The use of human-computer interaction (HCI) learning systems and assistive technologies is growing in numerous exciting industries. In this article, we will cover 10 of the best PhDs in Human-Computer Interaction offered in the United States, as well as the PhD in Human-Computer Interaction salary opportunities and jobs in the interaction design field.
A PhD in Human-Computer Interaction is focused on interactive design and understanding how users interact with computers. This knowledge allows students to create research-backed digital interfaces for users based on their needs and preferences. These PhD degree programs will increase students’ level of experience and design thinking skills to make them experts in the computing and information technology field.
What Is a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction?
A PhD in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a doctoral degree program that combines many different disciplines, including artificial intelligence, graphic design, assistive technologies, social computing, cognitive science, and interaction design thinking to create relevant computing and information technology that can solve real-world problems for technology users.
During an HCI PhD program, the graduate student will utilize different learning systems and collaborate with faculty advisors to define their area of interest and research in the field. No matter their future career goals, students will gain excellent skills in interactive systems and have the opportunity to perform cutting-edge research in this key industry.
How to Get Into a Human-Computer Interaction PhD Program: Admission Requirements
The admission requirements for prospective students of human-computer interaction PhD programs include a master’s or bachelor’s degree and official transcripts from previous academic programs they have pursued. Other requirements may include a statement of purpose that describes your primary research interests in the HCI academic field, a resume, and letters of recommendation.
English as a second language (ESL) and all international students will need to provide proof of English proficiency in the form of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam scores or an equivalent exam. Individual programs may also require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and application fees in order to be considered for admission.
PhD in Human-Computer Interaction Admission Requirements
- Master’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field
- Official transcripts
- GRE exam scores, depending on the school
- TOEFL exam or equivalent for ESL and international students
- Online application and fee to be completed according to application deadlines
- Statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendation
- Current resume
Human-Computer Interaction PhD Acceptance Rates: How Hard Is It to Get Into a PhD Program in Human-Computer Interaction?
It can be hard to get into a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction program. Doctoral studies that focus on interactive systems can be somewhat limited, so these programs are typically more challenging to get into as compared to programs with a social science focus, for example.
Acceptance rates will vary by the type of graduate study, a candidate’s previous academic progress, and the college’s reputation. You can research the general acceptance rates for each university, and the program may disclose acceptance information and how competitive the program is on the department’s website.
How to Get Into the Best Universities
Best PhDs in Human-Computer Interaction: In Brief
|Arizona State University||PhD in Human Systems Engineering||No|
|Carnegie Mellon University||PhD in Human-Computer Interaction||No|
|Clemson University||PhD in Human-Centered Computing||No|
|Cornell University||PhD in Information Science||No|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||PhD in Human-Centered Computing||No|
|Indiana University Bloomington||PhD in Informatics: Human-Computer Interaction/Design Specialization||No|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||PhD in Computer Science and Engineering||No|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||PhD in Computing and Information Sciences||No|
|Stanford University||PhD in Computer Science||No|
|University of Washington||PhD in Human-Centered Design and Engineering||No|
Best Universities for Human-Computer Interaction PhDs: Where to Get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction
The best universities for human-computer interaction PhD programs include the desirable Stanford University, Indiana University, and Carnegie Mellon University. Continue reading below for an overview of each human-computer interaction PhD degree program and relevant details like tuition costs, application details, and funding options.
Can You Get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction Online?
Yes, you can get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction online. However, online PhD programs in this field are rare, as most degrees are only offered on campus.
Auburn University and Dakota State University offer online PhD programs. Most HCI degrees are computer science programs and will offer certain core courses or specializations in human-computer interaction, digital media, and user interface interaction design.
Best Online PhD Programs in Human-Computer Interaction
|Auburn University||Online PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering||4 years|
|Dakota State University||Online PhD in Information Systems||3 years|
How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction?
It takes between three to six years to get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction. A PhD student of an HCI degree program usually takes two years to finish their PhD coursework after having completed a master’s program in a related field.
After completing your HCI degree program coursework, the rest of your time will be spent conducting research and dissertation work on real-world problems that can be solved through HCI interactive design, analysis, and research.
Is a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction Hard?
Yes, a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction can be quite hard to complete. This type of PhD program requires knowledge of many interdisciplinary fields such as cognitive science, computing, mathematics, and statistics. Research interest in how humans and creative technologies interact and problem-solving skills in interaction design are crucial for the field.
Prospective students for graduate school in HCI who are scientifically aligned and have an aptitude for creative thinking and interaction design would make the ideal candidates for an HCI degree program. The hard work spent in a doctoral program will be more than worth it.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction?
It costs an average of $19,314 to get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This value is the average tuition figure of all public and private institutions.
It is important to remember that tuition costs will depend on different factors, such as whether the university is private or public, whether you are a resident or non-resident, and what financial aid and funding opportunities are offered by the program.
How to Pay for a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction: PhD Funding Options
The PhD funding options that students can use to pay for a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction include full or partial tuition funding and fixed yearly or monthly stipend payments offered by the university through the means of teaching or research assistantships, grants, and fellowships. Other federal or state aid options are available, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and state-approved grants.
Best Online Master’s Degrees
What Is the Difference Between a Human-Computer Interaction Master’s Degree and PhD?
The difference between a human-computer interaction master’s degree and a PhD is the length of study and the depth of each program’s curriculum. An HCI master’s program prepares a graduate student for their future goal of obtaining relevant employment and is usually two years in length.
A PhD human-computer interaction degree program is a longer commitment, taking between three to seven years to complete. It prepares students for academic pathways in HCI and gears them toward lifelong careers in academic research in the areas of interaction design, computing, and engineering. PhD students also tend to have more intellectual autonomy and can choose to conduct paid research in specific areas of interest.
Master’s vs PhD in Human-Computer Interaction Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for PhD in Human-Computer Interaction degree holders is projected to grow by 22 percent by 2030 for those who become computer and information research scientists. This career path typically requires at least a master’s degree, but a PhD is preferred.
In comparison, the job outlook for those with HCI master’s degrees who become industrial engineers is projected to grow by 14 percent by 2030. The job outlook for human-computer interaction jobs is generally better for PhD degree holders because they are the most qualified candidates by default and have more job opportunities than master’s degree holders.
Difference in Salary for Human-Computer Interaction Master’s vs PhD
The difference in the average salary for those with human-computer interaction master’s degrees vs PhDs is about $30,000 per year, according to PayScale. Those with a Master of Science in HCI earn an average base salary of $90,000 per year. Human-computer interaction PhD graduates, on the other hand, earn an average salary of $119,000 per year.
Related Human-Computer Interaction Degrees
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Why You Should Get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction
You should get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction because it will shape the future, specifically in the ways in which humans interact with digitally creative technologies. Human-centered interaction design a lucrative field with a rapidly growing job outlook, and obtaining a PhD will make you an expert in the field with unlimited room for career growth.
Reasons for Getting a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction
- Great job outlook. Getting a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction guarantees you a great career in terms of employment opportunities and job growth. According to BLS, there are 3,200 openings for computer and information research scientists every year.
- High earning potential. According to BLS, the median pay after getting a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction is about $131,490 per year. Yearly salaries can be even higher, depending on the industry and your years of experience.
- Cutting-edge research. Pursuing a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction will put you at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies and research involving subjects like brain informatics, design pedagogy, interactive data exploration, and user-centered design.
- Wide range of career options. As human-computer interaction design is an interdisciplinary degree, getting a PhD in the subject means you are eligible to work in multiple exciting positions, such as UX research and interaction designer, human systems engineer, or human-computer research scientist roles.
Getting a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction: Human-Computer Interaction PhD Coursework
Getting a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction involves finishing mandatory human-computer interaction PhD coursework. Below you will find some of the most common courses taught in a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction curriculum.
A PhD in Human-Computer Interaction typically involves a core subject in interaction design, in which graduate students learn how to design a digital experience, physical product, or service that anticipates and caters to the need of its users.
HCI Process and Theory
As a required part of the coursework during a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction design, students are taught the basic theories, methodologies, and processes involved in human-computer interaction design and engineering.
Students in this course will learn how digital technologies can support social interaction among human beings. It studies the intersection of computational technologies and online social behavior or interaction with digital systems.
Foundations of Applied Cognitive Science
This course explores the psychology and the cognitive science behind users’ needs, knowledge, and actions. It focuses on understanding the user’s psychology in terms of human-computer interaction to accurately predict, design, and achieve agreeable human-centered results.
Fundamentals of Human-Centered Computing
This subject is similar to applied cognitive science but focuses more on the behavior and actions of humans interacting with technologies. The course teaches computer systems engineering and methodologies which combine social science, cognitive science, and computing to fill technological gaps for users.
Best Master’s Degrees
How to Get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction: Doctoral Program Requirements
If you are still wondering how to get a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, continue reading below to find out more about the doctoral program requirements for HCI graduate students to complete their PhD degrees.
Potential Careers With a Human-Computer Interaction Degree
PhD in Human-Computer Interaction Salary and Job Outlook
The salary and job outlook available after getting a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction significantly improves as compared to the job outlook of a bachelor’s or master’s program in human-computer interaction or human-centered design and engineering. A PhD opens doors to exciting careers and higher-paying jobs and makes you more qualified than most in the field.
What Can You Do With a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction?
With a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction, you can have your pick of career opportunities. You can choose to work solely in academia as a professor or researcher or get hired by large private corporations to work as a usability engineer, interaction and interface designer, or information architect.
Best Jobs with a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction
- Usability Engineer
- Information Architect
- Interaction and Interface Designer
- Visual Analyst
- UX Designer
What Is the Average Salary for a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction?
The average salary for someone with a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction is $119,000 per year, according to PayScale. You can also earn up to $180,000 per year as a user experience researcher, a lead UX designer, or a senior product manager after obtaining a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction.
Highest-Paying Human-Computer Interaction Jobs for PhD Grads
|Human-Computer Interaction PhD Jobs||Average Salary|
|Senior Product Manager||$159,010|
Best Human-Computer Interaction Jobs with a Doctorate
Read on to learn more about the best human-computer interaction jobs available to those with a doctorate in HCI or a specialization in human-computer interaction under a computer science PhD program. Most of these jobs require at least a master’s degree, but PhDs are preferred.
Is a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction Worth It?
Yes, a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction is worth it. After getting an HCI PhD, you’ll have abundant career options available to you. You can secure top-paying human-computer interaction jobs like computer or information research scientist, UX researcher, or usability engineer roles.
If you decide to take the academic route after your PhD in HCI, you can teach at the top schools around the world after completing your degree. You can also conduct your own research, get funded, and get published as you teach. The options are endless for PhD degree holders.
Additional Reading About Human-Computer Interaction
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PhD in Human-Computer Interaction FAQ
A PhD in HCI is usually four to six years long. However, there are part-time study options available that may take longer. During full-time studies, graduate students can finish their coursework in two or two and a half years and then take another year or two to complete their thesis.
The scope of human-computer interaction is very broad and covers multiple disciplines. With a human-computer interaction degree, you’ll acquire excellent skills and knowledge in various subjects, including computer science, cognitive science, mathematics, and technology, while also becoming qualified to work in these fields.
Yes, human-computer interaction can be quite tough. However, it can be less challenging to learn for students who have a natural aptitude for statistical, mathematical, cognitive, and technical subjects. It is doable for any student who develops a genuine interest and curiosity in the field.
There are many career options available to those with a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction. After getting a PhD in HCI, you can take the academic route and start teaching the subject while conducting your own research. You can also work in the field as an interaction designer, visual analyst, or UX researcher. Some students end up working with a university’s industry partners as well.
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