Graduate Certificate in HCI

The Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program at Iowa State University offers an online Graduate Certificate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Through distance learning, students who are working in the private or public sector are able to take courses to learn more about HCI without having to travel to the ISU campus to study or committing to a full graduate program. The certificate can be earned in one year if two courses per semester are taken, or in two years if a student chooses to take one course each semester.

The need for the Human Computer Interaction Certificate:

The Certificate Program in Human Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary educational experience that will provide students with advanced training in information technology tailored to support professional development in a distance-education medium. There has been a growing demand from industry to provide a professional certificate centered on the user experience.

The Objective of the HCI Certificate:

Students earning the certificate will help to fill the current and future needs for professionals trained with information technology skills in industry, academia, and the government. The objectives of the program are to provide the student with:

(1) An understanding of emerging human computer interface technologies

(2) An understanding of human cognition, behavioral methods, and usability techniques

(3) The ability to articulate societal and ethical issues related to human computer interaction

(4) An overview of the latest human computer interaction research in multiple disciplines

Admission Standards

The HCI certificate program is most appropriate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a scientific, engineering, business, or artistic discipline, who are pursuing a professional career, and who already have a strong base of information technology skills.

The program requires that admitted students have degrees from a regionally accredited university and have graduated with a GPA that places them in the upper half of their graduating class. Demonstrable programming skills will be required. A minimum TOFEL score of 95(iBT) or 587(PBT) will be required of all non-native English speaking students. Candidates may be considered for admission by the HCI supervisory committee if they do not meet all these requirements but otherwise show outstanding potential. However, all students must meet the university’s minimum requirements for admission.

Admission into the certificate program does not guarantee admission into the masters or doctoral programs. If a student who receives a certificate wishes to obtain admission into the masters or doctoral programs, the student will need to gain acceptance into the programs by meeting the admission requirements. Credits earned towards the certificate may be counted towards the masters and doctoral degree requirements if approved by the student’s program of study committee.


Courses are online through Engineering-LAS Online Learning using streaming media over the web. The program consists of a sequence of four three-credit graduate courses in Human Computer Interaction, which includes three core courses and one elective, for a total of 12 credits. The courses consist of recorded lectures delivered using streaming media technology, as well as, teacher-student interaction via chat-room, email, and phone conversations. More information about the streaming media technology used to deliver the courses is available on the Engineering-LAS Online Learning Support webpage.

The certificate consists of four courses (12 credit hours), including:

HCI/MIS 655  – Organizational and Social Implications of HCI
HCI/ArtGR 589  – Design and Ethics
JL MC 574  – Communication Technologies and Social Change
JL MC 474 – Communication Technology and Social Change
HCI 530X – Perspectives in HCI
ME/WLC 584 – Technology, Globalization and Culture

HCI/PSYCH 521  – Cognitive Psychology of Human Computer Interaction

CprE/ComS/ME 557  – Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling
HCI/ME 580 – Virtual Worlds and Applications
HCI 584X – Python Application Development in HCI

One Elective Course. Suggested electives include, but are not limited to:

    • HCI/ EDUC 504 – Evaluating Digital Learning Environments
    • HCI/ENGL/LING 520 – Computational Analysis of English
    • HCI/PSYCH 522 – Scientific Methods in HCI
    • HCI/ME 525 – Optimization Methods for Complex Designs
    • HCI 574 — Computational Implementation and Prototyping
    • HCI 587 – Models and Theories in Human Computer Interaction
    • HCI 595 – Visual Design for HCI
    • HCI 596 – Emerging Practices in Human Computer Interaction
    • HCI/ IE 681 – Cognitive Engineering
    • IE 577 – Human Factors
    • HCI 510 – Foundations of Game-based Learning
    • HCI 560X – Learn to Speak AI
    • HCI 523X – Qualitative Research Methods in HCI

Course descriptions can also be found on the Engineering-LAS Online Learning website.

The HCI Supervisory Committee has the option of adding or removing courses from the Core and Elective areas as relevant courses are offered via distance education, or courses are no longer taught. The committee will also consider exceptions on a case by case basis.

Applying to the Certificate Program

Academic Procedures:

A Certificate Program of Study (POS) form shall be filed for each Certificate student no later than the first week of the final term. The POS form (you can choose online or paper) can be found on the Graduate College’s forms site.  If you choose the paper form, please sign the form and send it to the HCI Graduate Program, by email, to hci@iastate.edu. The HCI Graduate Program will get the required faculty signatures on the form for you and send it to the Graduate College for approval.

Certificate students do not have a POS committee, but do have a supervising professor. The supervising professor for the HCI Certificate program is Stephen Gilbert.

The POS form will list the courses required to receive the certificate and be signed by the student, supervising professor and the Director of Certificate Studies (DOCS).

The regular Graduate College course rules apply to certificates: a student must have a graduate GPA of 3.0 or better, no course with less than a C may be applied to the POS, all courses on the POS must be graduate courses.

Once you have completed all requirements, send a Certification Completion form, which can be found on the Graduate College’s forms site, to hci@iastate.edu.  We will get the form signed by the DOCS and forward it to the Graduate College.  The Graduate College will then certify that all requirements have been completed satisfactorily and inform the Registrar and the Graduation Office.

The Registrar will add a notation to the permanent record (transcript) indicating that a Graduate Certificate in HCI was granted on a specified dated and issue a printed ISU graduate certificate.

Contact Information

For questions about the HCI Certificate, please contact the HCI Program Coordinator by e-mail at hci@iastate.edu, or phone at 515-294-2089.

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