Requirements encourage researchers to gain skill in a range of methodologies to support research that is both rigorous and creative.
To this end, research is prioritized over any specific set of required courses, which we leave flexible to suit your individual interests. We expect that all students will become involved in an HCI research project from the beginning. For this we rely on an apprenticeship-based approach. You will be teamed early with an advisor who is matched to your interests, and who will guide you in your work.
Students are required to make a written and oral presentation of their research work at the end of their first and second years of study. This encourages students to get started with research early and affords the opportunity to get research feedback early. Written presentations are in the form of a paper suitable for publication at one of the top HCI conferences or journals (for example at the annual SIGCHI conference). Oral presentations are to the whole HCII community. A requirement for the PhD is a “certification of communication skill,” which is awarded based on review and approval of presentations by the HCII faculty.
The HCI PhD program of study focuses on an emphasis area that students and advisors define together, which results in a coherent set of courses that enable the development of deeper knowledge in an area of interest, for example, Social Computing, Assistive Technologies, or Research through Design. A small set of core courses provide both a common experience for incoming students and a grounding in the concepts, methodologies, and prior work of a set of fields that contribute in important ways to HCI.
Course requirements are structured to be completed within the first two and a half years of study. However, students are free to schedule their course work in a variety of ways to accommodate their educational needs. In some cases prerequisite course work may be needed or requirements may be waived.
All programs of study are created individually, but must be approved in advance by both the student’s advisor and the faculty. All programs of study must include the following:
In addition, each program of study must include at least one graduate-level design studio course.
Students must successfully complete two Teaching Assistantships (TAships). Successful completion is determined by the faculty member for whom the student serves as TA. Students are assigned to TAships by faculty and student representatives, in a process that is responsive to the department’s needs, student preferences, and faculty requests.
The intent of this requirement is for the student to demonstrate that they possess basic usability skills (which would, for example, enable the student to teach an Introductory HCI course). A couple of ways to fulfill this requirement is to either successfully take a course on usability methods or to complete a TAship for this course.
Your program of study will culminate in a dissertation describing original research. Proposal and defense of this dissertation are primary requirements for obtaining a PhD in HCI.
Prior to proposing a dissertation topic, each student will form a PhD committee consisting of an advisor, at least two but as many as three HCII faculty members and one outside faculty member (taken from either another CMU department or from outside the University). This committee will be responsible for approving a written and oral presentation of a dissertation proposal, as well as the final written dissertation, and its oral defense.
Students in the HCI PhD program may choose to focus their studies in certain areas of emphasis within HCI.
The Human-Computer Interaction Institute carries on Carnegie Mellon's rich tradition of multidisciplinary research by fostering and carrying out projects to design and test new tools and technologies that support human activity and organization, and build theory in the field.
The application for a fall 2021 start in our HCI Ph.D. program is now closed.
Admissions for a fall 2022 start will open in fall 2021.
If you have any questions, please email hciiphd [at] cs.cmu.edu.