FAQs

Financial Information

What is the cost of attendance? Costs for the current academic year can be found on the Bursar’s Office website. Tuition and fees for the next academic year are set each spring by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and are updated on the Bursar’s Office website as soon as possible.

Do you offer any financial assistance? We do not provide financial scholarships, however we do try to help you find assistance when we can, mostly in the form of Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) and  Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs). GRA and GTA positions provide a 12-credit tuition waiver, along with a monthly stipend that varies with the student’s academic home department (Interactive Computing, Industrial Design, LMC, or Psychology). With a GRA, students can expect to work 15 to 20 hours per week in addition to school work. Students are responsible for the mandatory fees and tuition supplement. These costs can be found on the Bursar’s Office website.

Will having a GRA count toward credit hours? Not directly. You can count one directed study course (3 credits) toward the 36 credit degree requirement, possibly, but not necessarily, doing this under the supervision of the faculty member providing your GRA. You will likely do your six credit MSHCI project with this professor as well. The GRA tuition waiver pays for a 3-credit GRA course (that does not count toward your 36 credits) needed to qualify as a full-time (12 credits) student.

How do I start looking for a GRA, and when should I ask professors for a GRA? A GRA is not guaranteed, but if you have a particular skill that a faculty member needs on a project, it can happen. Start looking as soon as possible. Often students find a GRA position during or by the end of their first semester. A few meet faculty during the “Admitted Students Visit” in the spring or use email and have one when they arrive in August, but very few students are able to do this. You should be prepared to cover at least your first semester as an out of state student. After that there is perhaps a 60-40 chance of finding a position that pays your tuition. Some students find part-time work in other units on campus, often doing web development work; a few find part-time jobs with start-ups in Georgia Tech’s Incubator, or with local companies. The most common ways to find a GRA are:

  1. Volunteer to work in a professor’s lab for the first semester or second semester (possibly doing a 3-credit directed study) and doing really good work and then approaching the professor,
  2. Doing really well in a course and then approaching the professor.

What about a GTA? Students will not be able to get a GTA their first semester, as no one will have had you in class or know much about you. When working as a TA, you are required to have completed the course you wish to TA and earn an “A” grade. Some MSHCI students have GTA positions, almost always in their second year, based on doing well in a course during their first year.

International (F-1) Students

Does Georgia Tech provide financial aid for international students? No, international students (on visas) are not eligible to receive financial aid. However, they are eligible to work as a GRA (Graduate Research Assistant) or GTA (Graduate Teaching Assistant), and often do so.

For an international applicant, what supporting documents must I submit for my application? Please refer to the graduate application process for current information regarding supporting documents for graduate admissions.

What about TOEFL for international students? International students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Georgia Tech requires that you have a score of at least 100 (internet-based), 250 (computer-based), or 600 (paper-based). Without this, you should not apply.

Can international students attend part-time? No, if you are an F-1 international student you must register for full-time course loads (12 hours each semester).

Admissions

How do I submit an application for the MS HCI program? You must submit an online application through our Graduate Admissions Office.

How do I check the status of my online application? Applicants should refer to the Graduate Admissions Office’s FAQ to check the status of their applications.

Where would I obtain information for the application and admissions process for the graduate admissions at Georgia Tech? Please use the Graduate Admissions Office’s FAQ for this information.

When do you admit students to the HCI program? We admit students to the HCI program only in the fall semester.

About how many students are accepted into the MS HCI program each year? Each entering fall class consists of 40 to 50 students.

I have been offered admission for the fall semester however, I want to wait until next year to start. Is this possible? Admitted applicants can defer their admission for up to one year. Such cases are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please email the Graduate Program Coordinator with your request.

What if my GPA or one of my test scores is below the minimum? You would not be automatically disqualified from consideration. We consider the strength of your overall application, including your educational and professional background; statement of purpose; and letters of recommendation.

What admissions tests are required for MS HCI program? The GRE general tests but not a subject test.

What school code should I use for submitting my test results? Use the general GT code, 5248.

Can I substitute other tests for the GRE—such as GMAT or LSAT? The GT required admissions test is the GRE and we do not accept any other test scores for admissions.

About the Program

Is the program more research- or industry-oriented?  The curriculum includes more future-looking research-ish courses than some other programs, but many of the courses include individual or team projects—these, and your summer internship, enable students to develop extensive portfolios.

Is the program oriented more toward research or practice? This is a very common question.  The answer is "both."

Practice comes in the forms of:

  1. The every-fall semester seminar "Professional Preparation and Practice" which includes speakers from companies, consultancies and digital agencies,
  2. The summer internship,
  3. Projects in many courses - some of which are done in collaboration with external clients.

Research come in the forms of

  1. Courses on next-generation HCI areas, taught by faculty who do research in those areas.  Look at this course list!
  2. Your MS-HCI project, done under the supervision of one of our MS-HCI faculty members
  3. Many one-credit pass/fail seminars, including the GVU Brown Bag seminar which has included HCI notables such as Gregory Abowd, Bill Buxton, Beth Mynatt, Don Norman, Ben Shneiderman and Thad Starner.

Can I attend part-time? Not generally, as courses meet during the day. Also, some courses have group projects, requiring frequent face-to-face meetings. GTRI (Georgia Tech Research Institute) staff who work on campus often attend part time, as they can easily come to daytime classes, have group meetings, and be part of the academic community by attending relevant talks and meetings of research groups. Part-time attendance is also not an option if you have a GRA or GTA or are an F-1 international student, as you must register for a full-time course load (12 hours each semester). Part-time students must register for a minimum of 3 semester hours.

How much time will I need to complete the program?  Most students complete the program in four semesters (18 months), with an internship during the intervening summer. Part-time students usually complete the program in three or four years. A few students choose to take 12 credits a semester and finish in three semesters, which means they must get started on their MSHCI project during the second semester rather than the more common third semester. And, this is a LOT of work!

Why should I choose Tech over others? What’s the Tech appeal? There are several excellent HCI graduate programs in the United States and abroad.  Students who select Georgia Tech tell us they do so for reasons such as:

  1. The interdisciplinary mix of students, courses and faculty, which is very much like the real world of HCI/UX,
  2. The large number of courses from which to choose,
  3. The large number of faculty, and their research projects,
  4. Our many other HCI-related degree programs that create a rich intellectual environment with many activities and opportunities beyond the MSHCI program itself.

Top-notch, multicultural students provide a great diversity in campus. Speaking of which, we're located in the middle of Atlanta, with lots of great restaurants and fun things to do around campus with our well-networked student and professional presence. You can enhance your qualifications by being involved in labs and you can even work in different labs each semester to see different kinds of research. To learn more about our labs, check out this overview of the GVU Center.

Will I be able to do projects to build up my portfolio? YES!! Many of the courses have full-semester projects; some in groups; some individually. For example, the first semester CS/PSYC 6750 course does four-person group projects, starting with user research, sketching multiple alternatives, then prototyping and testing. There are many more examples. And your summer internship project will further strengthen your portfolio.

What are some resources for finding housing? If you are not planning to get a car, you can stay at the Graduate Living Center (GLC) at 10th and Home, adjoining campus. There are several apartment buildings within a few blocks of Tech. This Google search will point you at many other options!

Do I have to have a background in computer science or programming to be accepted to the program? Our students come from a variety of different educational backgrounds and it is not a requirement for applicants to have a computer science degree. Each specialization (CS, ID, LMC, Psych) has different expectations. The courses that students take, and the jobs that they eventually seek, are typically somewhat different between the specializations. In the Computing specialization, it is assumed that applicants have solid programming experience. In the LMC specialization it is very useful to have technical skills such as Photoshop, video editing, web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) which often but not always includes programming, especially for prototyping. In the Psychology specialization, programming experience is not a requirement, but is always beneficial; prototyping and experiment scripting experience are very useful. There are courses available to improve these skills once enrolled in the HCI program.

What is the difference between the MSHCI (Interactive Computing Specialization) and the MSCS (HCI Specialization)?  There are several differences.

The first difference is the number of CS credits: typically 19-21 in the MSHCI, 30-36 for the MSCS HCI Specialization. The MSHCI includes 12 hours of non-CS electives, drawn from:

  1. Various usage/application contexts for HCI, such as aerospace, medical/health, music, international development, education, and entertainment.
  2. Deeper understandings of people, mostly via psychology courses
  3. Management of Technology (by taking the right 4 courses, students can earn the MOT graduate certificate.

A second difference is that all MSHCI students do a 6-credit project, whereas, MSCS students typically just take courses, although they may do a 9-credit project or a 12-credit thesis.

A third difference is the MS HCI seminar, which meets each fall with a focus on professional practice and career development, as well as building a sense of camaraderie amongst the MSHCI students.

Finally, MSHCI students pay a tuition supplement which provides many benefits, including:

  1. Travel support to participate in professional conferences in order to present papers, posters as well as design and research competitions.
  2. Assistance of the MSHCI Project Coordinator (a PhD Research Scientist) to help students identify, plan, conduct and report on their 6-credit MSHCI project.
  3. Up to $500 reimbursement of MSHCI project expenses.
  4. Use of the MSHCI student lounge / study area.
  5. Assistance from the MSHCI director, MSHCI Project Coordinator and MS_HCI Program Coordinator in finding GRA and GTA position, summer internships and full-time post-graduation jobs.
  6. Participation in Interactivity@GT, the annual student showcase and job fair for MSHCI students.
  7. Consideration for several annual awards (with honoraria), such as best first semester projectbest first-year studentbest MSHCI project.

What is the difference between the MS HCI and the MS in Digital Media offered by LMC? The MS HCI focuses on developing practical and theoretical skills in the research, design/development and evaluation of human-computer systems and interfaces and the curriculum spans digital media, computing and psychology disciplines which bridges the three respective schools. The MS in Digital Media offers arts and humanities based study in digital media in the School of LCC, focusing on digital media design and critique. MS Digital Media students pursue careers as interaction designers, game designers, interactive television producers and information architects.

What is the difference between the MSHCI and an MS in Psychology? The School of Psychology does not offer an MS program.

Do you have a PhD program in HCI? We do not have a PhD program in HCI, but the academic units participating in the MSHCI offer several relevant PhD programs:

About Classes

What is the average class size? It varies. The required first semester Design of User Interfaces class (CS/PSYC 6750) is 40-50 people. Many classes that you will take in your second year will have 20 to 30 students.

What are some student-favorite classes? If you are Psych or CS track, LCC 6311 Visual Culture and Design (Carl DiSalvo) will be very useful to learn new design tools. PSYC 8040 Assistive Technology (Bruce Walker) is also highly regarded. Talk to other students and professors, and feel free to sit it in on lectures to sample them.

Can I take classes on the evenings, weekends, or over the Internet? Classes are taught Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Distance learning courses are not available.

Can I take some Management Technology courses as part of my HCI degree program? Yes. The courses that can be taken as elective courses are: MGT 6056-Electronic Commerce, MGT 6326-Collaborative Product Development, MGT/ISyE -6772 Managing Resources of the Technological Firm MGT 8803-Software Project Management. If you complete all four of these courses, you can earn the Management of Technology Certificate from the College of Management. (If some courses are not offered when needed, speak with  your school's coordinator to find suitable alternatives.)

Factoring in Jobs and Work

What do alumni of the MS program in Human-Computer Interaction go on to do? Most of our graduates go to work in industry—some in research labs, more in development. A few go on to earn their PhD, often at GT. Our students take HCI positions with companies, government organizations and universities such as Centers for Disease Control, Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Google, VMWare, Humana, IBM, Intel, Research in Motion, Nokia, NVIDIA, Phillips Design Center, CNN, Yahoo, IDEO, Nielsen Norman Group, Schematic, Sapient, Digitas, Razorfish Health, Roundarch Isobar, Macquarium, User Insight, Northrop Grumman, Turner Broadcasting, Openstudy, Manhattan Associates, Southern Co., Moxie Interactive, These jobs are often result from the summer internship. Some students pursue Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science, Digital Media, or Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Tech or other schools including CMU, UC Irvine, Colorado, MIT, Simon Fraser, Central Florida, and Illinois.

Can I work at a local company part-time while in the program? You can, and current students do so. It may be possible to expand your work into your Master’s project. This has to be approved in advance, and must involve supervision by a faculty member, who then assigns a grade for the project.

Who or what are career development resources? The one-credit professional practice seminar includes discussions on resume and portfolio preparation and job-hunting. A favorite of current students is the panel discussion by HCI practitioners “What I know now that I wish I had known when I took my first job.”

How can we network with companies? Career fairs, Interactivity@GT, join professional organizations both on campus and in the greater Atlanta community, talk to professors, alumni and second year students.

How can we network with other students? Join the Facebook group MS HCI @ GT: Students Past, Present & Future, study in the HCI Lounge and around TSRB, or take a project studio course. Current students are quite friendly and willing to offer advice via the Facebook group.