I'm wrapping up a masters in CS and already have half the credit hours needed for a degree in Human Factors. I just recently discovered how useful understanding about cognition can help someone that creates user interfaces and am thirsty for more knowledge in the area.

For me, it seems that having both a masters in Human Factors and CS would be very marketable but would there be jobs out there that would allow me to apply both?

Meaning what I would really like to do is take the requirements for some application, apply different Human Factors theories( GOMS, CE+ ) to developing the interface, maybe do cognitive walk through with users to optimize the UI, then develop the application.

Do jobs out there exist like this? The reason I ask, is because I'm wondering if most places just want you to be either a Human Factors Expert or a Developer but not both.

  • I'm also interested in developing my own software and a little of an entrepreneur spirit.
    – Joey Green
    Nov 5, 2012 at 15:22
  • I'd be wary of the terminology - in the UK the term 'human factors' tends to be used for courses and jobs which have a high 'safety' component (ie avoiding industrial accidents).
    – PhillipW
    Nov 5, 2012 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


This is a topic always undergoing debate. I have friends who say you can’t be both a developer and a User Experience engineer. I think this view is old school and a sign of fear not interested in or wanting to learn user experience. It’s like saying that you can’t build a house you have made the blueprints for.

Others, like myself, know that it’s perfectly OK to be both a developer and a User Experience engineer at the same time on the same project. Development and User Experience rely on each other and enable great software. To me there is no reason why you can’t do both the interface, the interaction and the programming. I do this every day, and my job exist :-)

  • 1
    Yea, I'm a big fan of the 'design build' metaphor in architecture. There are great architects that can't build, and great builders who can't design, but then there's those that do both, which is often a great thing.
    – DA01
    Nov 5, 2012 at 17:45

Human Computer Interaction is a huge and growing part of many Computer Science departments (sometimes becoming it's own department in many US universities) and it really helps you apply Computer Science skills to solve real problems.

Consider this TED Talk by Shyam Sankar about Human Computer Interaction. Solving real-world problems is very often complicated (or dominated) by human factors. Human biases, cognitive limits and social interactions complicate what would be simple problems in pure mathematics. There are plenty of efforts of varying levels of corporate, scientific or humanitarian interest. See also HCI for Peace.

As far as jobs, yes, those skills are very broadly applicable from programming to HCI research to "softer" user experience design, Information Architecture...honestly navigating the assorted job titles is probably the hardest part. There's unfortunately no one job title you can look for here, but skills like that apply to a wide variety of jobs from design to engineering to research.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.