Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about graduate schools

1. How should I go about finding schools?

Use this website to find schools! Navigate through the rankings and explore the stats to see what schools match different features that you are looking for. Depending on size, the specialization of the department, price, or acceptance rates you can get an idea of what different schools are offering

2. I am interested in Human Computer Interaction, but I am not a very skilled programmer. Are there schools out there that would be good for me?

There are definitely HCI schools that are good for people who are not skilled programmers. As you look through the particular websites for those schools, many will list the program requirements which will probably provide some insight into their expectations of prior programming experience. Another possibility to consider is applying to Design programs.

3. What is a good way to find a potential advisor or research topic?

A great idea is to read academic journals and articles from your field of study. If you find articles that interest you, this is a good starting point for beginning to think about a research topic. Also by looking at the names of the authors of the document, you can research more of their work and the work of their colleagues. This can give you insight into what research is being done at what universities and may give you some ideas for who you might want as your advisor.

4. I am interested in HCI but I have an undergraduate degree in communications/art/computer science/other and I am not sure if I should apply to a HCI department.

There are certainly plenty of opportunities to use your skill set in the field of HCI. HCI is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing from programming, design, and communications backgrounds, as well as the ability to assess user needs. You may find that your skills actually provide a different perspective on HCI that could be very useful.

Applying to graduate school

1. Do I need to take the GRE test?

Most schools will require that you submit a GRE score report for the General Test. However, there may be exceptions listed on the websites for specific programs at some universities.

2. Do I need to take any GRE Subject tests?

Usually these are not required, and the General Test will be sufficient. However, as usual it is always good to verify this information on the websites of the schools that you are applying to.

3. Do I need to take the GMAT?

Probably not, but make sure to check with the schools that you are considering first.

4. Do I need to submit letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are usually required by graduate schools. You will often need to submit several letters, and it is common for at least 2 of them to have to be academic recommendations.

5. How long does the application process usually take?

From when you first begin your research around September to the application due dates in December and January, approximately 5 months. Decisions are usually sent out sometime in March, making the entire process take about 7 months. Check out our application timeline page to get an idea of when you need to deal with the different parts of the application process.

Graduate school prospects

1. How long does it usually take to graduate from grad school?

Masters programs usually take 1 to 2 years depending on whether it is a professional or academic masters, and depending on the pace of the program. PhD programs usually take 4 to 6 years to complete.

2. I am currently working in industry, and I am curious if this material is applicable to the type of work that I currently do. What are some common job titles in this field?

Information Architect, Interaction Designer, Usability Engineer, User Interface Designer, User Experience Designer, Web Designer