Human-computer interaction deals with the construction and implementation of interfaces and tool-building technologies that would adapt seamlessly to people’s needs. Human-computer interaction focuses on creating simplified interfaces to achieve the best satisfaction for various types of users. To do so, professionals analyze the tasks users need to perform and determine what changes they need to make their job easier. Interfaces used in the human-computer interaction field integrate auditory systems like sound and speech recognition as well as visual elements like graphic animations, and other state-of-the-art technology. Programs in human-computer interaction combine theories from computer science, ergonomics, psychology, cognitive sciences, and linguistics. Students enrolled in human-computer interaction programs will learn principles of cognition and perception that will help them design effective user interfaces. They will develop their data-collecting and troubleshooting skills and gain an understanding of possible issues that may come up when interacting with specialized

technology or software. Students will also learn elements of visual design for developing program prototypes and will acquire basic research skills.

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PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

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Best Online HCI Masters

A few of the biggest dilemmas while deciding to do a master’s in Human-Computer Interactions are which program to pursue, which school to pick, which university to enroll in. And then there are other considerations such as cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates, etc. We at OMC went through all these matrices and created a list of the best online master’s in operations research programs. See the ranking below:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
Iowa State University
1750 Beardshear Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011
University of California-Irvine
501 Aldrich Hall, Irvine, California 92697
DePaul University
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60604
Bentley University
175 Forest St, Waltham, Massachusetts 02452
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
Kent State University at Kent
Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, Ohio 44242
University of Wisconsin-Madison
500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
University of Baltimore
Charles at Mount Royal, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Brandeis University
415 South St, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454
Carnegie Mellon University(on-campus)
5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
University of Washington(on-campus)
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
Stanford University(on-campus)
Stanford, California 94305
Georgia Institute of Technology(on-campus)
225 North Ave, Atlanta, Georgia 30332
Massachusetts Institute of Technology(on-campus)
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Human-Computer Interaction Masters Programs

A Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction Design is a unique graduate experience that creates professionals who will shape the future of design. The Human-Computer Interaction program helps students make sense out of the rapidly changing world of technology. It focuses on ways computer systems support people at work, at home, and play. This intensive two-year program teaches students how to shape new media, interactive tools, artifacts, and systems in ways that:

  • Contribute engaging user experiences
  • Serve the need of stakeholders
  • Facilitate communication
  • Enrich the lives of the people using them

You will complete your degree with a capstone project—an opportunity to showcase your work in a design space of your choice. This master’s program is generally classified as a STEM program.

Masters in Human-Computer Interaction Degree Types

There would typically be a few variants of a master’s in HCI, with a few subjects changing concerning the specialization being pursued. Below we would discuss the different types of master’s programs in HCI that can be pursued:

Masters in Human-Computer Interaction:

A fully online master’s in Human-Computer Interaction focuses on the implementation of interactive computer and computing-based systems for human benefit. Merging the fields of computer science and social and behavioral sciences, the master’s program in Human-Computer Interaction degree emphasized how students can make computing technologies more user-friendly. Students conduct team and project-based learning through designing software applications and user technologies for the course of their degree.

Masters in Interactive Media:

The MS in Interactive Media and Communications prepares students to design, produce and manage a wide range of content that effectively connects with a wide range of audiences. Students will learn the principles of user-centered design and be well-equipped to leverage design thinking strategies to solve complex technical and business-related challenges. Moreover, they will grow as a creative thinker and visual leader and be able to craft powerful and ethical cross-media communication strategies.

Master’s in Strategic Communication:

This a fully online program is designed for students pursuing careers in advertising, public relations, corporate communication, and communication management. The program also focuses on giving students hands-on experience with advanced platforms, tools, and techniques from the industry including audio and visual software, graphic design tools, new media, and publication layouts. WSU also offers a Bachelor’s in Integrated Strategic Communication fully online for students at the undergraduate level.

Master’s in Digital Media

This online master’s degree focuses on ensuring students can balance their artistic visions with commercial demands and production realities. Designed for students with experience in digital media, Concordia’s career-focused program can be completed in under 2 years and includes 8-week courses on digital video production, game design, and interactive media.

Master’s in Interaction Design and Information Architecture

Available fully online, this graduate program emphasizes the design, development, and application of information technologies related to human-computer interaction and cognitive psychology. Students leave UB’s program in Interaction Design ready for careers as an information architect, interaction designer, multimedia developer, user researcher, and creative director. This advanced degree helps students understand how human factors influence and interact with technology.

Specializations in Masters in Human-Computer Interaction Programs

An online master’s program in HCI will open a world of specializations in that field of study. Below we would discuss a few of those specializations:

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration prepares for
Master of Science in Human-Computer InteractionThe program provides the practical skills and theoretical understandings needed to become leaders in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the next generation of human-computer interfaces. The degree requires 36 credit hours, which are usually taken over four semesters. All students take the same core courses, a set of courses related to their chosen specialization (Computing, Digital Media in LMC, Industrial Design, Psychology), a broader set of electives, and complete a master’s project.
Interaction Designers
Front-End Designer/Developer
User experiencedesigner/researcher
Human Factors Engineer
Master of Science in Digital MediaThe Master of Science in Digital Media program offers arts and humanities-based advanced study in digital media design and critique. The core approach of this program is the design of digital artifacts as a defining creative and intellectual challenge of the 21st century, comparable in its cultural complexity and historical importance to the inventions of the book, the photograph, and the moving image. It is a studio and seminar-based curriculum that prepares students for leadership positions as designers, producers, and critical analysts in a changing digital culture.
Critical analysts
Human-Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE)Master of Science in Human-Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) prepares its graduates for leadership roles in user experience research and design, interface design, interaction design, product design, and human-computer  interaction.
Systems Analyst
Product Design
User Interface Design
Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM)All MSIM students take a set of foundational core courses that cover key areas: strategic leadership, information management, professionalism, information technology, ethics and policy, and system thinking and problem-solving. These foundational courses set the framework of what makes the MSIM graduate stand out in the job market from other candidates with similar skills.
UX Designer
Information Architect
Interaction Designer
Cybersecurity Analyst/Architect
Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction Design   (HCI/d)Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCI/d) is a unique graduate experience that creates professionals who will shape the future of design. This intensive two-year program teaches you how to shape new media, interactive tools, artifacts, and systems in ways that:Contributeengaging user experiencesServe the need of stakeholdersFacilitate communicationEnrich the lives of the people using them
Information organization and retrieval
Business strategy
Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS)The Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program is designed to train students in the skills needed to succeed as information professionals.  Such professionals must be familiar with the theory and practice of storing, organizing, retrieving, and analyzing information in a variety of settings in  business, the public sector, and the academic world. This profession is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring aspects of computer science, cognitive science, psychology and sociology, economics, business, law, library/information studies, and communications.  
Product management
Data visualization
User experience research
User interface design

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Human-Computer Interaction Programs

A master’s in HCI would have common courseware for most of the credits, but per the specialization of the course, some concentration of the courseware would vary. Below we would discuss a few subjects learned in a master’s in HCI online program, and the skills attained.

CurriculumSkills  Gained
Fundamentals of Instructional TechnologyInstructional Technology encompasses the basic processes  for developing and delivering instruction. Instructional Systems Design (ISD)  is a well-established methodology for describing knowledge and skills and  developing instructional systems to effectively convey knowledge. This course  enables the student to be able to plan, organize, and systematically develop  instructional materials. The course uses an ISD model to analyze, design,  deliver and evaluate instruction.
Geographic Information Science and TechnologyThis course provides a survey of the theory, concepts, and  technologies related to representation and understanding of the earth – a   scientific domain known as Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS  & T). Students will gain hands-on experience with technologies such as   Global Positioning Systems (GPSs), Geographic Information Systems (GISs),  remote sensing, spatial data science and analysis, and web mapping.   Furthermore, students will learn relevant GIS & T theory, concepts, and  research trends such as spatial reasoning, spatiotemporal data  representation, and spatial analysis.
Geographic Visualization  This course will provide an in-depth exposure to advanced  topics in biomedical informatics and knowledge discovery. Large datasets will  be used to illustrate and explore methods in the transformation of data to  information and the integration of information with domain knowledge. Topics  will include high-throughput technologies in genomics, descriptive and  inferential statistics, machine learning, visualization, human-computer  interaction.
Prototyping Wearable and Internet of Things DevicesWearable computers and Internet of Things devices involve  both hardware and software. To design user experiences for these systems,  professionals must understand how they are built. Students will learn how to  rapidly prototype and evaluate wearable and IoT devices combining hardware  and software. Experience in programming is helpful but not a prerequisite.
Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous   DevicesMobile phones are now a major computing platform, and  wearable and Internet of Things devices are emerging as major technologies.  Each device offers different interaction opportunities and challenges.   Students will learn about the research in interaction with these devices and  how to design effective interactions for mobile, wearable, and ubiquitous  devices.  
User-Centered Design MethodsThis course will focus on the major user-centered design  methodologies used in the development of applications and environments.  Topics include the evolution of software design methods, the emergence of  user-centered design, and key concepts, attributes, and processes of the  major design methodologies. Software design projects will be required.
MS Human-Computer Interaction Capstone ProposalIn this course, students will design a proposal for a   capstone project to apply the theories and methodologies to a problem in the  HCI domain. Students working through the guidance of the instructor, will  investigate a problem space, perform a literature review, develop the problem   statement, write a proposal for how they intend to design and implement a  solution and communicate the proposal to potential capstone committee members.
Visual AnalyticsThis course introduces students to Visual Analytics or the  science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interfaces.  Course lectures, reading assignments, and practical lab experiences will  cover a mix of theoretical and technical Visual Analytics topics. Topics include  analytical reasoning, human cognition and perception of visual information,  visual representation and interaction technologies, data representation and   transformation, production, presentation, and dissemination of analytic  process results, and Visual Analytic case studies and applications.  Furthermore, students will learn relevant Visual Analytics research trends  such as Space, Time, and Multivariate Analytics, and Extreme-Scale Visual  Analytics.

Accreditation for Masters in Human-Computer Interaction Programs

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. Thus, accreditation in essence is enforcement of quality. Read more about Accreditation.

Hence, to ensure that their degrees are recognized by the industry and fraternity they are getting into, and more importantly to be eligible for US federal student aid one must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies.

Timeline For Graduating From Online HCI Masters Programs

Most master’s in HCI online typically takes anywhere between 16-24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelor’s. In doing an accelerated program, students can save money on tuition. Typically, for a master’s in interior design, students need to take around 36 total credits for the completion of the course.

Admission Requirements For Online HCI Masters Programs

Even though every online master’s program will have a specific requirement, a master’s in HCI online would require a bachelor’s degree majoring in a related field, a GPA of around 3 in undergraduate work, and some programs might also require some work experience.

Free Human-Computer Interaction Programs

Below are a few free courses in HCI that might be of interest to the readers:

  1. Human-Computer Interaction by Georgia Tech: This course is an introductory course on human-computer interaction, covering the principles, techniques, and open areas of development in HCI.
  2. Human-Computer Interaction I: Fundamentals & Design Principles: This course takes you through the first eight lessons of CS6750: Human-Computer Interaction as taught in the Georgia Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science program. Students will learn the fundamentals of how HCI relates to fields like user experience design, user interface design, human factors engineering, and psychology. Students will also learn how human-computer interaction has influence across application domains like healthcare and education; technology development like virtual and augmented reality; and broader ideas like context-sensitive computing and information visualization.
  3. Human-Computer Interaction (University of California, San Diego): In this course, you will learn how to design technologies that bring people joy, rather than frustration. You’ll learn several techniques for rapidly prototyping and evaluating multiple interface alternatives — and why rapid prototyping and comparative evaluation are essential to excellent interaction design. You’ll learn how to conduct fieldwork with people to help you get design ideas. How to make paper prototypes and low-fidelity mock-ups that are interactive — and how to use these designs to get feedback from other stakeholders like your teammates, clients, and users.

How to Pay for Online HCI Masters Programs

Keeping in mind the cost of education these days and the amount of debt that each student carries it is of prime importance how you choose to fund your master’s in interior design online program. The smartest way to fund education is a scholarship. For further reference, students can refer to this link here for scholarships.

It might happen that someone does not qualify for a scholarship, for such candidates if they are working professionals, they can check with their employers to reimburse the tuition fee. The other way of funding your master’s in HCI is to apply for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for federal student aid also called financial aid. Here is a link to the application for FAFSA Application.

FAQs about Online HCI Masters Programs

Frequently asked Questions

What are the 3 main components of HCI?

As its name implies, HCI consists of three parts: the user, the computer itself, and the ways they work together.

 Is human-computer interaction a good career?

What is meant by human-computer interaction?

 Is human-computer interaction a major?

 What does an HCI graduate do?

Is HCI a stem?

 Is HCI part of computer science?

Careers and Salary Outlook For Online HCI Masters Graduates

Post a master’s in HCI online, one can delve into many roles in the design and architecture fields. This could vary from a UI/UX designer role at an entry-level to a chief executive role of a graphic design studio at the top of the hierarchy. There would be other intermediary roles in between. Below is a list of roles and salaries with their responsibilities highlighted.

OccupationMedian Annual Salary (US $)Job Growth (2019-2029)Job  Description
Web Developers and Digital Designers$77,20013%Web developers create and maintain websites. They are also  responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and  capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the  site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.  Digital designers develop, create, and test website or interface layout,  functions, and navigation for usability. They are responsible for the look  and functionality of the website or interface.
Computer Systems Analysts$93,7307%Computer  systems analysts, sometimes called systems  architects, study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures,  and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and  effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by  understanding the needs and limitations of both.   Most  computer systems analysts specialize in computer systems that are specific to  the organization they work with. For example, an analyst might work  predominantly with financial computer systems or with engineering computer  systems. Computer systems analysts help other IT team members understand how  computer systems can best serve an organization by working closely with the  organization’s business leaders.
Special Effects Artists and Animators$77,70016%Special  effects artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models,  images that appear to move, and visual effects for television, movies, video  games, and other forms of media.   Special  effects artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on  creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for  movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as  CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating  them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or  backgrounds for locations.
Computer and Information Research Scientists$126,83022%Computer  and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and  existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for  business, science, medicine, and other fields.   To  create and improve software, computer, and information research scientists  work with algorithms, sets of instructions that tell a computer what to do.  Some difficult computing tasks require complex algorithms, which these scientists  simplify to make computer systems as efficient as possible. These simplified  algorithms may lead to advancements in many types of technology, such as  machine learning systems and cloud computing.
Graphic Designers$53,3803%Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer  software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate  consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for  applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and reports.   Graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or  communication designers, combine art and technology to communicate ideas  through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may use a  variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

Certifications and Licensure For Online HCI Masters Students

HCI graduates typically don’t need a certification nor a mandatory license to practice their craft. But organizations put a lot of value on professional certifications while hiring candidates. If one has completed a master’s in HCI it would not be a bad idea to pursue one of the certifications relating to their field of work or a graduate certificate in data analytics. A few of such are discussed below:

Formal Design Methods: Formalism and DesignThis course introduces the student to the below:
Formal methods, and how formalism can help in design problems
A brief history of the development of formalisms (in logic, mathematics, and science)
What states are, and what the various kinds of states that can exist in an interactive product are
How to model and specify the states of a design in a detailed manner
How to use dialogue notation, such as state transition networks, to present the different states in your designs as well as annotate any dangerous states that might be present
Get Your Product Used: Adoption and AppropriationThis course introduces the student to the below:
Why adoption and appropriation matter to a product’s success
How to place adoption and appropriation in context with UX and usability work
How to engage users to adopt your products by designing for adoption
How to design for the appropriation of a product by users to increase its use, and how “expecting the unexpected” isn’t quite as challenging as it might sound
Gestalt Psychology and Web DesignThis course introduces the student to the below:
How and why Gestalt principles can make or break your designs
The origins of Gestalt thinking and the principles of perceptual organization
How to use Gestalt laws in web and product design
How to take a Gestalt-driven approach to improve a web user’s experience
How to analyze existing product and web designs according to the Gestalt principles of perceptual organization
Service Design: How to Design Integrated Service  ExperiencesThis course introduces the student to the below:
What Service Design is, where it came from and how it compares to User Experience (UX) design and Customer Experience (CX) design
What a Service Design process looks like and how to use it to create great service experiences
How the scope of Service Design encompasses customer interactions as well as behind-the-scenes business operations, and multiple delivery channels
What the most useful Service Design methods and approaches are, how to do them and how to avoid the most common mistakes, all with the help of examples, explanatory videos, templates, and step-by-step guides
How to transition your career from UX Design to Service Design
How to build a Service Design team and then increase its skills and maturity in your organization
How to tackle Service Design in an agile or lean organization

Additional Resources For Online HCI Masters Students

A master’s in HCI is a gateway to an industry with huge potential. But to further their careers and keep being relevant in this fast-paced industry, and also to practice their craft, professionals need to become members and hence accredit themselves with a professional organization in their chosen field. Apart from being a body that assists in developing and distributing knowledge, professional HCI association bodies keep their members informed about the newest developments and innovations in the industry. We discuss two such organizational bodies below:

Professional OrganizationDescription
Special Interest Group on Computer-Human InteractionSIGCHI is the premier international society for professionals, academics, and students who are interested in human-technology and human-computer interaction (HCI). It advances education in HCI through workshops and outreach, and we promote informal access to a wide range of individuals and organizations involved in HCI.
Human-Computer Interaction ConsortiumThe Human-Computer Interaction Consortium was founded in 1988 as a means of fostering interaction among universities, companies, and government research laboratories interested in promoting academic training, basic and applied research, and technology transfer in the area of Human-Computer Interaction. Membership is by an organization and only employees of member organizations are eligible to participate in the activities of the consortium
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