HCI Undergraduate Minor

The HCII offers a minor for undergraduates who are interested in HCI.

About the HCI Minor

This university-wide minor is steadily gaining popularity as understanding of human computer interaction continues to grow in importance. If you have questions, contact hciibachelors [at] cs.cmu.edu.

The minor in human-computer interaction will give students core knowledge about techniques for building successful user interfaces; approaches for conceiving, refining, and evaluating interfaces that are useful and useable; and techniques for identifying opportunities for computational technology to improve the quality of people’s lives. The students will be able 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 HCI minor is targeted at 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.


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

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.

In addition to the programming prerequisite, the minor has required two courses—05-391 Designing Human-Centered Systems (DHCS) and 05-392 Interaction Design Overview (IDO)—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.

Required Courses3

  • 05-391 Designing Human-Centered Systems (DHCS)1: This course provides an overview of the most important methods taught in the Second Major in 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, 05-430 Programming Usable Interfaces.
  • 05-392 Interaction Design Overview (IDO)2: This design course combines material from 05-651 Interaction Design Studio I and 05-650 Interaction Design Studio II and is appropriate for students who do not have any previous experience with design, in a form that will fit appropriately into a one-semester format. HCI Minors who have a primary major in Design may substitute taking 05-392 Interaction Design Overview with another HCI design course.


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

Double Counting

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

Relationship Between the BHCI Major and Minor

  BHCI Major BHCI Minor
Admission Application and admissions required Application and admissions required
Prerequisite • Freshman-level programming (15-110 or 15-112 or 15-121 or 15-104)
• Statistics (introductory)
• Psychology (85-211 or 85-241)
• Interaction Design Studio I 
• Freshman-level programming (15-110 or 15-112 or 15-121 or 15-104)
Core courses • Interaction Design Studio II (IxDS) (05-650)
• User Centered Research & Evaluation (UCRE) (05-410)
• HCI Programming (PUI) (05-430)
• BHCI Project (05-571)
• Interaction Design Overview (IxDO) 05-392
• Designing Human Centered Software (DHCS) 05-391
Electives 4 electives 4 electives
Double counting 2 courses with primary major 2 courses with primary major

1Alternatively, a student can take both the BS/MHCI empirical methods course (05-410/05-610 User-Centered Research and Evaluation) and the BS/MHCI core programming course (either 05-430 Programming Usable Interfaces or 05-431 Software Structures for User Interfaces). If students take this course sequence, they would get credit for fulfilling this requirement plus one elective. HCI Minors who have a primary major in Design may substitute taking 05-391 Designing Human-Centered Systems with another HCI (05) course.

2Alternatively, students can fulfill the design requirement by taking 05-651 Interaction Design Studio I and 05-650 Interaction Design Studio II. If students take this course sequence, they would get credit for fulfilling this requirement plus one elective. HCI Minors who have a primary major in Design may substitute taking 05-392 Interaction Design Overview with another HCI (05) course.

These alternative ways of fulfilling the requirements for the HCI minor are designed for students who are in the HCI second major who want the “downgrade” to the minor. These students can use some of the courses completed for the HCI second major as a way of fulfilling the requirements for the minor. Students in the HCI minor from the start are strongly encouraged to follow the regular requirements outlined above and are strongly discouraged from trying these alternative ways of fulfilling the requirements. It can be extremely difficult to get into any of the alternative courses. This is true especially for 05-410 User-Centered Research and Evaluation, but for other courses as well. If a student in the minor has already taken 05-651 Interaction Design Studio I, it will not give priority for getting into 05-650 Interaction Design Studio II.

Note to students with a primary major in Design:
Due to the change in the required curriculum students with a primary major in Design may now elect to take any two HCI 9-unit or higher courses in lieu of taking both of the HCI Minor courses (05-392 Interaction Design Overview (IxDO) and 05-391 Designing Human-Centered Systems (DHCS)). This means that the substitute courses need to be offered by the HCII with an 05 as the prefix in the course number. In comparison, HCI electives can still be offered by either the HCII or another department, as long as it’s HCI related. Both substitute courses and electives still need to be 9-units or higher. 

Applying to the HCI Minor

There is a formal admissions procedure once a year. The number of students that can be admitted to the HCI minor 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. Also, they will 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 in to 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. 

Admissions for Spring 2020 will open March 10th, 2020 and close March 29th, 2020. Between this time period you may submit your application via the application button below. Acceptance decisions are announced before Fall registration in April. There will also be information session to help newly admitted students with Fall registration. During this session information will be provided regarding fall course scheduling and other issues related to your program of study. For Spring 2020, the prospective student information session is scheduled for January 30, 2020 in NSH 4305 at 4:30pm.  Any undergraduate student who is interested in applying to either of the undergraduate HCI programs may attend. The handout from the Spring 2020 session can be found here.

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 seven courses for the minor. 


Applications for 2020 are now closed. 

Apply Here

Undergraduate Program Information

Vincent Aleven
Director of the Undergraduate Programs
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Newell Simon Hall 3531 

Andrea Gnessin
Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Newell Simon Hall 3509

  • hciibachelors [at] cs.cmu.edu