS in engineering or science. Relevant course work and research experience may be considered for non-engineering students. It is strongly recommended that the prospective student identify and contact the potential thesis advisor before applying to the program. For further details please contact your advisor. 


Candidates are required to complete the equivalent of ten (10) courses to graduate from this program. Full-time MS candidates generally complete their degree requirements in two academic years.

1. Human Factors Core (1 course, 3 credits):

  • ENP 0162 Human Machine Systems Design

2. Design Core (choose 1 course, 3 credits):

  • ME 0140 Inventive Design
  • ENP 0193 Designing Physical Solutions for People in Need

3. Probability and Statistics (1 course, 3 credits):

  • ENP 0164 Behavioral Statistics for Engineering

4. Analytical Methods (choose 1 course, 3 credits):

  • ENP 0163 Analytical Methods in Human Factors

5. Human Computer Interaction (choose 1 course, 3 credits):

  • ENP 0166 Computer Interface Design
  • CS 0171 Human Computer Interaction
  • CS 0175 Computer Graphics
  • CS 0177 Visualization

6. General Electives (6 or 9 credits)

Six or nine additional technical credits should be selected from any graduate course (100 or above) in ENP, ME, EM, CS, PSY, or OTS, or any graduate course (100 or above) that is also a requirement for an HFE certificate.

7. Seminar (no credit):

  • ME 291 ME Graduate Seminar (fall semester)
  • ME 292 ME Graduate Seminar (spring semester)

Regular attendance at weekly seminar series (ME 291) is an integral part of full-time graduate studies. The seminars, held on Thursday mornings, feature speakers from both inside and outside of Tufts. The seminars provide students and faculty with an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in human factors engineering and mechanical engineering research and practice.

All full-time human factors engineering graduate students are required to complete the ME Seminar course every semester. Passing the seminar requires attending at least 80% of the meetings in the semester. Students who pass the seminar will receive an "S" on their transcript; students who fail the seminar will receive a "U" on their transcript. Multiple unsatisfactory grades may impact academic standing in the graduate program. Please see the graduate handbook for more information.

8. Thesis (6 or 9 credits):

  • ENP 295 MS Thesis (fall semester)
  • ENP 296 MS Thesis (spring semester)

Preparation of a thesis representing an independent research work is a pivotal phase of the M.S. degree program. It provides the student with an opportunity to work on an open-ended problem, developing a particular solution that is not pre-determined and involving synthesis of knowledge and intellectual creativity. The thesis may involve an investigation that is fundamental in nature, or may be applied, incorporating theory, experimental testing or analytical modeling, and/or creative design. Through the thesis, candidates are expected to give evidence of competence in research and a sound understanding of the area of specialization involved. Students are also strongly encouraged to present their research at scientific conferences and publish the results of their thesis research in a peer-reviewed journal.

Students receive a grade of Y (incomplete) in these courses as long as the thesis in progress. Eventual thesis grades replace the incomplete grades upon formal completion of the thesis. In order to receive a grade of Y for ENP 295/296, students must submit a thesis prospectus that outlines the area of work, thesis goals, proposed approach and a review of relevant past work in the literature before the end of the first semester in which the student enrolls in ENP 295/296, typically the third semester of full-time study. An example of a recent M.S. thesis prospectus can be found in the Mechanical Engineering office.

The examining committee for master's candidates completing theses should be composed of three (3) members. The committee chair is normally a full-time, tenure-track faculty member. One committee member must be from outside the student's department. Thesis normally counts as 9 SHUs towards the M.S. degree requirements. However, a student, with the approval of his/her thesis advisor, has the option to complete a 6-SHU thesis by submitting a petition form to the Department. This petition must be signed by the student and the thesis advisor and will become part of the student's academic record. With a 6-SHU thesis, a student must complete an extra graduate-level course (for a total of 8 courses) to fulfill the 30-SHU requirement for graduation. This option is not typically available to those intending to pursue a Ph.D. degree. The thesis examination committee is composed of at least three members:

  • Thesis advisor
  • One technical expert outside of the Department
  • A third member of the committee, often another faculty member in the Department

Degree Completion

The MS thesis is completed upon:

  • A successful oral defense (open to the community)
  • Submittal of an approved thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies

The thesis examination committee is composed of at least three members:

  • Thesis advisor
  • One technical expert outside of the Department
  • A third member of the committee, often another faculty member in the Department

The student should consult the Graduate Student Handbook for specific dates and deadlines for this process in the graduation semester.

Degree completion and recommendation for the award of the appropriate degree involves a coordinated set of steps within and outside of the Department. In order to ensure completion of all the program requirements, a degree candidate should complete the MS Tracking Form. Special Note: As students complete the steps listed below, they should pay careful attention to the deadlines set by the Office of Graduate Studies for submitting a thesis and other degree related work to complete degree requirements in time for August, February or May degrees.

Step 1: Filing the Master's Degree Sheet

  • The first step in the process is filing the Master's Degree Sheet and submitting the Graduate Exit Survey.
  • The student fills out the degree sheet and the Graduate Exit Survey and obtains approval from their academic advisor, and submits it to the Department Chair for approval.
  • The Department then sends the approved form to Student Services for processing and retains a copy as part of the student's record.
  • Upon receiving of this form, Student Services places the student on the "Graduate Degree Listing" for the next degree awarding cycle (February, May, or August).
  • Specific due dates for these forms are provided in the Graduate School handbook for the graduation year.

Step 2: Scheduling and defending the thesis

The thesis defense is a public presentation open to the entire community. In order to provide adequate time for publicizing this event, the student must inform the department of the impending defense in advance. The student, in consultation with their thesis advisor, is responsible for selecting:

  • Thesis defense date
  • Thesis committee
  • Required room reservation.

Ask the department office staff for assistance. A minimum of ONE WEEK before the defense, the graduating student must provide the department with the following information electronically (via email to Pat Fennessy):

  • Student's Name
  • MS Thesis Title
  • Date, Time, and Place of Thesis Defense
  • Committee Members and Affiliations including identification of thesis advisor(s)
  • 100-200 word Abstract

In the interest of public presentation, this requirement is strictly enforced and no exception is granted.

Step 3: Finalizing the thesis

In accordance with the examining committee's recommendations, the thesis in its final form is submitted electronically along with the appropriate paperwork as per Graduate Student Handbook. The handbook also provides a detailed description of the thesis format and requirements.

Degree Continuation

  • ENP 401-PT Part MS Time Continuation
  • ENP 402-FT Full MS Time Continuation

Students whose research requires work beyond the semesters in which they are registered for MS thesis must register for continuation. A student must be enrolled at Tufts for every semester during the academic year until graduation; otherwise he/she will be administratively withdrawn from the University. A per semester continuation fee is assessed to students who require additional time over the expected completion period - two years for full-time masters programs. Tuition scholarship CANNOT be applied to this fee. An exception to this rule is when a student is granted a leave of absence. International students must have full-time status at all times. International students cannot take a leave of absence and remain in the United States.