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.

Degree Requirements

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).

Technology for Social Good Lab

card sorting

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.

  • 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


HCD faculty are trained in learning sciences, social computing, and design and are experienced in applying that knowledge in areas such as software development, curriculum design, education technology, and game development to address social issues that plague society. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty that use Chicago's urban context to inform their research.

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.

Neighborhood Watch 

Research Spotlight

Dr. Sheena Erete was recently awarded an NSF grant for her project “Investigating the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Supporting Violence Interruption.” Dr. Erete and students in the Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab are partnering with the NGO Cure Violence to design and develop a mobile application that provides violence interruption workers with the most effective intervention strategies based on data from over a decade of prior inventions and social support.

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 including (but not limited to) the Prototype, Iterate, and Play Space (PIPS); Technology for Social Good Research and Design Lab; and the Wellness and Health Enhancement and Engineering Lab (WHEEL).

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

Contact Graduate Admission

Request Information


Ask a Student Ambassador