The HCIM program requires 30 credit hours of academic work to be completed with a minimum 3.0 GPA within five calendar years from the first semester of registration. Our program is typically completed in two years by full-time students, while offering flexibility to accommodate part-time and professional students. At least 24 of the 30 required credits must be designated INST, INFM, or LBSC courses taken in the iSchool. (International students may need to take additional credits to meet the requirements for being a full-time student in the United States).
Our core curriculum provides students with a grounding in the fundamental concepts and approaches of human-computer interaction, introducing key tools and methodologies in the field.
This sequence of courses is intended to familiarize students with HCI theory and provide hands-on opportunities to put that theory into practice. The HCIM curriculum includes four required courses: three core courses--INST 630, INST 631, INST 711--as well as a research methods course. All HCIM students are required to take the core courses described below. The expected sequence for a full-time student is noted; part-time students will have the same required courses but take fewer courses at a time.
Fall of Year 1 (three required 3-credit courses)
- INST 630: Intro to Programming for Information Professionals (those with a documented computer science or computer engineering background or significant programming experience may apply to waive this course and replace it with an elective)
- INST 631: Introduction to HCI Fundamentals
- A research methods course: either INST 710: User Experience Research Methods (highly recommended for students who are interested in doing the capstone and pursuing an industry career) or INST 808: Seminar in Research Methods and Data Analysis (appropriate for students primarily interested in doing a master’s thesis and eventually pursuing a doctorate)
Spring of Year 1 (one required 3-credit course + one elective)
- INST 711: Interaction Design Studio (currently listed as INST 632: HCI Design Methods)
All students must complete either a thesis or a capstone project.
Fall of Year 2: (one required 3-credit course + one elective)
- INST 775: Capstone OR INST 799* Thesis
Spring of Year 2: (one required 3-credit course + one elective)
- INST 776: Capstone OR INST 799* Thesis
The two-semester Capstone option (INST 775 in Fall Year 2 and INST 776 in Spring Year 2) involves working in assigned groups to interact with clients, conduct user research, and prototype designs for real-world contexts. It is especially suited for students who anticipate working in the industry and want to gain practical experience in the roles of project management, user research, UX design, and front-end development.
The two-semester thesis option (INST 799 in both Fall and Spring of Year 2) consists of a more self-directed, research-focused experience and culminates in the defense of a 70- to 100-page thesis. This option is ideal for students who plan to pursue a PhD or research-intensive career. If you are interested in this option, it’s a great idea to get to know HCI faculty and their research specialties in Year 1, since you’ll want to identify and ask a faculty member to supervise your thesis research at the end of the second semester for the following year. Information about the Graduate School’s requirements regarding master’s theses is available here.
More information about thesis and capstone options is available in the HCIM student handbook.
* Note for international students: The HCIM master's program requires all students to complete 30 credits. International students must also satisfy their student visa requirements to maintain full-time status (48 units/semester), except during their final semester when they may drop to part-time. This generally means that international students end up taking one additional elective in the spring of their first year and another additional elective in the fall of their second year.
In addition to the core courses above, you will take a minimum of 9 credits of electives.
International students generally end up taking up to 18 credits of electives due to visa requirements for full-time students. Electives include advanced usability testing, data analytics, visual analytics, health informatics, or social computing. We will also be offering repeatable 1-credit electives focused on Professional Preparation (INST 638) and Practical Skills (INST 639). Electives offer students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in more specialized areas of human-computer interaction.
See below for some of the electives that our students have taken:
- INST 611 - Privacy and Security in a Networked World
- INST 622 - Information & Universal Usability
- INST 627 - Data Analytics for the Information Professional
- INST 633 - Analyzing Social Networks and Social Media
- INST 650 - Facilitating Youth Learning in Formal and Informal Environment
- INST 652 - Design Thinking & Youth
- INST 651 - Promoting Rich Learning with Technology
- INST 702 - Advanced Usability Testing
- INST 738Z - Inclusive Technology Design
- INST 741 - Social Computing Technologies and Applications
- INST 760 - Data Visualization
- INST 762 - Visual Analytics
For current course listings, please consult Testudo.
Tools for Planning Your Course Schedule
The iSchool two-year graduate course plan indicates which INST, INFM, and LBSC courses the iSchool intends to offer over the next 2 years. We have developed this document with our best projections, but it is subject to change based on professor availability, registration counts, and unforeseen issues.
The HCIM program is designed to allow students to tailor their course of study to their own needs as much as possible. However, there are some constraints in terms of course sequencing of which students should be mindful:
- INST 630 must be completed before or concurrently to INST 631. Most students choose to complete the courses concurrently.
- INST 631 and INST 711 are currently offered once during each academic year, in fall and spring semesters respectively.
- The core curriculum (INST 630, 631, 711, Research Methods, and the Internship course) must be completed before students begin their capstone or thesis work.
- Students who waive a course must replace that course with an equivalent 3-credit course.
- Typical course load for our students is 2-3 courses per semester. Students who are concerned with maintaining full-time status (for instance, international students on F-1 visas) may take more than the required number of credits. More information about what is considered full-time status is available here.
- Students are required to take 24 credits within the iSchool, but may request to take additional courses outside the iSchool.
Visit our Forms page for information about taking courses at other UMD Colleges or Universities.