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Ph.D. Programs

Ph.D. Programs

The Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering has a reputation as one of the top ISE Ph.D. programs in the world. This reputation stems from the cutting edge research conducted here by the collaboration of a strong and experienced faculty with the top graduate students in the field. Doctoral students in ISE experience rigorous academic study requiring independent investigation that results in original scholarly work of the highest quality. Graduates are well prepared for positions in both academia and the private or public sector.

Prospective Ph.D. students should have a strong academic background that is commensurate with their desired field of study within the department. Students will need to select one of the Ph.D. concentrations listed below.

Common requirements for concentrations

The following apply to all concentrations:

  • All Ph.D. students must complete a minimum of 36 graded course hours, including 24 graded ISE course hours post BS, and not including ISE 5024 and ENGE 5304. 
  • Total required credits, including research credits (ISE 7994), must equal 90. 
  • All required courses in a concentration must be taken for a grade (i.e., A‑F), unless only offered as P/F. 
  • Courses not listed as pre-approved electives in a concentration may be taken, or substitutions for required concentration courses made, pending approval of the student’s Ph.D. advisory committee.

For detailed information about the curriculum in each of these concentrations, please see the ISE Graduate Manual.

Cognitive engineering is a multidisciplinary endeavor concerned with the analysis, design, and evaluation of complex systems of people and technology.  This field of study embraces knowledge from human factors, psychology/cognitive science, human-computer interaction, and systems engineering.  This concentration provides interdisciplinary training and exposure to the major approaches, methods, and tools to understand the capabilities and limitations of human cognition and their impact on interactive systems design.  The concentration also covers design techniques for developing technology in sociotechnical systems.  The course work builds the foundation for impactful dissertation research in the areas of cognitive engineering analysis, human performance and measurement, human-computer systems and human-systems integration.

Faculty affiliated with Cognitive Engineering include:

Human factors engineering plays a central role in the design and operation of many systems which involve humans as consumers, operators, controllers, passengers, and/or monitors. Inadequate or even suboptimal design can lead to market failure, product recall, system ineffectiveness and errors, rapid obsolescence, safety issues and hazards, and lack of viability as a consumer product or other human interface. To perform design, development, and evaluation of these systems, the ergonomist must gain proficiency in human visual and auditory processing and display design, cognitive ergonomics, usability testing, empirical methods, ethics and legal issues, and intellectual property development and protection. In this concentration, a two-pronged coursework path is designed to instill skill and knowledge in both: a) empirical research supported by human subject experimentation, and b) analytical, modeling, and physical measurement methodologies.

Faculty affiliated with Human Factors of Systems and Product Design include:

Management Systems Engineering is focused on the theory, research, design, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of systems comprised of decision makers, information, organizational structures, technology, decision tools, work processes, and people, with an emphasis on the interactions among these components. Management Systems Engineering  involves the application of engineering design and analysis methodologies and tools to these management systems. One of the primary objectives of this area is to advance the theory and science of designing and understanding of complex management and engineered systems. The Management Systems Engineering  graduate track is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to meet the challenges posed by increasingly complex organizational systems within dynamic, global environments.

The Management Systems Engineering  concentration is designed to expose students to a breadth of industrial engineering topics at the graduate level, depth in management systems engineering topics, and the opportunity to take technical electives in specialized areas within industrial engineering and other areas.

Faculty affiliated with Management Systems Engineering include:

The Manufacturing Systems Engineering (MFG) track offered by the ISE department is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully meet the most difficult challenges of modern manufacturing industries on a global scale. The track provides engineers with detailed state-of-the-art knowledge of both traditional and advanced manufacturing technologies, systems integration techniques, economic analysis methods, and operations management practices and principles. Based upon this knowledge, students develop the ability to perform analysis, evaluation, and synthesis for a broad range of problems related to the design, implementation, and efficient operation of manufacturing systems.

Prerequisites for any manufacturing systems engineering degree are an ABET-accredited B.S. degree in engineering (or equivalent).

Students within the graduate program in the manufacturing systems engineering track are assumed to have had undergraduate courses in simulation and optimization. If this is not the case, such students must make up this deficiency by either taking the appropriate undergraduate courses or by taking graduate courses in these areas. If graduate courses are taken, they can be used in the plan of study as elective credits towards the degree requirements.

The Manufacturing Systems Engineering (MFG) Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is designed to provide an opportunity for in-depth independent research in a highly-focused problem domain approved by the student’s advisory committee. To perform such research, courses relevant to the problem domain are necessary. The culmination of the research is the Ph.D. dissertation. The Ph.D. degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering is intended primarily for those desiring to develop expertise in a particular, focused problem domain. Degreed students typically seek research-oriented industrial positions or academic appointments.

Faculty affiliated with Manufacturing Systems Engineering include:


Work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities remain a substantial concern in the U.S. and globally. These adverse events and outcomes involve major human suffering and impose a significant economic burden to individuals, businesses, and nations. This concentration is designed to provide interdisciplinary training and exposure to the major methods, tools, and approaches needed to improve occupational safety and health in the U.S. and beyond. The concentration is also intended to provide the foundation for impactful dissertation research in the areas of occupational ergonomics and safety.

Note: this concentration is required of all students funded through the department’s NIOSH Training Grant.

Faculty affiliated with Occupational Ergonomics and Safety include:

Operations Research (OR) is a scientific, mathematical modeling-based approach to problem solving and management. OR is used for the efficient design and management of systems, usually seeking to determine an optimal or effective utilization and allocation of scarce resources. OR is widely used in many diverse application areas, e.g., the design and management of service and manufacturing systems, supply chain management, humanitarian logistics, healthcare and public policy.  The curriculum provides a methodological foundation, and is flexible, allowing students to focus on methodological research or applications.  More information about OR can be obtained from the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the main professional society for OR, and also from the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE), another professional society that includes OR.

Faculty affiliated with Operations Research include: