In the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE), students are designing the future by building innovative technologies and systems. Putting people first, HCDE students and faculty research, design, and engineer interactions between humans and technology. HCDE students and faculty focus on understanding human needs and interests as they design and build engineering solutions to the world’s problems.
HCDE faculty are award-winning and interdisciplinary, with graduate degrees in fields such as computer science, information studies, industrial engineering, design, education, English, linguistics, public policy, and technology and society studies.
HCDE prepares students for leadership roles in user interface design, user experience research and design, human-computer interaction, information and communication systems, computer-supported cooperative work, and related specializations, all from a human-centered perspective. In classes, directed research groups, and capstone projects, students develop portfolio quality products. HCDE graduates obtain jobs, primarily in the high-tech industry (e.g., Microsoft, Intel, Amazon, Facebook, T-Mobile, Google, Boeing), researching and designing user interfaces, websites, and other form factors to improve the user experience.
HCDE emphasizes student-centered, hands-on learning. Beyond taking traditional classroom courses, students join research groups and work side-by-side with top-ranked professors and graduate students to enhance the knowledge base of this dynamic field. Our educational mission is supported by up-to-date facilities.
HCDE prepares students to assume positions of intellectual leadership in industry, government, non-profit organizations, and academia nationally and globally. Whatever their professional direction, HCDE students learn the research skills appropriate to their interests, the most effective design strategies, and the most current technologies and practices.. They also learn enduring theory and principles so they can dynamically respond to the evolving field of human centered design and engineering.
The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) offers the following programs of study:
Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering
Suggested First-Year College Courses: See regular admission requirements
Department Admission Requirements
Admission is competitive. Completion of minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. All applicants have the right to petition and appeal the department's admission decision.
Direct Freshman Admission
The department enrolls up to 30% of its incoming class directly from high school, before completion of University-level prerequisites. Students accepted to the UW are automatically considered for admission to HCDE if they indicate Human Centered Design and Engineering as their preferred major on the freshman application. Competitive applicants have taken or are taking calculus and at least two years of laboratory science (physics and chemistry are preferred) in high school. Admission is for autumn quarter only.
180 credits as follows:
General Education Requirements (88 credits)
Major Requirements (83-87 credits)
Free Electives (as needed)
All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.
Minor Requirements: Technical Japanese: Minimum 25 credits to include HCDE 461, HCDE 462, HCDE 463, plus 10 credits from the approved list of elective courses. For more information, contact the departmental adviser.
Student Outcomes and Opportunities
Of Special Note: The HCDE department is an inclusive, hitersiciplinary academic community. Students generally call their professors by their first name and have the opportunity to work individually on projects and research supervised by HCDE faculty. Undergraduate students are encouraged to work in research groups and to attend conferences and professional meetings.
Graduate Program Coordinator
Master of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering
The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) offers a Master of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering (MS HCDE) — an engineering degree. An evening program is offered through UW Educational Outreach, serving full time and part time studentsHCDE offers a Master of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering (MSHCDE). (An evening program is offered through UW Educational Outreach.) A total of 48 credits is required for the MSHCDE degree, which includes 25 credits of required HCDE graduate courses and 23 credits of approved electives. MSHCDE students may elect to pursue a master's thesis or project report with the approval of their Supervisory Committee.
Upon completion of the HCDE MS degree, students assume leadership roles in human-centered design and engineering in academia, industry, government, and non-profits. HCDE MS graduates are able to:
In making recommendations for admission, the faculty consider the following from an applicant's record:
48 credits, to include:
Certificate in User-Centered Design (UCD)
An evening, graduate-level, one-year, four-course program for students who wish to explore a wide range of UCD issues. Involves sophisticated methods for planning and developing intuitive, user-friendly product designs. Students study the latest user research and design theories and practices for placing user needs at the forefront of each stage of the design process.
Focuses on usability studies, user-centered design theory and practice, visual communication and information visualization, and web design.
12 of the 13 credits earned for the UCD certificate may later count toward the MS in Human Centered Design and Engineering if students apply for Graduate Non-Matriculated Status prior to taking coursework.
Doctor of Philosophy
The Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) offers a PhD in Human Centered Design and Engineering (PhD HCDE)—an engineering degree. The program provides unparalleled depth and experience for students interested in studying the conception, design, implementation, use, evaluation, and effects of technologies.
HCDE is an interdisciplinary engineering department at the University of Washington in Seattle, an internationally ranked, R1 research institution. HCDE's interdisciplinary faculty have graduate degrees from fields such as computer science, industrial engineering, information studies, design, education, English, linguistics, public policy, and technology and society studies. The faculty's research and teaching focus on six areas of study: influencing awareness, thinking, and behavior; design for emergent collaborations and organizations; low resource and underserved populations; material and embodied technologies, and ubiquitous computing; data visualization and big data; and learning in professional and technical environments.
The HCDE doctoral program prepares students for careers as scholars and researchers through relevant coursework, mentorship from faculty, and collaboration with peers. Early in the program, students may explore different topics and research areas through directed research groups and other independent projects.
Goals of the HCDE PhD program are as follows:
Completion of either an undergraduate degree or a master's degree in HCDE or a relevant field (up to 30 credits of master's work may be applied toward the 105-credit requirement). Applicants often come from a wide range of backgrounds.
Applicants must submit the following:
International students must also submit a TOEFL iBT test score of at least 106 (including a speaking sub-score of 26), obtained within the last two years.
105 credits, to include:
Students are encouraged but not required to teach
Early in the program, students often explore different topics and research areas through directed research groups and other independent projects. No later than the end of the quarter following passing the preliminary exam (usually the end of the fourth quarter in the program), students choose a dissertation adviser and begin to focus on a research area for the dissertation. Students are often supported by a research assistantship by that adviser.
Students who enter the PhD program with a previous graduate degree relevant to HCDE can petition to have up to 30 credits transferred toward this program. Check with the doctoral adviser for details.
The Department of Human Design and Engineering has well-equipped laboratories that effectively support its courses and research projects. Also, HCDE graduate students can utilize significant College of Engineering and University-level research facilities.
A limited number of teaching and research assistantships and scholarships are available for the financial support of graduate students in HCDE. More information and application forms can be obtained by contacting the department.