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HCDE MS Information Session

December 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
233 Sieg Hall, UW Seattle campus
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Below you will find information about the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) admission requirements for the Master of Science program.

There is a dual admission process for all graduate programs at the University of Washington (UW). HCDE applicants simultaneously apply to both the HCDE Department and the UW Graduate School using one online application. All uploaded application materials must use the PDF format. Please do NOT send (via email or postal mail) any materials directly to the HCDE department.

Use the following links to view information about the admission process:


HCDE admits Master's students to begin Autumn Quarter only. Students are encouraged to begin collecting application materials at least two months before the deadline to ensure submission is complete on or before the due date.

Next Application Deadline: January 15, 2016

Applications are due January 15, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. All materials (including unofficial transcripts and recommendations) must be received by this deadline in order to be considered.


Bachelor's degree by the time the program begins in Autumn Quarter.
Applicants with relevant experience are regularly admitted to the HCDE graduate program (even if undergraduate coursework was in a different field).

Common Academic Backgrounds

Human Centered Design & Engineering is an interdisciplinary program. As such, we attract applicants from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Approximately one-third of our applicants come from technical backgrounds, one-third from social science or research backgrounds, and one-third from design backgrounds. These backgrounds include Anthropology, Architecture, Business Administration, Computer Science, Economics, Electrical Engineering, English, Graphic Design, History, Human Centered Design & Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Informatics, Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, Product Design, Psychology, Sociology, Software Engineering, Technical Communication, and Web Design & Development.

GRE Exam

HCDE does not accept GRE scores as part of our MS admission process. Our faculty use a holistic review process that takes into consideration multiple factors ranging from academic background and performance to professional experience and recommendations.

Additional UW Resources

Below you will find links for UW-related information, including links for the graduate school and UW Professional and Continuing Education (PCE).

Application Materials

Application materials for the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) Master of Science program can accessed through the UW Graduate School's online application. The materials for HCDE's MS program include the following:

Personal Statement

Your statement of qualifications, goals, and objectives is an essential part of the application. While there is no minimum length, the statement must not exceed two single-spaced pages (four double-spaced pages) and should address the following points:

  • Reasons why you are interested in Human Centered Design & Engineering and if there is a particular area within it you would like to specialize in.
  • How your previous education and experience relates to Human Centered Design & Engineering and any area of specialization.
  • Career benefits that you expect to gain from the MS program.
  • Additional information you would like the department to consider.

Letters of Recommendation

You must provide three (3) letters of recommendation with your application. These letters should be from people who can judge your ability to undertake graduate studies, potentially including present or former professors, work supervisors, or clients (in the case of consulting assignments).

Submitting fewer than three recommendations will adversely impact your application. It is your responsibility to work with your recommenders to ensure submission by the January 15 deadline. Late recommendations cannot be accepted.

The committee will only review three recommendations. There is no mechanism to submit a fourth recommendation and the admissions committee will not be able to review additional materials. Please plan accordingly.

It is required that all applicants have their recommenders submit their letters via the online system through the Graduate School Application. Once you have created a profile and started your application, you can submit contact information for your recommenders. Recommenders will automatically receive an email with a personalized link to fill out the recommendation form. The benefit of the online system is that recommendations are received immediately after the recommender submits online.

Note: Sometimes the online system has bugs with Firefox or Chrome browsers. If this occurs, please try again using Internet Explorer.

Once you have submitted your application, you can check the status of your recommendation letters by logging in to your application status page.

Current Resume/CV

You must upload a current resume/CV to your online application. Although you need not have a specific professional background to apply, the Admissions Committee considers relevant professional experience when making its decision.

Optional Portfolio

While we do not require a portfolio, students wishing to submit this optional piece may include a link on their resume. We are unable to accept hard copy portfolios that are submitted by postal mail or PDFs that are submitted by email. The only portfolio material that will be considered must be available as a link listed on the applicant's resume.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you decide to present a portfolio link on your resume, it must be added BEFORE you submit your final application. Once the application is submitted, it is no longer accessible and nothing further can be added.

General Information Questionnaire

All applicants must complete and upload the General Information Questionnaire. This form is used to determine important cohort details such as previous graduate work, intended course load, and expected professional development during the program. Download the General Information Questionnaire.


For the initial application review stage, you should only upload UNOFFICIAL copies (PDF) of all college level transcripts through the Graduate School Application. Please do not mail official sets directly to HCDE or to the Graduate School for the initial phase. If offered admission, you will then have your degree granting institutions send the Graduate School official sets of transcripts. These transcripts must come directly from the school in sealed envelopes.

To check whether your transcripts have been received by the University of Washington, please log-in to your submitted application to check your application status page.

Standardized Exams

HCDE does not accept the GRE as part of our admission process. Our faculty use a holistic review process that takes into consideration multiple factors from academic background and performance to professional experience and recommendations. The only standardized exam required is for international applicants whose native language is not English and were educated in a foreign language.

What to Submit to the Graduate School

All applicants to HCDE must submit the online Graduate School Application with an application fee of $85. Other than submission of the online application, there are no others materials to submit before receiving an admission decision. All applicants will receive acceptance or denial emails by March 15, 2015.
HCDE MS Application Frequently Asked Questions
UW Graduate School Frequently Asked Questions

Upon Admission

Upon admission to the program, students must send official transcripts from all college-level institutions to the UW Graduate School:

University of Washington
Graduate Enrollment Management Services
Box 352191
Seattle, WA 98195-2191

Admitted students who decide to join the MS program should log-in to their online Graduate School Application and formally accept the offer. There is a $250 enrollment confirmation deposit which will be applied towards Autumn Quarter tuition.

Incoming HCDE students will be invited to an orientation meeting before their first quarter begins. The department will email information about orientation and other events to students.

Incoming students generally have a predefined schedule during Autumn Quarter, which is outlined in their welcome letter.

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

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I Chose Human Centered Design & Engineering

"The HCDE Master's program has a structured and diverse curriculum, with courses that focus on research, design, and development. The flexibility in selecting courses has helped me pave the way towards to my professional and career goals. "

Praveen Shekhar, MS 2013