UX Pickle

How to get into a UX program at CMU?

Reading Time - 4 min

CMU or Carnegie Mellon University has a very strong goal to attract students from all over the world. There are no geographical limitations. My advice would be to choose a program in a university that fits your strengths and weaknesses. Remember, being a good UXer requires you to have other skills besides design. So, if you are coming from another background, you are in a good spot. But make sure to do a lot of research and feel the vibe of the programs.

Lessons as a grad student in CMU HCI — How to become a better UX Designer |  by June Byeon | Medium

Dealing with my own struggles of getting into CMU during my undergrad, I can easily say that one of the most useful things I learned was to identify the right person to ask. Dealing with the right person can mean anything from reaching out to someone who is already in the field to someone who has connections.

Just like any job, the more connections you have, the more successful your application will be. There are a lot of people who are very talented in UX but fail because they don’t know how to approach the right person. I’ve heard a lot of people saying they want to get into a masters program but they don’t know how to network. This is a huge part of getting into a masters program. You need to get to know someone who is already in the field or who can offer you a connection.

The best way to get to know someone like that is to get involved in the community. If you are a student and you are trying to get into a masters program, the best thing you can do is to get the UX community around you involved. There are a lot of local UX meetups and conferences that you can go to. Volunteering is also a great way to meet people outside of your own school.

If you are a student in a university, you can reach out to your school’s design club and get involved right away. I’ve seen a lot of people who are in the process of applying to a masters program and they feel like they don’t have any experience. You have an advantage of getting really close to someone who is already in the field. You can work with them or shadow them. It’s a huge opportunity to get a lot of experience and learn a lot of things.

Let’s take a look at some of the UX programs offered at CMU.

Master of Human-Computer Interaction (MHCI)

Students in the Master of Human Computer Interaction Design (HCI) program take coursework in HCI, interaction design, human factors, programming and systems design, and project management. A capstone project, likely a design project for a real client, is required. So, the program does not focus only on theory, but also on practical design.

Learn more about the program here: https://hcii.cmu.edu/academics/mhci

Accelerated Master of Human-Computer Interaction

CMU launched a new accelerated MHCI program that requires one year of study vs the standard two years. Available only to current CMU undergraduate students majoring in human-computer interaction, students must apply to the Accelerated MHCI program during the fall of their senior year.

Learn more about AMHCI: https://hcii.cmu.edu/academics/hci-undergraduate/accelerated-masters

Master of Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS)

Faculty from the HCII and the Psychology Department in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences lead this 12-month program, which concludes with an 8-month capstone project for an external client. Students may earn a master’s degree in either Educational Technology (ET) or Applied Learning Science (ALS). In addition to the capstone project, students take core curriculum, electives, and thesis seminar, as well as other courses appropriate to their chosen track.

Learn more about the program here: https://hcii.cmu.edu/masters-educational-technology-and-applied-learning-science-program-overview

Master of Computational Data Science (Human-Centered Data Science Concentration)

This is one of the most valuable UX masters these days. The CMU Master of Computational Data Science program offers a concentration in Human-Centered Data Science, which looks at techniques applied to web interaction data, educational data, and other human-centered aspects of data science. The MCDS program is housed in the Language Technologies Institute (LTI) and is a collaboration of faculty from several areas of the School of Computer Science. This is for you if you are a talented UXer and also interested in data science.

Learn more about the program here: https://mcds.cs.cmu.edu/learn-us

  1. Master of Science in Product Management (MSPM)

Product managers lead the teams that bring new products and services to market. The MSPM program teaches students to apply design thinking and systems thinking to create new products and services that customers want. Students learn how to analyze customer needs, collaborate and communicate with cross-functional teams, and identify and manage risks and resource constraints.

Learn more about the program here: https://ms-product-management.cmu.edu/

Ph.D. in HCI

MU’s Ph.D. program in human-computer interaction is rigorous, creative, and deeply interdisciplinary. The program blends elements of computer science, engineering, design, and psychology to train students as leaders in the field of HCI. The doctoral students engage in research from the moment they arrive, and take courses from across the computer sciences, the behavioral sciences, and the field of design. This program is ideal for those who want to pursue an academic career in research, or who want to work as an industry R&D manager, designing and developing new technologies.

Learn more about the program here: https://www.hcii.cmu.edu/academics/phd-hci


So, there you have it. This is not an exhaustive list of every good UX program in the world, but these are some of the most reputable programs. If you are a UXer, you have a great opportunity to build a career in a new and growing field. It is also a great time to make a switch if you are in another profession.

If you are a student looking for a place to start, I recommend you look at these programs and find the one that fits your profile. You can also look at other universities and colleges. If you want more information about UX programs, check them out here: https://uxpickle.com/programs/

Leave a Reply