HCI Masters Degrees Presentation

speakers for HCI masters prez

From left to right: Kirsten (Bently), Amanda (Georgia Tech), Dana (CMU), Jessica (Tufts), and Rebecca (UMich).

There are many slides which I will have to ask permission later to upload here. Each person is talking about their own background and the program which they are attending.

I know quite a bit about most of these programs, though not so much about Tufts. Still, most of the “big name” HCI schools don’t offer much in the way of distance learning, which is something I am interested in. Unless or until I get a job in the same city as one of these universities I will be relegated to cog psych classes at Illinois State University.

Bently has a 3 year program for MBA/HCI. Think of this combination in terms of usefulness/usability. This is something I think people should start thinking about if they aren’t already. More and more, HCIers are finding that having a good understanding of business processes, politics, and overall machinations is a good thing. Domain business knowledge is one thing, and for those starting out in the field, I think this isn’t as necessary, though it does fall into the “would be nice” category.

Understanding business though will help get buy in on everything that an HCIer brings to the table. As I have said in the past, I don’t talk about UCD in meetings with technical and business people anymore. I talk in terms of business.

Hitting the ground running with this concept will make you more successful in the business world, especially if you are an employee. I am not sure as much from the consultant perspective. Certainly a business understanding is good to have because you are running your own business, but typically you are brought in to solve an HCI problem. Your client expects you to talk about the HCI issues and be the geek no one else at the company can be. :)

Any consultants care to comment?

One thing that seems to be a theme in the backgrounds of the professors in these programs is that it is multi-disciplinary: social scientists, psychologists, designers… Hm, kinda like those who staff the current field. We all come from different, but similar backgrounds. I have a writing background and came to this HCI world through Tech Writing. Tech Writing is a very closely related field to most HCI areas of profession.

What is your background? Did you purposefully pursue a degree or background in HCI, or did you stumble into it, much like I did?


  1. Have you checked out Depaul’s HCI Classes? Closer to you and a lot of distance learning classes. I think they’re actually the biggest HCI program in the country so it’s a shame they weren’t represented.

  2. Yeah, actually I’m suprised by that too. But I know that 5 people for an hour panel is a lot.

    A couple of people who have worked with me (they’ve gone on to bigger and better) went to the DePaul program.

    I have been still looking for HCI distance learning, but I think the best option given my situation is to follow the cog psych route. Although I might end up doing a dual track between cog and Industrial/Organizational psych. There are aspects of I/O that are a little more on the practical side than cog.

  3. Hi Matthew,
    I came across your site in my depressing search for a distance Masters program in HCI. You’re right, not very many universities are doing this. I know it’s been a while since you posted this info but would you happen to have any more bits of wisdom to help me in my search?

  4. Mark,

    Like Marcela said DePaul has a program. I’ve known a few people who’ve gone through the program and they all liked it.

    I suspect if you are looking strictly at HCI you will be out of luck. If you open your search to related fields of study like Cog Psych or Library & Information Science you might find better luck.

    UIUC GSLIS program is good, but like most distance programs still requires you to be on campus for a couple of weeks each year. I’ve known some people in that program and it was a major hassle (one person was living in Alaska) but they made it work.

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