Program Overview

Program Overview


The goals of the M.S. Training Program in Human Factors / Ergonomics (HFE) are to provide an adequate foundation and practical experience in human biology, performance, and biomechanics so that a successful graduate can become a competent resource for ergonomics issues within a company or agency, or develop an ergonomics consultation practice, or progress on to a Ph.D. training program.

Application to the HFE Program is through either:


  • Applicants must meet the entrance requirements of the Department to which they are applying

  • All students are enrolled full-time and the M.S. degree takes 2 years to complete

  • In consultation with the Program Director, Dr. Harris, Students prepare a curriculum that meets their needs based on their academic background and the requirements of their Department

  • In addition to meeting the graduation requirements for the Department from which they are graduating, students must also complete additional courses required of the Ergonomics Training Program (see table below)

  • All Master’s students must also complete an original research project or a capstone project 

Core Courses

There are 12 Human Factors / Ergonomics (HFE) Core Courses (34 semester credits or 102 Semester Hours) that need to be taken to receive the HFE Emphasis (Table 1). Although most of the classes are offered in person on the UC Berkeley Campus, some are provided online, allowing some flexibility for other course requirements that are required by degree.

Table 1. Human Factors & Ergonomics Program 

CORE HFE CURRICULUM (additional coursework to degree requirements) 

PH 269C Occupational Biomechanics (4 units)
PH 269D Ergonomics Seminar (3 units) 
PH 145/245 Statistical Analysis of Continous Outcome Data (3 units) 
IEOR 170 Human Factors in Design (3 units) ^b
PH 285A Injury Prevention & Control (2 units) 
PH 299 CITI Certification & TRT Ethics in Research Training (2 units) 
PH 298a Occupational Safety & Health (2 units) ^a
PH/MECH ENG 298b Clinical Ergonomics (1 unit) 
PH/MECH ENG 298c Field Ergonomics (1 unit) 
PH/MECH ENG 298d Online Ergo 150 Macroergonomics (3 units) (Summer) 
PH/MECH ENG 298e Online Ergo 130 Cognitive Human Factors & Ergonomics (3 units) (Winter) 
PH/MECH ENG 297/299 Summer Research or Practical Internship in HFE (3 units) ^b
PH/ENG 299 Independent Research (4-12 units) 


Physical Capacity 
IB 132 Survey of Human Physiology (4 units) 
IB 131 General Human Anatomy (3 units) 
IB 123AL Exercise Physiology with Lab (5 units) 
IB 127 Motor Control and Lab (3 units) 
Cognitive Capacity 
Psych 120A Coginitve Psychology (3 units) 
Psych 120B Cognitive Science (3 units) 
IEOR 171 Org Leadership (2 units) 
Psych 110 Biological Psychology (3 units) 
Data Management/Analysis/Design 
Math 98: Basic Programming with MATLAB (3 units) or ENGIN 177 Adv. Programming with MATLAB (3 units) 
MECH ENG 290D Solid Modeling and CAD/CAM Fundamentals (3 units) 
DATASCI W207 Applied Machine Learning (3 units) or STAT 154 Modern Statistical Prediction & Machine Learning 
The student and the Program Director review other elective choices.
All degrees require a capstone or thesis project that is developed with the student. 
a - Interdisciplinary classes taken with Industrial Hygiene Students, Occupational & Environmental Medicine Residents, Occupational & Environmental Health Nurses and/or Agricultural Safety & Health Students
b - Student Project used as one of the three required samples of work for the CPE certification 

Sample Curricular Plan

Typical 2-year Master’s degree curricular plans are shown in Table 2. The HFE core coursework is the same for all students regardless of whether they are receiving an MPH or MS in engineering; however, other course requirements for their respective degrees are shown for the MPH (yellow) and the Master of Science in Engineering pathways (blue). Since the engineering courses are cross-listed across departments, the curricular plan below provides a reasonable example of the courses that would be taken for students working towards an MPH or MS in Engineering.




PH 269D Ergonomics Seminar (3 units)
PH 269C Occupational Biomechanics (4 units) 
PH 145 or 245 Statistical Analysis of Continuous Outcome Data (4 units)
PH 298B Clinical Ergonomics (1 unit) 
CITI Training - Ethics in Research 
IEOR 170 Human Factors in Design (3 units) 
PH/MEC ENG 299 Independent Research (1 unit) 
*Recommended Course (3 units) 
* Recommended Course (3 units) 
PH 270A Exposure Assessment (3 units) 
PH 220C Health Risk Assessment (4 units) 
ME C210 Adv. Orthopedic Biomechanics (4 units) 
MEC ENG 221 Intro Lean Manufacturing (3 units) 


PH 298 Occupational Safety & Health (2 units) 
PH/MEC ENG 229 Independent Research (3 units) 
PH/ MEC ENG 299 Independent Research (3 units) 
PH 254 Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology (3 units) 
PH 285A Injury Prevention Control (2 units) 
PH 298c Field Ergonomics (1 unit) 
AND (Public Health Students) 
PH W220/130 Advanced Health Policy (3 units) 
Online Ergo 130 Cognitive HFE (3 units) 
PH 250B Epidemiology (4 units) 
PH 292 EHS MS Seminar (1 unit) 
PH 292 EHS MS Seminar (1 unit) 
Summer Skills Lab 
OR (Engineering Students) 
MEC ENG C278 Designing for the Human Body (4 units) 
ENGIN 290P Project Management (2 units) 
ENGIN 290C Sustainable Manufacturing (3 units) 
MEC ENG 229 Design of Electro- Mechanical Devices (3 units)                  


The program is administered similarly to the masters program. The Ergonomics PhD program is designed for students interested in a career in academia, government agencies or industry performing original research and possibly teaching. The program is small, with one to five doctoral students at any time. Students in the doctoral training program normally complete course work in two years and submit a dissertation on a research project in a total of five years. 

Application to the Doctoral Program is through one of the following departments:

  • Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health (UCB)

  • Bioengineering Graduate Program (Joint program UCSF/UCB)

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering (UCB)

If entering with a baccalaureate degree:

    • Your academic  program includes 1 major field of study and 2 minor fields

    • Approximately 16 semester units of predominantly graduate level course work in the major field 

    • Minimum 8 units of upper division and graduate courses in each of the minors (exclusive of seminars and research)

    • There are no formal unit requirements, however

If entering with a master's degree

    • Your academic program includes 1 major and 1 minor field of study

      • At least 14 semester units of graduate level course work in the major area

      • 9 units of upper division or graduate coursework in the minor area (exclusive of seminars and research) 

The PhD student curriculum is initially similar to that of the Master’s students (see above); however, students have additional requirements each semester that include doctoral seminars and additional research units (PH 299).Table 3 lists the additional courses for PhD students to take given their degree in Public Health (yellow) or Engineering (blue).The student background and degree programs differ so the exact curricula is developed with the consent of the within degree program advisor and HFE Research Advisor (Dr. Harris).



PH/MEC ENG 299 Independent Research (6-12 units)
PH/MEC ENG 299 Independent Research (6-12 units) 
AND (Public Health Students) 
PH 293 EHS PhD Seminar (1 unit) 
PH 293 EHS PhD Seminar (1 unit) 
PH 242C Longitudinal Data Analysis (3 units) 
PB 241 Statistical Analysis of Categorical Data (3 units) 
PH 201F Community Based Research & Interventions to Promote Health (3 units) 
PH 252D Introduction to Causal Inference (3 units)                     
PH 220/220D Health Policy Decision Making.Advocacy (3 units) 
PH 205 Program Planning & Needs Assessment (4 units)
OR (Engineering Students) 
BIO ENG C290D Adv Technical Communication: Proposals, Patents and Presentations (3 units)
MEC ENG C215 Adv Structural Aspects of Biomaterials (4 units)                                                             
BIO ENG C106A Introduction to Robotics (4 units) 
BIO ENG C106B Robotics Manipulation & Interaction (4 units) 
BIO 203 Tissue Engineering Lab (4 units) 
BIO ENG C214 Advanced Tissue Mechanics (3 units) 

The Dissertation

The details of each PhD student's dissertation focus is determined by the doctoral student  in consultation with his/her Graduate Advisor. ​Students are encouraged to select topics which are a component of, or parallel to, currently funded studies. Research areas have focused on understanding pathophysiologic mechanisms of musculoskeletal disorders, developing new methods of measuring musculoskeletal tissue loads and effects associated with external loading (e.g., muscle fatigue, tissue oxygenation, tissue pressure, electromyography), epidemiologic methods and upper extremity disorders and ergonomics intervention research. Students can also develop their own research projects. 


We offer a variety of internships throughout the year.  OHIP internships are for bachelor and masters students interested in construction related research and fieldwork.  Other grant related internships are available throughout the year, some are paid and some are for class credit.

Commitments as a COEH Trainee

COEH Trainees are expected to participate fully in their home program and are also invited to engage in COEH activities.

Trainees accepted to their respective academic program are encouraged to complete the following after discussing the requirements with the Program Director:

  • Take required coursework specific to Human Factors and Ergonomics Specialization (discuss with your Program Director)

  • Commit to Interdisciplinary Education opportunities by:

    • Attending Annual Symposia

    • Taking or auditing Interdisciplinary Courses, as appropriate

    • Attending TRT Seminars, as appropriate

    • Engage in Field Visit opportunities

  • Engage in one or more scholarly research activities and consider presenting and/or publishing your work
  • Contribute at least 2 hours of service/outreach related activity (presentations, projects, outreach in the community)
  • Read COEH communications(emails) and respond when appropriate
  • In addition, COEH Trainees need to acknowledge our support from NIOSH in all current and future publications, journal articles, conference proceedings that are a result of work performed during your time as a Graduate Student. The acknowledgment should use the following language:

“This publication (journal article, etc.) was supported by the Training Grant, T42OH008429, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."