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HCD Certificate Program Details


An introduction to human-centered approaches to design benefits your graduate research and broadens your career prospects. Whether studying to be a computer scientist, interaction designer, learning scientist, or humanist, your work ultimately impacts real people. Taking users seriously improves how projects are conceived and executed. The ability to collaborate across disciplines is a high-demand skill set in the private and public sectors and higher education careers, because institutions recognize that creative solutions to the most important societal challenges requires integrating aesthetics, analysis, and technological development.

In the Certificate Option, students learn the core ideas of HCD, explore how it applies in their own professional domains, and discover how their own research connects with projects in other disciplines. The Certificate is offered through the Graduate School. To learn more, see its website.

Admission Requirements

Any student who has gained admission to a graduate program at Virginia Tech is eligible to take part in the Human-Centered Design (HCD) Certificate program.

Course Requirements

The graduate certificate requires completion of 12 credit hours, with 6 credits prescribed, and 6 credits selected from two of three areas. Take both courses from the ‘Required’ section below, then choose at least 1 more course from any two of the areas 1, 2, and 3 for a total of 12 credits. (The elective courses should be in different areas.) This list is subject to change based on available offerings.

Upon completing the coursework, apply for the certificate using this form.


GRAD 5134: Topics in Interdisciplinary Research (when HCD topic is offered)

CS 5724: Models and Theories of Human-Computer Interaction



ART 5524: Topics in Human Centered Design (studio)

ENGE 5024: Design in Engineering Education and Practice

STS 6614: Adv. TS: (Cultures of Design; Origins of Innovation)



CS/ISE 5714: Usability Engineering

CS 5734: Computer-Supported Collaborative Work

EDIT 5234: Intro to the Learning Sciences

ENGE 5404: Assessment Techniques in Engineering Education

ISE 5604: Human Information Processing I

ISE 6984: Cognitive Task and Work Analysis

PSYCH 5354: Information Processing

STS 6244: TS: History, Culture, and Politics of the Internet



ART 5714: TS: Creative Code for Art & Design; TS: Interaction Design

CS 5764: Information Visualization

CS 5774: User Interface Software

CS 6724: Advanced Topics In Human­ Computer Interaction

ECE 5564: Wearable + Ubiquitous Computing

EDIT 5614: Digitally Mediated Learning

EDIT 5624: Interactive Learning Media, Arts, and Design

EDIT 5634: Interactive Learning Media Development

ENGL 5074: Introduction to Digital Humanities

ENGL 6344: Rhetoric in Digital Environments

ISE 6604: Human Factors in Visual Display Systems

ISE 6614: Human Computer Systems

ME 5644: Rapid Prototyping


Human-Computer Interaction – related certificate program

For graduate students interested in the design of interactive systems, there are two graduate certificate: the Human-Centered Design certificate and the Human-Computer Interaction certificate.

The HCD certificate program focuses on creating the “new” – that is, design. It does so through the application of a “human-centered” paradigm; some key human-centered methodologies are participatory design and user experience design. Designing this way can be applied in many areas from consumer products to computer interfaces.

The HCI certificate program, in contrast, does not emphasize (or even require) design. It focuses specifically on computer and information system interfaces. There are many ways of knowing what constitutes a “good” interface and the certificate program approaches the question using research, evaluation and design ways of knowing.

Thus, the two certificate programs complement one another. For PhD students in particular, it is possible to attain both certificates with careful planning of additional course work and selection of thesis or dissertation topics.


All students can take the HCD courses at any time, but they should not count them on their master’s degree plan of study if they are going to earn a master’s along the way to the PhD. Doing so would result in triple counting of the certificate credits (certificate, master’s POS, doctoral POS) which is not allowed.