Master of Science in Human-Centered Computing (HCC)


Human-Centered Computing (HCC) focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of interactive information technology systems that are both usable and accessible. The goal of Human-Centered Computing is an understanding of how humans interact with information technologies and to use this information to improve the lives of those individuals.

The MS program in HCC is an interdisciplinary program that has been training HCC practitioners and researchers since 2007. The program has two tracks: a Practitioner Track for those who wish to become user experience, information architecture, or usability professionals and a Research Track for those who are interested in pursuing a Master’s Thesis and possibly apply to a PhD program. Graduates from our program have moved on to be UX directors in both government and industrial positions, and graduates from the research track have joined top HCC PhD research programs.

The program typically takes full-time students (two to three courses per semester) two years to complete, and students in both tracks must complete 30 credits (10 3-hour courses).

This is a STEM designated program.


The program is open to students from various disciplinary backgrounds (Psychology, Technology, Visual Arts, English). Students are admitted to the HCC MS degree program in the Fall or Spring semesters. All application materials must be on file in the IS department for expeditious review by the deadlines listed below. Incomplete files will be kept open for the following semester admission decisions.

  • Spring semester: October 1
  • Fall semester:
    International Applicants – April 1
    Domestic Applicants – May 1
Apply Now

You can apply as a non-degree seeking student to take up to two graduate courses without being admitted into either the MS or the PhD programs. Non-degree seeking students can obtain application materials from the Graduate School’s website. Permission to register in graduate courses is dependent upon seat availability.

Non-degree seeking students can obtain application materials from the Graduate School’s website. Upon admission, non-degree students can take up to 2 IS courses with permission. However, permission to register is dependent upon seat availability.

Back to top

Academic Admissions Requirements

  1. A bachelor’s/undergraduate degree from an accredited university (3 year bachelor’s degrees are accepted).
  2. An undergraduate GPA above 3.2.
  3. All applicants are expected to read, speak, write, and understand the English language fluently. Those whose native language is not English are required to take a language proficiency test. The only exception to this requirement is for students who have earned a post-secondary degree from an accredited university in the United States. Students who have received post-secondary degrees from a U.S. institution and whose native language is not English may be required to demonstrate proficiency in English.

    We currently accept Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), and PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English). The minimum acceptable combined TOEFL score is 550 (written), 213 (computer based) or 80 (iBT-Internet based). The TOEFL code for UMBC is 5835. For IELTS, the minimum acceptable total score is 6.5. A minimum score of 53 is required on the PTE Academic test. We will also accept Duolingo English test. The minimum required score is 115.

  4. GREs are not required for the MS Program
  5. Statement of Purpose
  6. Three letters of recommendation
  7. Electronic Transcripts: If you have electronic transcripts, send them to Kathie Nee ( for domestic applications and to Scott Philips ( for international applications
  8. The UMBC Graduate School will accept official WES ICAP Course-by-Course evaluations as fulfillment of the requirement for official transcripts in the admissions process.
  9. All application materials must be submitted by the deadline. Only completed applications will be considered.

Back to top

MS Degree Requirements

Students have to complete 30 credits (10 3-hour courses). Fifteen credits of core courses have to be completed by all students. The additional fifteen credits of elective courses students take depend on the track:

Core courses (15 credits)

  • HCC 613 – Graphical User Interface Design & Implementation
  • HCC 629 – Fundamentals of Human-Centered Computing
  • HCC 636 – Structured Systems Analysis and Design
  • HCC 710 – Graphic Design for Interactive Systems
  • HCC 729 – Human-Centered Design

Elective courses (15 credits)

Recommended for Practitioner Track – select five elective courses:

  • HCC/IS 698 – Special Topics
  • HCC 700 – Independent Study in Information Systems
  • HCC 706 – Interfaces for Information Visualization and Retrieval
  • HCC 727 – Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
  • HCC 728 – Online Communities
  • IS 731 – Electronic Commerce
  • HCC 760 – Human-Computer Interaction
  • HCC 761 – Information Systems in Human Behavior

Recommended for Research Track:

  • HCC 760 (3 credits)
  • Master’s Thesis (6 credits)
  • Two electives from the list above OR one independent study and one elective (6 credits)

Back to top

Additional Details:

  1. This program is considered a STEM program.
  2. Each MS student is assigned a faculty advisor when admitted to the program.
  3. No more than 2 electives prior to completion of 5 core courses can be taken without prior permission of an advisor.
  4. Graduate students may take no more than 3 classes per semester without prior permission from their advisor AND the Graduate Program Director.
  5. MS students must maintain a B average, (i.e., 3.0 GPA).
  6. Graduate students may be recommended for dismissal after earning three Cs (this includes C+, C, or C-), one D or one F in any graduate level course.
  7. MS students may not count courses that are audited as part of the MS program and may not take courses under the Pass/Fail option.
  8. All graduate students should consult the University Graduate School Catalog, which contains the University’s regulations and procedures for earning degrees.
  9. MS students who graduated from the IS BS program must substitute an additional elective for HCC 636.
  10. If you took any cross listed courses, you cannot take the course at the graduate level for credit towards your degree.
  11. MS students may take ONE independent study which counts as an elective, usually taken toward the end of the degree. In order for a MS student to take an independent study course, the student must submit the Proposed Independent Study Form.
  12. No more than two elective courses may be taken outside of the courses offered by your program. Formal approval from your advisor is required before external courses can be taken. Courses taken from the online MS program’s curriculum do not count in this category, they are in addition to the two external courses. Courses offered in the on-campus IS program and in the HCC program are not considered external and can be taken by students enrolled in either program.
  13. Of the four IS MS fundamental courses (face-to-face: IS 600, 610, 650, online: IS 607), HCC MS students can only take IS 600 and/or IS 610 as an elective for credit. IS 650 and 607 will not count toward their degree. If a student took IS 410 at UMBC, they cannot take IS 610.
  14. Students in the Human-Centered Computing Master’s program can take up to two courses from the online MS program as electives as part of their program. They can only take an online course if the face-to-face equivalent of the course is not offered during that semester. These two courses are in addition to the two courses that can be taken outside of the IS Department. Online MS students will have priority when registering for the online courses.
  15. A student may elect to do a masters thesis, in which case two electives may be used for thesis research credits. If a student elects to do a thesis, the student must choose a thesis advisor from the department and form a three member committee that oversees and accepts the thesis. An MS thesis must to be pre-approved by the advisor and submitted to the thesis committee at least four weeks prior to the proposal or final defense.

Back to top

M.S. in Human-Centered Computing (HCC) FAQs:

Yes, this is a STEM program.

You can view the program requirements in the Degree Requirements section above.

The Master’s in Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program follows UMBC’s standard tuition and fee rates for graduate students. You can find full information on the Student Business Services website. You can calculate your estimated out-of-pocket expenses with the Tuition Calculator.

No, GREs are not required.

For a full time student, the average completion time is 1.5-2 years.

The department typically does not offer teaching assistantships to M.S. students. Once enrolled, you may be able to find other opportunities on campus.

Contact the graduate school,, and request that they change your application to the M.S. in Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program.

UMBC’s institution code is 5835. You do not need to use a department code.

Information about this and other admission requirements can be found in the Admissions Requirements section above.

Yes! Students who come from a non-computing undergraduate background are eligible. You may be required to take an introductory programming course.


If you need any further information, please contact Shannon Carey (Keegan),

Back to top