Undergraduate programs for HcI, HCC, and Informatics

24 Dec 2011 - 4:55pm
4 years ago
10 replies
2502 reads

After 4 years of education (2 year degree) focused heavily around aesthetic graphical design, and some time in the professional industry as an interface (ux) designer, I have decided to continue moving forward with further education. My passion for design interaction, mental cognition, and technology, leads me to believe that further education is the most logical step towards growing in these areas of focus–

  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Human Centered Computing 
  • Informatics  

I actually stubmled upon IXDA while doing my research, and as humbled as I was, I became a bit overwhelmed with the breadth of information on schools who offer a generalized study in this area. It also seems that in many cases, HcI is only offered as a second major or graduate study. I am looking for some help in deciding on some schools to further research and apply.

Thanks in advance!

Happy Holidays


27 Dec 2011 - 1:39pm
Dave Malouf

Hi Brinton, If you have a 4yr degree why another undergraduate degree? Further, where are you located? Programs differ widely especially at the undergraduate level when one looks in different locales. Also, have you searched on Quora.com?

-- dave

27 Dec 2011 - 6:14pm


I suppose I should have clarified. I have 4 years education, but only an applied degree in Graphic Design. The other two years were at a technical program during high school which resulted in a certificate. The reason I plan on starting as a freshman is because I wan't to delve into a broader technoligical aspect and not strictly web development.

I am located in Northeast Ohio, but very willing to move out of state. I would prefer to stay in the northeast side of the country, but will go wherever necessary.

I'm not familiar with Quora, I will give it a look over.



28 Dec 2011 - 12:53pm
Dave Malouf

You are correct that there are few straight up HCI-like undergraduate programs here in the states for sure.

From your topic list, I'll make the assumption that you are assuming your design education is done and that you want to shore up your education on the technical side of things.

There are a lot of programs out there with various titles. Most of the programs are connected to computer science departments usually, or are in fact, a straight up CS degree w/ concentrations in UI and HCI. There are programs in information management, but they tend to be too technical management oriented.

There are a growing number of undergraduate interaction design programs out there. California College of the Arts is the one I'm the most familiar with. I think you'll find that these programs offer enough technolocial foundation while still being squarely focused on interaction design itself.

In the end, the question i still have for you is "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Do you want to be a designer, a researcher, a technician, an engineer, an artist? Even if you believe the end goal is a hybrid, (a different discussion for another day) you still need to choose a core foundation to base your career on and then build towards a hybrid path from there.

-- dave

30 Dec 2011 - 2:22pm


You are correct in assuming the completition of my my design education. This is something that started as a hobby when I was young, and turned into a career as an adult.

As far as your question is concerned, I feel this is the best way I can envision my future.. Being the architect behind idea conceptulization, planning, as well as managing executition. This being related directly to new technology pertaining to the human interaction with computers. I am unsure of what the future will bring, but i know that i want to be involved in these processes.

I hope that this provides you the information you need to assist in reccomending schools. So far the only program that I've looked heavily into is MIT SA+P ACT, but I'm not positive that this will cater to exactly what I'm looking for. It also seems that GA Tech and VA Tech have undergrad programs focused around HcI.

Just a side note, maybe it's just me but I find a lot of these school HcI microsites are pretty lame.

Thank you for your patience and guidance thus far.

28 Dec 2011 - 11:04pm

The University of Toronto has a Human Computer Interaction program that was, in it's day, well regarded. I'm not certain of its status or reputation at this point.

It's not in the U.S., but you might consider it.

28 Dec 2011 - 11:11pm

I totally am lost myself with getting into Interaction Design. I am currently doing two degrees one in Information Technology and the other in Graphic Design. The Graphic Design degree gives me the core understanding of how humans attach themselves to "stuff" they find visually appealing. However, the IT degree allows you to choose electives like user interace design, Java, online multimedia, social networking, design mobile apps and games technology.

I think what I may do is just do the IT degree and then eventually do the Masters in Interactive Design. Its so frustrating as no courses here in Australia actually melds the two together properly.

I have looked on our employment website for what qualifications are required for User Interface Designers and some come from the graphics design industry and some come from the IT industry .... IT IS SO FRUSTRATING ... I need to decide because I do not want to waste my time doing two degrees and end up realising I only needed just the one.

Any thoughts ...SD



29 Dec 2011 - 11:13am

Also look at Human Factors programs. Wright State in Dayton has an undergraduate degree.  See https://www.hfes.org//Web/Students/undergradprograms.html .  The universities that offer grad degrees (https://www.hfes.org//Web/Students/grad_programs.html#ohio ) probably also have some undergrad courses.  If you're more interested in cognition, look at the programs in the Dept of Psychology. You have a good design background so now you can focus on understanding human behavior to round it out.

29 Dec 2011 - 2:17pm


I want to try and stay away from Ergonomics as it's not my focus. I feel Human Factors doesn't relate directly with the mental interaction of compters, where as Informatics does.

Thanks for your input!

2 Jan 2012 - 10:48am
Don Dunbar

Brinton Boehm,

 "I want to try and stay away from Ergonomics as it's not my focus.I feel Human Factors doesn't relate directly with the mental interaction of compters, where as Informatics does."

you have that conflated, Informatics doesn't have anything to do with HCI directly and ergonomics does have to do with HCI if you work with the physical device design.  Informatics is more about information science, natural language processing and semantics with a little data mining thrown in. Many early HCI practitioners studied Human Factors as part of their work. And cognitive function does get covered. But you may want to study some cognitive science and psychology, especially memory, attention and perception. 

4 Jan 2012 - 11:26pm

Bentley University near Boston, MA has a well respected graduate program focused on human factors. I heard at the orientation that there are a number of online students from all over the world in the program.


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