HCIM Curriculum

The HCIM’s curriculum prepares students to be HCI leaders.

Our curriculum grounds students in HCI theory and practice, and prepares them to excel, whether they are interested in careers in industry or government, or plan to pursue further academic research. The core curriculum is designed to accommodate students who do not have previous computer science experience, while remaining rigorous enough for those who have a programming background. Our electives serve the diverse backgrounds and interests of our students, and provide them the foundations for future success.

Program Structure

The HCIM program requires 30 credit hours of academic work to be completed with a minimum 3.0 GPA within five calendar years from the first semester of registration. At least 24 of the 30 required credits must be designated INST, INFM, or LBSC courses taken in the iSchool.

  • INST 630 - Introduction to Programming for the Information Professional (3 credits)
  • INST 631 - Fundamentals of HCI (3 credits)
  • INST 632 -  HCI Design Methods (3 credits)
  • Research Methods course (3 credits)
  • INST 717 - Internship (3 credits)
  • 3 electives (3 credits each)
    • INST 799 - Thesis Research (6 credits total); —OR—
    • ​INST 775 - Capstone Preparation (3 credits)  & INST 776 - Capstone Research (3 credits)

Core Curriculum

Our core curriculum provides students with a grounding in the fundamental concepts and approaches of human-computer interaction, introducing key tools and methodologies in the field. This sequence of courses is intended to familiarize students with HCI theory and provide hands-on opportunities to put that theory into practice. The HCIM curriculum includes five required courses: three core courses--INST 630, INST 631, INST 632--as well as a research methods course and INST 717, the HCIM internship course.

Core Courses

All students are required to complete INST 630, Intro to Programming, INST 631, Foundations of HCI, and INST 632, HCI Design Methods. These courses are intended to provide students with the skills and theoretical foundation necessary to complete their degree, and serve as groundwork for the projects they will undertake in other courses.

Students may request to waive INST 630 and, in some rare cases, INST 631, if they can demonstrate coursework or professional experience sufficient to waive the requirement. More information about course waivers is available on the Declarations, Forms, and Waivers page.

  • INST 630 - Introduction to Programming for Information Professionals
    An introductory programming course to prepare students for the technical work they will be required to do in subsequent courses.
  • INST 631 - Fundamentals of Human-Computer Interaction
    An introduction to the key concepts, theories, and methodologies of human-computer interaction.
  • INST 632 - Human-Computer Interaction Design Methods
    A hands-on course in iterative design and user testing, covering the essential design practices in human-computer interaction.

Research Methods Requirement

All HCIM students are required to complete a research methods course to ensure a strong grounding in scientific method. INST 701, Introduction to Research Methods, is the course recommended to fulfill this requirement, but students may choose from a variety of options. Please see the HCIM program handbook for a complete list of approved courses to fulfill this requirement.

Internship Course

A required summer internship course provides students with the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to both advance their careers as information professionals and contribute substantially to the success of the organizations of which they are a part. Our students have interned at the following places:


Electives offer students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in more specialized areas of human-computer interaction.The iSchool offers courses in a variety of topics, from information visualization to education, accessibility to privacy and security, including:

  • INST 611 - Privacy and Security in a Networked World
  • INST 633 - Analyzing Social Networks and Social Media
  • INST 650 - Facilitating Youth Learning in Formal and Informal Environment
  • INST 652 - Design Thinking & Youth
  • INST 651 - Promoting Rich Learning with Technology
  • INST 702 - Advanced Usability Testing
  • INST 728D - Introduction to Interaction Design
  • INST 728Q - Visual Analytics
  • INST 738Z - Inclusive Technology Design
  • INST 741 - Social Computing Technologies and Applications
  • INST 760 - Data Visualization

For a complete list of courses offered in the iSchool, please consult the iSchool course schedulesCourse descriptions and syllabi are also available. For current course listings, please consult Testudo.

Thesis & Capstone

All students must complete either a thesis or a capstone project. Both options require 6 credits: 3 credits in the fall semester of the final academic year, and 3 credits in the spring semester of the same academic year. For thesis students, this coursework should be 6 credits of INST 799. For capstone students, the courses are INST 775 in the fall and INST 776 in the spring.


Students who choose to pursue a thesis must undertake original research under the supervision of a faculty advisor and write a paper on their findings, equivalent to a publishable CHI paper. Students defend their thesis via an oral examination to a committee comprising their advisor (the committee chair) and at least two other members of the Graduate Faculty. Information about the Graduate School’s requirements regarding master’s theses is available here.


Starting in Fall 2017, the HCIM Capstone is transitioning to a team-based structure, where students tackle ambitious UX projects that explore a product design of value to an industry or community partner. Projects pose a challenging problem or opportunity that requires user research and iterative design to produce product designs and interactive prototypes. Students apply and refine their UX skills in user research, design concepts, interaction and visual designs, and interactive prototypes, all validated through iterative refinement with end users and stakeholders.

Throughout the project students meet with and present to the partner, sharing their work frequently. Partners may be invited to come and see and experience the data and may help guide decision-making. The goal of the Capstone is to train students in what to expect in industry and to ensure they have the hard and soft skills to be successful. At the end of the project, students will also have a project that they can publicly discuss, present and share in their portfolio.

More information about thesis and capstone options is available in the HCIM student handbook. For examples of student capstone projects, please visit our student projects gallery.