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I am looking for good MA programs in HCI or Human Factors with HCI in the US or UK. I have found many programs but am finding it difficult to assess how good each program is. Can anyone offer advice on the best way to evaluate programs? What programs have a good reputation in the field?

One of the programs I'm looking at is the UCL HCI with Ergonomics MA in London http://www.uclic.ucl.ac.uk/. Does anyone know anything about this program?

What other MA programs do people recommend and why? (Please include the 'why'! Simply listing programs is not very helpful (for anyone who does want a list: www.hfes.org/web/Students/grad_programs.html www.ergonomics.org.uk/page.php?s=10&p=81))

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Just to clarify: you are definitely looking for engineering programs, not for design programs, right? –  Sascha Brossmann Mar 25 '10 at 22:51

6 Answers 6

Is there a reason you're restricting the search to UK and US only?

Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, has a graduate program in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), that does research into: - vizualization & multimodal interfaces, - affective UI design (trust & visual appeal), - orientation & navigation in real and virtual worlds and other stuff too.

http://hot.carleton.ca/hotlab/research/projects/

If it were me, I'd be evaluating the Masters program based on the quality/reputation of my thesis advisor (professor) that publishes in my area of interest and specialization.

OK, I'm biased towards Carleton U., graduating from their undergrad program.

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Be aware that over time, a Masters course can change in nature, even though it bears the same name. For example, the content can become dated and lecturers can leave. Or - an injection of new blood and a new syllabus can bring radical changes...

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I totally agree with Harry. The MSc course that I did at UCL is completely different from the current programme. When speaking to people who have graduated recently it seems, as Harry said, that it only bears the same name. –  Ofer Deshe Oct 24 '09 at 18:33
    
Can you expand on how the course has changed? In a positive or negative way? I will be attending UCL for the HCI masters in Sept 2010, but now I am a little concerned! –  Anonymous Apr 16 '10 at 2:12

Bentley University in Waltham Massachusetts has a very good Human Factors in Information Design graduate program, leading to a Master of Science degree: www.bentley.edu/ms/mshfid.cfm

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You might want to take a look at the Human Centred Computing Systems MSc at The University Of Sussex:

(Bias warning: I used to help out teaching on this back in the early 90's, and Sussex was where I got my undergrad degree)

I like it for a couple of reasons:

  • They've got a some really nice multidisciplinary stuff going with the cognitive psychologists / anthropologists / cognitive philosophers
  • They encourage folk to actually write software - and learn a little about how that's done

both very useful skills for UX folk to have in my opinion.

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I studied the MSc in HCI with Ergonomics at the UCL Interaction Centre, the course is split into four terms over a 12 month period (full time) with the first term covering the two ergonomics modules one of which is a two week project where you work in teams to solve a task such as design and build a mockup for a walk up and use kiosk for a book shop. This term will set the foundation for the following three terms (including the dissertation)

The second term contains modules that you can select based on your interests such as organisational informatics (understanding how a complex system is perceived and how social structures exist in large organisations such as the many stakeholders of an e-learning system in a university) or affective interaction (how peoples emotions play a role in the design and use of systems). This term ends with another two week team project like the previous terms ergonomics project but this time you are required to apply all of the skills gained from the previous two terms to design and test a concept such as a navigation device for ramblers aged between 50 and 65.

The third term is largely a solo effort where you will have several projects to complete.

Finally the fourth and last term is the three month long dissertation which you could do on a topic of your choice, students from my year studied topics such as how to accurately measure emotions during game play, ethnographic studies on the use of GPS devices.

One of the most valuable parts of this course is a weekly seminar with speakers from organisations in the UX and ergonomics fields. This gives you the opportunity to network with potential employers and also to speak with them off the record and ask questions that perhaps you may not normally have the chance to ask.

On LinkedIn I have a group for fellow UCLIC alumni ( http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1086337&trk=hb_side_g ) so if you are a member of LinkedIn that may be a good place to stop by and ask some of the members directly.

If you have any specific questions about the course please feel welcome to contact me directly

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The UCL HCI course is one of the top courses in the UK and has excellent reputation. Some of the best practitioners in the UK are graduates of this programme. However, different courses might have a slightly different focus. User experience is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of activities and specialities. Some courses are more design focused, others might focus on research. Perhaps you should evaluate what aspects of the work are more exciting for you and evaluate each programme accordingly.

In my previous job I have interviewed many candidates for user experience consulting positions. UCL and RCA graduates were frequently the strongest applicants.

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