Coming Fall 2017

Ph.D. in Human Centered Design

The Ph.D. in Human Centered Design will prepare graduates to advance the field of digital technology and media design by taking a transdisciplinary and collaborative approach that blends theory with practice. The program embraces a broad diversity of scholarly traditions and creative practices that include design, learning sciences, computer science, human-computer interaction, game design and development, and psychology.


The Foundation Development Phase

Students entering the program will begin by completing the necessary core and advanced courses and participating in small-scale research projects led by their faculty advisors. The purpose of the foundation development phase is to ensure that students have the appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to formulate relevant research questions as well as develop skills for conducting research.

Design and Production Phase

During this phase, students will work with their advisors to select nine specialized courses to enhance their theoretical and methodological skills such that they are able to effectively explore their research interests.

Research Phase

While students begin doing research as soon as they arrive in the program, during the research phase students will focus on completing their qualifying examinations, candidacy, and dissertation phases.

  • Breadth Examination: All students by the end of the second year in the program will take the breadth examination to assess their command of core concepts and principles.
  • Depth Examination: Under the supervision of their faculty advisor and assisted by two additional faculty members, students will lead a small research project from inception to publication of the results in one of the following areas: human-centered design, learning sciences, game design and development, and interactive media.
  • Candidacy Phase: This phase begins with successful defense of the dissertation proposal based on a focused research project.
  • Dissertation Phase: All students must complete a dissertation that provides a significant contribution to the student's intended area of expertise. The doctoral dissertation must demonstrate the student's ability to engage in significant research that is recognized by an academic community as exhibited by:
    • Relevant and significant research question(s) to a technology-based field
    • In-depth literature review of relevant research
    • A conceptual framework that serves as the foundation for the research done
    • Significant research findings and contributions

Course Requirements

Ph.D. students are expected to complete at least 60 credits of graduate-level courses. The length of time students spend in the program will vary depending on the student's background. We anticipate that students will finish on average in 4-5 years.