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.)


In this concentration, students learn techniques, processes, principles, and theory of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This interdisciplinary field aims at understanding how interactions with digital technologies and services can augment what humans do. It also aims at understanding what design, prototyping, and evaluation processes lead to innovative digital technologies and services that fulfill human needs. The concentration enhances what is learned in the SCS majors by addressing how digital products and services can be designed and evaluated so they benefit individuals, small groups, organizations, larger networks, and societies. It is synergistic with SCS majors in that envisioning, designing, and implementing innovative digital interactions benefit from superior technical skill. The concentration consists of 5 courses (2 required courses and 3 electives).

The concentration helps prepare students for jobs as technically-skilled specialists in design and development of interactive systems. The concentration will give students a broader perspective on how technologies impact humans, which may help them move faster into product management positions. It also lays a foundation for graduate study in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

Concentration Form

To request approval to add or drop the HCI Concentration, please fill out the following HCI Concentration Form (pdf) and then send your completed form to Amelia Baisley, academic program coordinator, via email.

Learning Objectives 

Students will learn skills and methods for:

  • Eliciting and understanding human objectives, preferences, and needs through qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis
  • Generating and imagining possible solutions and design concepts that involve human/technology partnerships
  • Basic visual design, including typography, grids, color and the use of images
  • Design of interactive systems, experiences, and technologies
  • Developing and evaluating interactive prototypes as a way of iteratively refining designs
  • Evaluating interactive technologies to assess and improve their functioning through data-driven redesign, including discount and empirical evaluation methods

Students will also learn about:

  • Digital technologies, including, possibly, web and mobile platforms, conversational technologies, wearable computing, gadgets, digital fabrication, virtual reality and mixed reality
  • Human psychology, regarding individuals, groups, organizations, societies, and cultures, as it relates to interactions with digital products and services

Course Requirements

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

The following requirements are for students entering Fall 2023. 

Prerequisites (2 courses)

For this concentration, students should have completed the following courses prior to starting the concentration:

  • 15-122: Principles of Imperative Computation  [12]
  • 15-150: Principles of Functional Programming  [12]

Required Courses

Students in an SCS major wanting to complete a concentration in HCI must complete 5 courses, namely, 2 required courses and 3 electives.

Required (2 courses)

Electives (3 courses)

1)  At least one of the electives must have strong technical content and must be selected from the following list:

  • Technical, select one: 
    • 05-318: Human AI Interaction  [12]
    • 05-333: Gadgets, Sensors and Activity Recognition in HCI  [12]
    • 05-434: Machine Learning in Practice  [12]
    • 05-499: Special Topics in HCI  [12]
    • 05-839: Interactive Data Science  [12]
    • 10-315: Introduction to Machine Learning (SCS Majors)  [12]
    • 11-411: Natural Language Processing  [12]
    • 15-237: Special Topic: Cross-Platform Mobile Web Apps  [12]
    • 15-281: Artificial Intelligence: Representation and Problem Solving  [12]
    • 15-365: Experimental Animation  [12]
    • 15-388: Practical Data Science  [9]
    • 15-462: Computer Graphics  [12]
    • 15-464: Technical Animation  [12]
    • 15-466: Computer Game Programming  [12]
    • 15-494: Cognitive Robotics: The Future of Robot Toys  [12]
    • 16-467: Human Robot Interaction  [12]
    • 17-422: Building User-Focused Sensing Systems  [12]
    • 17-428: Machine Learning and Sensing  [12]
    • 17-437: Web Application Development  [12]
    • 17-537: Artificial Intelligence Methods for Social Good  [9]
    • Other courses as approved by the concentration director

2)  At least one of the electives must have strong design content and must be selected from the following list:

3)  The remaining elective must be a course in HCI offered by the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, meaning it has a 05 number, or is included in the pre-approved list of undergraduate electives maintained on our website.

Students can apply one semester of a senior thesis or research-based independent study (05-589) in a topic related to this concentration, as approved by the concentration director/advisor, as an elective courses for this concentration. This research must have a significant communication component, including a paper or technical report, and a poster presentation. Any research course can count for at most 12 units towards the concentration and can count for at most one elective. 

Double Counting 

At most 2 courses can be double counted with any major, minor or other concentration being pursued by the student.

Advising and Management

Management will fall on the HCII Undergraduate Director and the HCII Academic Program Coordinator. The requirements for the courses will be reviewed annually by the HCII Curriculum Committee, in consultation with the URC.

Students in the HCI concentration will be advised by the HCII Undergraduate Director and/or the HCII Academic Program Coordinator, who also oversee and direct the HCI additional major and the HCI minor.

SCS Students interested in this concentration should contact the HCII Academic Program Coordinator for an initial advising consultation.