The Center for Human-Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary research center jointly sponsored by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.

PhD in HCI Related Area

There are three ways to get a PhD related to Human-Computer Interaction. There is a high-overlap in coursework across all three programs: in particular, all share CS 5724 (Models and Theories of HCI), CS 5714/ISE 5714 (Usability Engineering), and various research methods classes. The ISE program has more intense (and more quantitative) methods classes than CS. The HCD iPhD requires you to select courses that would reflect the particulars of your own research interests without getting the additional breadth in computation that the CS program does.

PhD in CS with Emphasis in HCI

The core of this track are classes in usability engineering and models and theories of HCI augmented with specialization areas like virtual reality, data visualization, CSCW, and design. This approach requires taking "breadth" classes outside of HCI in computer science. Since tracks are only suggestions of plans of study, the Center for Human Computer Interaction offers a HCI Certificate to encourage graduate students to fulfill the requisite exploration of HCI. More information about CS admission here.

PhD in ISE with Emphasis in Human Factors Engineering and Ergonomics

This program focusses on usability engineering with a strong quantitative emphasis. More information here.

Human-Centered Design track, Interdisciplinary PhD (iPhD)

This track strikes a balance between intellectual enquiry into creative processes and actual production of creative work. It is geared for students with a strong independent direction and strong creative drive. This program is primarily for students without a computer science background (i.e., social sciences or the arts). Students with a background in CS would be considered if they have a very strong program of research that only peripherally involves computation. More information here.


The list below are courses in HCI offered in the CS department. In addition, the center offers a Graduate Certificate in HCI.

CS 5714 - Usability Engineering

Design and evaluation of effective user interfaces, beginning with principles for designing the product. Development process for user interaction separate from interactive software development. Development process includes iterative life cycle management, systems analysis, design, usability specifications, design representation techniques, prototyping, formative user-based evaluation. Integrative and cross-disciplinary approach with main emphasis on usability methods and the user interaction development process. II

CS 5724 - Models and Theories of Human-computer Interaction

Survey of models and theories of users and their use of computer equipment; conditions of application for various approaches. Task analysis, task modeling, representations and notations. I

CS 5734 - Computer-supported Cooperative Work

Review and critique of state-of-the-art computing systems supporting cooperative work. Introduction to toolkits, software architectures and implementation issues relevant to development of systems for cooperative work. Analysis of group interactions and concerns in collaborative activities such as writing, design, meetings, communication, and decision-making. II

CS 5744 - Software Design and Quality

This course focuses on critical aspects of the software lifecycle that have significant influence on the overall quality of the software system including techniques and approaches to software design, quantitative measurement and assessment of the system during implementation, testing, and maintenance, and the role of verification and validation in assuring software quality.

CS 5754 - Virtual Environments

Introduction to the theory and practice of three-dimensional virtual environments (VEs). 3D input and output devices, applications of VEs, 3D user interfaces and human-computer interaction, 3D graphics techniques for VEs, 3D modeling and level of detail, evaluation of VEs, VE software systems and standards, collaborative and distributed VEs. Includes hands-on experience with VE hardware and software.

CS 5764 - Information Visualization

Examine computer-based strategies for interactive visual presentation of information that enable people to explore, discover, and learn from vast quantities of data. Learn to analyze, design, develop, and evaluate new visualizations and tools. Discuss design principles, interaction strategies, information types, and experimental results. Research-oriented course surveys current literature, and group projects contribute to the state of the art.

CS 5774 - User Interface Software

Survey of software architectures to build user interfaces, particularly focused on graphical user interfaces. Includes the design and implementation of user interfaces, the use of object-oriented application frameworks, software architecture for command undo, document management, layout managers, customized components, and separation of concerns in user interface software architectures. Discussion of research and advanced topics in User Interface Software.

CS 6724 - Advanced Topics in Human-computer Interaction

Addresses a specific advanced topic of current research interest in the area of human-computer interaction (HCI). Research monographs and papers from the current literature will be used as a source of material too new yet to be in a textbook. Student participation in a seminar-style format. Each offering of this course will address a different subtopic area of HCI. May be repeated for credit. I

Fluid 960 Grid System, created by Stephen Bau, based on the 960 Grid System by Nathan Smith. Released under the GPL / MIT Licenses.