The M.Sc. in Experimental Psychology at RIT incorporates two tracks, one in experimental psychology broadly defined and the other focused on engineering psychology and related fields.
This program is focused on research and advances in basic psychological processes in perception, brain and behavior relationships, thinking, memory, learning, social interactions, human development and related areas. Experimental Psychology is the application of the scientific method to examine the antecedents and consequences of behavior. Students take a number of courses in a variety of areas in Experimental Psychology and related fields. A graduate seminar course provides students with the chance to learn about behavioral research at RIT. Students select a thesis topic after determining a fit between their research interests and faculty expertise and interests. A formal research proposal is completed and publically defended. The thesis and public thesis defense is a culmination of this work.
Engineering psychology as a discipline is distinct from both psychology and engineering as well as from several other closely related disciplines. Where applied psychology seeks to control and influence people, the goal of engineering psychology is the design of a better machine. The role of the engineering psychologist in machine design is both that of a scientist (seeking knowledge of human behavior, capabilities, and limitations for engineers to use) and that of a technologist (actively participating in the design of human-machine systems). Engineering psychology shares the practical orientation with applied psychology but the methods employed in research of human-machine systems are primarily those of experimental psychology. Engineering psychology also differs from the closely related discipline of human factors being concerned with the information processing aspects of human performance. Human factors can be seen as a purely applied discipline with the ultimate goal to improve system design, while engineering psychology is also concerned with basic research and understanding of human behavior.
For further information about Engineering Psychology see a brief retrospective account of the emergence of engineering psychology, the websites for Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology of the American Psychological Association and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, an article in the APA Monitor, and Wikipedia.