15 Best Online Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: May 6, 2024, Reading time: 35 minutes

Best Online Master's in HCI (Human Computer Interaction) - featured image

Find your perfect college degree

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

In an increasingly digital world, many people rely on mobile and computer technology to accomplish their day-to-day activities and transactions. This is made possible by the field of human-computer interaction, which serves as the bridge between people and systems.

It is thanks to HC that modern users are given additional options to accommodate various preferences, disabilities, and more. This means one can expect more personalized interaction tools and processes. Needless to say, HC specialists play an essential role in the digital age.

This advanced degree program aims to prepare students to create computer-based technologies that are useful and usable for end users. They are expected to gain a better understanding and mastery when it comes to designing, implementing, and evaluating said technologies.

With a master’s degree in HCI, one will be able to enhance their professional credentials and grow in their current roles, all the while boosting opportunities for promotions and increasing their compensation.


While most human-computer interaction programs are offered on-campus, there are many universities and colleges in the country that allow students to earn a degree online. Human-computer interaction graduate programs available online feature the same high-quality curriculum as their traditional counterparts. The only difference is the flexibility and convenience that online HCI programs provide.

A fully online master’s program in human-computer interaction is specially designed for busy working professionals who need to juggle their professional and personal demands with the pursuit of higher education.

Quick audio summary:


The field of HIC is vast, encompassing various disciplines, including behavioral sciences, human factors engineering, and design. While an undergraduate degree in human-computer interaction is often enough to land an entry-level position in the field, students who want to delve deep into user interfaces for computing systems will want to earn a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction.

Each of the Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction programs featured on this list was picked because of these distinctive features that speak of academic excellence:

For a detailed look at our ranking process, please read our Methodology.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction Programs Available Online

Top Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction Programs Available Online

University of Maryland Baltimore County

University of Maryland Baltimore County

Baltimore, Maryland

Master’s in Information Systems – User Experience Track

The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a fully online program for aspiring HCI specialists in the form of a Master’s in Information Systems. This flexible degree program allows students to achieve the ideal work-life balance to advance their careers in the field of human-computer interaction. The program has an interdisciplinary approach which means students from various undergraduate and professional backgrounds can enroll.

There are four specializations within the program, including User Experience Design, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and Data Science. As one of today’s most in-demand careers, UX Design is approached with human-centered learning, where users and the way they interact with technologies are placed as the focus of the study.

Some of the online courses in this learning track include:

This program gives students a wealth of opportunities to focus their learning on areas that are recognized by the industry. The learning track appears on their transcript, so it can be included in their credentials which can help them stand out from the competition.

It is recommended that prospective students wait until the end of their first semester before signing up for a learning track so they can get a good feel of their interests and specialization goals.

University of California Irvine

University of California Irvine - Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design

Irvine, California

Master of Human-Computer Interaction & Design

The University of California Irvine offers the Master of Human-Computer Interaction & Design degree program under the Department of Informatics. This mix-format, low-residency master’s program can be earned within one year. The hybrid format allows students to gain the benefits of in-person accelerated classes combined with a flexible online education.

Graduates of this program are expected to take on leadership roles in various competitive fields, including user experience research and design, information architecture, interaction design, product design, and human-computer interaction.  

With accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission, the program is guaranteed to be high-quality and competitive. Students need to complete nine courses in one year to earn the degree. They can learn from experienced faculty from diverse backgrounds who make it a point to equip students with real-world experience in a range of essential UX skills and subjects.

They will also gain academic and practical experience with a capstone project course by working with a team of fellow students and an industry sponsor, where they will innovate, improve, or modify a new or existing human-to-computer technology.

Apart from the guidance from the professors, they can also receive a form of student support from multiple teaching assistants. They can also access a range of networking activities through the university’s extensive alumni network, along with the industry and academic advisory boards.

Oswego State University of New York

Oswego State University of New York

Oswego, New York

Master of Arts in Human-Computer Interaction

The Master of Arts in Human-Computer Interaction from the Oswego State University of New York aims to help graduates design human-computer interactions and improve interface usability. This interdisciplinary program combines concepts and methods from a variety of fields, including graphic design, computer science, and social sciences.

Students can choose among two learning tracks. One is designed to focus solely on human-computer interaction influences. The other is a professional track with business courses. The HCI track features a hands-on learning approach in project-based and experimental settings. Students can expect to utilize their knowledge and teamwork skills when completing multiple project courses throughout the program.

On the other hand, students may choose the research track, which requires them to complete thesis work. Students are expected to learn how to design, evaluate, and implement new information technologies in a way that can be understood by a wide variety of people.

The rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum seeks to prepare students to design and guide future human-computer interactions, providing them not only with practical skills but also theoretical understanding. Some of the courses included in the program are:

To successfully earn the degree program, students must complete a total of 33 credit hours.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland - College of Information Studies

College Park, Maryland

Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction (HCIM)

The University of Maryland is another higher learning institution that offers the Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction (HCIM). It is recognized as the number one HCI masters program in Maryland by EduRank.

This degree prepares students to create innovative technologies that can transform the way people access information. They are taught to design, evaluate, and implement usable and appealing information technologies through an interdisciplinary degree curriculum.

Students can expect to gain knowledge and skills from different disciplines, such as education, design, psychology, social sciences, engineering, and computer science, among others. They will be able to leverage information technology for positive social impact while developing interfaces that are suitable for users of all ages and abilities.

It is important that students in this program are able to grasp modern design methodology. The program’s curriculum is a combination of theory, practical skills, and hands-on learning.

The Master of Science Human-Computer Interaction program requires that students complete a total of 30 credit hours’ worth of academic work. Students also need to meet the minimum GPA of 3.0 and finish the degree within five calendar years.

Full-time students will be able to earn the degree in two years. However, part-time and professional students may enjoy the flexibility this online program offers, and it can take longer to finish the program.

Some of the core courses of this degree program include:

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, New York

Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction

For students passionate about the field of human-computer interaction, Rochester Institute of Technology boasts of a comprehensive, advanced degree program to help prepare graduates for a rewarding career in an ever-growing industry.

Its Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction integrates the principles of design and service into a rigorous curriculum. Students are equipped with knowledge and skills integral to conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and evaluating software applications and interactive computing technologies with the user in mind.

The program focuses on practical and applied learning, which means students will need to complete two courses in the application domain areas. For those interested in other HCI-related areas, a special topic option is available with faculty approval. Some of the online courses within the program include:

Students who want to get admitted into the program will need to hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited university. They are also required to meet the minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0. Other requirements are official transcripts, a current resume, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation.

Indiana University

Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana

Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction

Indian University prepares students for a rewarding and exciting career in the field of HCI with the Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction program. This online degree allows students to immerse themselves in a project-based, hands-on learning environment where they can explore the emerging field of research and collaborate with industry leaders.

This is on top of learning how to design and create interactive tools and systems that are both usable and effective. They are expected to gain knowledge and skills in a wide range of areas, including accessibility, interaction design, social computing research, and user-experience research.

To earn the online program, students must complete the 36 credit hours, with 15 credits allocated for general core courses, 15 to 21 credits for specialized electives, and up to 6 credits for open electives. The courses in the curriculum include:

For the open electives, students may choose between Informatics Project Management and Independent Study in HCI.

Graduates of this degree program can proceed to exciting careers such as senior human factors engineer, product designer, interaction designer, user experience designer, search quality analyst, and many more.

DePaul University

DePaul University - Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media

Chicago, Illinois

Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction

DePaul University offers a Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction program for students who want to ideate, design, and implement computer-based technologies. They can learn user-centered and participatory design approaches that will help them develop information and communication technologies, including websites, desktop applications, and mobile apps.

Students of this program are expected to plan and conduct ethical user research with human participants while utilizing appropriate data collection methods. They will need to analyze data using qualitative and quantitative methods as well.

Another skill they need to learn is to create prototypes that stimulate user interface interactivity and design and conduct usability tests for prototyped products. It is also part of their training to create and justify interface designs using appropriate theoretical and methodological HCI frameworks.

The program curriculum at DePaul University features diverse subject areas from a good blend of core courses and electives. Some of the courses they will encounter include:

Drexel University Online

Drexel University - Online

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Master of Science in Information: Human-Computer Interaction & User Experience

Drexel University offers a Master of Science in Information: Human-Computer Interaction & User Experience. It Is a degree program that adopts a holistic approach in looking at the human use of technology, in particular, the tightly intertwined relationships between people and various computing systems around them. This human-computer interaction degree features coursework that is offered entirely online.

The program focuses on the skills of analyzing, evaluating, and collaboratively creating computer systems that have a human-centered design, essentially systems that effectively support various human needs in all aspects of life. The program is also designed in such a way that students coming from varied backgrounds can easily transition into the world of User Experience and Human-Computer Interaction.

As such, the degree program does not require students to have a strong technical background beforehand. Typical students to the degree may possess either technical skills or design skills only and none of the other, or maybe entirely new to the industry and area and are looking to make a career change.

The program consists of a total of 45 credit hours. Instead of the traditional two-semester system, the program is structured into four 10-week quarters yearly, which means students get to take more courses in a shorter time period.

The program’s curriculum has an interdisciplinary structure and draws on a wide range of disciplines that include psychology, sociology, computer science, and software engineering. During the program, students tackle the phenomenological aspect of media and information, get a grounding on policy and ethics surrounding information, and learn crucial skill sets that include programming, data structures, project management, as well as planning & marketing.

The program concludes with a capstone project that takes the form of an open-ended team activity.

ArtCenter College of Design

ArtCenter College of Design

Pasadena, California

Online Master of Design in Interaction Design

A private art college in Pasadena, California, the ArtCenter College of Design offers an online Master of Design in Interaction Design degree program. The program’s coursework is delivered 100% online and can be completed in three terms. The program contains a total of 36 credit hours.

This Master of Design degree program is aimed at preparing graduates who are able to integrate advanced Interaction Design methods and principles for a range of existing and emerging technologies across a variety of platforms and applied domains.

Like other Human-Computer Interaction degree programs, this Master of Design degree contains a balance of courses that focus on both design skills, as well as the tools and systems that work behind the scenes and form the backbone of User Experience.

Being an art institution, this degree program has a curriculum design that somehow sets it apart from other degree programs related to human-computer interaction.

The program uses human-centered design methodologies in training students on a variety of topics and skill sets which includes digital service, software UX/UI, platform and product design, creative prototyping, strategic innovation, and creative technology development.

The program also integrates learnings in case studies taken from a range of industries, from entertainment to healthcare, automotive design, and more. Classes are largely project-driven, providing ample opportunities for students to get hands-on experience applying their learnings.

Topics in the program’s curriculum also include data visualization/visual representation, interface design, and human-computer interaction. Students also study ethical research practices and get trained in other key skill sets such as writing white papers/technical writing and leadership strategies.

Iowa State University

Iowa State University

 Ames, Iowa

Master’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction

Iowa State University is a public research university that offers a Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction degree program, which was created back in 2017 to address the growing demand coming from industry and business for a program that produces graduates equipped with skillsets in human-computer interaction. It is delivered in an online format and may be completed in just two years.

The program consists of a total of 30 credit hours. This consists of 6 required courses (18 credits) and four more courses (12 credits) of students’ choosing. This human-computer interaction degree program’s core curriculum is split into Design, Implementation, Phenomena, and Evaluation categories, each containing a number of courses. Students, in turn, are required to complete one course from each category as part of their set of core courses.

This Iowa State University program, meanwhile, offers a set of recommended elective courses that students can choose from in order to complete their required 30 credit hours. These electives cover a range of topics that include cognitive engineering, human factors, human-computer interaction models and theories, optimization methods, and game-based learning.

The program coursework is delivered primarily online, utilizing recorded lectures delivered using streaming technology, in addition to multiple platforms that enable student-teacher interaction. Students are required to maintain a grade of B (3.0 GPA) or better, especially for the core courses.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona

Master of Science in User Experience

Arizona State University offers a Master of Science in User Experience degree program, which is offered both on-campus and online. It consists of a total of 30 credit hours.

The User Experience degree program focuses on the design, development, and evaluation of useful, usable, and desirable products and services. It is designed to address the critical topic areas in UX research, design, content development, communication, tone of voice, and evaluation of all components and products which people interact with.

These said products may include hardware and software user interfaces, information protocols, user support and help systems, human interaction with information, and more.

The unique program is interdisciplinary in nature and is in fact, a collaboration between three separate programs in the university: Human Systems Engineering, Graphic Information Technology, and Technical Writing and Communication.

In order to be admitted into the ASU UX Master of Science program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields: psychology, graphic information technology, cognitive science, graphic design, design or technical communication, or any other closely related field.

Likewise, students must have a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA in the last 60 semester hours of their bachelor’s or a minimum of 3.00 GPA in graduate work, if any is applicable. Students not meeting these requirements but otherwise showing strong evidence of potential for outstanding performance in the program may be considered for provisional admission.

Students are also required to maintain grades equivalent to B (GPA 3.00) or higher. The UX MS degree program culminates in a Capstone project in the form of a Portfolio, which highlights three major accomplishments throughout the student’s coursework and may include projects or papers.

University of Baltimore

University of Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland

Master of Science in Interaction Design and Information Architecture

The University of Baltimore offers a Master of Science in Interaction Design and Information Architecture degree program, which places emphasis on how significant information technologies address human needs and desires, in particular their design, development, and application.

While the program can be completed entirely online, it is also delivered on-campus, typically through evening classes to accommodate working professionals.

The degree program consists of a total of 36 credit hours, featuring coursework that integrates elements of computer science with the perspectives found in the arts and humanities. Students, in turn, are trained in developing in-demand skills that are highly sought-after for UX professionals and practitioners.

The program also gives students an avenue to apply advanced technologies in the context of the human experience and places cutting-edge topics at the forefront of discussions. Students are also encouraged to present their own work during the program at national conferences.

Typical students in the program come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Aside from the arts, students’ backgrounds range from the computer sciences to the social sciences, and some have come from the natural sciences, history, literature, and languages.

The program’s coursework consists of four competency areas:

Course content includes a wide variety of topics, including Research Methods, Interactive Multimedia, Interface Design, and other phenomenological courses.

The program concludes with a choice of either a thesis or a project, which is worth six credit hours. Some students may have to take additional classes in coding (mainly HTML and CSS), as many courses expect graduate students to have at least a minimum level of familiarity with HTML.

Brandeis University

Brandeis University

Waltham, Massachusetts

Master of Science in User-Centered Design

Brandeis University is a private research university that offers a Master of Science in User-Centered Design, a unique interdisciplinary program that is an intersection of psychology, creativity, and technology. The program is offered 100% online and can be enrolled either part-time or full-time.

The program contains a total of 30 credit hours. As opposed to other degree programs on human-computer interaction that may have a focus on design aspects, the Brandeis University User-Centered Design degree program follows the path of exploring human behavior in order for students to gain a deeper understanding of the principles of user experience (UX) and engagement.

The program includes required courses that cover fundamental principles in user experience design, on top of psychology, various processes, and leadership aspects that are involved in the process.

The program likewise teaches students to incorporate industry trends such as design thinking and agile development into their work, to base their work on evidence-based rationales, and to effectively collaborate with internal stakeholders such as product owners and managers.

The program’s curriculum features a choice of three emphasis areas/electives tracks, namely Design, Strategy, and Research & Analytics. The program’s set of electives covers skills that deepen students’ knowledge in their areas of interest and includes courses on web development, project management, and design of emerging technologies. Students also have the option of taking the Internship, which gives them the opportunity to gain crucial hands-on experience.

The program concludes with a capstone project, and students graduate with a portfolio. The capstone takes the form of a seminar-style course that serves as a synthesis of their learnings. Students either work independently or in small teams in order to produce a prototype of a product or a system.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University - Whiting School of Engineering

Baltimore, Maryland

Master’s in Information Systems Engineering – Human-Computer Interaction

Johns Hopkins University offers a Master’s Degree in Information Systems Engineering, which, while it may not be a purely UX-related degree program, contains Human-Computer Interaction as one of its key focus areas that students are required to select. The program can be completed either on-site, entirely online, or in a hybrid format.

The JHU Master’s in Information Systems Engineering program is designed to provide students with knowledge in systems engineering that lets them build, deploy, and assure large-scale and complex systems that are built mainly on and powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms. The program also emphasizes the need for students to ensure that these systems interact with humans in ways that are fair, ethical, and socially acceptable.

The program trains students to be able to develop processes and components of large-scale information systems and be able to effectively work with complex data sets, and discover crucial relationships and insights.

The program equips students to effectively address the challenges of developing systems built on artificial intelligence and machine learning and on a practical level, to effectively integrate theory and practice into their professional responsibilities.

Of interest to potential students is the focus area on Human-Computer Interaction, which features coursework on Data Visualization, the underlying principles of Human-Computer interaction and human systems engineering, and cognitive systems engineering. Meanwhile, other focus areas include:

It should be noted that this degree program is primarily an engineering degree program and a background in engineering is encouraged but not required. Potential students who do not have the relevant background can still apply, but they may have to take a proficiency exam and may be accepted under provisional student status.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University - College of Computing and Engineering

 Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Master of Science in Information Systems – User Experience (UX)/Human-Computer Interaction

Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Science in Information Systems degree program. While this isn’t a degree focusing only on Human-Computer interaction, it does have User Experience/Human-Computer Interaction as one of its key Concentration Areas. The program is offered either on-campus or as a fully online program.

The MS in Information Systems degree program is designed with the goal of applying systems thinking together with technological solutions to help make organizations work smarter. The degree is ideal for individuals who like the challenge of problem-solving, using technology strategically, and have a knack for project management and communicating with people at all levels. The program trains students to be able to effectively use the information to improve organizations and their processes.

The program contains a total of 30 credit hours. Students can avail of 8-week courses, which enable students to earn their degree in 1 year. Aside from UX/Human-Computer Interaction, the other Concentration Areas in the Program are:

For the UX/Human-Computer Interaction concentration area, students are trained in interaction design, user experience strategy, and computer-supported cooperative work. The program’s core curriculum, meanwhile, includes courses on cybersecurity, data analytics and database systems, project management, and ethics in computing.

Students also have the option of further deepening their knowledge in their chosen areas of interest and customizing their degree by adding a further three open elective subjects.

Human-Computer Interaction Defined

In the simplest terms, human-computer interaction is a field of study/discipline concerned with the way humans use and interact with various forms of new and existing technology based on and powered by computer systems. These comprise a huge range of technologies and systems, from smartphone apps to government service portals, specific websites and web services, and more.

The field of human-computer interaction often overlaps and blends into the concept of user experience, often shortened to UX. User experience refers to the whole interaction between a user/users and a particular product or service. In turn, this applies to the more specific instances falling under human-computer interaction.

When it comes to goals, human-computer interaction may seek to continually improve and refine the entire interaction in user-centered design terms, making the interaction not only more efficient and enjoyable but also safer and more ethical.

As it is an entire phenomenon/experience, human-computer interaction has many aspects involved, including psychological & cognitive aspects, human factors, visual communication, marketing principles, and theories of information, on top of the technical aspects that underpin the technologies themselves, such as data science and computer science.

Given the wide range of factors involved in the field of human experience, typical human-computer interaction degree programs also draw from a wide variety of disciplines.

Degree programs may contain courses on human psychology relating to user experience, discussions on current trends, theories, and models, as well as courses on specific skills in graphic & interface design, on top of courses on skills that form the “back-end,” such as data science, UX research, web development, computer programming, and others.

Common Courses in Human-Computer Interaction Degree Programs

Human-Computer interaction degree programs tend to be interdisciplinary in nature, and the universities that offer these degree programs may choose to place emphasis on one aspect or another, which naturally leads to a degree of variation in their curriculum designs.

This is on top of the set of recommended electives that they may choose to include. Nevertheless, there are commonalities between these degree programs in terms of content. Let’s look at some of these common course thematic areas.

Theories and Models of Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience

Like any other field or discipline, HCI/UX is underpinned by its own set of theories and models, particularly on the phenomenology of human interaction with computers and computer-driven technology.

Psychology courses

Human-Computer interaction naturally has a psychological aspect, and HCI degree programs will have one or more courses that cover the psychological and/or cognitive aspects. This may include critical topics such as human factors, cognitive psychology, applicable principles of human behavior, principles of visual communication, and others.

Design Courses

A huge part of the process of human-computer interaction is the visual aspect, and HCI degree programs feature courses related to practical design, especially when it comes to user interface design. Indeed, some degree programs even emphasize the design aspect. Design courses may also cover the non-visual aspects of HCI.

Computer Science

Some degree programs related to Human-Computer interaction place emphasis on technical skills related to developing computers and computer systems and feature heavy courses that cover various skill sets in developing these systems at the back end. This may include software development, aspects of data science, specific algorithms, programming, web development, and more.

Best Online Master's in HCI (Human Computer Interaction) - fact

Usual Careers in Online HCI Masters Programs

The field of human-computer interaction is vast and ever-evolving. It encompasses a wide range of industries, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that web and digital interface designers could expect a mean annual wage of $83,240. This can go higher depending on one’s position, seniority, and experience.  It opens a wealth of opportunities for rewarding careers, including the following:

Information Architect

Responsible for creating and manipulating content and information to enhance the impact and readability of computer applications and systems, information architects often develop layouts and templates through the application of design principles and expert language skills.

User Experience Designer

Another exciting job for HCI graduates is the user experience design position. User experience designers are responsible for measuring and optimizing applications to improve interactive media usability and create the best user experience. They may need to conduct in-person user tests to observe user behavior and refine apps that people like.

Cognitive Systems Engineer

This specialist position is responsible for the development of artificial intelligence systems that help computers navigate human-centric processes of learning and adapting. Machines are then able to make reasoned decisions based on incomplete information and communicate with users to take action.

Cognitive systems engineers help design human interfaces and systematically develop instructional materials.

Accessibility Designer

Accessibility designers typically make sure that applications are designed, programmed, tested, and debugged according to accessibility specifications. Their responsibilities often include testing and evaluating software tools from accessibility and usability perspectives. It is essential that specialists in this field know and understand design principles, guidelines, and relevant policies.

Front End Designer or Developer

Responsible for developing new user-facing features, front-end developers or designers often build reusable codes, optimize website page loading times, and create web pages using a variety of markup languages. Their work also involves building visual elements on a page, including buttons, menus, forms, and other features that allow users to interact when they visit a website.

Human Factors Engineer

The job of human factors engineers involves designing objects and facilities with the aim of optimizing human well-being and system performance. They are tasked to apply theory, principles, and data when it comes to the relationship between humans and respective technology. They may need to design and test new systems or machines for optimal comfort.

Essential Skills Needed for Human-Computer Interaction Programs Graduate Students

While the field of human-computer interaction and, in extension, UX design is predominantly technical, it is still employing other skills and competencies that can aid HCI professionals in imagining and creating innovative systems and services that provide exceptional experiences for users. It is important that prospective students embody the skills needed to earn the degree and succeed in the field. Some of these skills include:


When it comes to human-computer interaction, it is important to keep in mind the primary purpose of designing a system or product that involves user experience. It is solving a problem. The best way to do just this is by utilizing creative thinking.

A brilliant idea often stems from creativity, so it is integral in forming digital products and making sure they are effective. Creativity allows UX designers and HCI specialists to map out a system of ideas and insights that reflect users’ reality.

English Language Mastery

Many students from all over the world attend online HCI master programs, so it is only expected that students have developed a mastery of the English language as it is essential in effectively communicating ideas in the virtual classroom and engaging in deep collaboration with other online students in their programs.


When designing products that employ user interaction, it is vital that one knows what the potential customers will like and what will help them make their lives easier or solve their problems somehow. Users must know they can use the product and that it is adding value to their lives. To be able to gauge users’ preferences and anticipate their reactions, human interaction specialists must have empathy skills. This means listening to what the users need and understanding their behavior.

Market Research

Design trends are constantly evolving. Keeping up with the changes is crucial if one wants to have an edge over the competition. This is where students’ market research skills come in. They must be able to keep their eyes and ears peeled on the latest developments in design and technology and know exactly how to apply them in their current learning.

It is also worth studying trends in programming, user behavior, and even color psychology just to cover all the essential aspects of human-computer interaction.

Visual Communication

Communication is an important skill in any field. But in human-computer interaction, in particular, this skill is indispensable. Specialists in this field must know how to communicate their ideas in a way that they will be implemented efficiently and effectively.

They must be able to create a visual design that is easily followed and understood. This can be done by employing the visual representation of their idea, whether it is creating prototypes, mock-ups, storyboards, or wireframes. Proficiency in visual communication is a must.


Knowing and understanding the principles of coding is vital when it comes to user design. Designers must have a good grasp of how interaction and interfaces work and the features that they can add or enhance. Basic knowledge of codings, such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, will be helpful in improving their design skills.

Wireframing and Prototyping

Testing is an important step when it comes to designing products and providing solutions. It allows one to know whether the idea they have developed actually works. Wireframe serves as the blueprint of the design, allowing one to lay out the structure and application outline.

Prototypes, on the other hand, serve as the working model of their design. This one contains the product’s content and function. Both are important when it comes to testing out products and digital solutions before they are launched.

Analytical Skills

Human-computer interaction often requires thorough assessing of information, problem-solving, and implementing of solutions. Having good analytical skills comes in handy to get all of these done. An analytical person usually finds it easy to make sense of facts and figures through the use of logical thinking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is earning a master’s in Human-Computer interaction degree program worth it?

Is earning a Master’s in Human-Computer interaction degree program worth it?

Human-computer interaction is a growing and ever-evolving field that will remain relevant for a long time, along with the advancements in technology. It is crucial to understand and facilitate user and machine interactions.

This is only accomplished by combining related and equally essential disciplines such as design, computer science, behavioral science, and cognitive psychology – which is what HCI is all about. HCI specialists are integral in shaping the way people interact with machines, computers, and other technologies.

With a master’s degree in human-computer interaction, one will be able to gain practical education and theoretical understanding to become a leader in the field. There is a growing demand for HCI graduates from businesses and other industries, and earning a master’s degree will give prospective students an edge over the competition. This can be their ticket to leadership positions and better compensation.

What’s the typical timeline for completing an online Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction program?

On average, most HCI master’s programs can be completed in one to two years. The length of the master’s program largely depends on a variety of factors.

This includes the program requirements and enrollment basis. Students enrolled full-time will be able to finish the course much faster than those enrolled part-time as they can take on more courses per semester. Programs that require capstone projects and thesis completion may need to render more time to earn the degree.

There are schools that allow transfer credits, so this can contribute to faster degree completion. However, there are still universities that compel students to take prerequisites if they haven’t previously earned the particular course from their undergraduate degree. Online programs often allow students to complete the coursework at their own pace.

This can also affect the length of time it takes for students to finish the degree. Moreover, some HIC programs are available in accelerated formats, which is a good choice for students who want to earn a degree faster.

What are the most common admission requirements to enter a Master’s in Human Interaction program?

Admission requirements often vary from program to program. Universities also have their own set of requirements when it comes to the admission process. Some institutions might require prospective students to complete an application form online and provide an application fee, which is often non-refundable. It is also important that interested students hold a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited institution. Other essential requirements include:

How much do Human-Computer Interaction graduate programs cost?

As with other degree programs offered by a number of universities (whether undergraduate or graduate degrees), a variance naturally occurs between universities in terms of the total cost. Universities have their own cost structures unique to them, and they may be in states that are generally more or less expensive compared to others, and this is reflected in their cost of education.

A good starting point to get an estimate of how much a degree may cost, meanwhile, is to take the cost per credit hour and multiply this by the number of credit hours. Human-Computer interaction degree programs typically start at a little over $1000 per credit hour, with some universities approaching the $2000 mark, and human-computer interaction degree programs hover around the 30-credit hour mark for their totals.

This is on top of any other costs that universities may impose, so it is best practice to communicate directly with a particular university to get the most exact cost estimates. Talking directly with universities also lets you get information on the specific means they offer to help offset costs, such as scholarships and grants unique to them, or maybe even special discounts, employer contribution programs, and other ways aside from the standard federal financial aid.

Do Human-Computer Interaction degrees require any academic background or pre-requisite courses?

It depends. Many human-computer interaction degree programs generally have an interdisciplinary curriculum design and are accommodating of students of all academic backgrounds, while some degree programs may recommend students to have certain academic and technical backgrounds, particularly degrees related to a computer science major, or backgrounds in graphic design and the arts.

At the very least, some universities would require students to take pre-requisite subjects that are outside the set number of credit hours for their degree program, like fundamental skills in coding. Some may let students take proficiency tests, as some individuals may have relevant abilities that make them an ideal fit for the program that is not necessarily reflected by their prior academic background.

Will my diploma say “online” on it?

Generally, no. Diplomas tend to only indicate the degree and not the mode of delivery. Colleges and universities, especially those that offer particular degree programs in both on-campus and online/hybrid formats, tend to not distinguish their modes of delivery.

These various delivery formats may have their own strengths and weaknesses, but at the end of the day, they are built on the same set of learning outcomes, follow the same course designs and curriculums, and are also taught by the same set of faculty.

In general, unless a degree was awarded by a college/university/institution that is known primarily for providing online degrees, there is usually no way to tell in the diploma if a degree was delivered online or not.

Key Takeaways

Human-computer interaction degree programs focus on critical aspects of the way humans interact with various forms of technology, specifically technologies that utilize various computer systems.

The human-computer interaction discipline is both a science and an art, utilizing research methods, computer science principles and skill sets, and design skills.

Human-computer interaction degree programs tend to be interdisciplinary. The themes and discussions surrounding human-computer interaction are drawn from a variety of disciplines, which include computer science, psychology, design, research, and marketing. Courses include discussions on theory and phenomena, as well as specific core skill sets and tools.

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.