About the Minor in Interdisciplinary HCI

The minor in interdisciplinary human-computer interaction gives students core knowledge about techniques for building successful user interfaces; approaches for conceiving, refining, and evaluating interfaces that are useful and usable; and techniques for identifying opportunities to improve the quality of people’s lives through technology.

Students learn to effectively collaborate in the design, implementation, and evaluation of easy-to-use, desirable, and thoughtful interactive systems. They will be prepared to contribute to multidisciplinary teams that create new interactive products, services, environments, and systems.

The minor in interdisciplinary HCI is appropriate for CMU undergraduates who expect to get jobs where they design and/or implement information-technology-based systems for end users, and well as students with an interest in learning more about the design of socio-technical systems. It is appropriate for students with majors in computer science and information systems, as well as students in less software-focused majors, including design, architecture, art, business administration, psychology, statistics, decision science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, English and many others.


Admissions and Application Information

Applications for the Minor in Interdisciplinary HCI are processed once a year in the spring. Applications for 2023 will be due on Wednesday, March 15.

Information Session

An information session for students interested in applying to the undergraduate HCI Additional Major and Minor will be held on Tuesday, February 7th at 7:30pm in GHC 4401. Slides will be posted on the website after the session for those unable to attend. Questions? Email Amelia Baisley: abaisley@andrew.cmu.edu. For reference, here is the handout (pdf) from the Spring 2022 info session.

Application Window

The application window is the period of time when students can submit their applications to our minor. Our next application window will open on March 1, 2023, and close March 15.

An online application form will be available here during the next application window. Required information for the application form will include: anticipated graduation year, primary major, any additional second major or minor, cumulative GPA, mid-semester grades for the current spring semester, plus a schedule of study that specifies when you might take the 7 courses for the minor.

Acceptance Process

Acceptance decisions will be announced before the fall registration week in April. Once decisions are announced, we will hold another information session to help our newly admitted students with their fall registration.

The number of students that can be admitted to the minor in interdisciplinary HCI is limited by enrollment caps for the two required courses. Students who are admitted to the minor will be guaranteed admission to the two required courses by their senior year. They will also receive preference for some of the electives offered by the HCII, although due to enrollment limits for courses, there are no guarantees that students will get into any elective they may want to sign up for. However, given the very large number of possible electives, once admitted, students should be able to complete the minor.


Key Concepts, Skills and Methods

The key concepts, skills and methods that students will learn in the HCI minor include:

  • Fieldwork for understanding peoples' needs and the influence of context
  • Generative approaches to imagining many possible solutions, such as sketching and “bodystorming”
  • Iterative refinement of designs
  • Basic visual design, including typography, grids, color and the use of images
  • Implementation of interactive prototypes
  • Evaluation techniques, including discount and empirical evaluation methods



Prerequisite Course

The only prerequisite for this minor is an introductory-level college programming course (such as 15-110, 15-112, 15-121, 15-123, 51-257, or 15-104) and to be in good standing with the university.

Required Courses

The minor has two required courses and four approved electives. The student will be required to get a grade of “C” or better in each course in order for it to count as part of the minor. There is no final project or research required for the minor.

  • 05-391: Designing Human-Centered Software (DHCS)
    This course provides an overview of the most important methods taught in the Additional Major in Interdisciplinary HCI, such as Contextual Inquiry, Prototyping and Iterative Design, Heuristic Evaluation, and Think Aloud User Studies. It covers in a more abbreviated form the content of 05-410: User-Centered Research and Evaluation (UCRE) and 05-430: Programming Usable Interfaces.
  • 05-392: Interaction Design Overview (IDO)
    This design course combines material from 05-651 Interaction Design Studio I and 05-650 Interaction Design Studio II in a form that will fit appropriately into a one-semester format. It is appropriate for students who do not have any previous experience with design. However, HCI Minors who have a primary major in Design may substitute taking 05-392 Interaction Design Overview with another HCI design course.


The minor in interdisciplinary HCI requires four approved electives. They can come from the pre-approved list of electives.


Students may double-count up to two (2) of the required courses or electives with their primary major.