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HCI Degree Option

The Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) degree option is part of the Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering degree program.

Planned Retirement of the HCI Option

The HCDE faculty have voted to suspend admission to the HCI Option effective Autumn 2023. HCDE undergraduates who are admitted Autumn 2023 or later will not be eligible to declare the HCI Option. HCDE undergraduates who were admitted prior to Autumn 2023 who wish to declare the HCI Option must schedule an appointment with HCDE BS Advising no later than Aug. 18, 2023 (and no later than the 3rd Friday of the quarter in which they wish to graduate, if they will graduate before this date). The HCDE Department will not approve late degree option changes that would extend a student’s graduation beyond what is permitted by UW’s Satisfactory Progress Policy and the HCDE Continuation Policy.

Questions regarding the upcoming retirement of the HCI Option can be directed to HCDE BS Advising.

What is Human-Computer Interaction?

HCI is a new and developing field. According to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Human-Computer Interaction is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. HCI is necessarily a multidisciplinary field, incorporating facets of information science, computer science, design, and technical communication among other fields. The University of Washington is becoming a global leader in this exciting new area.

The UW has exceptional faculty collaborating on world-class research in HCI and that collaboration extends directly to students in the classroom. Students who complete coursework in this area will obtain first-class academic preparation in a variety of different forms and get official recognition for this work.

Students interested in HCI can complete the official HCI option with coursework from four participating departments: Human Centered Design & Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, the School of Art + Art History + Design, and The Information School. Students choose from these departments based on the following requirements.

Requirements for the HCI Degree Option

To meet the requirements for the HCI option, students must take a minimum of 25 credits (including HCDE 419) from the approved list of courses:

  1. HCDE 419
  2. Take three courses from at least three of the four HCI Course Areas, listed below.
    1. User Interface, Software, and Technology
    2. Design
    3. Usability and User Research
    4. Social and Ethical Dimensions

Students take additional approved HCDE elective courses to reach 25 credits minimum for the option requirements.

HCI Course Areas

User Interface, Software, and Technology

  • CSE 441 Advanced HCI: Advanced User Interface Design, Prototyping, and Evaluation
  • HCDE 438 Web Technologies
  • HCDE 439 Physical Computing
  • INFO 365 Mobile App Design
  • INFO 463 Input and Interaction


  • CSE 440 Introduction to HCI: User Interface Design, Prototyping and Evaluation
  • DESIGN 383 Foundations of Interaction Design
  • DESIGN 483 Advanced Interaction Design
  • HCDE 418 Advanced Projects in Human Centered Design and Engineering
  • HCDE 451 User Experience Prototyping Techniques

Usability and User Research

  • HCDE 412 Qualitative Research Methods in HCDE
  • HCDE 417 Usability Research Techniques

Social and Ethical Dimensions

The following courses may be petitioned towards any of the course areas on an individual and per-course basis via a course substitution petition, depending on the topic matter and its suitability to a course area within the HCI option.

Degree Planning for the HCI Option

While the courses listed above are approved to count towards the HCDE HCI Option course areas, some of these courses have prerequisites that most HCDE students have not taken or are frequently restricted to students in their own majors. Because of this, the overwhelming majority of students who graduate with the HCDE HCI Option complete the Option course areas by taking HCDE courses exclusively.

The HCDE Department does not control the scheduling for non-HCDE courses and cannot guarantee that they will not conflict in timing with HCDE courses. Students who encounter scheduling challenges when planning their option coursework can meet with HCDE Advising for assistance with their degree plans, but are encouraged to consider instead pursuing our more flexible Standard Option.