Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering
Why Human Centered Design & Engineering?
In the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE), students are designing the future by building innovative technologies and systems. Putting people first, HCDE students and faculty research, design, and engineer interactions between humans and technology. HCDE students and faculty focus on understanding human needs and interests as they work together to solve engineering design problems and build engineering solutions.
HCDE is an interdisciplinary engineering department at the University of Washington in Seattle, an internationally-ranked, R1 research institution. HCDE's award winning interdisciplinary faculty have graduate degrees from fields such as computer science, industrial engineering, information studies, education, English, linguistics, public policy, technology and society studies, and urban planning. Students and faculty in HCDE also collaborate with other campus units through UW events, the design-use-build (dub) consortium, the Change consortium, etc.
Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering
The Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering (MS in HCDE) prepares students for leadership roles in user interface design, interaction design, user experience research and design, human-computer interaction, and related specializations, all from a human-centered perspective. HCDE's core courses are offered in the evening to accommodate a diverse cohort of full time and part time students. In their classes, students work on both individual and group projects that lead to the development of portfolio quality products.
Students in the MS in HCDE program have the opportunity to solve real-world problems side-by-side with our award-winning faculty in collaborative teams through directed research groups, many of which focus on the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) multifaceted grand challenges: sustainability, health, vulnerability, and joy of living. Students graduate from HCDE with an engineering degree.
Research groups focus on topics such as:
- Design for resource-constrained communities
- Crisis informatics
- Design of collaborative games
- Technology solutions for healthcare systems
- Accessible design
- Persuasive technologies
A complete list of current research groups is available on the Directed Research Groups page.
The MS in HCDE curriculum comprises 48 credits: 25 are core and 23 are electives. The curriculum is designed to give students a solid foundation in four thematic areas: theory, research methods, systems & society, and media design & application. Students can choose to create their own specialization through elective coursework or choose our formal concentration in User-Centered Design (UCD).
The flexible curriculum covers the following concepts:
- Empirical research methods
- Quantitative and qualitative methods, including SPSS
- Usability testing
- Prototyping and iterative design
- User experience (UX) design and research
- Information design
- Interaction design
- Visualization of very large data sets
- Data science
- Computer supported collaborative work and computing in social life
- International user experience
- Design and management of complex information and communication systems
- Collaboration in groups, and management of teams and projects
- Integrated capstone design experience
Who Are Our Students?
Students who are interested in researching, designing, and engineering interactions between humans and technology from a human perspective come to HCDE. HCDE students have a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, with an approximate breakdown of one-third from technical and engineering backgrounds, one-third from the social sciences backgrounds, and one-third from design backgrounds. About half of our students are working professionals; because of their jobs, they typically study as part-time students. The other half of our students study full-time and many pursue concurrent internships during their studies.
Our student cohort is diverse; about one-third are international and one-third are students of color. Slightly more than half of our student cohort is female. More information about our student demographics is available on the Missions, Facts, and Statistics page.
Graduates of the program receive engineering degrees and find jobs as UX architects, designers, and researchers; usability evaluators; programming writers and editors; web and information developers; instructional designers; and more. Students and alumni from HCDE have excellent career resources. Students often take advantage of HCDE's Corporate Affiliate Program to work with area companies on research partnerships that add industry projects to their portfolios as well as to find internships and jobs upon graduation. HCDE's full-time advising staff, located in Sieg Hall, work closely with companies to provide a multitude of career services.
Located at the University of Washington in beautiful Seattle, students have access to Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, 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.
I Chose Human Centered Design & Engineering
"The future of technology is occurring on a highly personal level due to mobile devices and socially oriented tools. The next generation of technologists in the UX space will come outfitted with an understanding of computers and systems in a historical context, the tools to give voice to users through evidence based explorations, and the theoretical synthesis of multiple social sciences. HCDE at UW excels in all these offerings, which was why I chose graduate studies."
—Justin Hamacher, MS Class of 2013