MHCI Frequently Asked Questions

Program & Curriculum FAQS:

How many students are currently in the program?

Fall 2016 matriculation numbers: 50 MHCI and 14 Portugal Program.

The HCII is in the School of Computer Science. I do not have a strong programming background. May I still apply?

Yes! We encourage you to apply without having a strong programming background. We welcome students from many disciplines outside of computer science (e.g., design, psychology, business, etc.) and these disciplines do not necessarily include programming courses. However, students are expected to demonstrate a proficiency in programming that is normally met through an introductory course in C, C++, Pascal or JAVA. Your programming proficiency will be evaluated during the prerequisite review process, and you may be required to take an additional programming course before you can continue in the program.

Will I have to take a lot of programming courses?

Once you have met the programming place-out, you will be expected to take either Programming Usable Interfaces or Software Architectures for User Interfaces as part of your degree requirements. The former course is intended for non-technical students, while the latter course is intended for students with a technical background.

I don’t have all the place-out courses. May I still apply and be considered for admittance?

Yes, applicants may be admitted to the program before satisfying one or more place-outs. Place-out courses may be completed at Carnegie Mellon after matriculation, but doing so may extend the length of the program. View a sample schedule of classes to see how students can manage their required and elective courses during their year with us.

May I work on my MHCI degree part-time?

Yes. Many students choose to work full-time while completing their program as part-time student. However, the HCII Project II course must be taken in the summer session after HCII Project I, and students must be enrolled full-time during at this time. Please note that students must be residents of the United States in order to enroll part-time in the MHCI program.

I am a current student at CMU. Would I be eligible for the accelerated master's degree?

Yes. The Accelerated Master of Human-Computer Interaction degree is for Carnegie Mellon undergraduate students who are completing a second major in HCI and are taking the three core HCI courses as well as a 400-level elective. More information about the accelerated program can be found under our undergraduate pages online.

Does the department provide career counseling or job placement?

Carnegie Mellon has multiple career service resources for our students including career fairs, networking and conferences within Carnegie Mellon and the School of Computer Science. The HCII also hosts HCII-specific career events including recruitment sessions, portfolio reviews, and networking events throughout the year. Our students graduate with a coveted skillset and have excellent job placement records.

What kind of jobs can I get with an MHCI degree and who employs HCI graduates?

Our graduates have successfully obtained careers as Usability Specialists, Interface Specialists, User Interface Designers, Research Programmers, Project Directors and Usability Engineers for companies such as eBay, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Sandia, TiVo, and many other companies.

Admissions FAQs:

What are my chances of getting in?

The 2014-2015 application cycle had an 18% acceptance rate. Some years are higher and some years are lower.  

May I apply for admission starting in the spring instead of the fall?

No, we only process admissions once a year. Applications are due January 31, 2017 for admission in the fall term of the same year.

I just finished my undergraduate work. Should I apply for the Master of Human-Computer Interaction program first as preparation for my Ph.D. work?

The MHCI program is not intended to serve as preparation for our Ph.D. program. The MHCI program is intended to teach the skills necessary for professional practice in various HCI related careers. The Ph.D. program, on the other hand, is designed to prepare you to be an HCI researcher. If you intend to apply to both programs, then you must submit two separate applications.

If I am not accepted for the HCII Ph.D. program will I automatically be considered for admission to the MHCI program instead?

No. Because of the different educational goals of each program, their admissions processes are separate and applications are not shared between the two programs. As noted in the previous question, the two programs are designed to address different goals.

May I apply to both the MHCI program and Ph.D. program?

Yes, you may apply to both programs, but students usually prefer one to the other. The programs have been designed to address substantially different goals, as stated above.

Should I visit before I apply (and will that help my chances of being admitted)?

Visiting the department before you apply does not improve one’s chances of admission. The HCII receives numerous requests every year from applicants for tours and visits of the department. While we certainly do not discourage prospective students from visiting the campus, we do not have the department resources to arrange individualized agendas and tours to accommodate such requests nor do we offer pre-admission assessments or interviews. Students who have been admitted will be invited to visit during the spring Open House where the opportunity to meet with faculty and current students will be provided.

Do my chances of getting admitted increase if I submit my application early?

No, all applications are reviewed as a group once the application deadline has passed. Submitting early does not increase your chances of admittance.

I have been out of school for some time. May I submit reference letters from my employers instead of from instructors?

Yes, you may send us letters from your employers. Applicants should ask for recommendations from people who know them and their work very well.

Do I have to submit GRE scores?

Everyone who applies MUST have taken the GRE General Test within the last five years. Scores should be sent directly to the HCII using Institution code, 2074; Department code, 0402.

Do I have to take the GRE Subject test?

Applicants to the MHCI program are not required to take any GRE Subject tests.

How high do my GRE scores need to be?

There is no minimum GRE required, as each group of students varies year to year. We review all materials in a student's application and consider each in assessing admission to the program. 

What are the GRE and TOEFL institution and department codes?

GRE: Institution code, 2074; Department code, 0402. TOEFL: Institution code, 4256; Department code, 78

Do I have to take the TOEFL or IELTS?

The TOEFL or IELTS is required of all students whose native language is NOT English. It does not matter whether you have earned your undergraduate or graduate degree in the United States or in your native land. Your application will not be considered without the TOEFL test.

What is the minimum TOEFL requirement? IELTS?

For the iBT, minimum score required is 100 with a minimum score of 25 on the subsections. For the Computer Based Test (CBT), a minimum score of 250 is required. For the Paper Based Test (PBT), a minimum score of 600 is required. For the IELTS, minimum score of 8.5 with no subscore below 8. 

Do I still need to submit a TOEFL/IELTS score if I have a degree from a U.S. educational institution?

Yes, the TOEFL or IELTS is still required. However, you may include a copy of your previous score report if it is less than two years old. Your application will NOT be considered complete without the TOEFL or IELTS test.

What if I have taken the GMAT?

The MHCI program does not accept the GMAT.

If I am accepted, can I defer my acceptance to the following year?

No, students who are accepted into the MHCI program may not defer their acceptance.

I applied last year. Can you reuse my application materials?

No, you will be required to re-submit your application for this year's application cycle. The only exception is for students who were accepted into the previous cohort, declined their spot and pushed their application to the following year. We will have a record of this and will review your application in the next application cycle. (See the above FAQ.)

I submitted my application. When will I hear back?

Applicants will receive an admissions decision by March 15th of that application cycle.

Tuition & Financial Aid FAQs:

Is financial aid available?

No, the HCII is not able to provide financial aid, but there are often fellowships and grants available to graduate students. It is up to the students to pursue these options on their own.

Where can I find information on graduate student scholarships and financial aid?

An excellent source for general information on financial aid can be found at FinAid. The Carnegie Mellon Fellowships and Scholarships Office is also available for assistance. The HUB at Carnegie Mellon has more general information on graduate student financial assistance.

Do you have a list of scholarships that students have won in the past?

No, the HCII does not keep public records of this information. However, students who are accepted are invited to an Open House where they have the opportunity to meet the current cohort and ask questions.

Master of Human-Computer Interaction Portugal FAQs:

What is the difference between MHCI and the Master of Human-Computer Interaction Portugal degree?

The Master of Human-Computer Interaction Portugal is a degree in partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Madeira, located in Portugal.

The MHCI degree is a separate program from the Portugal program; however, students in the Portugal program will take their first semester in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University with the MHCI students. The second two semesters are completed in Portugal at the University of Madeira. Students in the Portugal program do graduate with a Master of Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University. You can learn more about this unique program online.

Can I apply to both the MHCI program and the Portugal program?

Yes, applicants can apply to both programs. However, the Portugal program is not accepting applicants for the 2017 application cycle.

What happens if I am accepted into both programs?

If you are accepted into both programs, you will only be able to commit to one program.

I applied to both programs, but only was admitted to the Portugal program. Could I join the MHCI program instead?

The admissions criteria and process for the Master of HCI Portugal program is separate and independent of the MHCI program. Your admission or rejection to the MHCI program is not influenced by your acceptance or rejection from other programs.

Additional questions?
Please email nicolewi [at] cs.cmu.edu (subject: MHCI%20Application%20Question) .