Important: Design Course Changes for Fall 2023

05-651: Interaction Design Studio 1 and 05-392/692: Interaction Design Overview are being retired and combined into one new course: 05-360/05-660: Interaction Design Fundamentals (12 units).

Any undergraduate student who would normally take 05-651 OR 05-392 will replace that course with 05-360. It will be offered both semesters beginning fall 2023.

(Note: students who have already successfully taken 05-651 OR 05-392 have already completed this requirement and will not need to take the new replacement course, 05-360.)



Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a fast growing field devoted to the design, implementation, and evaluation of interactive computer-based technology. Examples of HCI products include intelligent computer tutors, wearable computers, social networking sites, and internet-connected personal digital assistants (PDAs). Constructing an HCI product is a cyclic, iterative process that has at least three stages: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation.

The Design stage involves principles of design and human behavior, the Implementation stage principles of computer science, and the Evaluation stage empirical research methods common to several disciplines. There are thus four topical areas to cover in this major: Human Behavior, Design, Implementation, and Evaluation. In slightly more detail, the major involves the following sorts of knowledge and skill:


  • Eliciting from the client, formulating, and articulating functional specifications
  • Knowing how human factors and cognitive models should inform design
  • Knowing the principles of, and having experience with, communication design
  • Understanding how implementation constraints should inform design
  • Incorporating evaluation results into iterated designs

Implementation Programming Skills

  • Standard programming languages - e.g., C++, Java
  • Rapid prototyping skills
  • Computational literacy, i.e., knowledge sufficient for effective communication and decision making about:
    • interface construction tools and languages
    • multimedia authoring tools
    • data structures and algorithms
    • operating systems, platforms, etc.


  • Experimental design
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Usability testing (Cognitive walkthroughs, user models, heuristic evaluation, GOMS)
  • Statistical analysis

There are over 45 courses relevant to these areas that are now offered by eight different departments in four different colleges at Carnegie Mellon (School of Computer Science, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Fine Arts, and Tepper School of Business).


About the Additional Major

The Additional Major in Interdisciplinary Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is available to current undergraduate students from any CMU college. Students maintain their primary major, and by adding an additional major in HCI, can explore multiple areas of study during their time at CMU. Applications to the additional major are processed once a year, in the spring semesters. Learn more about our Additional Major in Interdisciplinary HCI admissions process.


The following requirements are for students entering Fall 2023.

The Additional Major in Interdisciplinary Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) consists of 12 prerequisite and required courses.

After each course name, the number of units for the course is shown [in square brackets].

Prerequisite Courses (4 courses)

These courses do not need to be taken before applying to the additional major program. However, please note the required order sequence for two courses (design and programming), listed below.

  • Psychology, select one:
    • 85-211: Cognitive Psychology  [9]
    • 85-241: Social Psychology  [9]
    • 85-213: Human Information Processing and Artificial Intelligence  [9]
  • Design:
    This prerequisite course 05-360 must be completed before enrolling in the HCI core course 05-361: Advanced Interaction Design.
  • Statistics, select one:
    • 36-200: Reasoning with Data  [9]
    • 36-220: Engineering Statistics and Quality Control  [9]
    • 36-225-36-226: Introduction to Probability Theory - Introduction to Statistical Inference  [18]
    • 36-226: Introduction to Statistical Inference  [9]
    • 36-247: Statistics for Lab Sciences  [9]
    • 70-207: Probability and Statistics for Business Applications  [9]
  • Introduction to Programming, select one:
    A freshman-level programming course must be completed before enrolling in the HCI core course 05-430 or 05-380.
    • 15-104: Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice  [10]
    • 15-110: Principles of Computing  [10]
    • 15-112: Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science  [12]
    • 15-121: Introduction to Data Structures  [10]

HCI Core Courses (4 courses)

The HCI core courses include the following required courses: (Prerequisite courses and the electives are not core courses.)


Electives (4 courses)

HCI additional major students must take four HCI-related electives (9 units or more). Electives are intended to provide additional major students with 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 one's primary major will not count as electives, although the same course taken by a non-major may count (approval is still required).

Students can take electives in the HCII or courses relevant to HCI from many other departments on campus. All external electives are approved on a case-by-case basis.

All 05-xxx courses are pre-approved as HCI electives; however, core courses cannot double count as electives. See the HCII website for a list of current pre-approved undergraduate electives.


Students may double count up to two (2) of the required core and elective courses (prerequisite courses do not apply to the double-counting rule) with their primary major.

Accelerated Master's Program (AMHCI)

The HCII currently offers a three semester (12-month), 15 course Masters in HCI. Undergraduates currently enrolled in the HCI major may apply for the Accelerated Masters in HCI program in the fall semester of their senior year. If admitted, students finish the masters degree the following fall semester.