School of Information Sciences - Information Science & Technology Program

Human-Centered Computing Specialization

Human centered computing (HCC) is concerned with the development and management of systems in which the central focus is the user.  The systems should be: aware of the user, easy to use, ubiquitous, and intelligent.  In the final analysis human centered systems improve workplace satisfaction, capitalize on information in the environment, and act on behalf of the user. Current research in HCC focuses on the building of adaptive interfaces, navigation through information spaces, social computing, and the use of virtual environments in information science.

The specialization will provide students with foundational knowledge in three important aspects of human-centered systems – understanding humans and their information needs (covered by a set of cognitive courses), modeling humans and their needs (covered by a set of selected foundation courses) and system-building (covered by systems courses). Students will benefit from a cohesive course of study that will combine the theoretical knowledge gained in a series of foundation and cognitive courses with practical knowledge and system-building experience provided by systems and technology courses, which heavily emphasize group projects and system building.

Within this specialization, you will take courses to help you to understand humans and model their preferences, interests, and knowledge; analyze explicitly and implicitly generated data; and design systems with natural and intuitive interfaces. During the program you will develop a range of human centered information systems. You will have the opportunity to pursue specialized coursework in specific content areas, such as Web interfaces, information visualization, information storage and retrieval, intelligent systems, and Web 2.0 systems, where issues of usability engineering are critical to the success of a project.

The career opportunities for HCC experts include positions such as usability specialists, web site designers, information architects, ergonomic specialists, as well as the developers of other kinds of user-centered systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates growth in HCC-related careers (software engineers, Web developers, information research scientists) to be between 20% - 30% from 2010-20.

Lead Faculty

Courses and Electives

Any changes to the distribution of credits below must be requested, in advance, through petition to the GIST faculty.

Note: Recommended courses have been pre-approved to fulfill the following academic areas. You may choose classes from outside of the list of recommended courses and are encouraged to discuss your options with your academic advisor.

Required Courses

Three (3) Foundations Courses

Two (2) (Human-Centered) Cognitive Systems Courses (in addition to INFSCI 2300)

Four (4) Information Systems and Technology (in addition to INFSCI 2470)

Information Systems Courses can include any course in the Systems and Technology area. The following courses are recommended:

One (1) Elective Course

The elective course could be selected from the list of all courses offered at the School of Information Sciences or beyond. It is recommended that the chosen course will further advance one of the main areas (modeling or human-centered systems) or introduce an application area of interest (education, medicine, business, government, etc.). We also recommend an independent study focused on developing or evaluation of a specific interactive system.


To view the term in which a class is offered, please see the Projected Course Offerings.

Click here for the current plan of study.

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