Looking for insight on graduate programs in Interaction Design

20 Jun 2012 - 4:03pm
3 years ago
7 replies
4938 reads

I have recently been looking into the possibility of interaction design as a career choice, and I was wondering what sort of graduate school programs would be open to me. I have been perusing the discussion boards, but it seems as though there aren't very many conversations about this in the past couple of years about it so I was wanting to get an updated perspective.

I am currently a psychology and anthropology double major, and will be graduating in May 2013. I have always been heavily interested in technology, and only recently discovered interaction design as a possibility to merge many of my interests. I have no formal background in programming or design, but I have dabbled on my own with HTML coding, Photoshop, Indesign, etc. and I have always been interested in web design or something similar. The psychology and anthropology involved in usability research and/or design is facinating to me, and I was looking for masters programs that would match these interests. 

Ideally, the masters program that would be great for me would have the following characteristics:

-Faculty that care and are highly adept in their field
-A school with abundant resources available for student use, up-to-date technology
-Heavily based on the research and psychology of interaction design, but also has an emphasis in the design and programming aspects of interaction design
-Does not require any kind of design portfolio for admission
-Good history of career placement (high percentage, at companies like Google, Facebook, etc.)

By doing research on these discussion boards, I have found several programs that look great and would like more updated insight from recent grads or from employers that have hired from these schools:

-Carnegie Mellon's Master of Design in Interaction Design
-University of Indiana's Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction Design
-University of Michigan's Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction 

Any other insight or suggestions for additional programs would be great! I have also seen the debate about whether or not to even go to grad school for this sort of thing, and have determined that grad school is probably the option for me. The only suggestion I will not accept is the program at the University of Kansas, as I am currently an undergrad at the University of Missouri (rivalries, y'know!). Suggestions for ways to prepare for a career in interaction design as an undergrad would be wonderful! Thank you all in advance for your help!


6 May 2013 - 11:07pm


I'm afraid I don't have any solid answers for you, because I too am only looking to get into the field. But since perhaps we are in a similar situation, we could compare notes? (Then if someone who has REAL street cred reading this could step in and provide both of us some guidance that would be great :) ) I kinda pasted some links that I have found related to which grad program to choose, which I do hope helps somewhat (although it's probably too late, I'm afraid). But more than anything, as some time has gone by since you asked your original question, I am curious as to what you decided to do. Did you end up applying for the graduate schools that you mentioned, and why did you pick the one that you did? Thanks!


For anyone else interested in the information, to answer the original question (only by drawing upon what I have read from people in the field), here are some links that might add to the list of programs to consider, in no particular order:

university of washington hcde http://www.hcde.washington.edu/

Rhode Island School of Design http://www.risd.edu/

Stanford's d.school http://dschool.stanford.edu/

NYU's ITP program http://itp.nyu.edu/itp/

SVA's masters in interaction design http://interactiondesign.sva.edu/

University of Texas iSchool https://www.ischool.utexas.edu/

University of Washington iSchool http://ischool.uw.edu/

(gleaned from answers posted here http://www.quora.com/What-type-of-education-is-needed-to-work-professionally-in-UI-UX   and http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-design-schools-in-the-US . Check them out for more detailed info, as well as other schools I might have missed)

Personally, IIT's Master of Design program seems very interesting to me. I feel like it would provide me a solid design background (which I lack, coming from computer science). Also it has been recommended by Dan Saffer http://www.adaptivepath.com/ideas/e000656, and Don Norman http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/how_to_find_a_job_or.html .  Also KC Oh's answer said that "their strengths as a program seem to be more in design research and strategy" (in the best design schools Quora question) Again, if there is someone more informed on this, please comment.


Although slightly different than what you asked, here is businessweek's list of product design schools, who might offer programs that you are interested in (too many to glean, sorry):






8 May 2013 - 9:25am


I can't believe this finally got a reply! After much searching, I finally decided that the Master of Science in Information program at the University of Michigan is my top choice. I realized that I do not know exactly what I want to do in the field, but that I want to be in it. Michigan's program covers a great deal of breadth (they have speacializations in archives and records management, human computer interaction, information analysis and retrieval, information economics for management, library and information science, preservation of information, social library media, and social computing). I have shifted my focus away from aesthetic design to the "logic" of how to create these systems, and intend to pursue the specialization in human computer interaction.

They were among the first schools on the web, and have recently been selected by US News and World as the top information school.

The link to their site: http://www.si.umich.edu/academics/master-science-information

Let me know if that helps or if you have additional questions!

21 May 2013 - 3:17am

You'd think that after 600+ views that someone would, right ;)

Thank you so much for sharing about your decision; it is helpful. I did also notice the breadth of the Michigan program. It really does seem to be QUITE the selection of courses, like a candy store. As someone who also does not know exactly what I want to do, but wants to be in the field, I will seriously consider this program.

I will post more questions as they come up. Thanks for the reply!

8 May 2013 - 10:45am
Fredrik Matheson

Could I make a suggestion? It would be great if you could share these links and comments in a Google Doc that we all could add to. That way, everyone who is interested in studying interaction design could eventually find a reasonably updated list of schools.


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Fredrik Matheson, IxDA Oslo
fredrik.matheson@ixda.no | ixda.no | @IxDAoslo + @movito


23 May 2013 - 9:27am

Good idea Fredrik! Here is one that I've created:


Please everyone feel free to add and edit!


24 May 2013 - 11:26am
Michael Martine...

I graduated from ITP at NYU in 2011. While the program gives you exposure to a broad range of technologies, there is very little instruction in interaction design topics. Of course, if you develop projects within a framework of (mostly self-directed study of) interaction design, you will very likely graduate with an impressive portfolio. 

ITP has a wonderful, and well-connected community. Unless you're willing to contend with well over $100k in debt and interaction design is your only focus (not creative technology or software development), I would recommend finding certificate programs, one-off classes, workshops, interaction design meetups, hackathons, intern work and working on personal projects to build out your interaction design experience.


4 Jun 2013 - 3:18am

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