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CHCI Education

An important aspect of CHCI’s mission is to educate and train the next generation of professionals, researchers, educators, and leaders in human-computer interaction. While we are not an academic unit at Virginia Tech, we are involved in and provide leadership for a wide variety of academic programs at all levels. From our undergraduate minor in HCI to the individualized Ph.D. focusing on human-centered design, we’ve assembled information below that will help you reach your academic goals in HCI. We are also in the midst of planning a new master’s degree in human-centered technology design, and hope to offer that as soon as 2021. Open the individual sections below to learn more about HCI education at Virginia Tech.

Undergraduates in Computer Science can follow the department’s HCI track, which includes courses in HCI, user interface programming, graphics, multimedia, and information design.

Additional undergraduate courses in related disciplines such as Art, Industrial Design, Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Psychology are also useful for students desiring coursework in HCI.

CHCI members participate in the new HCI minor offered through the Department of Computer Science. Additional minors are expected in the areas of Creative Technologies and Experiences, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. More information on these minors will be available soon.

There are three ways to get a graduate degree related to Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. There is a high-overlap in coursework across all three programs: in particular, all share CS 5724 (Models and Theories of HCI), CS 5714/ISE 5714 (Usability Engineering), and various research methods classes. The ISE program has more intense (and more quantitative) methods classes than CS. The HCD iPhD requires you to select courses that would reflect the particulars of your own research interests without getting the additional breadth in computation that the CS program does.

MS or PhD in CS with Emphasis in HCI

The core of this track are classes in usability engineering and models and theories of HCI augmented with specialization areas like virtual reality, data visualization, CSCW, and design. This approach requires taking "breadth" classes outside of HCI in computer science. Since tracks are only suggestions of plans of study, the Center for Human Computer Interaction offers a HCI Certificate to encourage graduate students to fulfill the requisite exploration of HCI.

MS or PhD in ISE with Emphasis in Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics

This program focuses on usability engineering with a strong quantitative emphasis.

Human-Centered Design track, Interdisciplinary PhD (iPhD)

This track strikes a balance between intellectual enquiry into creative processes and actual production of creative work. It is geared for students with a strong independent direction and strong creative drive. This program is primarily for students without a computer science background (i.e., social sciences or the arts). Students with a background in CS would be considered if they have a very strong program of research that only peripherally involves computation.

Graduate certificate in HCI

A Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction Program is administered by the Center for Human-Computer Interaction and offered in conjunction with either a master's or doctoral degree in most departments. The certificate administrator is Dr. Scott McCrickard.

Graduate Certificate Requirements

Master's degree students complete 9 hours and doctoral students 15 hours of coursework for the certificate; at least two of the courses taken must be outside the student's degree program requirements and home department. These courses should be relevant to HCI; those in the following list are especially recommended. If the student writes a thesis or dissertation, it must be related to human-computer interaction.

Students can normally fit the requirements for the certificate into their program of graduate study so that the time needed to complete the graduate degree in their basic discipline is not extended by simultaneously pursuing the certificate. Students interested in the Graduate Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction should confer with the director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction prior to submitting a program of study to the Graduate School.


Download the certificate application, fill it out and send it to the Graduate School. The Graduate School has instructions about obtaining a certificate, make sure you read them before you proceed.

The following graduate courses (3H, 3C, unless noted otherwise) are offered through participating departments. For descriptions, see respective departments.

CS/ISE 5714

Usability Engineering

CS 5724

Models and Theories of HCI

CS 5734

Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

CS 5754

Virtual Environments

CS 5764

Information Visualization

CS 5774

User Interface Software

CS 6724

Advanced Topics In Human-Computer Interaction

Digital Cities and Internet Communities

Design and Software Reuse in HCI

CE 5064

Knowledge-based expert systems

EDCI 6664

Advanced Instructional Technology

ISE 5604

Human Information Processing

ISE 5605

Human Factors System Design I

ISE 5694


ISE 6604

Human Factors of Visual Display Systems

ISE 6614

Human Computer Systems

PSYCH 5354

Information Processing

STS 5424

Computers in Society