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Current Students

PhD Curriculum - Effective Autumn 2022

Students enrolled in the HCDE PhD program complete at least 90 credits to earn their degree, including:

  • 6 credits of HCDE core courses
  • 12 credits of methods courses, including a qualitative and quantitative requirement 
  • 12 credits of theory courses, including a theory foundation
  • 10 credits of Directed Research Groups (DRGs)
  • 12 credits within a concentration, developed collaboratively by the student and the advisor (drawn from the methods, theory, directed research, and free elective categories)
  • Minimum 27 credits of dissertation research (HCDE 800)
  • 11 credits of free electives

Students who enter the PhD program with a previous graduate degree relevant to HCDE can petition to have up to 30 credits transferred toward the doctoral program upon approval of Sean Munson, the Graduate Program Coordinator.

The HCDE doctoral curriculum has been designed with the expectation that students will enroll in HCDE 541, 542, and 543 in their first year with their cohort - typically 541 & 543 in autumn and 542 in winter or spring. Students who find the need to tailor their program - e.g., to take advantage of one-time opportunities - may petition to take either HCDE 543 or HCDE 542 in their second year. If you find yourself considering making this petition, please discuss this with Kathleen Rascon and/or Sean Munson. 

For questions about the appropriate course sequence, course planning and other academic advising related issues, schedule an appointment with the PhD Academic Advisor

Required Foundational Core Courses (6 credits)

Methods (at least 12 credits)

Students must complete at least four credits of quantitative methods, four credits of qualitative methods, and four credits of methods electives.

  • HCDE 544: Experimental and Quasi-experimental Research Methods (4 credits) or coursework covering the relationship between theory and quantitative research, hypothesis testing, experimental and quasi-experimental designs, modes of observation, sampling, validity, and quantitative data analysis and interpretation. - Methods 1

    Pre-approved substitutes: NMETH 579 Quantitative Research Methods, INSC 571 Quantitative Methods in Information Science
  • HCDE 545: Qualitative Research Methods (4 credits) or coursework covering interpretive empirical traditions, methodologies, and research questions, research designs and methods for knowledge development, how to incorporate and build theory. - Methods 2

    Pre-approved substitutes: NMETH 582 Qualitative Research Inquiry and Methods, INSC 572 Qualitative Methods in Information Science 
  • At least four credits of methods electives.

Courses used to satisfy the research methods requirement should support one or more of the following:

  1. Understand the many different research paradigms (e.g. experiments, ethnography, survey, qualitative, quantitative) that guide inquiry in our field
  2. Articulate and identify appropriate criteria, particularly strengths and limitations, of different methodologies for producing knowledge
  3. Formulate a question that is important in terms of the field and in terms of extending or critiquing theory
  4. Formulate a research design that is manageable and executable
  5. Articulate the practical and theoretical contributions that different methods can play in design research

A common question that arises is whether courses in a professional master’s program apply toward the research methods requirement. In general, they do not when they are focused on understanding or refining a particular design (e.g., HCDE 517 and 518 generally do not meet the methods requirement), but courses that focus on methods for the production of generalizable or transferable knowledge may. 

There are courses that cover similar methods in the MS and PhD programs (e.g., HCDE 519 and HCDE 545 for qualitative methods; HCDE 516 and HCDE 544 for experimental/quantitative methods). These master's courses generally do not substitute for the PhD methods requirements, as they are designed and taught with different goals. If you have already taken an HCDE MS course (e.g., because you completed our master’s at HCDE before joining the PhD program), though, it may make more sense to take an advanced methods course rather than the similar course in HCDE’s PhD program.

Theory  (at least 12 credits)

Courses used to satisfy the theory requirement should support one or more of the following: 

  • Recognize the most prominent epistemological frameworks (e.g., cognitive theory, social psychology, semiotic theory, actor-network theory) that inform research in HCDE
  • Understand the intellectual implications of those different frameworks for the processes and results of scholarly inquiry in HCDE
  • Explain how theory motivates and supports the practices of knowledge-making
  • Apply theory appropriately and productively to the framing or analysis of research issues in HCDE

Directed research groups (at least 10 credits)

HCDE 596: Directed Research, see a current listing of directed research groups. DRG credit may be applied toward concentration, theory, or methods electives with faculty adviser approval. At most 18 credits of HCDE 596 may apply toward your degree.

Free electives (~11 credits)

Students and advisers work collaboratively to identify electives that support your course of study. Students who complete the minimum number of credits in each other category need 11 credits of free electives. Additional credits in the methods, theory, or directed research categories reduce the total number of free electives required.

HCDE 800: Doctoral Dissertation (at least 27 credits)

These 27 or more credits must be completed over at least three quarters. 

Concentration (at least 12 credits)

Please see the concentration guidance page. Your concentration may draw from advanced methods, theory, free electives, and directed research groups. HCDE foundations courses in each category – HCDE 542, HCDE 544, and HCDE 545 – may not apply toward the concentration.

Course of Study Guidance

The electives used to satisfy the research methods and theory requirements vary from student to student and are determined between the student and their advisor(s). We offer the following guidance for making decisions about whether a course would be appropriate for the research and theory requirements.

HCDE 548 is a rotating special topics course. 548s may count toward methods and others toward theory, depending on the topic, while others may be general electives. The Program Director or PhD Academic Advisor will share the upcoming title and description as soon as they are available. 

Note that no more than 10 credits of HCDE 599 may apply toward your degree. HCDE 599 may count toward program requirements with faculty adviser approval. 

HCDE 600 credits cannot apply to the Course of Study, in the Degree Audit Report (DARS), or the 60 credits required for generals and candidacy. HCDE 600 is recommended for dedicated research time and generals preparation. 

Completing an MS in HCDE alongside a PhD

HCDE PhD students may be interested in completing a Master of Science in HCDE in addition to their PhD. There are two options for this, described in this page on the MS HCDE requirements for PhD students.