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 Requirements

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Students may still apply to the program if they do not have programming skills. These skills can be developed after the student has been admitted to the program and will be demonstrated by successfully completing one of the implementation courses.
  4. English Proficiency Minimums can be found here.
  5. 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.

Online Learning

Students interact with faculty through a web portal with 24/7 access to lectures, assignments, online discussions, and email. Lectures are viewed online or downloaded for viewing at another time.

Courses and Student Resources

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

1. Phenomena Requirement (choose one course from this list):

2. Implementation Requirement (choose one course from this list):

3. HCI 521 Requirement:

4. One General Elective Course, suggested electives include, but are not limited to:

  • HCI/ EDUC 504 – Evaluating Digital Learning Environments
  • HCI/PSYCH 522 – Scientific Methods in HCI
  • HCI/ME 525 – Optimization Methods for Complex Designs
  • HCI/ArtGr 550X – User Experience Methodologies
  • 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/EDUC 510 – Foundations of Game-based Learning
  • HCI 560X – Learn to Speak AI
  • HCI 523X – Qualitative Research Methods in HCI
  • EDUC 503 – Designing Elective Learning Environments
  • HCI/ARCH 579X – Methods for Interdisciplinary Research

5. Student Resources

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.

Tuition and Fees for Online Courses

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

The HCI Graduate Program Application Process

  1. Choose the Online Application for graduate applicants that is right for you — US or International — at this link. Follow the instructions provided by the Office of Admissions.
  2. Letters of Recommendation: Please select three people with whom you have worked, either professionally or educationally, to complete letters of recommendation. By including your references’ names and email addresses on the application form, they will be sent instructions on how to submit their letters electronically. This will also allow you the ability to track if the letter was submitted.
  3. Submit a current resume/CV by uploading it as supplemental material to the online application.
  4. We prefer that you use the online application to submit a one-page statement of purpose that highlights your motivation, experience, and career goals.
  5. Academic Records/Transcripts:
    • Domestic Students: We allow students to upload electronic official copies of academic records for the purposes of application review. Only if you are offered admission to Iowa State will you be required to submit (mail) official academic records. Records bearing the original stamp or seal of the school official responsible for issuing such records (the registrar, principal, controller of exams, etc.) are considered “official.” Records certified by lecturers, professors, or any other school officials who do not hold primary responsibility for maintaining the academic records of the institution are not official. Academic records printed from a school’s website are also not accepted.
    • International Students: please the application instructions under “Academic Records.”
  6. GRE scores are optional and not required.
  7. Nonnative English speakers: Submit official English proficiency results from one of the following exams (see them here, right column). The minimum requirements of both the Graduate College and the graduate program to which you are applying must be met.


Applications are due by July 15 for Fall admission, December 15 for Spring admission, and April 15 for Summer admission.

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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