Human-Computer Interaction Master of science degree

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Overview

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In the human-computer interaction master's degree, you'll study how people interact with websites, computer systems, and software, enabling you to create intuitive interfaces that improve how we interact with and use emerging technologies.


Explore the design methods, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use. Building on decades of research in psychology and human behavior, the human-computer interaction master’s degree focuses on the skills needed by user-experience researchers and computing professionals, including observing how people interact with websites and software and the design new technologies to help them accomplish their goals. With computing moving rapidly away from the traditional desktop, companies need professionals that understand how evolving technologies can be designed to be intuitive, effective, and compelling for users.

Human-computer interaction addresses the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing and computing-based systems for the benefit of human use. HCI research is driven by technological advances and the increasing pervasiveness of computing devices in our society. With an emphasis on making computing technologies more user-friendly, HCI has emerged as a dynamic, multifaceted area of study that merges theory from science, engineering, and design—as well as concepts and methodologies from psychology, anthropology, sociology, and industrial design—with the technical concerns of computing.

The MS degree in human-computer interaction provides the knowledge and skills necessary for conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and evaluating software applications and computing technologies for the benefit of the user, whether the user is an individual, a group, an organization, or a society. Human, technological, and organizational concerns are interwoven throughout the curriculum and addressed in team- and project-based learning experiences.

The program is comprised of four required core courses, up to three program electives (depending upon capstone option chosen), two application domain courses, and a capstone project or thesis.

Core courses

The core courses provide knowledge and skills in the conceptual and methodological frameworks of HCI and HCI research. Emphasis is on understanding human cognition as it applies to information systems plus interaction design, interface prototyping, and usability evaluation.

Electives

Student choose up to three electives, depending on which capstone option they choose to complete.

Program electives

Students select two elective courses. In select cases, students can petition for approval to include a course complementary to the degree program as a program elective.

Application domain courses

To gain breadth in a technical area to which HCI concepts can be applied, students complete two courses in any of the application domain areas. A special topics option is also available, with faculty approval, for individuals with interest in other HCI-related areas.

e-Learning Technologies–The recent boom in online learning has created a need for professionals to design such systems. Students learn the fundamentals of instructional technology and interactive courseware.

Geographical Information Science and Technology–Research how digital technology is revolutionizing how humans view earth with topics in thematic cartography and geographic visualization.

Self-defined Application Domain–Design your own concentration.

Smart Device Application Design and Development–Smart devices are no longer limited to phones. Design and study human interaction with cutting edge mobile technology.

Web Development–Study the foundations of web technologies, enabling students to better understand how The Internet can be built to improve the experience of a diverse range of end users.

Thesis/Capstone project

Students may complete a thesis or capstone project. This experience is meant to be an empirical study of a HCI problem, which can be the development of a software product through user-centered design processes. The results are either published in a peer-reviewed journal or publicly disseminated in an appropriate professional venue.

This program is also offered online. View Online Option.

Industries


  • Accounting

  • Health Care

  • Higher Education

  • Internet and Software

  • Manufacturing

  • Medical Devices

Typical Job Titles

Usability Analyst User Experience Designer
Human Factors Engineer Usability Specialist
Web Designer Interaction Designer
Information Architect

100%

outcome rate of graduates

$81.5K

median first-year salary of graduates

Curriculum for Human-Computer Interaction MS

Human-Computer Interaction (capstone project option), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
HCIN-600
Research Methods
This course provides students with an introduction to the practical application of various research methods that can be used in human computer interaction. The course provides an overview of the research process and the literature review, and provides experience with qualitative, survey, and experimental research methods. Students will study existing research and design and conduct studies. Students will need to have taken a statistics course before registering for this class. (Prerequisites: DECS-782 or STAT-145 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-610
Foundations of Human-Computer Interaction
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a field of study concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. This course surveys the scope of issues and foundations of the HCI field: cognitive psychology, human factors, interaction styles, user analysis, task analysis, interaction design methods and techniques, and evaluation. This course will focus on the users and their tasks. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-620
Information and Interaction Design
Designing meaningful relationships among people and the products they use is both an art and a science. This course will focus on the unique design practice of: representing and organizing information in such a way as to facilitate perception and understanding (information architecture); and, specifying the appropriate mechanisms for accessing and manipulating task information (interaction design). This course will also explore the various design patterns (design solutions to particular problems) that are appropriate for the HCI professional. Students will need prior knowledge of an interface prototyping tool. (Prerequisite: ISTE-200 or equivalent course. Co-requisite: HCIN-610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-630
Usability Testing
This project-based course will focus on the formal evaluation of products. Topics include usability test goal setting, recruitment of appropriate users, design of test tasks, design of the test environment, test plan development and implementation, analysis and interpretation of the results, and documentation and presentation of results and recommendations. (Prerequisites: HCIN-600 and HCIN-610 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
3
HCIN-794
MS Human Computer Interaction Capstone Proposal
In this course, students will design a proposal for a capstone project to apply the theories and methodologies to a problem in the HCI domain. Students working through the guidance of the instructor, will investigate a problem space, perform a literature review, develop the problem statement, write a proposal for how they intend to design and implement a solution, and communicate the proposal to potential capstone committee members. (Prerequisites: HCIN-600 and HCIN-610 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
Application Domain Courses
6
 
Program Elective
3
Second Year
HCIN-795
MS HCI Project
In this course, students will apply the theories and methodologies to the investigation of a problem in the HCI domain. Students who have already prepared a proposal for their capstone project,will design and implement a solution to a problem, and communicate the results. (Prerequisites: HCIN-794 or equivalent course.) Project 4 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
 
Program Elective
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
30

Human-Computer Interaction (thesis option), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
HCIN-600
Research Methods
This course provides students with an introduction to the practical application of various research methods that can be used in human computer interaction. The course provides an overview of the research process and the literature review, and provides experience with qualitative, survey, and experimental research methods. Students will study existing research and design and conduct studies. Students will need to have taken a statistics course before registering for this class. (Prerequisites: DECS-782 or STAT-145 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-610
Foundations of Human-Computer Interaction
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a field of study concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. This course surveys the scope of issues and foundations of the HCI field: cognitive psychology, human factors, interaction styles, user analysis, task analysis, interaction design methods and techniques, and evaluation. This course will focus on the users and their tasks. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-620
Information and Interaction Design
Designing meaningful relationships among people and the products they use is both an art and a science. This course will focus on the unique design practice of: representing and organizing information in such a way as to facilitate perception and understanding (information architecture); and, specifying the appropriate mechanisms for accessing and manipulating task information (interaction design). This course will also explore the various design patterns (design solutions to particular problems) that are appropriate for the HCI professional. Students will need prior knowledge of an interface prototyping tool. (Prerequisite: ISTE-200 or equivalent course. Co-requisite: HCIN-610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-630
Usability Testing
This project-based course will focus on the formal evaluation of products. Topics include usability test goal setting, recruitment of appropriate users, design of test tasks, design of the test environment, test plan development and implementation, analysis and interpretation of the results, and documentation and presentation of results and recommendations. (Prerequisites: HCIN-600 and HCIN-610 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
3
 
Application Domain Courses
6
 
Program Electives
6
Second Year
HCIN-796
MS HCI Thesis
Students electing a research capstone experience will work closely with an adviser on a current research project or one self-developed and guided by the adviser. Permission of the capstone committee and the graduate program director is required. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
6
Total Semester Credit Hours
30

Human-Computer Interaction (directed final project option*), MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
HCIN-600
Research Methods
This course provides students with an introduction to the practical application of various research methods that can be used in human computer interaction. The course provides an overview of the research process and the literature review, and provides experience with qualitative, survey, and experimental research methods. Students will study existing research and design and conduct studies. Students will need to have taken a statistics course before registering for this class. (Prerequisites: DECS-782 or STAT-145 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-610
Foundations of Human-Computer Interaction
Human-computer interaction (HCI) is a field of study concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. This course surveys the scope of issues and foundations of the HCI field: cognitive psychology, human factors, interaction styles, user analysis, task analysis, interaction design methods and techniques, and evaluation. This course will focus on the users and their tasks. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-620
Information and Interaction Design
Designing meaningful relationships among people and the products they use is both an art and a science. This course will focus on the unique design practice of: representing and organizing information in such a way as to facilitate perception and understanding (information architecture); and, specifying the appropriate mechanisms for accessing and manipulating task information (interaction design). This course will also explore the various design patterns (design solutions to particular problems) that are appropriate for the HCI professional. Students will need prior knowledge of an interface prototyping tool. (Prerequisite: ISTE-200 or equivalent course. Co-requisite: HCIN-610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
HCIN-630
Usability Testing
This project-based course will focus on the formal evaluation of products. Topics include usability test goal setting, recruitment of appropriate users, design of test tasks, design of the test environment, test plan development and implementation, analysis and interpretation of the results, and documentation and presentation of results and recommendations. (Prerequisites: HCIN-600 and HCIN-610 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
3
 
Application Domain Courses
6
 
Program Electives
6
Second Year
HCIN-797
MS HCI Directed Final Project
This course provides students with the skills to develop a plan and execute a project in the field of human-computer interaction. Emphasis is placed on the student applying skills and knowledge gained previously throughout their HCI master’s degree program. Students will select a topic from a set of recommendations provided by the instructor, formulate a detailed plan for the execution of this project, provide deliverables for key milestones throughout the semester, and present their work in a professionally appropriate manner, e.g. via a written report, video, or other forms that are suitable for dissemination in a professional user-experience portfolio. The goal of this course is for students to gain experience how to employ methodologies and skills from the field of human-computer interaction appropriately as part of an extended final project that serves as a culminating experience for their master’s degree program. This course is only an option for students who are registered as online students. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Project 3 (Fall, Spring).
3
 
Program Elective
3
Total Semester Credit Hours
30

* Directed Final Project Option is for online students.

Application domain courses

eLearning technologies
Course
HCIN-660
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 conveying knowledge. This course enables the student to be able to plan, organize, and systematically develop instructional materials. The course uses an ISD model to analyze, design, deliver, and evaluate instruction. Lecture 3 (Fall).
HCIN-661
Interactive Courseware
Computer software that teaches is referred to as courseware. This course is a continuation of HCIN-660 that transitions from general instructional design into the actual application of these principles in a computer-based environment. Although the basic principles of instructional design hold true in all media environments, using these teaching and learning principles is somewhat different when developing instruction that will be delivered by computer. This course teaches procedures that have already been successful in the design and development of courseware. Successful students should have one year of object-oriented programming. (Prerequisites: HCIN-660 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Geographic information science and technology
Course
IGME-740
Geographic Information Science and Technology
Students will explore the use of an advanced graphics API to access hardware-accelerated graphics in a real-time graphics engine context. The course will involve discussion of scene graphs, optimizations, and integration with the API object structure, as well as input schemes, content pipelines, and 2D and 3D rendering techniques. Students will also explore the advanced use of the API calls in production code to construct environments capable of real-time performance. Students will construct from scratch a fully functional graphics engine, with library construction for game development. Advanced topics will be explored, including real-time special effects, custom shading pipelines, and advanced deferred rendering techniques. (Prerequisites: IGME-601 or equivalent courses.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
IGME-772
Geographic Visualization
This course will provide an in-depth exposure to advanced topics in biomedical informatics and knowledge discovery. Large datasets will be used to illustrate and explore methods in the transformation of data to information and integration of information with domain knowledge. Topics will include high-throughput technologies in genomics, descriptive and inferential statistics, machine learning, visualization, human-computer interaction. Note: One year of programming in an object-oriented language is needed. (This course is restricted to students in INFOST-MS or INFOTEC-MS.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
Smart device application design and development
Course
HCIN-720
Prototyping Wearable and Internet of Things Devices
Wearable computers and Internet of Things devices involve both hardware and software. In order to design user experiences for these systems, professionals must understand how they are built. Students will learn how to rapidly prototype and evaluate wearable and IoT devices combining hardware and software. Experience in programming is helpful but not a prerequisite. Lecture 3 (Fall).
HCIN-722
Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Devices
Mobile phones are now a major computing platform, and wearable and Internet of Things devices are emerging as major technologies. Each device offers different interaction opportunities and challenges. Students will learn about the research in interaction with these devices and how to design effective interactions for mobile, wearable, and ubiquitous devices. (Prerequisites: HCIN-610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Web development
Course
ISTE-645
Foundations of Web Technologies I
This class provides an introduction to internet and web technologies. Topics include an introduction to the internet and basic internet technologies (including, but not limited to: SSH, SFTP, UNIX, XHTML, CSS, Client-Side programming, and website publishing). Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
ISTE-646
Foundations of Web Technologies II
This course builds on the basic aspects of web page development that are presented in the first course and extends that knowledge to focus on issues and technologies related to the design and development of web sites. Topics include advanced internet technologies (including, but not limited to: AJAX, server-side programming, database use and access, client libraries, server frameworks, and creating and consuming information services). (Prerequisites: ISTE-645 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).

Program electives

Course
HCIN-660
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 conveying knowledge. This course enables the student to be able to plan, organize, and systematically develop instructional materials. The course uses an ISD model to analyze, design, deliver, and evaluate instruction. Lecture 3 (Fall).
HCIN-661
Interactive Courseware
Computer software that teaches is referred to as courseware. This course is a continuation of HCIN-660 that transitions from general instructional design into the actual application of these principles in a computer-based environment. Although the basic principles of instructional design hold true in all media environments, using these teaching and learning principles is somewhat different when developing instruction that will be delivered by computer. This course teaches procedures that have already been successful in the design and development of courseware. Successful students should have one year of object-oriented programming. (Prerequisites: HCIN-660 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
HCIN-700
Current Topics in HCI
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is an evolving field. This course is designed to study the current themes and advanced issues of HCI. Topics will vary depending upon current research and developments in the field. Lecture 3 (Spring).
HCIN-720
Prototyping Wearable and Internet of Things Devices
Wearable computers and Internet of Things devices involve both hardware and software. In order to design user experiences for these systems, professionals must understand how they are built. Students will learn how to rapidly prototype and evaluate wearable and IoT devices combining hardware and software. Experience in programming is helpful but not a prerequisite. Lecture 3 (Fall).
HCIN-722
Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Devices
Mobile phones are now a major computing platform, and wearable and Internet of Things devices are emerging as major technologies. Each device offers different interaction opportunities and challenges. Students will learn about the research in interaction with these devices and how to design effective interactions for mobile, wearable, and ubiquitous devices. (Prerequisites: HCIN-610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
HCIN-730
User-Centered Design Methods
This course will focus on the major user centered design methodologies used in the development of applications and environments. Topics include: evolution of software design methods, emergence of user-centered design, and key concepts, attributes and process of the major design methodologies. Software design projects will be required. (Prerequisites: HCIN-610 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
HCIN-794
MS Human Computer Interaction Capstone Proposal
In this course, students will design a proposal for a capstone project to apply the theories and methodologies to a problem in the HCI domain. Students working through the guidance of the instructor, will investigate a problem space, perform a literature review, develop the problem statement, write a proposal for how they intend to design and implement a solution, and communicate the proposal to potential capstone committee members. (Prerequisites: HCIN-600 and HCIN-610 or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
IGME-770
Geographic Information Science and Technology
This course provides a survey of the theory, concepts, and technologies related to representation and understanding of the earth - a scientific domain known as Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS & T). Students will gain hands-on experience with technologies such as Global Positioning Systems (GPSs), Geographic Information Systems (GISs), remote sensing, spatial data science and analysis, and web mapping. Furthermore, students will learn relevant GIS & T theory, concepts, and research trends such as spatial reasoning, spatiotemporal data representation, and spatial analysis. Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
IGME-772
Geographic Visualization
This course will provide an in-depth exposure to advanced topics in biomedical informatics and knowledge discovery. Large datasets will be used to illustrate and explore methods in the transformation of data to information and integration of information with domain knowledge. Topics will include high-throughput technologies in genomics, descriptive and inferential statistics, machine learning, visualization, human-computer interaction. Note: One year of programming in an object-oriented language is needed. (This course is restricted to students in INFOST-MS or INFOTEC-MS.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
ISTE-645
Foundations of Web Technologies I
This class provides an introduction to internet and web technologies. Topics include an introduction to the internet and basic internet technologies (including, but not limited to: SSH, SFTP, UNIX, XHTML, CSS, Client-Side programming, and website publishing). Lec/Lab 3 (Fall).
ISTE-646
Foundations Of Web Technologies II
This course builds on the basic aspects of web page development that are presented in the first course and extends that knowledge to focus on issues and technologies related to the design and development of web sites. Topics include advanced internet technologies (including, but not limited to: AJAX, server-side programming, database use and access, client libraries, server frameworks, and creating and consuming information services). (Prerequisites: ISTE-645 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 3 (Spring).
PSYC-712
Graduate Cognition
This course will survey theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding the nature of the mental processes involved in attention, object recognition, learning and memory, reasoning, problem solving, decision-making, and language. The course presents a balance between historically significant findings and current state of-the-art research. Readings that have structured the nature and direction of scientific debate in these fields will be discussed. The course also includes discussions of methodology and practical applications. Students will have opportunities to develop their research skills and critical thinking by designing research studies in cognitive psychology. Seminar (Spring).
PSYC-715
Graduate Perception
The course is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of topics in perception. This course will be organized such that students will work in groups on various projects as well as covering topics through readings and classroom discussion. The topics may include, but are not limited to: spatial frequency perception; aftereffects, visual illusions and their relationship to cortical function and pattern perception; color perception; depth and motion perception; higher order perception such as face and object recognition; and music and speech perception. The goal is to cover current research and theories in perception, looking at current developments and their antecedents. The course will be divided into various modules. Students will be assigned readings relevant to each section of the course, and will be expected to master the major concepts. Group discussion of the readings will complement lectures where the instructor will present relevant background material. There will also be laboratory time for the students, where they will examine empirical findings in perception, and develop their research skills in the field. Lecture (Biannual).

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS program in human-computer interaction, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a graduate application
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent). Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 may be considered, but are required to submit standard GRE scores.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
  • Have prior study or professional experience in computing; however, study in other disciplines will be given consideration.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 88 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.
  • Applicants with undergraduate degrees from foreign universities are required to submit GRE scores.

Prerequisites

The program requires strong technical and social science skills. Knowledge of quantitative statistical methodologies is important since students review research studies as well as analyze the results of their own usability evaluations. Students are also expected to have a solid background in computer programming. These competencies may be demonstrated by previous course work, technical certifications, or comparable work experience. Bridge courses are available to fulfill any gaps in an applicant's qualifications. Applicants will be made aware of any areas where additional course work may be necessary.

 

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