Interaction Design or HCI higher studies

16 Nov 2009 - 11:07pm
2 years ago
7 replies
4678 reads


I intend to pursue a Masters Degree in Interaction Design or HCI from
US or Canada (MDes or MS).

I am about to finish my Graduate studies in Computer Science (MS in
CS) with a GPA of 3.1 (including one really low grade). I have some
pretty strong project work that can cover-up the GPA deficiency to
some extent. Also I have taken courses like Virtual Reality and User
Interface Design.

Given this background, is it wise to even try for higher studies in
interaction design or HCI?

If yes, how do I go about it because the best Universities like CMU
and/or GeorgiaTech are out of question? What about the funding


17 Nov 2009 - 9:56am

Jackz.... one option is to go get some real world experience. Then, if you decide to pursue a masters in IxD, you can do it at a more educated and mature level. You don't necessarily need the degree to work in the field (at least not yet) because the discipline is so new and evolving. With your MS in CS, you shouldn't have a problem at all getting a job. Once in, start planning out your career to move to the human side of technology. Most companies will support this, especially if it's a big company.

Just a thought.

18 Nov 2009 - 7:28pm
Yun Liu

Hi Jackz, David,

I basically have the same question as Jackz. My background is a
little bit different though. I got bachelor's degree in Electronic
Engineering, and master's in Digital Media Design. I took some
design research and usability courses.

So if i want to get a user experience designer job, where should i
start? do i need a hci degree?

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Posted from the new

20 Nov 2009 - 12:15pm

But I haven't seen many job openings for Fresh Grads in companies.

I may be wrong but I have seen job openings for Interaction Designers
and HCI guys who have some experience in this area.

Am I right?

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Posted from the new

21 Nov 2009 - 5:24pm
Dave Malouf

Yun, if you have a Digital Media Design Masters with EE, you should be
well on your way to getting a job. The only thing stopping you is
yourself, not your education.

If you feel you need "courses" take stuff online, or go to
workshops @ conferences.

But you have all the credentials you need. You just need to get a
portfolio together that tells the story you want to tell. I don't
think an HCI degree will be worth it for you.

Jackz, your situation is a bit different. Since you have no design
edu, I suggest going for an MFI or certificates in some type of
design program. I don't see how an HCI degree is going to be worth
the money at this point.

As for "entry level". No one w/ a masters degree should be looking
at entry level. I thnk David is right. Since so much of UI work is
well being done by programmers anyway. Just take the programming jobs
and think like an IxD. learn on your own and through conferences and
what not and then you'll just transform into a designer.

As a professor, I can tell you that course-work is not the path to

I would recommend some art & design continuing ed. That's what I
did. ;-)

-- dave

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Posted from the new

22 Nov 2009 - 10:23am
Rachel Powers

Yes, recent graduates and current students are having difficulty finding jobs and internships. Although I agree with Dave, that you do not need a degree to work in the field, I think having an advanced degree will give you insight into the multi-disciplinary touch points and integration of design into other fields and contexts. A good design program will teach you the skills to identify root core issues and the ability to create innovative approaches to solving current and future problems that satisfy individual and societal needs.

If CMU or Georgia Tech are out, you may want to consider other programs, such as DePaul University, Northwestern University, IIT Institute of Design, Stanford, University of Notre Dame. Many schools offer a variety of programs that combine HCI, design with CS and other disciplines. Funding is still available at many schools.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.


Rachel Powers
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Northwestern University
Adjunct Faculty, IIT Institute of Design
Principal and Founder, Visde

23 Sep 2013 - 1:43am

Hi Rachel,

I am Sneha Shirsat from India. I am a software Engineer, a 2012 graduate from College of Engineering Pune.

I wish to take up higher studies in HCI in US. Will you please suggest me some good schools for the same?I am looking for an MS in CS where I can specialize in HCI. Along with a CGPA of 7.4/10, I have taken up the GRE and my score is 310/340; similarly in TOEFL i have scored 108/120. I have my B.Tech project in maximising UI capabilties of a Business Intelligence tool which I developed in Java. Currently, I am employed in a PLM Software Company where I work on UI customizations.

Considering my current profile and academics, I am seeking your advice to shortlist schools where I can have a deep study of HCI and also carry out research. My e-mail id is

Looking forward for your reply.


Thanks and regards,

Sneha Shirsat






22 Jul 2011 - 2:34am

Hi everyone I have recently finished my M Des in Interaction from IIT (India) and now intend to do my second masters in HCI. Was just curious to know if the fact that I have already done my first masters in Interaction design would act as a deterrent to my chances of getting into a good MS HCI program?

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