Doctor of Philosophy Human Centered Design

The Ph.D. in Human Centered Design prepares students to become interdisciplinary scholars who can apply a variety of methodological approaches at the intersection of technology, human behavior, and design. Students will be able to explore the use of technologies in the context of complex problems through empirical studies and apply results to the design of innovative technologies, strategies, and practices. By working with world renowned faculty, students will be trained to advance the field of human centered design through participation in research relevant to both academic and practitioner communities. Students will be prepared for careers in academic institutions, industry research labs, and government and civic organizations.

For international students: this is a STEM-designated program, which can qualify you to extend your post-graduation stay in the United States.

Degree Requirements

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Design and conduct research studies including determining the appropriate research methodology for the context and implementing research protocols, and analyzing data.
  • Engage in academic research discussions, including, but not limited to, conducting literature reviews and engaging in academic writing.
  • Translate research findings into principles to design human-centered experiences.
  • Create design-based artifacts and experiences in a chosen disciplinary area.

Career Opportunities

Students will engage in research that integrates theories from various fields, including (but not limited to) social computing, human computer interaction, games and learning sciences.

Students will be prepared for careers in:

  • academia (in departments such as information sciences, computing, design, learning sciences),
  • industry research labs (like Google, Motorola Labs, Lucent Technologies, IBM), and
  • government and civic organizations (e.g., OpenCivic, City of Chicago, Data & Society).
  • Mike DeAnda

    Research areas: games development, game studies, queer studies, gender and media, design research.

  • Denise Nacu

    Research areas: learning environments, learning analytics, educational technology, design methods, broadening participation in STEM

Research Spotlight

Faculty Mike DeAnda and HCD student Gracie Straznickas co-authored " Undetectable Starting Points: Rethinking ‘Passing’ in Level Design through Queerness, Disability, and Roxy’s Got Balls," which was recently published in Design Issues. This project, which uses game studies and human centered design to explore level design through lenses of queerness and disability, stems from year-long ethnographic research conducted during COVID-19 shelter in place ordinances on a group of people who met via Zoom to play bingo with Roxy Wood, a Black, transgender actor.

advisor with student 

Flexible Curriculum

In collaboration with their advisors, HCD students select courses and electives that align with their research interests, allowing for a highly customized program of study. The flexible curriculum also allows students to select courses that will help them become well-rounded scholars who can teach and conduct research in a variety of disciplines.

card sorting 

Technology for Social Good Lab

Students have many opportunities to participate in design and research through various groups and labs at DePaul, like the Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab (TSG). TSG is focused on designing, building, and studying tools with the goal of fostering equitable education and empowerment in urban communities.

Presentation to small group 

Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities

DePaul's urban location and faculty research areas provide HCD PhD students the unique opportunity to work with international scholars in translating theory into practical solutions that impact urban environments. Students work with faculty across the university as well as labs in the School of Design.

Application Deadlines

Enrollment QuarterDomestic Student DeadlineInternational Student Deadline
FallJanuary 15January 15
WinterOctober 1October 1

Admission Process

The graduate application process involves completing an online application, sending in your transcripts and submitting any supplemental material (e.g., letters of recommendation, certifications, etc.). To learn more about your program specific requirements, visit our Graduate Admission page.

Admission Requirements

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