Master of Science Degree Program

The MS in Human Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary degree program. The program prepares students for a career in the private or public sector, as well as, for continuation of studies in a Ph.D. program. Specific program requirements are outlined below.

MS Course Requirements and Student Resources

In order to earn an MS at Iowa State University, each student’s Program of Study (POS) must include at least 30 graduate credits. A minimum of 22 of the graduate credits must be earned at ISU.

  1. MS students will be required to choose any four courses, one from each of the Design, Implementation, Phenomena, and Evaluation categories. MS students will therefore be required to take a total of four courses from the core. The other courses taken can be any from the ISU Course Catalog. However, recommended electives are listed below.
  2. MS students will also be required to take a minimum of 3 research credits.
  3. All thesis MS students entering the program in Spring 2022 and after, 1 credit of GR ST 565 Responsible Conduct of Research will be required. For current thesis MS students, the HCI Graduate Program encourages these students to enroll in this course, but it is not required.
  4. All Non-Thesis/Creative Component students (completing their creative component in Spring 2023 and after): All creative component projects must include gathering feedback data from at least 5 users (typically by interview, survey, or observation of a task). If the project does not achieve the 5 users, the student may appeal to the DOGE for review.
  5. Student Resources

Paths for Admission

We offer two paths to complete your master’s degree on-campus at Iowa State University for the Master of Science in HCI:

  • Path #1: Master of Science in HCI, thesis or non-thesis/creative component: An HCI faculty member must agree to serve as your major professor (to supervise your research) and usually provides funding for a half-time graduate assistantship.
  • Path #2: Master of Science in HCI with capstone project: Students in this program take 27 credits of coursework plus a 3-credit capstone course (to fulfill the research requirement). You do not need an HCI faculty member to serve as your major professor, and assistantship funding is not available for this degree program. You are responsible for tuition and fees.

Core Courses





Recommended Electives

  • ArtIS 508 – Computer Aided Visualization
  • EDUC 503 – Designing Elective Learning Environments
  • EDUC 511 – Technology Diffusion, Leadership, and Change
  • ENGL/LING 516 – Methods of Formal Linguistic Analysis
  • HCI/EDUC 510 Foundations of Game-Based Learning
  • HCI/ENGL/LING 520 – Computational Analysis of English
  • 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 596 – Emerging Practices in Human Computer Interaction
  • HCI/ EDUC 603 – Advanced Learning Environments Design
  • HCI/EDUC 608X – Social Media and Education
  • HCI/ IE 681 – Cognitive Engineering
  • IE 577 – Human Factors
  • STAT 587 – Statistical Methods for Research Workers
  • HCI 560X – Learn to Speak AI
  • IE 576 – Human Factors in Product Design

Admission to the MS Program

Admission into the HCI graduate degree program depends on a combination of your academic qualifications, area of interest, research specialties, and the current research needs of the faculty.

  1. Transcripts, test scores, and other indicators that the student applicant can be successful at the graduate level.
  2. The program requires that admitted students have undergraduate degrees from an accredited university with a GPA of 3.0 or equivalent.
  3. GRE is optional for all students.
  4. International applicants must submit one of the following English proficiency exam scores and must meet or exceed. The English exam minimums can be found at this link.
    • The English exam requirement may be waived if a degree is earned from a country where English is the only official language. See Examination Requirements at this link.
  5. The demonstrated ability to write software competently. This requirement can be met during your course of study in the program.

In addition to the above requirements, the following conditions apply when reviewing your application for admission.

  1. Meeting or exceeding these guidelines does not guarantee admission.
  2. An HCI faculty member must agree to work with and support you as a major professor.

Your complete file is made available for members of the HCI faculty to review. (See the faculty page to learn more about the diverse members of the HCI faculty.)

The MS Graduate Program Application Process

  1. Choose the Online Application for graduate applicants that is right for you — US or International — at Follow the instructions provided by the Office of Admissions.
  2. 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 software development proficiency, motivation, and experience related to your chosen research field, as well as, your career goals.
  5. GRE is optional for all applicants.
  6. 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.”
  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.


The Phase 2/paid application deadline for full consideration in our on-campus MS program: fall semester is February 7 and the spring semester is October 1.

Faculty Notification and Review

Once the application package is complete, it will be made available to all HCI faculty. Students that are admitted for the fall semester will start receiving offers in the first part of April. Every applicant will be notified via email, whether they were accepted or denied by April 15 for fall applications and by November 15 for spring applications.

Contact Information

For questions about the HCI Graduate Program, please contact the HCI Program Coordinator by e-mail at, or phone at 515-294-2089.

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