Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) specialization

The Human Computer Interaction (HCI) specialization prepares students to address human needs with technology by determining useful system functionality and by designing usable interfaces, considering the context of the individual and/or organization.

The principles of HCI apply to people who design technologies for work, education, entertainment, and social interaction. SI coursework combines the theories of cognitive and social psychology, computer science, and design with practical experience.

Recent UMSI graduates with an HCI specialization have gone on to diverse positions and companies, including:

Learn more about Sofia Gutierrez (MSI '15, HCI specialization), hired as a software designer at IBM.

MSI '14:

  • Software developer, d2View
  • UX designer, Orbitz
  • UX/UI designer, Moovweb
  • Data scientist, Spoon Rocket
  • Programmer analyst, University of Michigan Health System
  • PhD student, University of Michigan School of Information

MSI '13:

  • Project coordinator, BI Worldwide
  • Associate product developer, BMC Software
  • Interaction designer, Goldman Sachs

What can I do with a career interest in human computer interaction?

MSI graduates with a HCI specialization are often recruited into marketing or engineering departments. Within marketing, the role is to ensure a positive customer experience or to improve the organization’s brand. Within engineering, the role is to ensure that the product works properly.

Career Industry Areas: Internet search and navigation services, government agency, information collection and delivery, consumer goods, computer hardware/software, entertainment/media, advertising/PR, social networking, gaming, University or public library

Career Titles: User interface designer, user-experience researcher, user experience designer, usability analyst, information architect, usability engineer, application developer, interaction designer, Web developer, human factors engineer, software developer, entrepreneur

Employment Outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010, jobs in HCI are expected to grow much faster than the average. Due to new complex products and rapid advances in technology, there is a demand for the HCI skill set. Hot industries include social networking and gaming. As social networking and ubiquitous computing continue to grow, related HCI career opportunities will grow as well.

HCI internships

Students gain valuable experience in southeast Michigan and around the globe. Recent internship sites include:

  • Oracle
  • Citrix Online
  • General Electric Company
  • Intel
  • IDEO
  • NASA Research Center
  • National Public Radio
  • Oxygen Media
  • ProQuest
  • Microsoft
  • TrendMicro, Taiwan
  • Google India

MSI-HCI employment outcomes

Organizations employing MSI-HCI graduates have included:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Nokia
  • Motorola
  • Northrop Grumman
  • R/GA
  • Travelocity
  • Microsoft
  • HUGE
  • SAP Labs, India

HCI specialization requirements (current for 2016-2017)

In addition to the specialization requirements below, MSI students must meet all of the degree requirements of the 48-credit MSI program, including foundations, distributions, practical engagement, cognate, and electives.

HCI students must complete 15 credits from the list below, including required courses SI 582, 588, and 622:

  • SI 582: Introduction to Interaction Design (3, Required)
  • SI 588: Fundamentals of Human Behavior (3, Required)
  • SI 622: Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation (4, Required)
  • SI 520: Graphic Design (3)
  • SI 529: Online Communities (3)
  • SI 531: Human Interaction in Information Retrieval (3)
  • SI 538: Citizen Interaction Design (3)
  • SI 551: Information-Seeking Behavior (3)
  • SI 552: Technology & Accessibility (3)
  • SI 554: Consumer Health Informatics (3)
  • SI 561: Natural Language Processing (3)
  • SI 606: Personal Informatics Design (3)
  • SI 612: Pervasive Interaction Design (3)
  • SI 614: Climate Change Informatics (3)
  • SI 616: Advanced Topics in Graphic Design and Communication (3)
  • SI 618: Exploratory Data Analysis (3)
  • SI 631: Content Management Systems (1.5)
  • SI 649: Information Visualization (3)
  • SI 658: Information Architecture (3)
  • SI 664: Database Application Design (3)
  • SI 686: User-Generated Content (1.5)
  • SI 689: Social Interaction Experience (3)
  • SI 694: Advanced Project and Social Computing Design (3)

HCI students must also fulfill programming and statistics requirements:

6 credits of programming. Complete 6 credits from the following list or request a waiver. UMSI offers:

  • SI 506: Programming I (3)
  • SI 507: Programming II (3)

Learn more about the programming requirement.

3 credits of statistics. Complete the course below or 3 credits from an approved list, or request a waiver.  SI offers:

  • SI 544: Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis (3)

Learn more about the statistics requirement.

Download Tracking and Planning Sheets (login required)

For questions or more information about the HCI specialization, current students should contact Academic Advisor Sarah Argiero.  Prospective students should contact our admissions office at