Ph.D. in HCI

The Ph.D. in Human Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary degree program that prepares students for careers in business and industry as well as academia. In addition to the required HCI courses, students take electives from a wide variety of disciplines and conduct research for their dissertation under the direction of their major professor and Program of Study Committee. Specific requirements for the program are outlined below.

PhD Course Requirements and Student Resources

Iowa State University requires a minimum of 72 graduate credits to earn a Ph.D. At least 36 graduate credits, including all research credits, must be earned at ISU.

  1. Ph.D. students will be required to choose any four courses, one from each of the Design, Implementation, Phenomena, and Evaluation categories.
  2. They will also take two additional courses of their choice from the list of core courses or the list of recommended electives listed below.
  3. In addition to these courses, Ph.D. students will be required to take a minimum of 9 research credits.
  4. All PhD students entering the program in Spring 2022 and after, 1 credit of GR ST 565 Responsible Conduct of Research will be required. For current PhD students, the HCI Graduate Program encourages these students to enroll in this course, but it is not required.
  5. Student Resources

Core Courses


  • HCI/PSYCH 521 — Cognitive Psychology of HCI
  • HCI 595 – Visual Design for HCI
  • ArtGr 530 – User Engagement
  • IE 572 – Design and Evaluation of Human Computer Interaction




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
  • ENGL/LING/HCI 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 PhD HCI 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. Evidence of creative talent, the ability to speak and write English clearly, and promise for a successful career are also important considerations for entry into the HCI Graduate program.

  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 Phase 2/paid application deadline for the fall semester is February 7; the spring semester is October 1.

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.

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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