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PhD in HCI

The HCIL is an interdisciplinary research community, but prospective students must be admitted to and pursue a degree in a particular department, usually computer science, library science, information management, psychology, or education.

Computer Science

To earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science, you must apply to their office of graduate admissions.  You will probably want to work with one of the CS faculty that focuses on HCI:

The computer science Ph.D. does not have written comprehensive exams.  Instead, students must take 7 graduate computer science courses distributed over 5 areas, with no more than 2 in any one area (i.e., 2 can be HCI courses, but 5 must be in other areas).  In addition, students must take other graduate courses in the university, and a 1 credit course on how to conduct research.  See the graduate catalog for details.

College of Information Studies (iSchool)

To earn a Ph.D. in the College of Information Studies-Maryland's iSchool, you must apply to their office of graduate admissions. You will probably want to work with the iSchool faculty that focuses on HCI:

For a Ph.D. in the Information Studies, you must take 2 core Information Studies courses (one focused on information systems, one focused on the management and use of information), take 3 courses in research methods, do the equivalent of a Masters in some related field, and pass a comprehensive exam.  See the Information Studies Ph.D. program for more details.

College of Education

To earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science, you must apply to their office of graduate admissions.  You will probably want to work with one of the Education faculty that focuses on HCI:


To earn a Ph.D. in Psychology, you must apply to their office of graduate admissions. You will most likely want to work with Assoc. Prof. Kent Norman who focuses on HCI.

For a Ph.D. in Psychology, all students entering with a Baccalaureate degree are required to take three quantitative courses and three “core” courses in areas outside their specialty program, which may be chosen from a group of courses designed to provide graduate level introductions in a variety of specialty areas. The remaining time is devoted to research, and coursework required by the student’s specialty area as well as coursework chosen by the student in consultation with his or her advisor on the basis of the student’s interests.

To be admitted to the “doctoral program” students must demonstrate “research competence.” Admission to the doctoral program also requires satisfactory completion of certain coursework, and favorable recommendations, from both the research committee and the specialty area, with the final approval made by the Graduate Committee (which consists of the Director of Graduate Studies and an elected representative from each of the specialty areas). Research competence may be evidenced by the completion of an acceptable Master’s thesis. Sometime in the third or fourth year of the program, students take comprehensive examinations.

Admission to doctoral candidacy requires successful completion of the comprehensive examination, completion of certain course requirements, and the recommendation of the specialty area. After being admitted to candidacy, students begin formally to work on dissertations. The Ph.D. degree requires 12 hours of dissertation credits. See the graduate catalog for complete details.

Once admitted we consider students for Graduate Research Assistantships and for participation in projects.  Often projects involve students from several units and we collaborate regularly.

Other Departments

There are also growing interests in HCI in other units:

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