Undergraduate Major

This page describes the requirements for the HCI major.

The major consists of 12 prerequisite and required courses. Students must take four electives, which they need to submit beforehand for approval by the program director. Elective approval requests need to be submitted through the Easy system. Electives from a restricted list of courses describing applications of HCI will be approved automatically. Students can however request approval to count as elective any HCI-relevant course in any department, even if it is not on the pre-approved list, as long as the course is not a basic course in their primary major. Students can only double count up to two core courses with their primary majors (prerequisite courses do not apply to the double-counting rule).

Graphically, the required curriculum for the HCI undergraduate major is shown in the chart below. The arrows in the chart represent prerequisites. So, for example, the Intro Programming and Statistics requirements are prerequisites for the User-Centered Research and Evaluation course. The major involves courses in human behavior, design, computer science, statistics and a project course.

 

Cognitive Psychology 85-211 or 85-213

 

Interaction Design Studio 1
05-651d

Statisticsc
36-201 or 36-207 or 36-247 or 36-220 or 36-225 & 226 or 70-207
Introduction to Programminga
51-257 or 15-100 or 15-104 or 15-110 or 15-112 or 15-121 or 15-123
     
HCI Electivesf
four 9 unit (or more) HCI related courses
Interaction Design Studio 2
05-650e
User-Centered Research and Evaluation
05-410
Interface Programmingb
05-430 or 05-431
 
   
  Project Course
05-571

You must maintain a 3.0 average in the HCI core courses (non-prerequisite) to graduate with the HCI major. Students admitted to the major must pass core courses in the major with at least a B grade. You can check your progress in the major and request approval for electives using the EASy system. If the information about your progress in EASy is inaccurate, please submit a request through the system.

Special Notes

  • aStarting in the summer of 2010, the HCII began offering an introductory programming course through CMU’s Open Learning Initiative titled “Media Programming.” If CMU’s graded version of the course is taken, it can fulfill the computer science prerequisite for HCI courses. The new course is offered as a convenience for students who have difficult fitting a programming course into their schedule during the academic year; the other programming courses listed (e.g.,15-105, 15-110, 15-121 or 15-123, 51-257) can still be used as your computer science prerequisite. The new course is designed to teach students practical programming skills and to introduce media concepts that will allow students to literally see the impact of their programming efforts. The course is 6 weeks long, and will require approximately 20 hours a week of effort. There will be homework and quizzes due at least once a week. Please contact the HCII undergraduate coordinator (indra [at] cmu.edu) to find out more about this course and to arrange to take the graded version.
  • bThe required HCI programming courses 05-430 (Programming Usable Interfaces) and 05-431 (Software Structures for User Interfaces) are only offered in the Fall. When you register for these courses, you must also sign up for a recitation time, which is equivalent to the User Interface Lab. The courses differ on their computer science prerequisites. 05-431 can only be taken by students majoring in computer science or with permission of the instructors. 05-430 require only an introductory course in computer science as a prerequisite, and can be taken either by computer science majors or non-computer science majors.
  • cThe statistics course is required so that majors will be able to understand and conduct empirical research in HCI. Therefore a mathematically-oriented probability course, such as 36-217 (Probability Theory and Random Processes) does not fulfill either requirement. However, the sequence of 36-317 or 36-225 and 36-226 (i.e., a mathematical statistics course followed by a statistical inference course) fulfills the statistics prerequisite requirement. 
  • dDesign majors do not need to take 05-651 Interaction Design Studio 1 as a prerequisite, since they learn similar material in other courses for their major. 51-262 and 51-261 Communication Design Fundamentals also counts as fulfilling this requirement.
  • e51-422 Interaction Design Studio offered by the School of Design also fulfills this requirement. The content of 51-422 is comparable to 51-421 (Fall). 
  • fA list of popular electives is available here. All electives must be submitted through EASy for audit purposes.

Electives

Electives are intended to provide HCI double majors advanced concepts and skills relevant to HCI or breadth of experience not available from their primary major. Given these goals, most electives will be 300-level courses or higher. Courses at the 100-level and 200-level in ones primary major will not count as electives, although the same course taken by a non-major may. For example, a communication design student cannot take 51-247 Color and Communication as an elective, although a computer science major can.

Students can take electives in the HCI Institute or courses relevant to HCI from many other departments on campus. All electives are approved on a case-by-case basis. Undergraduate majors requisition approval of an elective using The HCI Institute’s EASy requirements management system. The director of the undergraduate program will approve the request, ask for more information or reject it. The EASy system then keeps a record of the electives approved for a particular student. A list of popular HCI electives is available here.

Prerequisites

Statistics

The Statistics prerequisite requirement can be satisfied by taking any of the following one or two semester courses, or by receiving credit for courses taken elsewhere (which must be approved by the Undergraduate Advisor prior to signing up for the course). As noted above, the statistics course are required so that majors will be able to understand and conduct empirical research in HCI. Therefore a mathematically-oriented probability course, such as 36-217 (Probability Theory and Random Processes) does not fulfill the requirement.

  • 36-201 Statistical Reasoning and Practice
  • 36-220 Engineering Statistics and Quality Control
  • 36-225 Probability and Statistics
  • 36-226 Probability and Statistics
  • 36-247 Statistics for Lab Sciences

Applications for 2017

Applications will open for 2017 academic year during spring term.

Applications for 2016 are closed   

Undergraduate Program Information

Bob Kraut
Interim Director of the Undergraduate Program
Professor
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Newell Simon Hall 3515 

Indra Danti
Undergraduate Programs Manager
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Newell Simon Hall 3607 

  • hciibachelors [at] cs.cmu.edu