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Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering

The University of Washington's Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering prepares its graduates for leadership roles in user experience research and design, interface design, interaction design, product design, and human-computer interaction. HCDE MS students solve real-world problems with our award-winning interdisciplinary faculty and students from diverse professional backgrounds. A flexible schedule allows students to attend part time or full time. 


HCDE MS courses focus on research, design, and engineering. Students take 48 credits of required core and elective courses and participate in faculty led Directed Research Groups, Capstone Projects, and optional internships.

Program Objectives

Upon completion of the HCDE Master's degree, students assume leadership roles in human centered design and engineering in academia, industry, government, and non-profits. HCDE MS graduates are able to: 

  • Evaluate and understand human needs as a basis for designing and engineering new technologies.
  • Create visual, interactive, experience and systems designs and prototypes.
  • Master conceptual frameworks that motivate interdisciplinary research and design in HCDE.
  • Select and critically evaluate user research methods for a variety of stakeholders and product contexts.
  • Translate organizational requirements into interface and product solutions, while accounting for all stakeholder perspectives and working ethically and collaboratively.      
  • Communicate effectively in oral, written, and visual forms, while scaling communications to audience needs and sociotechnical contexts.

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 often study as part-time students. The other half of our students study full-time. Many students pursue concurrent internships during their studies.

Our MS student cohort is richly diverse; about 25% of our students are international or under-represented minorities. Our cohort is gender balanced: 50% female; 50% male.


Graduates of HCDE receive engineering degrees and find jobs as UX researchers, designers, and architects; usability evaluators; information architects; interaction and product designers; program managers; web and information developers; and more. Students and alumni from HCDE have excellent career resources through the department such as our internship and jobs database, career fairs, on-campus information sessions from HCDE corporate partners, and portfolio, resume, and interview coaching sessions. Students often take advantage of HCDE's Corporate Affiliates Program to work with industry partners, adding real world experience to their portfolios. HCDE's advising staff, located in Sieg Hall, works closely with 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, 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

Contact an advisor
Pat Reilly
Academic Services Manager
(206) 543-1798

Application Deadlines

2016 Admission
Next application deadline:
January 15, 2016
Admissions FAQs
Program Overview

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Video: HCDE MS Info Session

Can't make our Master's Information Sessions in person? Watch a video from our latest session.

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."

Brian Knudson

Brian Knudson, MS 2010

Let us know why you chose HCDE.