Future Students' FAQ
Q. What is the cost of attendance? Costs for the current academic year can be found on the Bursar's site. 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 thereafter.
Q. 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). GRAs provide a waiver of most tuition, along with a monthly stipend that varies with the student’s academic home department (Computing, LCC, or Psychology). With a GRA, students can expect to work 15 to 20 hours per week in addition to school work. Students are still responsible for the mandatory fees as well as a small tuition payment. The costs of attendance can be found on the Bursar's site.
Q. Will having a GRA count toward credit hours? You can count one directed study course (3 credits) toward the 36 credit degree requirement (this is not a GRA). GRA provides (pays for) credits that can be used for the additional 3 credits you need to qualify as a full time student (per semester 9 hours required + 3 GRA).
Q. 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. You may begin to get emails during the summer, before you arrive. Be prepared to send your resume/interests for any opportunity you see. Often students find a GRA position after their first semester. Some meet faculty on their visit here or use email and have one when they arrive in August, but again not very many 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.
Q. Should I ask for 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. For TAing, you are required to have completed the course you wish to TA and earn an “A “grade. Very few of the ms-hci students are hired to TA courses .
International (F-1) students
Q. Does Georgia Tech provide financial aid for international students? No, international students (on visas) are ineligible 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.
Q. 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.
Q. 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).
Q. 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).
Q. How do I submit an application for the MS HCI program? You must submit an online application through our Graduate Admissions Office.
Q. 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.
Q. 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.
Q. When do you admit students to the HCI program? We admit students to the HCI program only in the fall semester.
Q. About how many students are accepted into the MS HCI program each year? Each entering fall class consists of 20 to 30 students.
Q. 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.
Q. 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 the overall application, including your educational and professional background; statement of purpose; and letters of recommendation.
Q. What admissions tests are required for MS HCI program? The GRE general tests but not a subject test.
Q. 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
Q. Is the program more research- or industry-oriented? Most of our graduates go to work in industry - some in research labs, more in development. Some go on to earn their PhD, either at GT or elsewhere. The curriculum includes more research-ish courses and a bit less practicum than some other programs, but many of the courses include individual or team projects.
Q. 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 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 are a recipient of a GRA 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.
Q. What is the length of time needed to complete the program? Most students complete the program in four semesters (18 months), with an internship during the summer between the first and second years. Part-time students usually complete the program in three years. A few students – who don’t get involved in a research project or a part-time job – choose to take 12 credits a semester and finish in three semesters.
Q. Why should I choose Tech over others? What’s the Tech appeal? Top-notch, multicultural students provide a great diversity in campus. Speaking of which, we're located in the middle of Atlanta, so we have lots of great restaurants and fun things to do around campus with our well-networked student and professional presence. Our HCI program is customizable, meaning other schools on campus outside School of Interactive Computing are at your disposal. You are not locked in, and there are lots of different research opportunities. You can enhance your qualifications by being involved in labs and you can even work on different labs each semester to see different kinds of research. For a good overview of our labs, check out this overview of labs and projects in the GVU.
Q. 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. They are very close to campus, they are safe, and the green route passes from there. They can be very expensive; however, so take a look at padmapper.com.
Q. 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, Psych, LCC) has somewhat different admissions requirements. 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 LCC specialization it is very useful to have "technical skills", 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.
Q. What is the difference between the MS HCI and the MSCS with a specialty in HCI? There are three differences. The first is the number of CS credits: typically 19-21 in the MS HCI, 30-36 for the MSCS HCI Specialization. The MS HCI includes 12 hours of non-CS electives, drawn from:
- Various usage/application contexts for HCI, such as aerospace, medical/health, music, international development, education, and entertainment.
- Deeper understandings of people, mostly via psychology courses
- Management of Technology (by taking the right 4 courses, students can earn the MOT graduate certificate.
A second difference is that all MS HCI students do a project of at least 4 credits, but it can be for up to 6 credits; whereas, MSCS students 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 MS HCI students.
Q. What is the difference between the MS HCI and the MS in Digital Media offered by LCC? 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 in interaction designers, game designers, interactive television producers and information architects.
Q. What is the difference between the MS HCI and an MS in Psychology? The School of Psychology does not offer an MS program.
Q. Do you have a PhD program in HCI? We do not have a PhD program in HCI, but the academic units participating in the MS HCI offer several relevant PhD programs:
- Computer Science with HCI specialization, from the College of Computing
- Human-Centered Computing, from the School of Interactive Computing
- Digital Media, from LCC
- Psychology with Engineering Psychology Specialization
- Psychology with Cognitive Science Specialization
Q. What is the average class size? It depends. The Design of User Interfaces class (CS/PSYC 6750) is around 40-50 people. The last module of Engineering Psychology was 8-9 people.
Q. 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.
Q. Can I take classes on the evenings, weekends, or over the Internet? Most classes are taught Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., though an occasional class might be scheduled later. Distance learning courses are not available.
Q. 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.
Factoring in jobs and work
Q. What do alumni of the MS program in Human-Computer Interaction go on to do? Many alumni pursue the PhD in a related field, at Georgia Tech or other leading universities. However, most alumni have gone on to work as HCI professionals and researchers at prominent companies and governmental agencies, including AT&T (Human Factors group); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); ChoicePoint Government Services; Crispin Porter & Bogusky; Elemental Interactive/ListenShare; Georgia Public Broadcasting; Google; Humana; IBM; IQ Interactive; Macquarium; Odigo Marketing; Philips Electronics Design Center; Roundarch; Sapient; Schematic; Spunlogic; Storyminers; Think Interactive; Toolbox No. 9; Turner Broadcasting (New Media); User Insight; Walt Disney Imagineering; and Yahoo! (User Experience).
Q. Can I work at a local company part-time while in the program? You can, and in fact 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.
Q. Who or what are career development resources? The one-credit professional practice seminar includes discussions on resume preparation and job-hunting.
Q. How can we network with companies? Career fairs, Interactivity, join professional organizations both on campus and in greater Atlanta community., talk to professors, talk to alumni and second year students. Students who participate in Interactivity@GT are usually better connected than most.
Q. How can we network with other students? Join the Facebook page MS HCI @ GT: Students Past, Present & Future, study in the HCI Lounge and around TSRB, or take a project studio course. Current students are listed here, and they are quite friendly and willing to offer advice.