With its roots in computing, psychology, and design, human-centered computing examines how people use technology and the ways in which computing systems can be more intuitive.
With a growing reliance on computing in our daily lives, technology is no longer the exclusive realm of tech-savvy users. With roots in multiple areas of computing, arts, and social sciences, the human-computer interaction degree blends strengths from these varied disciplines to understand the ways in which people use technology. With a blending of content from computing, psychology, and design, we serve an increased need for software and devices that are intuitive, usable, and desirable.
Fundamental to human-centered computing is a focus on humans as individuals and in social contexts, and their behavior with technology. Students in this major are at the intersection of computer advancements and understanding human behavior with technology. Topics of consideration include the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems and understanding the ways in which such systems can transform our lives. Given the growing reliance on computing in our daily lives, technology no longer is the exclusive realm of tech-savvy users; industry has recognized the need to make software and devices that are usable and desirable. This major prepares students for careers in industry or graduate study, offering options to specialize in different areas of human-centered computing depending on individual student interests in computing, design, or psychology.
The human-centered computing major is unique in its foundation of psychology, design, and technology. The curriculum combines courses from three different RIT colleges to ensure students develop a firm understanding of these diverse subjects. Core courses include several foundational classes in technology, cognitive science and psychology, Gestalt, color theory, and creative thinking. This is an interdisciplinary degree with concentrations available in accessibility, design, front-end development, instructional technology, natural language processing, and psychology.
The human-computer relationship is constantly evolving, and the days of the singular “do everything” device is disappearing. New innovations promise a future of multiple, interconnected technologies that respond to our needs in real time. The world needs professionals that are able to design, prototype, implement and evaluate interactive computing systems; those skills make up the core of the HCC degree.
HCC is about leveraging technology, exploring and adapting how people access and interact with it. Finding ways to integrate technology with our everyday lives—regardless of our physical capabilities, age, or location—is a key component of the program. HCC professionals are changing the world every day: Whether it’s developing ways for computers to reproduce realistic animations of American Sign Language, designing the successor to Fitbit, or building the next generation of speech recognition software. HCC students are the driving force at the center of the global accessibility effort, both as students and as professionals.
Human-Centered Computing is a large and dynamic professional field, and the curriculum is designed to reflect that diversity. The degree features 6 areas of concentration, allowing students to immerse themselves in the 2 areas that they find most interesting. With an HCC degree, your passions become your career.
The major requires students to complete two blocks of cooperative education. Students may begin their co-op requirement after completing their second year of study.
HCC Degree Concentrations
Learn to develop systems that are equally accessible to all people, making the benefits of technology a reality for everyone.
Front End Development
Master programming and development for desktop, web, and mobile computing interfaces, with a focus on efficient code and meeting user needs.
Plan, organize and develop systems to effectively leverage technology to convey knowledge and skills to users.
Learn to integrate elements of imagery, type, actions, color, and more to form a unified graphical interface that is understandable to people everywhere.
Explore how humans perceive, process, and store information. Study best practices in research and evaluation, and learn how to implement them into your work.
Natural Language Processing
Study the interactions between computers and human language. Learn about the latest advances in computational linguistics and how computers derive meaning via natural language processing.
Computing and the Internet are now integral parts of our lives. In this course, we consider and discuss how ethical theories and principles can inform and provide guidance about interactions and uses of computing technologies. Topics include the development interpretation, and application of ethical theory, moral values, personal responsibility, codes of conduct, ethics in the real and virtual worlds, intellectual property, and information security. This is a Writing Intensive (WI) course. Students are provided with guidance and opportunities for improving informal and formal writing skills. Grades received on writing assignments will constitute a significant component of the final course grade.
Computational Problem Solving in the Information Domain I
A first course in using the object-oriented approach to solve problems in the information domain. Students will learn to design software solutions using the object-oriented approach, to visually model systems using UML, to implement software solutions using a contemporary programming language, and to test these software solutions. Additional topics include thinking in object-oriented terms, and problem definition. Programming projects will be required.
Computational Problem Solving in the Information Domain II
A second course in using the object-oriented approach to solving problems in the information domain. Students will learn: basic design principles and guidelines for developing graphical user interfaces, and use of the Event Model to implement graphical interfaces; algorithms for processing data structures; multithreading concepts and use of the Multithreading Model to design and implement advanced processing methods. Additional topics include the relational model of information organization, and the Client-Server model. Individual implementation projects are required. A team implementation exercise is used to provide students an opportunity to apply basic software development and project management practices in the context of a medium-scale project.
Web and Mobile I
This course provides students with an introduction to internet and web technologies, and to development on Macintosh/UNIX computer platforms. Topics include HTML and CSS, CSS3 features, digital images, web page design and website publishing. Emphasis is placed on fundamentals, concepts and standards. Additional topics include the user experience, mobile design issues, and copyright/intellectual property considerations. Exercises and projects are required.
Web and Mobile II
This course builds on the basics of web page development that are presented in Web and Mobile I and extends that knowledge to focus on theories, issues, and technologies related to the design and development of web sites. An overview of web design concepts, including usability, accessibility, information architecture, and graphic design in the context of the web will be covered. Introduction to web site technologies, including HTTP, web client and server programming, and dynamic page generation from a database also will be explored. Development exercises are required.
New Media Digital Design Survey I
This project-based course is an investigation of the computer as an illustrative, imaging, and graphical generation tool. It develops foundational design skills in raster and vector image creation, editing, compositing, layout and visual design for online production. Emphasis will be on the application of visual design organization methods and principles for electronic media. Students will create and edit images, graphics, layouts and typography to form effective design solutions for online delivery.
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): Introduction to Psychology
Introduction to the field of psychology. Provides a survey of basic concepts, theories, and research methods. Topics include: thinking critically with psychological science; neuroscience and behavior; sensation and perception; learning; memory; thinking, language, and intelligence; motivation and emotion; personality; psychological disorders and therapy; and social psychology.
This course examines how people perceive, learn, represent, remember and use information. Contemporary theory and research are surveyed in such areas as attention, pattern and object recognition, memory, knowledge representation, language acquisition and use, reasoning, decision making, problem solving, creativity, and intelligence. Applications in artificial intelligence and human/technology interaction may also be considered.
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics I
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies.
IST Second Year Seminar
This course helps students prepare for cooperative employment by developing job search approaches and material. Students will explore current and emerging aspects of IST fields to help focus their skill development strategies. Students are introduced to the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, and learn about their professional and ethical responsibilities for their co-op and subsequent professional experiences. Students will work collaboratively to build résumés, cover letters, and prepare for interviewing.
Foundations of Mobile Design
This course is an introduction to designing, prototyping, and creating applications and web applications for mobile devices. These devices include a unique set of hardware and communications capabilities, incorporate novel interfaces, are location aware, and provide persistent connectivity. Topics covered include user interaction patterns, connectivity, interface design, software design patterns, and application architectures. Programming projects are required.
Foundations of Human Centered Computing
This course explores how the fields of psychology, digital design, and computing converge in the design, development, and evaluation of new technologies that people find effective and enjoyable to use. Students will investigate the field of human-computer interaction (HCI), with a focus on how users' various sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities are essential to their successful use of technology. Students will be exposed to modern research methods and paradigms in field of human-computer interaction, including predictive modeling, heuristic evaluation, interpretive methods, and experimental user testing. Students will learn key design principles and guidelines and apply them to analyze existing designs and conduct a design process that is centered on human users of technology.
Prototyping and Usability Testing
This course will explore how modern human centered computing design and evaluation methodologies can be effectively used to create high-quality and usable technologies for a variety of users. Students will learn how an initial design can be evaluated and improved through the use of prototyping and user evaluations. Students will investigate a variety of high- and low-fidelity prototyping techniques, plan an iterative design process for an application, conduct an evaluation of a prototype, and analyze the results of user testing to drive a design process. Programming is required.
New Media Digital Design Survey II
Through formal studies and perceptual understanding, including aesthetics, graphic form, structure, concept development, visual organization methods and interaction principles, students will design graphical solutions to communication problems for static and interactive projects. Students will focus on creating appropriate and usable design systems through the successful application of design theory and best practices. Assignments exploring aspects of graphic imagery, typography, usability and production for multiple digital devices and formats will be included.
Research Methods I (WI)
This course will serve as an introduction to research methods in psychology, with the goal of understanding research design, analysis and writing. Topics include examining the variety of methods used in psychology research, understanding research eth-ics, developing empirical hypotheses, designing experiments, understanding statistical concepts, interpreting results, and writing research and review papers in APA style. This is a required course for all psychology majors, and is restricted to students in the psychology program.
Research Methods II
This course will serve as an advanced research methods course in psychology, and will build on the foundational knowledge presented in Research Methods I. Topics and tasks for this course include designing single and multi-factor experiments, interpreting correlational research, completing statistical analyses appropriate to design, completing and analyzing an IRB application, understanding observational and survey research, and presenting results in APA style. This is a required course for all psychology majors, and is restricted to students in the psychology program.
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics II
This course is an elementary introduction to the topics of regression and analysis of variance. The statistical software package Minitab will be used to reinforce these techniques. The focus of this course is on business applications. This is a general introductory statistics course and is intended for a broad range of programs.
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry)
Cooperative Education (summer)
Design for Accessibility
This course will explore the design, evaluation, and use of computing and information technologies to benefit people with disabilities and older adults. Students will learn how to analyze the accessibility of existing software or websites, and they will learn how to design technology that can be effectively, enjoyably, and efficiently used by people with diverse sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities. Students will learn about cutting-edge ways in which science and technology has provided assistance and accessibility for people with disabilities. Students will learn how to investigate the needs of users with disabilities, design technologies according to universal design or accessibility principles, interpret key accessibility regulations and guidelines, and include people with disabilities in the design and evaluation of new technologies. Programming is required.
HCC Concentration Courses
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
LAS Immersion 1
Cooperative Education (summer)
Senior Development Project I
The first course in a two-course, senior level, system development capstone project. Students form project teams and work with sponsors to define system requirements. Teams then create architectures and designs, and depending on the project, also may begin software development. Requirements elicitation and development practices introduced in prior coursework are reviewed, and additional methods and processes are introduced. Student teams are given considerable latitude in how they organize and conduct project work.
Senior Development Project II (WI)
The second course in a two-course, senior level, system development capstone project. Student teams complete development of their system project and package the software and documentation for deployment. Usability testing practices introduced in prior course work are reviewed, and additional methods and processes are introduced. Teams present their developed system and discuss lessons learned at the completion of the course.
HCC Concentration Courses
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Immersion 2, 3
Total Semester Credit Hours
Please see General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
Access and Assistive Technology
Students will gain hands-on experience and knowledge about a wide variety of accessibility and assistive technology available for people with disabilities. Students will understand the design principles underlying this technology and how the features and capabilities of assistive technology can be tailored to a particular individual’s needs and capabilities. Students will learn about how new technologies and research in accessibility can be made available for users, and they will learn how to design websites and software that work effectively with a user’s own technology. Specific technologies discussed in the course may include, e.g.: alternative input devices, communication devices, and screen readers and magnifiers for people with visual impairments. Programming is required.
Research in Accessibility
Students will dive into cutting edge research in the field of computer accessibility and assistive technology; they will read, present, and discuss research literature from major conferences and journals in the field. Students will learn about recent developments and ongoing research efforts in accessibility, and they will learn how to synthesize the results from research publications. Students will learn how to identify high quality research and how to critique this work to identify areas for improvement or future research directions. Students will learn the elements of a high-quality research publication, and they will explore and gain expertise in a particular topic in the field of accessibility in depth.
Accessibility through the Lifespan
Students will explore how accessibility and assistive technologies intersect with aging throughout the lifespan, with a particular focus on the early and later stages of human development, including: educational contexts (for children or young adults) and effective design strategies for promoting accessibility for older adults with diverse capabilities. Students will learn key legal regulations that govern special education and accessibility in educational contexts, including the provision of assistive technologies and the accessibility of instructional technologies. Students will also explore typical changes in ability and impairments that relate to the human aging process, and they will investigate how to design usable and engaging technology for the growing population of older adults. Students will come to understand the concepts and needs of younger and older users firsthand through, e.g., guest speakers or personal interactions.
New Media Design: Design Elements II
Information design for static, dynamic and interactive multimedia integrates content with visual indicators. Legibility and clear communication of information and direction is important to the success of any user interface design. This course integrates imagery, type, icons, actions, color, visual hierarchy, and information architecture as a foundation to design successful interactive experiences.
New Media Design: Interactive II
This course extends previous interactive design and development experience and skills to emphasize interactive design principles and development. The emphasis in this course will be on the creative process of planning and implementing an interactive project across multiple platforms. Students will concentrate on information architecture, interactive design, conceptual creation, digital assets, visual design and programming for interactions.
New Media Design: Graphical User Interface
This course examines the user-centered and iterative design approaches to application and interactive development with a focus on interface design, testing and development across multiple devices. Students will research and investigate human factors, visual metaphors and prototype development to create effective and cutting edge user interfaces.
Front End Development
This course will explore the analysis, design, development, and implementation of client-side programming in the context of Internet technologies, mobile devices, Web-based client systems and desktop applications. Students will learn to design and build usable and effective interactive systems, clients, and interfaces. Key features addressed will include browser and platform compatibility, object reusability, bandwidth and communications issues, development environments, privacy and security, and related technologies and APIs. Programming is required.
Mobile Application Development I
This course extends the material covered in the Foundations of Mobile Design course and provides students with the experience of creating interesting applications for small-size form factor mobile devices such as smartphones These devices are exceptionally portable, have unique sets of hardware and communications capabilities, incorporate novel interfaces, are location aware, and provide persistent connectivity. Students are encouraged to make creative use of these unique device characteristics and operating properties to develop innovative applications. Programming projects are required.
Mobile Application Development II
This course extends the Foundations of Mobile Design course in that students will learn to apply mobile design skills to develop applications in the Android platform. Students will design, develop, and test mobile applications using the Android Studio IDE. This course covers the major components such as activities, receivers, content providers, permissions, intents, fragments, data storage, and security. Programming projects are required
Fundamentals of Instructional Technology
Instructional Technology encompasses the basic processes for developing and delivering instruction. Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is a well-established methodology for describing knowledge and skills and developing instructional systems to effectively convey knowledge. This course enables the student to plan, organize, and systematically develop instructional materials. The course uses an ISD model to analyze, design, deliver, and evaluate instruction.
Instructional software is referred to as courseware. This course is a continuation of Fundamentals of Instruction Technology (ISTE-560), and serves as a transition from general instructional design principles to the actual application of these principles in a computer-based environment. Using teaching and learning principles is somewhat different when developing instruction that will be delivered by computer. This course teaches techniques that have been successful in the design and development of courseware as well as reviewing current theories and models.
Learning and Behavior
This course covers topics in learning such as non-associative learning, classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, stimulus control of behavior, reinforcement, generalization and discrimination, and observational learning. Topics on learning and behavior in non-human animals may also be covered.
Natural Language Processing
Language Technology (required)
We will explore the relationship between language and technology from the
invention of writing systems to current natural language and speech
technologies. Topics include script decipherment, machine translation,
automatic speech recognition and generation, dialog systems, computational
natural language understanding and inference, as well as language
technologies that support users with language disabilities. We will also trace
how science and technology are shaping language, discuss relevant artificial
intelligence concepts, and examine the ethical implications of advances in
language processing by computers. Students will have the opportunity to
experience text analysis with relevant tools. This is an interdisciplinary
course and technical background is not required.
Introduction to Natural Language Processing (required)
This course provides theoretical foundation as well as hands-on (lab-style) practice in computational approaches for processing natural language text. The course will have relevance to various disciplines in the humanities, sciences, computational, and technical fields. We will discuss problems that involve different components of the language system (such as meaning in context and linguistic structures). Students will additionally collaborate in teams on modeling and implementing natural language processing and digital text solutions. Students will program in Python and use a variety of relevant tools. Expected: Programming skills, demonstrated via course work or instruction approval.
Plus one of the following:
Seminar in Computational Linguistics
Study of a focus area of increased complexity in computational linguistics. The focus varies each semester. Students will develop skills in computational linguistics analysis in a laboratory setting, according to professional standards. A research project plays a central role in the course. Students will engage with relevant research literature, research design and methodology, project development, and reporting in various formats.
Spoken Language Processing
This course introduces students to speech and spoken language processing with a focus on real-world applications including automatic speech recognition, speech synthesis, and spoken dialog systems, as well as tasks such as emotion detection and speaker identification. Students will learn the fundamentals of signal processing for speech and explore the theoretical foundations of how human speech can be processed by computers. Students will then collect data and use existing toolkits to build their own speech recognition or speech synthesis system. This course provides theoretical foundation as well as hands-on laboratory practice. Prerequisite: Programming skills, demonstrated via coursework or instructor approval.
Memory and Attention
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course reviews current research in the areas of memory and attention. This course will consider such memory topics as: classic theories of memory, Baddeley’s model of working memory, in-formation processing, implicit and explicit memory, principles of forgetting, developmental changes in memory, skill memory, autobiographical memory, eyewitness memory, and the neural bases of memory. Attention topics covered in this course will include: Selective and divided attention, search and vigilance, signal detection theory, and neural correlates of attention.
Language and Thought
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course examines the structure of human language and its relationship to thought, and surveys contemporary theory and research on the comprehension and production of spoken and written language. In addition, we will discuss categorization, representation of knowledge, expertise, consciousness, intelligence, and artificial intelligence. Topics on language and thought in non-human animals may also be covered. Part of the cognitive track for the psychology degree program.
Decision Making, Judgment and Problem Solving
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course explores judgment, decision-making and problem-solving processes and focuses on the social and cognitive aspects of complex information processing. Major topics include normative, descriptive (heuristics and biases), and naturalistic approaches to decision-making, as well as selective perception, memory and hindsight biases, framing effects, social influences, group processes and human error. Models of decision-making considered include the prospect theory, expected utility theory, and Bayes’ Theorem. Problem solving will be examined from perspectives of formal, computational methods as well as intuition and creativity. Experimental methods and applications in design of systems and decision aids will receive special attention.
For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.
Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations
3 years of math are required and pre-calculus is recommended
Requires chemistry or physics and strongly recommends both.
Computing electives are recommended
Transfer course recommendations without associate degree
Courses in computer science, calculus, liberal arts; calculus-based physics, chemistry, or biology
Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer
AS degree in computer science, engineering science, or liberal arts
Cooperative education, or co-op for short, is full-time, paid work experience in your field of study. And it sets RIT graduates apart from their competitors. It’s exposure–early and often–to a variety of professional work environments, career paths, and industries. Learn more about how co-op at RIT is designed for your success.
Students in the human-centered computing major can participate in a study abroad experience at RIT Croatia's campuses in Dubrovnik or Zagreb, where many of the program's courses are offered regularly. The major participates in Senior Development Project I, II (ISTE-500, 501), a global course in which teams of students from RIT's main campus and both RIT Croatia campuses work together on an industry-inspired project.
RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences is forming a new School of Information to recognize the changing roles of information professionals. The school aims to bridge the digital divide and make computing solutions available, accessible, usable and suitable to all.
RIT was well-represented at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) ASSETS conference in early November, with more than a dozen faculty and students presenting projects in the field of computing accessibility.