One of the criteria that I think an Information Architect should have in their arsenal is having a Master of Science Degree in Human Computer Interaction.
An HCI degree integrates concepts and methods from computer science, graphic design, and social sciences to provide a comprehensive understanding of the user-centered design process.
A degree of this caliber will prepare IAs to design, implement, and evaluate computer interfaces so that they are accessible and easy to use.
Pursuing your Master’s online definitely complements the busy lifestyle of working professionals since you can learn at your own convenience. The following colleges are offering HCI Online Master’s degrees:
DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media
243 S. Wabash Ave Chicago IL, 60604
The National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security named DePaul CDM a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance. It is one of the largest colleges of its kind in the nation, with over 2,000 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs.
They use a state of the art COL Course Management System which allows students to actively participate in their courses, engage in stimulating debates with their instructors, and collaborate with their diverse classmates.
As for enrollment requirements, you must have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale and a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited institution. In order to complete the degree and become a member of the honorary club of Master’s Degree recipients, you must complete a minimum of 52 credit hours (generally 13 courses).
The only thing that might bug some people about their program is that if you are an online learning student living within 30 miles of the Chicago area, then you will need to come to one of DePaul’s Campuses to take exams.
If by chance you aren’t within the Chicago area then you will need to find a proctor at a local library, college, or university. While this might be inconvenient, it does help to maintain the integrity of the online degree program.
Iowa State University HCI Graduate Program
1620 Howe Hall Ames, IA 50010
Iowa State University is actually ranked among the top 50 public national universities. Their online HCI MS courses consist of recorded lectures delivered using streaming media technology as well as live interaction via chat-room, email, and phone conversations.
So enroll today! Well of course it’s not that easy. The program requires that admitted students have undergraduate degrees from an accredited university and have graduated with a GPA that places them in the upper half of their graduating class.
Also, students will be required to take a total of 30 course credits in order to graduate, as well as come to campus to present the results of their capstone course. While this may be inconvenient for some, I think most tend to think of it as a grand showcase or fitting finale for a job well done.
Rochester Institute of Technology
56 Lomb Memorial Drive Rochester, NY 14623-5604
According to The Princeton Review (which seems to be the foremost authority in…well everything), Rochester Institute of Technology has been recognized as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education.
Their program consists of 52 credit hours and its foundation is based on studying the factors that determine interface usability as it applies to a variety of areas, such as science, engineering, industrial design, graphic design, psychology, anthropology, and sociology.
The program is conveniently offered on campus or online, and both full-time and part-time. These benefits do come at a somewhat steep price.
Admissions requirements dictate that students must have a Bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited college or university, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (or take their Graduate Record Exam), a two course object oriented programming sequence (such as Java, C++, C), a foundation course in probability and statistics, and working knowledge of Adobe Flash for prototyping.
Wrapping it Up
So those are a few of the best colleges that I’ve come across so far for HCI. Just think, a decade ago these programs weren’t even available. It’s amazing just how far we’ve come. To infinity and beyond!