Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Table of Contents

Admissions Requirements

What are the university-wide Graduate School requirements for admission?

Admission to the University of Washington is necessarily a selective process. Prospective students will ordinarily meet the following minimum requirements (Note: MHCI+D Program requirements often exceed these minimum requirements):

  • Hold the minimum equivalent of a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or its equivalent from a foreign institution.
  • Have earned at least a 3.0 or B grade-point-average in the most recent 2 years of study.
  • Be proficient in English: Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency. Proficiency standards are outlined in Memo 8: Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements. (Note: MHCI+D Program requires TOEFL of 106, with a speaking subscore minimum of 26, or an IELTS score of 7.5, with a speaking module score of 8.0).

More information on these requirements can be found on the Graduate School page Understanding the Application Process

What are the MHCI+D requirements for admission?

In addition to all the above requirements, the MHCI+D Program requires that applicants meet the following requirements:

  • Have earned at least a 3.0 grade-point-average. Most commonly, this is calculated based on the most recent 2 years of study. You may also use your overall GPA, or your GPA for all courses in your major to satisfy this 3.0 requirement. Because of the intense pace of the program, we value the ability to demonstrate a history of performing well academically.
  • Be proficient in English. If using the TOEFL to demonstrate English language ability, we expect a score of 106 or higher, and in particular expect a speaking subscore minimum of 26. We accept MyBest TOEFL composite scores. If using IELTS, we expect a score of 7.5 or higher, and a speaking module score of 8.0 or higher.
  • A complete application, submitted by the deadline.

Application Materials

Where do I apply?

Once the application period begins in October, apply via the UW Graduate School application portal. Search for “Human-Computer Interaction and Design” on the Programs and Degrees Offered

What materials are required for a complete application?

A complete list of materials can be found here

Are GREs required?

No. We do not accept or consider GRE scores in the admissions process.

What is the minimal acceptable GPA?

The MHCI+D program requires a minimum 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) usually calculated using the last graded 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits. You may also use your overall GPA, or your GPA for all courses in your major to satisfy this 3.0 requirement.

How do I calculate &/or convert my GPA to a 4.0 scale?

We require that your GPA be converted to a 4.0 scale before being reported. Information on calculating your GPA if moving between semesters and quarters, and tools for converting from other scoring systems is available. You are responsible for performing any needed conversion before applying, and should be prepared to supply the method used, if requested. Please see the section GPA Calculating Assistance on the Graduate School FAQ

I just submitted my application and I know my TOEFL or IELTS scores were reported to the UW several weeks ago. Why aren’t my scores showing up?

After your application is submitted, it normally takes a couple days for your test scores to show as received. You are able to check the status of your application by logging on to the MyGrad website. As long as you have taken the TOEFL or IELTS before the application deadline, we will accept the scores.

 Which transcripts do I need to submit with my application?

Please provide readable scans (PDF’s) of transcripts from all colleges, universities and institutions where you have earned collegiate level credit. Transcripts should be in English, or include a translation into English.

Do I need to submit official transcripts during the application process?

No, applicants do not need to submit official transcripts during the application process. Instead, applicants should upload readable scans (PDFs) of their transcripts into the MyGrad application. However, applicants offered admission to the program and who accept the offer, will be required to submit official transcripts from one degree granting schools.

I’ve attended many different colleges. Which ones do I need to list in MyGrad?

Please list all colleges, universities and institutions where you have earned collegiate level credit in your MyGrad application.

I took classes as a non-matriculated student OR I started a different graduate program, but didn’t graduate. Do I need to list the school and provide a transcript?

In order to get a complete picture of your academic history, the Graduate School requires that you list and provide scanned (PDF’s) transcripts from all colleges, universities and institutions where you have earned collegiate level credit.

I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Am I still eligible to apply to the program?

The UW Graduate School requires that all graduate level applicants have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited institution. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, we generally don’t advise you apply for the MHCI+D Program. You may wish to speak to a program representative prior to beginning the application process to evaluate whether you have an exceptional case.

I don’t have a bachelor’s degree OR my bachelor’s degree is from a school that is unaccredited OR my 3-year bachelor’s degree is from a school outside the United States. Am I still eligible to apply to the program?

The UW Graduate School requires that all graduate level applicants have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited institution. At least four years of study towards this degree are typically required for the degree to qualify. If you don’t have a degree that fulfills these criteria, we generally don’t advise that you apply for the MHCI+D program. You may wish to speak to a program representative prior to beginning the application process to evaluate whether you have an exceptional case.

Applicants from India: A 3-year bachelor’s degree alone typically does not satisfy this requirement. Two methods to satisfy the requirement would be to combine a 3-year bachelor’s from India with conferral of an Indian master’s degree, or with conferral of a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD, 1-year minimum, full-time) recognized by the AIU or AICTE.

Is an interview required as part of the application?

Only occasionally. A member of the admissions committee or program staff may elect to interview you before providing an offer of admission. Not all applicants will be interviewed, and being interviewed does not necessarily mean that you are on a short list for admission. You do not need to do anything to schedule an interview. We will contact you if this step is needed.

Admission Decisions

How does the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design admissions committee make admissions decisions?

The MHCI+D admissions committee reviews all applications that meet the minimal application requirements. Faculty and students read each application in full and evaluate the fit of the applicant to the program both quantitatively and qualitatively. The evaluation is based on the personal statement, and supplementary materials (if submitted), letters of recommendation, transcripts and GPA from previous academic work, resume and work history.

Because we consider these items as a whole, there are no minimums or target ranges. Each student is evaluated individually on the strength of the combination of all of these factors.

In addition to strong individuals, the admissions committee seeks a balanced cohort with backgrounds and interests spread across the areas of interaction design, product management, user interface software and technology, and user research.

What is the acceptance rate for this program?

In recent years, we extended offers of admission to about 10% of all applicants. In 2021, over 800 people applied for the 30-40 places in the cohort.

International Students

Please review the FAQ site from the Graduate School.

Where can I find VISA information?

Please revise the International Student Services’ Visa Information page.

Is the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design program a full-time graduate program?

Yes, it provides at least ten credits each quarter.

Is this a STEM course?

Yes, the MHCI+D graduate program is a STEM program. As such, graduates are qualified for the 24-month STEM OPT extension. Contact International Student Services for current information about STEM-related training and VISA regulations.

Acceptance Process

Will I be notified once my application is complete?

We do not notify applicants about whether your application is complete or incomplete. You can keep current on your status on the application status page.

When will I get an offer if one is forthcoming?

Offers of admission (and denials) will be extended by email in mid-March. You are encouraged to monitor your status in MyGrad.

How much time will I have to decide if I want to accept an offer of admission?

Offers of admission will contain a decision date of around April 15. We ask that you reply within our requested deadline so that you can begin to receive orientation materials prior to the start of Autumn quarter and out of respect for those on the waitlist.

We encourage you to join activities for new admits, set up a visit to a class, or schedule an interview to discuss any questions or information gaps that might help you decide on your offer.

Is there a waitlist, and how does it work?

Each year we place a limited number of applicants on a waitlist. Whether or not offers of admission are ultimately extended depends on the acceptance rate of the earlier offers of admission.

Costs, Tuition and Fees

Please review the main Costs and Financial Aid page for general information.

How does this tuition compare to other UW programs?

See Admission/HCI-Related Degree Programs for this information.

What type of health insurance is available for students?

International students see ISHIP insurance for this information.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents see here

Are there financial aid opportunities specific to MHCI+D? I understand this is an intensive program, which may provide less time for paid research, work study, or other means of paying off the tuition.

At this time there are no specific scholarships or fellowships available. There are part-time Graduate Staff Assistant positions hired for the program with preference given to incoming students. These positions will be filled by early summer. In addition, there may sometimes be a need across campus for Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants. MHCI+D students are welcome to apply for these part-time positions but should not depend on them being available. In practice, very few MHCI+D Students have secured TA/RA positions in recent years.

Program Details

I’ve noticed that many UX-related jobs prefer some knowledge of programming. for those of us from a non-CS background, is there any time dedicated to teaching these skills?

The Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design program does not teach specific programming skills in its core. You can build specific technical skills through elective courses. You can also choose to build these skills before you start the program by taking programming courses at UW in the Summer Quarter, or elsewhere. These are usually 100 or 200-level courses, which are not accepted as graduate credit. You will not be expected to program the solutions that your team creates, although if your team includes someone with programming skills you certainly could. What is emphasized is the design thinking and solution identification based on user research, along with the skills to prototype and test solutions in a time and cost-effective manner.

Do the skills taught in this program apply to tangible interactions outside of the scope of computer/mobile devices?

MHCI+D approaches HCI as the broad space of how people interact with technology. The program will teach design thinking and a design process that is applicable to any problem identification and solution creation situation. The projects undertaken within the program will generally have a technology component in a context which could be computer, mobile, wearable or other.

Is the program relevant for students coming from a research background like psychology?

Yes, human behavior is one of the key components in the program, along with design thinking and solution development. Someone with a psychology background combined with interest and experience with technology would be well-suited for the program.

Is the program relevant for students coming from a background in social sciences, humanities or business?

Yes. While the majority of our students come from technical, visual or research backgrounds, every year a number of students successfully draw on backgrounds in other fields to do well here. Perhaps more so than with other backgrounds, it is important to have clear and compelling explanation for your pivot into this field, and an understanding of how you will use your background to make the most of this program.

How would you describe the difference in curriculum between this program and the MS in HCDE program?

First, see Admission/HCI-Related Degree Programs for this comparison.

In addition to the differences and similarities noted in the chart, the MHCI+D Program is organized around a studio culture model with the project-based work and critique methods that entails. You’ll be together with a smaller cohort in MHCI+D, and the majority of your coursework will be with the entire cohort. Electives make up a smaller portion of the coursework, leaving you with less flexibility than in the HCDE program. Because the entire cohort begins and ends together and attends the MHCI+D Program full-time, students report that the atmosphere is more intense and immersive overall.

Is it possible to undertake the MHCI+D Program as a prospective PhD Candidate? (Say, with HCDE?)

MHCI+D is a professional master’s degree. It does not require a traditional master’s thesis or master’s research project. As such, it is intended as a ‘terminal’ degree, not as a stepping stone directly to PhD work. We have had alumni choose to apply for PhD programs after MHCI+D, but the program does not intentionally target this career path. As part of the dub community (design-use-build), students are exposed to the research projects and perspectives of UW faculty and PhD students. Go to the HCDE website for information about the PhD in HCDE from UW.

Am I able to get an internship during the program?

Due to the intensive, full-time structure of the curriculum and frequent team work outside of class, we do not support internships during the program and we encourage current students to postpone employment until they complete their degree requirements. Industry perspective is included through sponsorships for class and Capstone projects.

What will the roles of industry partners be within the program?

Industry partners are participating on several levels in the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design program. Some are sponsoring capstone projects and meeting with students throughout the spring and summer quarter. Others are providing industry experts for lectures and studio work. Still others are serving as program advisors, ensuring that curriculum evolves effectively to develop strong participants in HCI+D careers. Our industry partners regularly join us for critique sessions to provide professional feedback on student work.

Student Culture

How would you describe the culture among the students? For instance, social events, housing arrangements, etc.

Students come together for the first time in mid-September. They get know each other personally and as fellow professionals by working together inside and outside of class. They also have helped each other find housing or share housing. There are also reports of happy hours, meals together, outings on campus and exploring the beauty and richness of Seattle.

What are the student demographics for recent cohorts?

Each cohort includes a different mixture of student backgrounds and interests, but here is a snapshot of the most recent demographics:

Class of 2022 Class of 2021 Class of 2020 Class of 2019
Total # in class 36 32 42 35
International Students 44% 38% 55% 49%
URM* students (% of cohort | % of US students) 17% | 30% 22% | 35%  7% | 16%  7% | 17%
Female 64% 69% 81% 63%
Avg. yrs of work experience** 4.1 3.3 3.2 4.3
% with prior Master’s degree 14% 9% 14% 29%

*Underrepresented Minorities: A government designation for applicants that includes African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander applicants and students.

** Work experience average approximated by # of years between graduation from undergraduate school and start at MHCI+D program.

How do I know if I am a fit for this program?

Are you curious and thoughtful about technology and people? Genuinely collaborative? Self-driven? Creative? Able to dedicate one full year? Do you want to work in intensive, immersive contact with a cohort of like-minded individuals? One way to get a feel for fit might be to review the profiles of students in the program and alumni.

Learn More

How do I learn more &/or arrange a visit to discuss the Program and visit the UW Campus?

See Admissions/How To Learn More for this information.