Program in Human-Computer Interaction School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Program in Human-Computer Interaction School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, NY
student ratio
total students
Not Reported
average amount to complete degree
January 1
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
1 Degree Offered
degrees offered


Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI): A Communication-Centered Approach -- The Program

The Rensselaer MS degree in HCI is centered on understanding human interaction with technological systems and human-to-human communication via technological intermediaries. The degree provides in-depth study emphasizing the fundamental principles and evaluation of human/technology interaction; mastery of techniques for evaluation of interfaces and performance support systems, and of system usability; and design and implementation of human/technology interfaces and systems. The MS in HCI program combines coursework in human communication theory and HCI theory with work in allied areas in which Rensselaer excels, such as technical communication, human factors, cognitive science, and computer science. The MS in HCI graduate will be uniquely qualified to be a leader in understanding the "human" in human-computer interaction and putting this knowledge to use in designing, evaluating, and implementing the technologies of tomorrow.

Building on a solid base of experience and expertise, the Department of Communication and Media offers a graduate certificate in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and an MS in HCI to students and working professionals on either a full-time or part-time basis. Rensselaer's program, designed in cooperation with industry experts, provides those involved in the design of human-computer interactions with the knowledge and skills they will need to design new and better ways for people to communicate with and through computers more easily and intuitively. Housed within a premier technological university, Rensselaer's Department of C & M is well-positioned to explore the theory and practices of HCI. Courses -- which blend institute and faculty strengths in emerging technology, technical communication, graphics, usability, and cultural studies -- do not focus on tools, but on the application of theory and research results to developing usable human-computer interfaces to meet the needs of a wide range of users. HCI courses may be taken as a set to complete the certificate or degree, or as individually to satisfy elective requirements for students majoring in programs in humanities and social sciences, engineering, science, management and technology, or architecture. This field of human-computer interaction is a major focus for scholars and researchers at Rensselaer.

Cooperative Education and Internships

Participation in the Cooperative Education Program is encouraged as part of Rensselaer's departmental degree offerings. The intent of co-op is to provide a full-time, paid, career-related work experience that will enhance students' knowledge and skills in their chosen professional fields and give them practical experience; concrete applications for their academic work; and ways to test their interest in certain types of work. Students who accept co-op assignments typically work from 1 to 2 terms prior to graduation. As a result, it is not uncommon for co-op participants to extend their graduation dates.

The department also offers local placement opportunities through communication internships. Internships may provide technical competency and writing and design experience, for which students receive course credit. Internships may be done over the summer, or part-time during a semester of regular course study

HCI Careers

Students who have graduated in recent years with the MS in HCI have been hired upon graduation by leading companies including IBM (Global Services, Systems and Technology Group and other locations worldwide); Sematech; Deutsche Bank; Fidelity Investments; Microsoft; Sandia National Laboratories; Lucent Technologies; Boeing; American Express; 1st Playable Productions; NY State Dept. of Education; Bank of America; RSA Security; and Red Hat, to name a few. They are enjoying careers as usability engineers, information architects, interaction and interface designers, user experience/HCI designers, and web designers. Others have gone on to doctoral study at Rensselaer and other universities (including Purdue and Stanford).


Rensselaer's HCI faculty members have a wide range of research interests including social robotics, digital games, 3-D interfaces, online tutoring systems, technology for enhancing computer-mediated communication, and designing web support for local communities, among other areas. The faculty is an interdisciplinary group that is dedicated to teaching, mentoring, and research. Individual faculty members as well as collaborating teams of faculty members have won research funding from both government (e.g. National Science Foundation) and private sources.

Many faculty members consult in business and government, where they use their knowledge of theory and research to solve specific problems in written, spoken, and computer-mediated communication. C & M faculty members also publish and present broadly, in professional and academic organizations, and have served as national or regional officers of such organizations as the National and International Communication Associations (NCA, ICA), Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE Professional Communication Society, the Rhetoric Society of America (RSA), the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group in Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), the IGDA (International Game Developers Association), AIGA/Professional Association for Design, the Digital Government Conference, the Popular Culture Association, and the Academy of Management.


Students in the MS programs come from diverse backgrounds, contributing a great deal to the rich social and academic environment of the department. Students study full- or part-time, enroll directly after completing appropriate bachelor's programs, or enter with 5-10 years of experience as working professionals. They may come from educational backgrounds in the humanities (such as studies in English, professional writing/journalism or communication), the social sciences (psychology, cognitive science, anthropology), or the sciences (biology, chemistry, computer science/information technology, etc.) This diversity contributes significantly to the rich social and academic environment of the department.

Location & Contact

Program in Human-Computer Interaction

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590
United States

Dr. Katya Haskins

Graduate Program Director

Phone: 518-276-8120

Office of Graduate Admissions

Phone: 518-276-6216

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Human-Computer Interaction Master of Science (MS)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 2
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? Yes
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees
    • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


12% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 62
    • Accepted 8
    • Acceptance Rate 12
    • Enrolled 0
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $75
    • Application Fee - International $75
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline January 1st January 1st Yes
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline August 15th August 15th Yes
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE
    • Doctoral's DegreesNot Reported
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required, 570 paper based, TOEFL iBT, IELTS required, IELTS paper based

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & FeesNot Reported
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsNot Reported
    • Types of financial support availableCareer or Field-Related Internships, Institutionally-sponsored Loans

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students0
    • Female Percentage0%
    • Male Percentage0%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students0
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Full-time Percentage100%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / LatinoNot Reported
    • Black / African AmericanNot Reported
    • White / CaucasianNot Reported
    • American Indian / Alaskan NativeNot Reported
    • AsianNot Reported
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific IslanderNot Reported
    • Two or more racesNot Reported
    • UnknownNot Reported


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty5
    • Full-time Percentage80%
    • Part-time Percentage20%
    • Female Percentage60%
    • Male Percentage40%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchCommunication, game studies, literary theory, media studies, rhetoric, visual design, writing studies
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last yearNot Reported