What the Director says about Prior, Ongoing and Post GeorgiaTech Masters in Human Computer Interaction program

Photo of Dr. Henneman

I am excited and honored to share this interview with Dr. Henneman, the DIRECTOR of Masters in Human-Computer Interaction (MSHCI) program in Georgia Tech.

He introduced the program to dozens of Chinese students online and shared with us his insights and what preparations applicants should do before getting enrolled in the program, what this program is about, and where we will go after graduation.

How to get admission

Overview

Apparently competition is getting fierce. Applicant total number has been growing in the past several years, but that doesn’t mean more people are getting admission offers. In this case, applicants really need to pay more efforts to improve themselves.

Test Score

Among all the students enrolled in Year 2017, the average score of GRE is: 162 Quantitative, 159 Verbal, 4.0 Analytical Writing, you don’t have to above this score. However, there is a strict bottom line for Toefl, which is 100, this is to say, a student with 99 in Toefl will not be considered.

Show your expertise

For LMC, ID students, a portfolio (preferably in web) is a necessity. Experience in design is the most important value, several beautiful pictures are definitely not enough, what Georgia Tech MSHCI program wants to see is the design process, for example, whether you have got feedback from users when doing the prototype, whether you have got access to potential users to get a depth understanding of their problems they are having.

Psyc students have advantages of research methods since they have a strong background of knowing people. For IC students, programming skill is a necessity.

What you should put in Personal Statement

Show you passion in the HCI field. Say if someone who is really good at design, but not interested in the user-centered process, h/she probably see a better fit in Industrial Design major instead of HCI. It’s the same case for other people who are special at software and coding, but not fond of user research at all.

Can you get funding?

We don’t offer any guarantee funding, but a lot of people are able to find GRA(Graduate Research Assistant) or GTA(Graduate Teaching Assistant) which removes most of tuition costs and pays a stipend for your daily cost and house living.

About 50% of the students are able to find some kind of funding in their very first semester, by the second semester, when you get to know the faculty, and they know you, that number increases to 80–90 percent.

After coming to GT MSHCI

Our distinction

Firstly Henneman emphasized the distinctive advantage in the balance of breath and depth in Georgia Tech MSHCI. There are four tracks ranging from

Interactive Computing -IC

Industrial Design -ID

Literature, Media, and Communication -LMC

AND Psychology -Psyc

Applicants who are applying for different tracks are considered under different metrics of standards. For IC, applicants must have at least one strong programming skill, i.e, Python, Java, C++, etc. For ID and LMC, the design expertise is emphasized. For Psyc, they should have a good potential in the research process and methods analysis.

The percentage of each track is proportional to the application pool. Because of the four tracks in a single program, when we are forming a well-rounded project team that includes 1) market research, competitive analysis, 2) design to ensure it is aesthetically appealing and understandable, and of course 3) user-centered interviews and evaluation across the whole process, people from different tracks can easily share their expertise to create a good project. Through these group projects, people can find their interests and develop them as they contribute.

Our People, Courses, connection with Industry

For now, we have over 100 students, 50 faculty members and also groups who pay much attention especially in research, i.e GVU center.

For those who are interested in what courses Georgia Tech is offering, please go to http://mshci.gatech.edu/program/courses for more information. A key take away here is people from different tracks need to complete electives with the minimum 9 credits in their own track, and 3 or more in other tracks. And of course, there is a wide range in the field of courses from storytelling to AI to visualization, etc.

Georgia Tech also encourages students to do internship between the first year and the second year to keep students always on the cutting-edge research and design work.

Besides fine-polished courses, Georgia Tech also pays a lot of efforts in bonding students here with professionals in the career field. For example, in the course Professional Preparation and Practice given by Henneman himself, he invites experts across the industry from big companies to smaller-size startups to present their thoughts, experiences and talk with us weekly. During them, we have mock-up interviews, resume workshops where students can get exercise in preparation for their career.

Graduation from GT MSHCI

Trend of UX career?

This goes back to 2012, Recently we are seeing more emphasis on User research in companies, so I’d say that number is probably increasing, probably less in development side and more in research side.

Since 2012, more than half of people graduated from MSHCI took offers about design, one fourth decided to be a developer, Less than one fourth went to User Research, and the rest are spread in Management team or moved to their Ph.D path.

What kind of job do you want?

The bigger company you are in, the more specific you title would be.

In a big and famous company as in Google, there might be 5 or so positions related to User experience: Interaction Designer, Visual Designer, UX writer, UX researcher, UX engineer, Design advocate, etc. But if you decide to work in a startup, then you get to handle all UX related jobs including both Design and Research. So there is definitely trade off when you are seeking job.

Where can I find job information?

From the high-level side, teachers always try their best to keep in contact with the industry world by inviting them to give speeches in classes. Besides, we have a special slack channel as Jobs and Internships where people will post the latest job vacancy to others so that everyone can take a chance. A lot of our alumni also come back to meet us in person or post job information of their current companies in the slack channel.


In a nutshell, our program is a professional program where we actively motivate students to find internships and jobs by building the bridge between them and the industry.

I am proud and excited to be part of it.