PhD Program

The PhD 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

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

PhD students will be required to choose any four courses, one each from the Design, Implementation, Phenomena, and Evaluation categories, plus two additional courses of their choice from the list of core courses or the list of recommended electives. PhD students will therefore be required to take a total of six courses. In addition to these courses, PhD students will be required to take a minimum of 9 research credits.

Core Courses


      • HCI 521 — Cognitive Psychology of HCI
      • HCI 595 – Visual Design for HCI
      • ArtGR 530 – Graphic Design and Human Interaction:  Usability
      • IE 572 – Design and Evaluation of Human Computer Interaction


      • HCI 575 — Computational Perception
      • HCI 580 – Virtual Worlds and Applications
      • CprE/ME 557 — Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling


      • ArtGR 540 — Graphic Design and Human Interaction: Design for Social Inclusion
      • HCI 655 — Organizational and Social Implications of HCI
      • HCI 589 — Design and Ethics
      • JLMC / T SC 574 – Communication Technologies and Social Change
      • ME/WLC 584 – Technology, Globalization and Culture


      • ENGL/STAT 332 — Visual Communication of Quantitative Information
      • HCI 504 — Evaluating Digital Learning Environments
      • PSYCH 501 — Foundations of Behavioral Research
      • STAT 480 — Statistical Computing Applications
      • HCI 522 – Scientific Methods in HCI

Recommended Electives

  • ArtIS 508 – Computer Aided Visualization
  • CI 503 – Theories of Designing Effective Learning and Teaching Environments
  • CI 511 – Technology Diffusion Leadership and Change
  • ENGL/LING 516 – Methods of Formal Linguistic Analysis
  • HCI 510X Foundations of Game-Based Learning
  • HCI 520 – Computational Analysis of English
  • HCI/ME 525 – Optimization Methods for Complex Designs
  • HCI 558 – Introduction to the 3D Visualization of Scientific Data
  • HCI 574 — Computational Implementation and Prototyping
  • HCI 585 – Developmental Robotics
  • HCI 587X – Models and Theories in Human Computer Interaction
  • HCI 596 – Emerging Practices in Human Computer Interaction
  • HCI 603 – Advanced Learning Environments Design
  • HCI 681 – Cognitive Engineering
  • IE 577 – Human Factors
  • STAT 587 – Statistical Methods for Research Workers

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 specialities 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.

Other admission requirements include:

  • Transcripts, test scores and other indicators that the student applicant can be successful at the graduate level.
  • 3.0 GPA.
  • GRE is optional for all students.
  • TOEFL score of 95 iBT or greater or IELTS of 7.0 or greater for nonnative English speakers.
  • 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.

  • Meeting or exceeding these guidelines does not guarantee admission.
  • An HCI faculty member must agree to work with and support you as a major professor.
  • Your complete file is made available for member of the HCI faculty to review. (See the faculty page to learn more about the diverse members of the HCI faculty.)


The application deadline for the fall semester is January 15, spring semester is October 1, and for the summer semester is April 15.

Program Application Process

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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