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Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering

HCDE students are designing the future by building innovative technologies and systems, and designing and engineering interactions between humans and technology.HCDE senior Darivanh Vlachos works with a 3-D Makerbot printer in Professor Beth Kolko's Design for Digital Inclusion Lab. Students in the HCDE Bachelor of Science in program build a strong foundation in designing user experiences and interfaces, creating information visualizations, conducting user research, designing for the web, and building web technologies. Students graduate from the program with engineering degrees.

Students study and work with HCDE's award winning interdisciplinary faculty who have graduate degrees in fields such as computer science, industrial engineering, information studies, education, English, linguistics, public policy, technology and society studies, and urban planning. Students in the BS in HCDE program have the opportunity to solve real-world problems in collaborative teams through faculty led Directed Research Groups, many of which focus on the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) multifaceted grand challenges: sustainability, education, enriching life, technology and growth, and resilience. Click on the thumbnails below to see examples of student projects, classes, and research!

Beginning with a four-week unit concentrating on the form of design elements, students in HCDE 411 created visual communication compositions experimenting with value, contrast, negative space, and layout. One of HCDE's directed research groups worked with Microsoft to redesign their Playtest enrollment form. Our proposed service, At Home Hero, aims to build a social support structure, promote the value of domestic work, and provide resources, outreach, and activities. This winter, undergraduate students in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) learned how to apply theory and methods from Human-Computer Interaction research to the design of real-world online collaboration            systems.


As part of the major, HCDE undergraduate students complete 52 credits of complete core coursework in design and research. Students also complete 19–23 credits of elective courses. The elective coursework allows students the flexibility to:

  • Create a specialization targeted to their professional and academic goals
  • Build on their foundation in HCDE
  • Increase their knowledge about the field of HCDE

Learn more about the flexibility of the HCDE major!

Some students choose to pursue a specialization in human-computer interaction (HCI) in order to design, evaluate, and implement interactive computing systems for human use, and to study major phenomena surrounding them. For this specialization, HCDE has created a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) degree option.

A degree option is an area of study officially recognized by the University of Washington. Upon completion of their degree, students with this option will see "Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering," as well as the designation "Human-Computer Interaction" on their UW transcript.

Who Are Our Students?

Our students who are interested in researching, designing, and engineering interactions between humans and technology from a human perspective come to HCDE. Our undergraduate students have a variety of academic interests spanning engineering and other technical fields, the social sciences, humanities, and design. Many of our undergraduate students study full-time and many pursue concurrent internships during their studies. Our student cohort is diverse; about one-third of our students are students of color and about one-third are international. Slightly more than half of our students are female. More information on our student demographics is available on the Missions, Facts, and Statistics page.


Graduates of the BS program receive engineering degrees and find jobs with high-tech companies as multimedia and web developers, interface designers, user experience researchers and designers, usability engineers, information architects, programming writers and editors, and instructional designers. Students and alumni from HCDE have excellent career resources. They often take advantage of HCDE's Corporate Affiliate Program, working with area companies on research partnerships, adding industry projects to their portfolios, and finding internships and jobs upon graduation. HCDE's full-time advising staff, located in Sieg Hall, work closely with companies and students to provide a multitude of career services.

Located at the University of Washington in beautiful Seattle, students have access to Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Expedia, Boeing, Intel, IBM, and other prominent corporations that have offices in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, Seattle has a strong start-up and entrepreneurial community, with more than 500 start-ups calling the city home, making Seattle the perfect location from which to launch an exciting career, whether in established corporations or in the fast-paced start-up community.

Contact HCDE Undergraduate Advising

Stephanie White

Stephanie White
(206) 221-6230
428 Sieg Hall

Upcoming Information Sessions

Undergraduate Program

April 26, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (For Engineering Discovery Days)
May 2, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

All in Sieg Hall, Room 233


Upcoming Deadlines

User-Centered Design Certificate Application--Aug 15, 2014
Application available May 2014

BS Application--CLOSED
Next deadline: July 1, 2014
Online application opens in June

PhD Application--CLOSED
Next deadline Dec 15, 2014

MS Application--CLOSED
Next deadline Jan 15, 2015






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I Chose Human Centered Design & Engineering

"When I began my studies at the University of Washington, I felt like the ultimate misfit engineer. I had the technical understanding needed for engineering work, but I also had the inherent passion for designing technology that was ultimately user focused and meant for humans. It was in HCDE that I finally found my calling! This program offers something that no other engineering program at UW can: the chance to design technology that is 100% user centered design. Every day the students in this department are making breakthroughs in user centered technology and learning lessons that will last them a lifetime. The lessons students learn in the HCDE department truly help them to realize their full potential in the real world."

Caryn Carlson Rothe

Caryn Carlson Rothe, BS 2012

Let us know why you chose HCDE.