Human Factors/Applied Cognition Concentration

This specialization trains students to apply basic research skills in the cognitive sciences to "real-world" problems. Faculty help place students who do not have real-world experience in a part- or full-time practicum before completing their degree. Practicum placements use the extensive resources of the local Washington, D.C. area.

Students in our MA program can elect to focus on either professional training or preparation for a doctoral program. Both tracks stress the analytic and empirical methodologies that are used in all phases of interactive systems design (where this is broadly defined to include any human-machine system). The power and interpretation of these techniques reside in their close ties to cognitive theory. The professional training track emphasizes coursework and practical experience; the doctoral preparation track involves students in ongoing research projects.

MA Financial Assistance

Tuition coverage and stipends are not guaranteed, but many of our MA students receive financial aid. In fact, over the past 10 years, all of our masters students have been able to find support. Some of this support comes from paid, part-time government or industry internships that extend for the duration of the program. In other cases, MA students are funded on faculty research grants or as a teaching assistant in the Psychology Department. We suggest that all MA students participate in an internship at some point, as this experience leads to greater job prospects. For more information on financial aid, click here.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for our MA graduates are very rosy. All of our graduates have been employed within 2 months of graduation. Some of our students' internships have turned into job offers so that they were employed prior to leaving the program. Our students have gone to work for both government (e.g., NIST - National Institute of Standards & Technology, FAA-Federal Aviation Administration, NTSB-National Transportation Safety Board, National Academy of Sciences) and industry (e.g., Microsoft, Intel, Yahoo, Mitre, MitreTek, Crown, American Institutes for Research, SAIC, Booz-Allen Hamilton, Verizon, Motorola, State Farm Insurance).

According to a survey of recent (2011-2013) graduates from our MA program, the median starting salary is $70,000 (n=12). This is more than double the median starting salary ($30,256) of GMU Psychology graduates with only a bachelors degree, according to to the Washington Post.

For further information contact Dr. Tyler Shaw (, director of the M.A. program. Please contact via email, as return phone calls may be delayed due to travel.