Master of Science in Human-Centered Design

Develop your technical expertise in the University of Michigan-Flint’s (UM-Flint) Master of Science (MS) in Human-Centered Design (HCD). Our graduate program emphasizes experiential learning to strengthen your in-demand skills and support your professional growth and post-graduate success.

Through the HCD master’s program, you develop a deep understanding of users’ needs and behaviors, the principles of user experience design, and their relevance to current tech advancements. Then, you expand your expertise by choosing from three concentration options—Human-Centered AI, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and Game Development

No matter your familiarity with computer science, our master’s program offers several fast-track options to get you up to speed and on your way to becoming a tech expert. Additionally, with the convenience of 100% online or in-person formats, you can earn your UM master’s degree and level up your career from anywhere in the world.

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Human-centered design (HCD) is an innovative approach that prioritizes people’s needs, behaviors, and experiences in the technology design process. Its purpose is to ensure that tech designs are intuitive, useful, and meaningful to users, leading to impactful and user-friendly products or services.

Wherever you are, your UM graduate degree is always within reach. With our 

cutting-edge cyber classrooms, you can work toward your MS in Human-Centered Design from anywhere. We offer a 100% convenient online format, in-person learning, or a combination of both. 

UM-Flint’s cyber classrooms use various technologies, including an advanced robotic audio-video recording system, digital whiteboards, and document cameras with an intelligent autonomous recording system to capture instruction and course material clearly. Furthermore, even when learning online you can cultivate meaningful relationships with faculty through Canvas, allowing you to ask questions and receive constructive feedback. 

Flexible learning options

In the MS in Human-Centered Design program, you are not confined to traditional classroom learning. Instead, our program empowers you to put theoretical knowledge into practice by participating in real-world technology projects. Through this skill-based learning, you partner with your classmates to craft innovative solutions to industry problems and drive imagination. Not only does this enhance your marketability, but you also develop essential interpersonal skills, making you a more effective team member and leader.

As a graduate student in the human-centered design program, you play an active role in the ongoing research of our world-renowned faculty. Through your collaboration with professors and lecturers, you receive personalized mentorship from experts, gain insight into trends in UX design, and start making an impact on the future of tech, which can profoundly impact your academic success and professional trajectory. 

Meet our computer science faculty and explore their current research interests.

Covers up to 100% of the difference between the residential and non-residential graduate tuition rates.

In UM-Flint’s MS in Human-Centered Design program, you can tailor your master’s degree to align with your professional aspirations. To complete our HCD master’s program, you must earn a minimum of 32 credit hours, which consist of the following:

  • 12 credits of core courses
  • 12 credits of concentration of choice
  • 8 credits of electives or thesis

Your core graduate classes focus on user experience research and design. Through a blend of theory and application, you learn how to collect user data through interviewing focus groups and creating surveys. You also gain experience in analyzing research findings and developing action-based insights that can inform tech design. Then, you learn how to translate user data into interaction and technology prototyping, ensuring you meet users’ needs and expectations, alleviate pain points, and create an intuitive user experience.

Beyond the fundamentals of human-centered design, you finetune your expertise by selecting one of three contraction options, all of which provide you with highly focused training and in-demand technical competencies. Whichever concentration track you choose, you become skilled in problem-solving, providing technical support and training, and managing software and hardware.

Review the MS in Human-Centered Design curriculum

Concentration Options

  • Human-Centered AI: This concentration track empowers you with deep knowledge about designing AI systems that interact with humans (AI-Robot interactions), Human interaction (UX design), ethics, bias in AI design, and beyond.
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality: This concentration equips you with the skills required to design and develop games and AR/VR systems, as well as different applications in manufacturing and automotive.
  • Game Development: In this concentration track, you explore how to use game engines to build games and elements within them by writing code based on designers’ concepts.

Thesis or Non-thesis Track

Whichever concentration you select, you also must choose between the thesis track or non-thesis track to complete the degree requirements.

In the thesis track, you enroll in eight credits of thesis research courses. Additionally, you must select a faculty member who serves as your advisor, compose a research paper, and conduct an oral defense of your thesis before a faculty panel.

In the non-thesis track, you must complete eight additional credits in graduate-level human-centered design electives. 

4+1 Degree Pathway

If you are a current UM-Flint student interested in pursuing graduate studies, we encourage you to explore the Joint BS/MS in Human-Centered Design, which allows you to simultaneously earn undergraduate and graduate credits to earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

At the University of Michigan-Flint, we provide a dedicated academic advising expert to help guide your educational journey toward the MS in Human-Centered Design. 

For any questions about earning your master’s in human-centered design, contact Aubree Kraut at [email protected] or 810-766-3121. Or, book an appointment today.

As a fast-growing field, the tech industry consistently needs skilled professionals who are well-versed in creating a seamless user experience and improving product designs and functionality. With your master’s degree in Human-Centered Design from UM-Flint, you are equipped with advanced technical and creative thinking skills, allowing you to pursue leadership positions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in digital design is projected to grow 16% over the next decade, exceeding the average growth rate in the United States. For web developers, the median annual wage for the related occupations is $84,960. Meanwhile, the median annual wage for web and digital interface designers is $98,540.

With the technical skills you develop, you excel in career roles such as:

  • AR/VR designer
  • Product designer
  • Product manager
  • UX designer 
  • Web designer
$84,960 median annual wage for web developer source

Admission Requirements (No GRE Required)

When applying to the Master of Science in Human-Centered Design program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science from a regionally accredited institution.
    • Preference is given to students with a background in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM). Applicants who lack eligibility requirements in coursework (Algorithms, Programming, and Data Structure) will be required to complete courses from the prerequisite list by taking the online non-credit certificates option or the Fast-Track option.
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale. Applicants who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements may be offered admission. In such cases, admission depends heavily on other indices of the student’s ability to handle graduate-level work. These might include a strong performance GPA in the major and/or other experiences that are clearly indicative of academic ability.
  • Applicants with a three-year bachelor’s degree from an institution outside of the US may be eligible for admission at the University of Michigan-Flint if it is determined through the credential review process that the three-year degree completed is equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree.
  • The University of Michigan will consider a three-year degree from India equivalent to a US bachelor’s degree if the degrees have been earned with a minimum of 60% marks and the awarding institutions have been accredited by India’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a grade of “A” or better.

State Authorization for Online Students

In recent years, the federal government has emphasized the need for universities and colleges to comply with the distance education laws of each state. If you are an out-of-state student intending to enroll in this program, please visit the State Authorization page to verify the status of UM-Flint with your state.

At UM-Flint, we aim to keep our application process streamlined but comprehensive, ensuring you can excel in the program. When applying, please submit the materials listed below:

Please email all additional application materials to [email protected] or deliver them to the Office of Graduate Programs at 251 Thompson Library.

This program can be completed 100% online or on-campus with in-person courses. Students living abroad may also complete this program online in their home country. Other nonimmigrant visa holders currently in the United States please contact the Center for Global Engagement at [email protected]

As a new academic degree, this program is not currently accepting applications from international students seeking an F-1 visa. This program will accept applications from international students who are required to have an I-20 as soon as authorization from the Department of Homeland Security is received.

Applicants who attended an institution in India where the language of instruction was exclusively English cannot use that method exclusively to meet the English proficiency requirements. Applicants who attended a verified English-medium institution must also submit an approved test score or use one of the other approved methods. Those with a 5.0 IELTS score will be eligible for standard admission and will have no further English proficiency requirement; those below a 5.0 IELTS score will not be admitted.

*If you are a US citizen or permanent resident and wish to waive this requirement, you may make your case to the director of the program. The director, in turn, must make the case to the Dean of Graduate Programs. You must provide sufficient evidence that you have the requisite English proficiency.

**The university reserves the right to require an applicant to provide other evidence of English proficiency if independent sources cannot verify that the language of instruction was exclusively English.

When applying to the human-centered design graduate program, please submit all application materials to the Office of Graduate Programs by 5 p.m. on the day of the application deadline. 

This program offers rolling admission during the fall, winter, and summer semesters. To be considered for admission, all application materials must be submitted on or before:

  • Fall – May 1 (guaranteed consideration*)
  • Fall – August 1 (if space permits)
  • Winter – December 1
  • Summer – April 1 

*You must have a complete application by the early deadline to guarantee application eligibility for scholarships, grants, and research assistantships.

Estimated Tuition and Cost

No matter what your academic or career goals may be, UM-Flint and our Office of Financial Aid work hard to make your graduate education possible. As a UM student, you benefit from competitive tuition rates and valuable financial aid resources that can help you reach your potential.

Learn more about UM-Flint’s tuition and financial aid

Shape the Future of Digital Experience by Earning Your Master’s in Human-Centered Design

With your Master of Science in Human-Centered Design from the University of Michigan-Flint, you play an integral role in crafting user-focused solutions to the tech industry’s present-day challenges. Through our skill-based curriculum and an emphasis on real-world experience, you graduate with strong critical thinking and analytical skills and the expertise needed to elevate your career.

Ready to become a leader in the tech industry? Begin your UM-Flint application today! Or, if you have questions about our graduate programs, we encourage you to request more information.