MHCI Frequently Asked Questions

Program & Curriculum FAQS:

How many students are currently in the program?

Fall 2016 matriculation numbers: 50 MHCI and 14 Portugal Program.

May I work on my MHCI degree part-time?

Yes. Many students choose to work full-time while completing their program as a part-time student. However, the HCII Project II course must be taken in the summer session after HCII Project I, and students must be enrolled full-time during at this time. Please note that students must be residents of the United States in order to enroll part-time in the MHCI program.

I am a current student at CMU. Would I be eligible for the accelerated master's degree?

Yes. The Accelerated Master of Human-Computer Interaction degree is for Carnegie Mellon undergraduate students who are completing a second major in HCI and are taking the three core HCI courses as well as a 400-level elective. More information about the accelerated program can be found under our undergraduate pages online.

Does the department provide career counseling or job placement?

Carnegie Mellon has multiple career service resources for our students including career fairs, networking and conferences within Carnegie Mellon and the School of Computer Science. The HCII also hosts HCII-specific career events including recruitment sessions, portfolio reviews, and networking events throughout the year. Our students graduate with a coveted skill set and have excellent job placement records.

What kind of jobs can I get with an MHCI degree and who employs HCI graduates?

Our graduates have successfully obtained careers as Usability Specialists, Interface Specialists, User Interface Designers, Research Programmers, Project Directors and Usability Engineers for companies such as eBay, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Sandia, TiVo, and many other companies.

The HCII is in the School of Computer Science. I do not have a strong programming background. May I still apply?

Yes! We encourage you to apply without having a strong programming background. We welcome students from many disciplines outside of computer science (e.g., design, psychology, business, etc.) Prior to starting classes in the fall, non-technical students will complete a programming requirement either by taking an external course or by completing the department's online programming course. This ensures all students, despite different backgrounds, are prepared for the technical requirements of the degree.

Will I have to take a lot of programming courses?

Once you have met the programming requirement, you will be expected to take either Programming Usable Interfaces or Software Architectures for User Interfaces as part of your degree requirements. The former course is intended for non-technical students, while the latter course is intended for students with a strong technical background.

Admissions FAQs:

What are my chances of getting in?

The 2017-18 application cycle had an 21% acceptance rate. Some years are higher and some years are lower.  

May I apply for admission starting in the spring instead of the fall?

No, we only process admissions once a year. Applications are due in January for admission in the fall term of the same year.

I just finished my undergraduate work. Should I apply for the Master of Human-Computer Interaction program first as preparation for my Ph.D. work?

The MHCI program is not intended to serve as preparation for our Ph.D. program. The MHCI program is intended to teach the skills necessary for professional practice in various HCI related careers. The Ph.D. program, on the other hand, is designed to prepare you to be an HCI researcher. If you intend to apply to both programs, then you must submit two separate applications.

If I am not accepted for the HCII Ph.D. program will I automatically be considered for admission to the MHCI program instead?

No. Because of the different educational goals of each program, their admissions processes are separate and applications are not shared between the two programs. As noted in the previous question, the two programs are designed to address different goals.

May I apply to the MHCI program and other HCII master's degrees?

Yes, you may apply to any program, but students usually prefer one to the other. The programs have been designed to address  different goals. Explore the different HCII master's degrees on our website.

Should I visit before I apply (and will that help my chances of being admitted)?

Visiting the department before you apply does not improve one’s chances of admission. The HCII receives numerous requests every year from applicants for tours and visits of the department. While we certainly do not discourage prospective students from visiting the campus, we do not have the department resources to arrange individualized agendas and tours to accommodate such requests nor do we offer pre-admission assessments or interviews. Students who have been admitted will be invited to visit during the Spring Open House, an event for accepted students to tour the campus, meet with faculty and current students, explore curriculum and be welcomed into the department.

Do my chances of getting admitted increase if I submit my application early?

No, all applications are reviewed as a group once the application deadline has passed. Submitting early does not increase your chances of admittance.

I have been out of school for some time. May I submit reference letters from my employers instead of from instructors?

Yes, you may send us letters from your employers. Applicants should ask for recommendations from people who know them and their work very well.

Do I have to submit GRE scores?

Everyone who applies MUST have taken the GRE General Test within the last five years. Scores should be sent directly to the HCII using Institution code, 2074; Department code, 0402. Please allow 10 business days after you have submitted your application and paid the fee to have your scores marked as received in the application.

Do I have to take the GRE Subject test?

No, applicants to the MHCI program are not required to take any GRE Subject tests.

How high do my GRE scores need to be?

We review all materials in a student's application and consider each in assessing admission to the program. Due to our unique approach, we do not set a minimum GRE requirement for applicants. 

What are the GRE and TOEFL institution and department codes?

GRE: Institution code, 2074; Department code, 0402. TOEFL: Institution code, 4256; Department code, 78

Do I have to take the TOEFL or IELTS?

The TOEFL or IELTS is required of all students whose native language is NOT English. It does not matter whether you have earned your undergraduate or graduate degree in the United States or in your native land. Your application will not be considered without one of these tests.

What is the minimum TOEFL requirement? IELTS?

For the iBT, minimum score required is 25 on each subsection (for a total minimum score of 100.) For the Paper Based Test (PBT), a minimum score of 600 is required. For the IELTS, minimum score of 8.5 with no subscore below 8 is required. 

Do I still need to submit a TOEFL/IELTS score if I have a degree from a U.S. educational institution?

Yes, the TOEFL or IELTS is still required. Your application will NOT be considered complete without the TOEFL or IELTS test.

What if I have taken the GMAT?

The MHCI program does not accept the GMAT.

If I am accepted, can I defer my acceptance to the following year?

No, students who are accepted into the MHCI program may not defer their acceptance.

I applied last year. Can you reuse my application materials?

No, you will be required to re-submit your application for this year's application cycle.

I submitted my application. When will I hear back?

Applicants will receive an admissions decision by March 15th of that application cycle.

Tuition & Financial Aid FAQs:

Is financial aid available?

No, the HCII is not able to provide financial aid, but there are often fellowships and grants available to graduate students. It is up to the students to pursue these options.

Where can I find information on graduate student scholarships and financial aid?

An excellent source for general information on financial aid can be found at FinAid. The Carnegie Mellon Fellowships and Scholarships Office is also available for assistance. The HUB at Carnegie Mellon has more general information on graduate student financial assistance.

Do you have a list of scholarships that students have won in the past?

No, the HCII does not keep public records of this information. However, students who are accepted are invited to an Open House where they have the opportunity to meet the current cohort and ask questions.

Additional questions?

Please email MHCI Associate Director Nicole Willis at nicolewi [at] cs.cmu.edu (subject: MHCI%20Application%20Question) .