Is it possible to complete the HCIM on a part-time basis?
Yes. Some of our students choose to attend part time, taking 1 - 2 classes per semester and completing the program in 3 years instead of 2. Most classes are scheduled for the afternoon and evening hours, and all meet once a week.
Can I complete the HCIM coursework online?
No. While we do offer some online courses, the bulk of the coursework must be completed in person, on campus.
Can I complete the program in under two years?
No, due to constraints of course sequencing, it would be extremely difficult for students to complete in under two years.
Do I need programming experience or a computer science degree?
No! We accept students from a wide range of academic majors, and some come in with no programming experience at all. We feel strongly that students of all kinds of academic background and experience level have valuable knowledge to bring to the conversation about HCI, and we are committed to developing an intellectually diverse cohort of students in our program.
Students who come in with little or no programming experience are required to take a programming class their first semester in order to establish their skillset. Students who come into the program with a strong computer science background may apply to waive this requirement once they have been admitted. All students, regardless of previous experience, will develop their skills through class projects, internships, and their final capstone or thesis project.
Do you prefer that applicants have work experience somewhere before applying?
We don't have a preference regarding work experience. Some of our master’s students have recently obtained their undergraduate degrees, while others come after working in their field for several years.
Will I get to work closely with faculty?
Yes. Most graduate courses have a student-teacher ratio of 9:1. Students who pursue the thesis option will work one-on-one with a faculty advisor in their second year, and many students work on faculty research projects, either as graduate assistants or as volunteers.
Do instructors have experience in today’s business environment?
Yes. Your instructors include both full-time faculty members who serve as consultants in business and government and adjunct faculty who are professionals currently employed in such areas as usability testing and graphic design. Their client lists include Microsoft, Google, Facebook, the World Bank, and federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, and National Science Foundation.
I’m interested in studying with a particular faculty member. Will I get to do research with faculty?
If there are particular faculty you’re interested in working with, you are welcome to contact them directly. If you do so, please be respectful and take the time to inform yourself about their work. While most faculty are open to hearing from prospective students, they are not admissions advisors.
Please keep in mind that the faculty member you’re hoping to work with may not be available. Faculty may be on sabbatical, or may not be teaching in a given semester. It’s a good idea to apply to programs with faculty you’re excited about working with, but pinning all your expectations on one faculty member may not be productive.
Tuition + Financial Aid
How much does the program cost?
Current tuition and fees by credit hour for in-state and out-of-state students may be found on the web page for the Office of the Bursar.
Does the program offer scholarships?
The HCIM program does not offer scholarships to students upon admission. Some scholarships and assistantships (which typically include tuition remission) are available to students once they have enrolled. More information about financial aid is available on the iSchool website.
Are there employment opportunities on campus?
Many students do wind up working on campus, either as graduate assistants or in hourly positions. The ejobs.umd.edu portal provides listings of many of the open graduate assistantship positions.
Career Paths in HCI
What is the career path for someone pursuing an HCIM degree?
Students occupy a variety of both research and design roles within major companies. Some of the possible job titles include Information Architect, Interaction Designer, Usability Analyst, User Experience Designer/Researcher, User Interface Designer, User Researcher, Visual Designer, and Web Developer. Some of our graduates also go on to PhD programs.
Where do students from this program go on to work?
HCIM students haven been recruited by companies such as American Airlines, Broadsoft, Capital one, Citrix, Deloitte Digital, Google, and IBM.
Is the GRE/TOEFL required?
The GRE and the TOEFL are required for international applicants only. For complete details on the University's TOEFL requirements, please see the Graduate School's page about international applications.
Domestic applicants may submit the GRE if they wish to do so, but it is not required.
What kind of GPA/test scores are you looking for?
The Graduate School requires that applicants must have earned a minimum 3.0 average GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in all prior coursework.
GRE scores should be in the the 40th percentile or higher for Verbal scores and in the 60th percentile or higher for Qualitative scores. TOEFL scores should be a combined score of 100.
While we give serious consideration to applicants’ test scores, they are only one part of the application. The application review committee considers applications holistically, weighing all of the application materials carefully. In short, test scores matter, but they are only one part of your application.
What are you looking for in the Application Essay?
This requirement asks applicants to propose changes to the design of an interface they use on a regular basis. The interface may be a tangible interface (a device like a keyboard or a touchscreen) or a virtual one (such as a website or a smartphone app).
Your essay should be no more than 500 words. In contrast to the Statement of Purpose, which articulates the applicant's background and goals as they pertain to the proposed course of study, this essay is intended to demonstrate the applicant's ability to make perceptive, substantiated critiques of existing technology and to propose novel and relevant design recommendations.
Your response should include at least one image, if not more. This might include photos or screenshots of the interface you are analyzing, sketches of your proposed changes, or an illustration of the interface in use.
How should I incorporate images into my Application Essay?
You may incorporate images in whatever way you feel is most appropriate. Most applicants insert images into the text of their essay, but you may also use an appendix in your essay, if you prefer. Please keep in mind that this field in the online application only permits users to upload one document, so however you incorporate your images, please ensure you only need to upload one document.
Is the Portfolio required?
No, applicants are not required to submit a portfolio. This optional submission is intended to offer applicants the opportunity to showcase relevant projects they have worked on in the past, but it will not hurt an applicant’s chances if they choose not to include a portfolio.
What am I supposed to enter in the second GRE field?
Nothing, you can leave this field blank. Applicants who are required to submit GREs only need to submit one set of scores.
Can I upload an encrypted transcript?
Please do not upload an encrypted transcript to the application. It will upload as a blank document and the program will not be able to use it for our evaluation. If you only have access to an encrypted transcript, please print the document out, scan it, then upload a scanned version.
What if my transcripts are in a language other than English?
Please submit a single combined PDF, including English and native languages together. If your institution does not issue records in English, official English translations must be provided/uploaded, and the original language records must be submitted/uploaded, as well. Only translations issued by the institution or a professional translating service will be accepted. Translations must be literal.
I submitted my standardized test scores but my application is still marked incomplete. What happened?
Because standardized test scores must be manually processed by the University, it can sometimes take a little while for the scores to be marked as received on the application. If it has been more than two weeks since your scores were sent but your application is still marked as "incomplete", you can contact either the iSchool Student Services Office or the HCIM program coordinator and we can check the status of your scores.
How can I confirm my recommendations have been submitted?
The online application will indicate when each of your recommenders has submitted their recommendation. It’s the student’s responsibility to ensure that recommendations have been completed, so please make sure to check that each of your recommendations has been received.
How Can I find out more?
For further questions about the HCIM program application, please contact the UMD iSchool Admissions and Student Services Office at (301) 405-2038 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Student Services Office page on the iSchool website.
OK, I am ready to apply. What's next?
Applicants are encouraged to attend one of our monthly virtual information sessions. The schedule of information sessions is available here.
Applicants who live in the DC Metro area are also welcome to attend the iSchool Open House in October. To arrange a campus visit, please contact the HCIM program coordinator.