Applying for research opportunities in HCI focussing on IxD, UX, IA and usability

4 Oct 2011 - 1:52am
4 years ago
3 replies
1729 reads

Greetings! I am a (very recent) graduate in Software Engineering from Sri Lanka and I wish to peruse my higher studies (postgrads) in research based user experience design and development. Professionally I do not have any HCI, usability or UX related work or research experience. As a matter of fact, there are no academic or commercial user experience labs in Sri Lanka. And finding opportunity to gain work experience on such a field is very hard here. I researched about graduate programs in US and it seems like that not having experience in the field AND having a bachelor’s degree that is not directly relate to the field might impact my applications badly.

I would love to work in a HCI/usability research lab (academic/university or commercial/company) where I can gain experience in the field. That can help me get in to a grad school to conduct research or gain academic competencies in the field.

Considering the situation, can you suggest me actions I can take so that I get to land in my dream job? Simply, what should I do?


6 Oct 2011 - 10:34pm
Samantha LeVan

Some programs may admit you if you have an undergrad that taught you some skills that could be applied in the UX/HCI field. Consider Carnegie Mellon University's HCI graduate program. The focus is on bringing together talented people from other disciplines to work together and become ready for a job in usability or user experience research, design, or development. With a software engineering background and a strong interest in user experience, you could definitely be considered for the masters program. The main thing is to have excellent grades from your undergrad years, an understanding of what UX is about and what CMU teaches, great references, and a desire to succeed. There may be other programs out there like this one.

I went into the CMU program with a BFA in art history and felt right at home.

7 Oct 2011 - 3:11am

Thank you Samantha!,

As far as my grades are concerned, they are not bad, but they arn't the best either. I have a Second class honours, upper division (2:1) degree. And I did not learn HCI as part of my degree. Does that mean that I need something more to get qualified?

7 Oct 2011 - 2:08pm
Samantha LeVan

You don't need HCI classes as an undergrad as very few schools offer that. But if your grades aren't very high, you could consider taking graduate level courses in design, psychology, and cognitive science online or at a local university. Prove you can handle graduate coursework and that your interest in HCI is sincere by working hard at a few courses. Then start looking into graduate school full time. Many universities offer classes online or in person without being formally accepted. In the meantime, read up on usability research methods and practice by usability testing your own prototypes with friends and family. Spend time observing people to practice field research - shadow people shopping at stores or on the street and take notes on ways you could improve user experience problems you identify.

Visit websites of schools you are interested in and reach out to their admissions department to see what the requirements are.

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