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Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering

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The Masters in HCDE prepares it graduates for professional and leadership roles in user interface design, interaction design and prototyping, human-computer interaction, human centered engineering, program management, and user experience architecture, research, analysis, and design. HCDE MS core and elective courses are offered in the evening to accommodate a diverse cohort of full time and part time students. Students development portfolio quality products throughout their studies. The HCDE MS is an engineering degree. Students in the HCDE MS program have the opportunity to solve real-world problems side-by-side with our award-winning interdisciplinary faculty in collaborative teams. HCDE 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.


HCDE MS Courses focus on research, design, and engineering. Students take 48 credits of required core courses and elective courses and participate in faculty led Directed Research Groups, Capstone Projects, and optional internships. See the Degree Requirements menu link to the left for specific degree requirements related to the year that students began the MS program.

Program Objectives

Upon completion of the HCDE MS degree, students should be able to:

  • Evaluate and understand human needs as a basis for designing and engineering new technologies.
  • Skillfully apply processes underlying user-centered design.
  • Assess, select, scale, and critically evaluate user research methods for a variety of stakeholders and product contexts.
  • Master and synthesize conceptual frameworks that motivate interdisciplinary research and design in HCDE.
  • Understand and execute visual, interactive, experience, and systems design in order to improve cognition, behavior, engagement, and participation among individuals, groups, organizations, and communities.
  • Conceptualize and implement design ideas into prototypes that communicate ideas and work within constraints.
  • Translate organizational requirements into interface and product solutions, while taking into account end-user and client perspectives, and working ethically and collaboratively.      
  • Communicate effectively in oral, written, and visual forms and be able to scale communications to the needs of varying audiences and sociotechnical contexts.
  • Become leaders in human-centered design and engineering in academia, industry, government, and non-profits.

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 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.

Contact HCDE Graduate Advising

Lauren Witt
Academic Services Manager
428 Sieg Hall

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

"The HCDE program did more for me than teach design principles or best practices; it opened my eyes and changed my perspective on design and communication as a whole. The user-centered approach has been an invaluable asset in my creative and professional endeavors. Through the program, I also fostered several very important professional relationships that have advanced my career and kept me abreast of advances in this dynamic and constantly changing field."

Justin Hamacher

Brian Knudson, MS 2010

Let us know why you chose HCDE.