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Current Students

Completing an MS in HCDE alongside a PhD

Current HCDE PhD students may be interested in completing the requirements for a Master of Science in HCDE. There are two options for this: (1) A research-oriented master's degree which parallels the HCDE doctoral curriculum and (2) A practice-oriented master's degree which has additional requirements.

Research-oriented master's degree

The requirements for our research-oriented master's degree parallel the HCDE PhD program. Students must complete 42 credits, including:

  • HCDE 541: Introduction to PhD Studies in HCDE 
  • HCDE 542: Theoretical Foundations in Human Centered Design and Engineering
  • Quantitative methods requirement (e.g., HCDE 544: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research Methods)
  • Qualitative methods requirement (e.g., HCDE 545: Qualitative Research Methods)
  • Theory electives (8 credits)
  • Methods elective(s) (4 credits)
  • Free electives to bring the total credits to 42.

Additionally, students must complete a concentration (12 credits, which can overlap with theory, methods, and free electives) and successfully complete the Preliminary Exam.

No students are admitted to this master's program; it is only offered to HCDE doctoral students as a milestone toward the doctoral degree.

Professional master's degree

Below are the required classes for the HCDE professional master's program. PhD students complete these instead of or in addition to classes already taken as part of the PhD program. As shown, there are two courses required for master's students with no equivalency in the doctoral program.

Students who enrolled in 2020 or later should follow the curriculum in this table:

Students admitted before 2020 have an option to pursue slightly different requirements, though in most cases the below requirements are more flexible. Contact the Director of Academic Services and/or PhD Program director with any questions.

MS Requirement

Equivalent PhD Courses / Approved Courses
What PhD students should do to satisfy this requirement

HCDE 501: Theoretical Foundations of HCDE

HCDE 542: Theoretical Foundations in Human Centered Design and Engineering


HCDE 519: Qualitative Research Methods
HCDE 516: Experimental Methods


HCDE 545: Qualitative Research Methods
HCDE 544: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research Methods

HCDE 517: Usability Studies

No equivalent - must take 517 or waive based on equivalent prior coursework.

HCDE 518: User-Centered Design 

No equivalent - must take 518 or waive based on equivalent prior coursework.

Capstone: HCDE 592 & HCDE 593

Preliminary Exam

Strategy (4 credits minimum)

HCDE 503: Navigating Design in Organizational Contexts
HCDE 512: International User Experiences and Communication
HCDE 520: Design and Management of Complex Systems 
HCDE 534: Designing a Human Centered Venture
HCDE 548: Concepts in Designing for Coordination (Lee)

Design (4 credits minimum)

HCDE 508: Visual Communication
HCDE 511: Information Visualization
HCDE 515: Accessibility and Inclusive Design
HCDE 536: Interaction Design & Prototyping 
HCDE 537: User-Centered Web Design
HCDE 538: Designing for Behavior Change
HCDE 546: Design Thinking
INSC 543: Value Sensitive Design

Engineering (4 credits minimum)

HCDE 511: Information Visualization 
HCDE 530: Computational Concepts in HCDE
HCDE 533: Digital Fabrication
HCDE 539: Physical Computing and Prototyping
HCDE 548: AI and ML (McDonald)
CSE 512: Data Visualization
INFX 574 Data Science: Machine Learning

Additional Electives (14 credits minimum)

HCDE 521, 523, 543, 548, 598, and 599 can be included, along with other approved courses above. Whichever of HCDE 544/545 you do not use for the methods requirement may be used as an elective. Other courses, including HCDE 596s, may be included with prior approval from the director of the MS program.

Much of the value and experience of the MS HCDE is through learning and working with peers. Consequently, among strategy, design, engineering, and additional electives, at least 14 credits must be from HCDE courses and not DRGs or independent studies. This is in addition to HCDE 517 and HCDE 518. 


With prior approval, HCDE 548s and 599s may also count toward strategy, design, and engineering specialized electives categories depending on content.

Note that while the HCDE PhD program does not constrain the number of courses you can take S/NS, the master’s degree has more constraints: Students may choose the Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) grade designation for up to 6 elective credits (not prerequisite courses). Core and specialized content areas must be fulfilled with graded credit, only elective courses can count toward the MS degree with a Satisfactory "S" grade designation. Courses listed in the Time Schedule as credit/non-credit do not count toward the 6 allowable S/NS credits.


Q. Can 511 count toward both design and engineering?

No; it’s an either/or, not both choice.

Q. If I TA a course, does that count toward the requirements?

Generally, no. HCDE students come in from all sorts of backgrounds and use these buckets to deepen their knowledge beyond what they came in with. So, if you TA something in one of the buckets, treat it as a sign that you came in with that course’s that preparation and extend your knowledge in other ways/through other courses in the bucket.

For 517 and 518—courses not in buckets—TAing them might be a sign that you should consider waiving them based on prior experience, but it’s not automatic.