Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction

College of Information Studies

University of Maryland
4105 Hornbake Bldg, South Wing
4130 Campus Drive
College Park, MD 20742

 

hcim@umd.edu

NEW STUDENT
FAQ

ACCEPTANCE + ENROLLMENT

I was recommended for admission to the program, but I haven’t received an official acceptance letter yet. What does this mean?

The HCIM program can only recommend applicants for admission. Final admissions decisions are made by the University of Maryland Graduate School. You will receive official notification of your admissions decision from the Graduate School.

 

What is the Graduate School looking at when they review applicants who have been recommended for admission by the program?

This review by the Graduate School is primarily administrative, not qualitative. While the HCIM review process involves assessing whether applicants will be a good fit for the program and have the qualities and skills necessary to be successful in the program, the Graduate School is mainly checking to confirm that information submitted by applicants is correct and that it meets the Graduate School’s requirements (i.e., a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a degree from an accredited institution, etc).

 

I’m still waiting to hear from the Graduate School about my admissions decision. When can I expect to receive my official notification?

Depending on the volume of applications being processed at the time, it can take the Graduate School several weeks to review applicants who have been recommended for admission. The Graduate School processes applications from all across campus, and this can be an extremely busy time for their office, so please be patient as they work to review your application. However, if it has been more than three weeks since you received your recommendation letter from the HCIM program, you’re welcome to contact the HCIM program coordinator to check in on your application status.

 

How do I respond to my offer of admission?

Your official acceptance letter from the Graduate School should contain information about how to respond to your offer of admission. Please follow the link in your acceptance letter to accept or decline your offer of admission.

 

Can I defer enrollment to the HCIM program?

Admitted students may defer enrollment for up to one year. Students may defer for any reason, at any time before the start of the fall semester.


To defer, you should first formally accept your offer of admission following the instructions in your acceptance letter. Then, you should fill out this form to request to initiate the deferral process with the iSchool.

 

GETTING STARTED

How do I set up my University ID (UID) and campus email?

Information about setting up your UID and campus email is available in our New Student Checklist.

 

Where can I find my University ID (UID) number?

Your UID number is listed on the bottom of your initial acceptance letter from the Graduate School. If you’ve misplaced your letter and have not yet set-up your UMD email account, you can call (301) 405-2038 or email ischooladmission@umd.edu.

 

Why do I need to get a student ID?
Your student ID serves as your library card, and is required for access on-campus resources, such as the University Health Center and the free UMD shuttle system.

 

Where do I get my student ID?
You can get your ID on the first floor of the Mitchell Building on the College Park campus, 8:30-4:30 PM Monday – Friday. Call (301) 314-8240 if you have additional questions.

 

Do I have to submit my official transcripts by mail?

You may submit your official transcripts by mail, but you can also drop them off in person once you arrive on campus, as long as they are in a sealed envelope.

 

Are there any technology requirements? What kind of laptop/software should I get?

You should be prepared to bring a laptop to class, but whether you use a Mac or a PC is up to you. You should be able to complete your assignments regardless of the kind of operating system you use.

 

There is no standard software students are required to purchase. Software requirements vary from course to course, and instructors will inform their students if specific applications are required for a course.

 

UMD also provides software licensing to students through TERPware. Various products are available for download and use by UMD students, faculty, and staff, including Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office.

 

What books/software/programming should I be familiar with before attending?

The HCIM program does not have prerequisite coursework, and there is no required reading ahead of the start of the semester. However, if you are interested in getting a headstart on the tools and theories you’ll encounter during your studies,

here are some recommendations.

  • Books: The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman; Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug

  • Articles: Jen Ghostbusters, ben Shneiderman, Nielsen Group

  • Software: Adobe Creative Suite, InVision, Sketch

  • Programming Languages: JavaScript, HTML, CSS

 

If you’re looking for some quick introductions or refreshers on topics, you may want to check out the tutorial site Lynda.com, which UMD students have free access to (requires UMD login). W3 Schools and Codecademy are also good, free options.

 

REGISTRATION & COURSES

How do I know what courses to register for?

The HCIM Degree Planning page on the iSchool website provides guidance about how HCIM students typically complete their degree, as well as links to resources like the program checklist, student handbook, and the iSchool two-year course plan.

 

Most HCIM students register for INST 630 - Introduction to Programming, INST 631 - Fundamentals of HCI, and INST 701 - Research Methods (or another appropriate research methods course) in the fall of their first year.

 

How do I register?

Students register for courses via Testudo. For detailed information about registering, please consult our registration guide.

 

Can I waive any core courses?

Students who have relevant professional or academic experience may request to waive INST 630 - Introduction to Programming and  INST 631 - Fundamentals of HCI. If you wish to waive a course, please fill out this waiver request and provide a brief (1-page) explanation of why you feel you are qualified to waive the course, along with either a copy of your transcript or your resume (as appropriate).

 

Students who are approved to waive a course are still required to fulfill the credit requirement, and must take an appropriate 3-credit course to substitute for the waived course.

 

Can I transfer credits and apply them to the program requirements?

Students may transfer up to 6 credits earned prior to enrollment from an institution other than the University of Maryland College park. To be eligible for transfer, courses must have a grade of B or better, be graduate-level, and cannot have been applied to a previous degree. They must be less than five years old at the time of the request.

 

For more information about taking courses outside of the iSchool and transferring credits, please consult your advisor and visit the Declarations, Forms & Waivers page.

 

How many courses should I take?

Most students take 3 courses their first semester, and 2-3 courses in subsequent semesters. International students are required to maintain a full-time status, which typically means taking 3 courses per semester. More information about maintaining full-time status is available here.

 

We strongly recommend that students do not register for more than 3 classes a semester, as three 3-credit courses per semester is considered a full course load for graduate students.

 

How much time should I plan on spending on coursework outside of class?
This will vary greatly from student to student, but a good rule of thumb for estimating workload for a graduate class is 2-3 hours a week per credit hour. So a 3 credit course would take somewhere between 6-9 a week outside of class time.

 

How do I know what textbooks are required for my course?

For every class you take, you should check the class Testudo listing to see if there are textbooks required for the course.

 

  1. Go to Testudo

  2. Find the listing for your individual course

  3. Select the section for which you are signed up

  4. Click the stacked book icon to the right of your section number.  This will inform you of any required textbooks.

  5. Keep in mind, not all instructors list their required materials on Testudo. If you still have questions about required readings for your courses, feel free to contact your course instructor to verify.

 

Tuition, Billing, and Financial Aid

Does the iSchool charge non-standard tuition?

Non-standard tuition is only charged for courses that are offered on the Shady Grove campus or online. All HCIM core courses and most electives are offered in person on the College Park campus and are billed at the standard tuition rate. Most HCIM students take the majority of their courses in person at College Park, though they may take electives at Shady Grove or online if they wish. Information about tuition and fees for Shady Grove and online courses is available here.

 

How much should I budget for the year?

The Office of Student Financial Aid provides cost of attendance estimates, which should give you a general idea of what your expenses will be.

 

What kind of financial aid is available to graduate students? Am I eligible?

Information about student loans and financing your education is available through the Office of Student Financial Aid.


Specific questions regarding financial aid should be directed to the Office of Financial Aid. Financial Advisors are available by appointment, which can be set up by phone at (301) 314-9000 or via email at umfinaid@umd.edu. For more information see the Financial Aid Office.

 

When will I be billed for my courses?

Your tuition bill will be available after you register for courses. Once you are enrolled, we send information with registration procedures. For planning purposes, Spring and Fall billing information and due dates can be found here. Summer courses have an alternate billing schedule than fall/spring. You can review the billing policies here. If you have any questions regarding tuition or billing, please reach out to the Office of the Bursar.

 

Where do I view my bill?

You can view your bill through the Office of Student Financial Aid webpage. For quick reference, this page can be reached from the bottom of the Testudo home page by clicking on “Financial Aid.” Once on the Student Financial Aid webpage, click “Check Your Financial Aid Status Online” and log in using your university username and password. From there you can click “View Monthly Billing Statement” which will again prompt you to log in using your university username and password. You should now see your “eBill Menu” where you can view your bill by selecting the appropriate date from the drop-down menu, pay your bill, view your student account, and add email accounts to receive information about billing updates

 

 

Arriving on Campus

When should I plan to arrive on campus?

New students should plan to arrive on campus the week before classes start, as a number of events for new students take place during this week, including the iSchool Orientation, Graduate School Orientation, and International Student Orientation.

 

Do I have to attend orientation?

The iSchool Orientation is mandatory for all new students, except in extenuating circumstances. HCIM students are also required to attend one of two virtual information sessions over the summer. We do not require students to attend the Graduate School orientation, though they are encouraged to do so. International Students are required to attend International Student Orientation, and should receive details about new student requirements for international students via International Student & Scholar Services.

Where do graduate students live, and how can I find housing?

Most graduate students live off-campus. Many live close to campus, in College Park or nearby Hyattsville. Others live in neighboring cities like Takoma Park, Silver Spring, or Bethesda, which are a short drive away. Some choose to live in DC or commute from elsewhere in Maryland and Virginia. Where students live depends greatly on their budget and available transportation, as well as personal preference.

 

UMD’s Off-Campus Housing Services provides information about housing in the area and maintains a database of housing opportunities and people seeking roommates.


The University also owns two small apartment complexes called Graduate Hills and Graduate Gardens that are reserved exclusively for graduate students. Both are managed by Southern Management Corporation. Because of their convenient location and affordability, competition is strong for these units. For an application and additional information, contact Southern Management Graduate Hills and Graduate Gardens Apartment Homes, 3426 Tulane Drive, Suite #3, Hyattsville, MD 20783 (888-633-6173).


How do I get to campus?

If you’re flying in to Maryland, there are three airports in the region:
 

  • Baltimore Washington International Airport

  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

  • Washington Dulles International Airport
     

The UMD campus is served by the College Park stop on Metro’s green line. Free shuttle service runs to and from the College Park Metro station.
 


Check out the UMD Transportation site for lots of information on how to get around the College Park campus by free UMD shuttle, via the Metro, on foot, by bike, or by car. They also have a number of apps that you can use to help navigate to the campus.

 

Graduate Assistantships and On-Campus Employment

How can I find a graduate assistantship?

Unfortunately the HCIM program isn't able to offer assistantships to students on admission. The program works to connect students to assistantship opportunities when they become available, but students are also encouraged to apply to positions across campus via the University’s ejobs.umd.edu portal.

What does a graduate assistantship entail? 

Assistantships are typically either full-time (20 hrs/week) or part-time (10 hrs/week) positions, and can be designated as either a teaching assistantship (TA), research assistantship (RA), or administrative assistantship (AA). Masters students typically hold administrative assistantships, and, more rarely, RAs or TAs. These positions usually include a stipend and some amount of tuition remission; the amount varies depending on the assistantship, but a 20-hour GAship usually includes full tuition remission.

When are graduate assistantships advertised? 

Most hiring for graduate assistantships tends to take place over the summer and at the beginning of the school year. However, graduate assistantships continue to advertised throughout the year, and a number of HCIM students who arrived without an assistantship have found them once they arrived on campus.

 

Keeping in Touch

When will I be added to campus listservs?

Incoming HCIM students will be added to the program listserv after the end of the spring semester. Students are typically added to iSchool listservs at the start of the fall semester.

Is there an official HCIM group on social media? 

The program does not maintain an official Facebook group or Slack channel, though students may create their own groups. We do have an official program Twitter, which students are encouraged to follow.