Graduate programs in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) are often interdisciplinary in nature and may be offered through collaboration with multiple disciplines on campus, including psychology, computer science, engineering, industrial design and more. These degree programs usually require hands-on learning through projects and culminating experiences. Here, you can compare some of the different degree options in the field.
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Graduate Programs in Human-Computer Interaction
Master of Human-Computer Interaction
Students can pursue a Master of HCI or HCI and Design that can typically be completed in as little as 11 to 12 months. These programs are available in full- and part-time formats and may require around 46 credits. Students in these programs typically complete a final team-based design project or capstone that may allow them to gain hands-on experience with a real-world client. Coursework usually includes lectures and studio time and may discuss topics in interaction design, interfaces, programming and software structure.
Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction
Master of Science (MS) degree programs in HCI usually require around 36 credit hours to complete. Some of these programs can be completed in 3 terms, while others take about 2 years to finish. These programs commonly require a final capstone experience and may allow students to further specialize in a range of areas, like industrial design, computing, psychology, web development or geographic information science (GIS) and technology. Coursework for these programs vary based on a student's specialization and electives, but students may take courses in areas such as research methods, usability testing and design.
Doctor of Philosophy in Human-Computer Interaction
Students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in HCI, or more commonly, pursue a PhD in other fields, such as computer science or informatics, and choose a concentration in HCI. PhD programs specifically in HCI may allow for further specialization in areas like social computing, learning sciences and technologies, research through design or technical HCI. Students in these programs generally need to take qualifying exams, complete a dissertation and may need fulfill teaching responsibilities. Coursework varies greatly at the doctoral level to accommodate students' research and interests, but students may take coursework in topics such as design, social perspectives, computer science, theory and process.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to graduate degree programs in HCI typically need at least a bachelor's degree, a minimum GPA of at least a 3.0 (though some schools require higher) and GRE test scores. Some programs may require students to apply for the degree program through a particular school of their choice, such as psychology, computing or industrial design. Students will commonly need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a resume. Some programs may encourage students to submit a portfolio of their work and at the doctoral level, students are typically encouraged to include any publications that they may have.
Students can earn a Master of HCI, MS or PhD in the field and usually need to complete a final project or dissertation. Many of these programs allow students to further specialize in a given area of interest and each program varies in length.