HCIM Curriculum

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HCIM Curriculum

The HCIM’s curriculum prepares students to be HCI leaders. Our curriculum grounds students in HCI theory and practice, and prepares them to excel, whether they are interested in careers in industry or government, or plan to pursue further academic research. The core curriculum is designed to accommodate students who do not have previous computer science experience, while remaining rigorous enough for those who have a programming background. Our electives serve the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students, and provide them the foundations for future success.

Program Structure

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. 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 up to 39 credits to meet the requirements for being a full-time student in the United States.)

Core Curriculum

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 five required courses: three core courses--INST 630, INST 631, INST 711--as well as a research methods course and INST 717, the HCIM internship 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 701: Introduction to Research Methods (appropriate for students primarily interested in doing a thesis and pursuing a doctorate)

Spring of Year 1 (one required 3-credit course + one or two elective/s)

  • INST 711: Interaction Design Studio (currently listed as INST 632: HCI Design Methods)
  • Elective(s)

 Summer between Year 1 and 2 (one required 3-credit course)

  • INST 717: Internship Practicum in Human-Computer Interactions

Internship Course

All HCIM students are required to complete an internship that involves a minimum of 120 hours of supervised HCI experiences over six weeks. This can be done in the United States or another country, for pay or unpaid, and for a company, non-profit organization, or government. Students taking the internship will register for INST 717: Internship Practicum in Human-Computer Interactions while they are working as an intern. A required summer internship course provides students with the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to both advance their careers as information professionals and contribute substantially to the success of the organizations of which they are a part. 

Read more about where our students have found internships and full-time jobs here.

Electives

In addition to the core courses above, you’ll 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), including 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 a complete list of courses offered in the iSchool, please consult the iSchool course schedulesCourse descriptions and syllabi are also available. For current course listings, please consult Testudo.

Capstone or Thesis

All students must complete either a thesis or a capstone project. Both options require 6 credits: 3 credits in the fall semester of the final academic year, and 3 credits in the spring semester of the same academic year. For thesis students, this coursework should be 6 credits of INST 799. For capstone students, the courses are INST 775 in the fall and INST 776 in the spring.

Capstone

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 industry and want to gain practical experience in the roles of project management, user research, UX design, and front-end development.

Thesis

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