List of All U.S. Colleges With a Human-Computer Interaction Major

In the past couple of decades, the digital world has become firmly entrenched in our everyday lives, sparking widespread academic interest in bettering our relationships with it.

 

Those curious about digital relationships, computer engineering, psychology, and design may be drawn to the newly-emerging human-computer interaction major. 

 

Otherwise known as HCI, this major explores exactly how we interact with computers, how they impact us, and how to improve this relationship through product and interface design. In some circles, this major is also known as interaction design, information science, user experience design, or human-centered design.

 

If this sounds interesting to you, you may like to do a bit more research to decide if this field is really for you. Here, we’ll break down which colleges offer Human-Computer Interaction programs and what to look for in a school.

 

Overview of Human-Computer Interaction Major

 

Here are some courses you can expect to take while studying human-computer interaction:

 

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Science
  • Communication Design
  • Computer Science 
  • Information Science
  • Organizational and Social Psychology

 

Of course, your course selections will vary depending on your major and possible concentration, but you’ll likely cover many of these key topics. Many schools will also require that you complete an internship as well.

 

This major is a crossover between STEM and the humanities, so successful students in this field must possess a varied set of skills and traits. As innovative people, these students are drawn towards solving problems. They must communicate well to come to and convey their solutions. They’re usually interested in social sciences, computer science, and psychology. As perpetual learners in an ever-changing field, HCI stars are endlessly curious 

 

This major is decidedly niche—fewer than 1,300 degrees of this kind are awarded each year—but its skills are in high demand. Job prospects are plentiful for this major, and most won’t have to go to grad school to get the jobs they want. 

 

Most commonly, graduates work in designmore specifically, graphic design, user experience design, and user interface design. They often create compelling visuals, design website layouts, and build websites from the ground up to optimize the users’ positive experience. 

 

Those not working in the hands-on, creativity-oriented side of things often become consultants, analysts, researchers, and software engineers. No matter your personal inclination, there should be a place in this field for you!

 

What to Look for in a College as an Human-Computer Interaction Major

 

Experiential Learning Opportunities

 

Talent-seekers in fields related to this major are often more so concerned with your portfolio, experience, and talent than your degree or where you got it from. You’ll want to pick a school that provides real-world, hands-on opportunities to grow as an analyst, problem-solver, and designer. Check out your school’s career and internship opportunities; some even require an internship completion. 

 

Carnegie Mellon University’s B.S. HCI program is great in this regard; the school has strong partnerships with prominent tech corporations, and students pursue hands-on design projects as a part of CMU’s HCI curriculum. For those looking to work in research or shooting for grad school, there are ample opportunities to work in research under prominent HCI faculty as well.

 

Undergraduate Emphasis

 

Depending on the school you choose, your major requirements may take on a particular bent. While all schools should give you a strong foundation across a broad range of disciplines, some schools will focus more on visual design, computer science, or communications as a part of their core curriculum. 

 

For example, CMU only offers a Bachelor’s of Science in this field, and all students must complete a tech-heavy core and take at least one elective with strong technical content. By contrast, traditionally artistic schools like California College of the Arts and the Savannah College of Art and Design have more art requirements and a softer focus on computer programming. Psychology, ethics, and theory requirements also vary from school to school.

 

Look at the actual class offerings for the schools you’re interested in and consider whether the material you’ll cover will adequately prepare you for the future and skills you plan to build. Would you like a more tech-centered core like CMU’s or a design-communications offerings one like CCA? Are you more interested in software ethics or cognitive psychology?

 

Location

 

In searching for undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities, it certainly helps to live someplace where opportunity abounds. The cities of New York and Boston, as well as the California Bay Area, are hotspots for tech and design. Fortunately, many prominent HCI schools are near or in these locations.

 

California College of the Arts, or CCA, in San Francisco is a fantastic choice in this regard. The Bay Area is a tech world leader, home to Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, and San Francisco is a hotbed of arts and culture. CCA pairs Interaction Design B.F.A. students with “sponsored studios” like Intel and Oracle to fulfill their internship requirement.

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List of All U.S. Colleges With Human-Computer Interaction Major

 

School

City

State

Savannah College of Art and Design | SCAD

Savannah

Georgia

Milwaukee School of Engineering | MSOE

Milwaukee

Wisconsin

The State University of New York at Stony Brook | SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook

New York

Tufts University

Medford

Massachusetts

California College of the Arts | CCA

San Francisco

California

University of Washington

Seattle

Washington

Carnegie Mellon University | CMU

Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania

 

Notice a school that’s missing? Email us and let us know!

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

No matter your major, you must be academically comparable to previous years’ admits to be a competitive college applicant. Most selective schools use the Academic Index, a complex tool based on your grades, test scores, and class rankings, to evaluate academic aptitude and filter out students who don’t meet their standards.

 

The qualitative aspects of your application, like your essays and extracurriculars, are your place to show who you are and demonstrate fit with your chosen schools and major. 

 

In high school, we recommend taking a few coding and psychology classes for a bit of a background to HCI. 

 

Gaining basic fluency in a few programming languages is always great, as is developing a background in User Experience or User Interface Design via internships and self-taught skills. Depending on your interests and career hopes, you may want to craft a graphic or web design portfolio; some programs will allow or require you to submit one.

 

If you’re struggling to figure out where you match up to other applicants, we recommend using our free Chancing Engine. Unlike other solely stats-based chancing calculators, ours considers your profile holistically, including both your quantitative stats and qualitative extracurriculars.

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Michelle Foley
Essay Breakdown Writer

Short Bio
Michelle Foley is currently taking a gap year before starting at Yale College in Fall '21, where she is considering majoring in Art, English, or Cognitive Studies while earning her Spanish certificate. In her free time, she likes to paint, run, and read!

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