What kind of graduate programs focus on User Experience Design?
February 6, 2007 12:18 PM   Subscribe

What type of graduate programs focus on User Experience Design or HCI? Everyone seems to have a different name for it, and university sites are hard to navigate at best. I'm less interested in computer science degrees, but perhaps that all that is out there?
posted by rschroed to Education (25 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
A friend got a masters in something like that at the University of Washington "iSchool". I don't know how their program rates, but he's kind of a snooty guy, so I don't think he'd settle for a second tier program (if he had the choice).
posted by Good Brain at 12:24 PM on February 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

This link may help - just scroll down. You'll see that human factors/usability/hci are offered at the graduate level by some really good schools.
posted by nj_subgenius at 12:25 PM on February 6, 2007

At the University of Waterloo, this stuff usually falls under the Systems Design program, which is in the Faculty of Engineering.
posted by chunking express at 12:26 PM on February 6, 2007

HCII at CMU. I recall seeing a fine arts school offering an information design grad degree, but cannot remember it at the moment. If I remember it, I'll post.
posted by GuyZero at 12:27 PM on February 6, 2007

The Information Science program at UNC Chapel Hill has a strong focus on HCI.
posted by malaprohibita at 12:30 PM on February 6, 2007

The Usernomics site that nj_subgenius links to is good. It mentions the University of Michigan's engineering programs but not the HCI program at its School of Information.
posted by ardgedee at 12:34 PM on February 6, 2007

Tech Focused:

Master's Degree at MIT Media Lab
GT has an MS-HCI Degree (I went here for my master's degree)
UM, UNC, UW, and others have IS degrees and MLS degrees.

More 'Arty' Focused:

GT also has a separate IDT Master's degree (under lit., culture, communication school)
posted by zpousman at 12:39 PM on February 6, 2007

The HCI program at UM gets (and seems to largely ignore) complaints that it's not techy enough (and that it doesn't hire enough hard-core techy faculty), although a handful of impressive techy types are currently on its faculty. Take a look at the degree requirements to help make up your own mind, but caveat emptor.
posted by blucevalo at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2007

If you're interested, there is an HCI program at the Technical University Eindhoven in The Netherlands. I employed several graduates from there during my years in Europe.

Here is a presentation outlining the program.
posted by michswiss at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2007

Here's a list of schools with Graduate Degrees in Software Ergonomics.

I can vouch for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign being a great school and having such a program.
posted by twiggy at 12:50 PM on February 6, 2007

I don't know squat about this field, but it's funny that you mention that many of these school's sites are "hard to navigate at best." Might be the perfect topic for your essay - how I'd redesign your website.
posted by jtajta at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2007

MS in Human Factors in Information Design at Bentley College in Waltham, MA
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2007

Awesome links everybody! Thanks so much. I've spent a couple hours over the last couple of days surfing around and didn't come close to the quality/volume found here.

@jtajta: yeah, it's weird. And it's less of a problem for the specific programs and more that they're so far removed from the whatever.edu home page.
posted by rschroed at 1:36 PM on February 6, 2007

Carnegie Mellon is supposed to have an excellent program.
posted by xammerboy at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2007

I somehow know a bunch of people who have human factors graduate degress from Stanford who are all amazingly good at what they do. The program is very highly regarded - around these parts at least.
posted by Wolfie at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2007

At University of Washington (Seattle), this is mostly covered by the Technical Communication department.
posted by matildaben at 3:11 PM on February 6, 2007

I'm at CMU, and while I do not work in the HCII, I've collaborated with them a few times on various projects. They do really interesting stuff and are supposed to be a fantastic program. I'd definitely look at it closely.
posted by Stacey at 3:57 PM on February 6, 2007

HCI at Georgia Tech, which I don't know if anyone has mentioned.
posted by santojulieta at 4:10 PM on February 6, 2007

It depends on whether you're looking at a research program or professional training program. Among the programs mentioned on this page, some are better or worse at either path. UMich iSchool for instance, is (as far as I know) more focused on the masters experience as professional training than their PhD program. Same is true of Berkeley's i-school and CMU's master's program.

GTech and CMU's PhD program are probably the best pure HCI research programs. I'd disagree with the earlier characterization that CMU is a techy program - their research agenda does include a fair amount of building stuff, but there's also a strong sociological bent to the faculty there. The Media Lab has a really quirky but compelling program if the philosophy and attitude works for you. It's definitely not classic HCI, though. Stanford has a good (but small) HCI program. Berkeley's very well regarded CS program does some HCI work. If you're strong in CS, MIT's CSAIL does some HCI work (Karger, Miller, some misc. projects), but it's definitely a CS department. Otherwise, it's kind of a fragmented community. Lots of people here and there doing good work, but not a lot of major centers yet.

Feel free to shoot me an email if you have detailed questions - I applied and visitd some of the schools mentioned on this page last year and might be able to provide some useful insider info if I knew more about exactly what you were looking for in a grad program.
posted by heresiarch at 6:42 PM on February 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Previous posters have hit on most of the usual suspects. You should check out the I-School Project member schools. Also, take a look at the proceedings of CHI to see the schools of the authors of interesting papers.
posted by i love cheese at 7:07 PM on February 6, 2007

Berkeley's School of Information Management.

Take as many information architecture courses you can.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:04 PM on February 6, 2007

Check into any school that offers a masters in library and information science (MLIS) and see if there is an informatics specialization. It sounds like this is exactly what you are looking for.

I live in California and am in an MLIS program at UCLA. Here is the informatics info from my school.
UCLA has a fantastic information architecture class. Here's the syllabus if you're interested.

San Jose State University in California also offers an informatics specialization. The good thing about SJSU is that you can take both distance courses and courses on the campus. Whatever you want.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:18 PM on February 6, 2007

The University of Washington iSchool has an MLIS program and an MS in Information Management. Most people in my department at work (Information Architecture) have the MLIS, as do I; I don't know much about the MSIM, other than that there were lots of classes I wished I'd had the chance to take.
Additionally, the UW Technical Communications department has a Master's degree in Technical Communciations, which includes the four courses that comprise the User-Centered Design certificate program. I'm thinking about taking that program.
posted by librarina at 8:52 PM on February 6, 2007

Indiana University has a Human-Computer Interaction Design program in their School of Informatics.
posted by christie at 10:11 PM on February 6, 2007

The UW iSchool also has a PhD program that caters to students interested in HCI and design. It's an interdisciplinary program with several tracks, but there is a small(ish) and dedicated group of students and faculty in this area. The PhD program is in the process of revamping the course curriculum to be more attractive to HCI students.

I'm currently a student in this program; my email is in my profile if you have any questions.
posted by shaun at 10:23 PM on February 6, 2007

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