Master's Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences - Human-Computer Interaction


Master of Science (Technology).
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120 ECTS

Field of Study:

Technology and Engineering


2 years, full-time


An appropriate Bachelor´s degree or an equivalent qualification.

Tuition fees & scholarships:

Yes, for non-EU citizens.
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Language of Instruction:

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Organising school/s:

School of Electrical Engineering
School of Science

Application period:

2018-04-20 - 2018-05-04

Human-Computer Interaction

Become an expert in human-computer interaction!

Rapid advances in hardware, algorithms, software, and networks have opened tremendous new possibilities for human use of information technology. Studies in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) prepare future experts and leaders who use advanced methodology to design and develop information technology for the benefit of people.

Human-Computer Interaction ​is a new crossdisciplinary major that builds on the success of our previous educational efforts: Interactive Technologies track, Information Networks programme and Usability School by Aalto University, and Interactive Systems by University of Helsinki. T​he major has strong links with other majors in the Master's Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences (CCIS).

The major is hosted by Aalto University School of Science and operated jointly with the School of Electrical Engineering in cooperation with the Computer Science department of University of Helsinki. It combines rigorous courses in computational and engineering disciplines with spearheads in user interface technology and interaction design, yet builds also supporting competences in design, empirical research, and entrepreneurship.

Study programme

The overall structure of studies includes:

  • Basics​: Design thinking and methods for engineering and computer science students; User-centered methods, user research, and strategic usability in software engineering.
  • Computational and engineering specialization​: Analysis, modeling, and computational solution of design problems; Data-driven design using computational methods (e.g,. machine learning, optimization); Novel forms of interactive technologies and media; Interactive applications and systems, especially development and design; Interactive visual computing, such as augmented and virtual reality.
  • A capstone project​ and (optional) research immersion including interaction with world-class faculty and companies.

The studies are closely linked with the research done by the teachers, for example, on interactive media, interface technology, behavioral modeling, computational design, and information visualization.


The studies (120 ECTS credits) consist of a major subject studies, Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)
and elective studies (25-35 ECTS). The Human-Computer Interaction major is available in two
forms, short and long. The short major (40-45 ECTS) includes a minor subject (20-25 ECTS).
In the long major (55-65 ECTS), a student chooses courses from the course offerings available in the CCIS.

Mandatory core courses for the long major includes a minimum of 35 credits and for the short major, a minimum of 25 credits from the following list:

CS-C3120 Human-Computer Interaction (5 ECTS)
CS-E4200 Emergent User Interfaces (5 ECTS)
CS-E4840 Information Visualization (5 ECTS)
ELEC-E7890 User Research (5 ECTS)
582666 Designing Interactive Systems (6 ECTS)
CS-E5610 Social Media (5 ECTS)
ELEC-E7260 Machine Learning for Mobile and Pervasive Systems (5 ECTS)
ELEC-E7851/ ELEC-D7010 Computational User Interface Design/Engineering for Humans (5 ECTS)
CS-E5210 Usability Evaluation (5 ECTS)
CS-E5220 User Interface Construction (5 ECTS)

ELEC-E7870 Advanced Topics in User Interfaces (3-5 ECTS) is highly recommended. The mandatory capstone project focuses on either industry (CS-E5200 Design Project, 10 ECTS) or research (ELEC-E7861 Research Project in HCI, 5-10 ECTS).

In addition, there is an in-depth specialization chosen which is custom-tailored and approved via student's personal study plan (HOPS). Topics recommended for specialization include but are not limited to:

  • Interactive web technologies
  • AR and VR
  • CSCW and CMC
  • Usable security
  • Visual and interactive computing
  • Interactive machine learning and AI
  • Interactive data analysis and visualization
  • Game design
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Health technology
  • Quality of experience
  • Neural and brain interfaces
  • Accessibility
  • User-centered software engineering

Learning outcomes

Students are well-equipped to approach modern design problems including challenges in concept creation, interface technologies, algorithms, data, modeling, and communications and networking. However, they are also knowledgeable about the human and social factors affecting the success of interactive systems. They know how to address them in practical interdisciplinary development processes in business context, and have technical skills to experiment and prototype innovative interactions. The programme develops meta-cognitive skills to drive visions of interactive technology, critically evaluate different approaches to interaction, and to develop competences further by following advanced research literature.

Focused curriculum with flexibility

Human-Computer Interaction provides a focused plan for two-year Master’s studies. Students are welcome to personalize their studies and include other topics in computer science and engineering to their degree.

Industry co-operation

The curriculum offers opportunities to create connections to local and international industry (e.g., IxDA Helsinki) already during the studies. Students in this major will become members of the HelsinCHI researcher collective.

Internationalisation and studies abroad

The learning community at Aalto University is international and multicultural, but to educate globally competent graduates, students are encouraged to complete a part of their degree abroad.

Career opportunities

Professionals in HCI are needed in the industry in careers related to user experience, usability, interaction design, human factors, user interface design, human-computer interaction and beyond. The curriculum includes several contact possibilities with the industry in Finland and abroad, in particular in the capstone project. Half of students write their thesis for a company. The programme is particularly well suited for students who will be engaged in start-up companies on interactive products and services as it includes essential knowledge to make products and services successful.

Aalto University has a good reputation among the employers both in Finland and abroad. The graduates will have strong engineering and design skills, as well as other technical and professional skills that enable them to take key roles in an industrial research and development environment. They are well prepared for industrial R&D jobs, user interface engineering and consulting, various expert roles related to interactive technology and user research, and doctoral studies at Aalto University and abroad.

Typical job titles include User Interface Engineer, User Experience Designer, Behavioral Analyst, Interaction Designer, User Interface Deverloper, User Researcher, Information Visualization Specialist,…

Tuition fees and scholarships

Non-EU/EEA students selected in the application round 2018 will be charged tuition fees. Aalto University scholarships are not available in the CCIS second application round. See further information >>

Admission requirements

General admission requirements

The general eligibility requirements are the same for all Master's programmes in the field of science and technology. Please see also the requirements concerning language skills.

Applications that fulfill the general eligiblity requirements are sent to the academic evaluation described in more detail below.

Programme-specific admission requirements

The joint admission criteria to the Computer, Communication and Information Sciences programme is a high quality Bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, communications engineering, or electrical engineering. Excellent candidates with degrees in other fields such as information systems, engineering, natural sciences, mathematics or physics will be considered if they have sufficient studies and proven skills and knowledge according to the requirements.

The required background for Human-Computer Interaction major includes sufficient skills in:

  • computer science (in particular, good programming skills. Also other courses such as: data bases, theory of computing, computer networks, software engineering)
  • mathematics (linear algebra, calculus, probability theory, statistics, and discrete mathematics)

Knowledge of one or more of the following areas is considered an advantage:

  • interaction design or human-computer interaction
  • human factors or engineering psychology
  • electrical engineering
  • artificial intelligence, machine learning, or data mining
  • computational modelling and data analysis
  • signal processing
  • web and mobile development

Learn more about the evaluation of applications

The student selection process is competitive and the best applicants are selected according to the following evaluation criteria:

  • Content of the previous degree(s)
    • The contents of the applicant’s previous degree(s) are evaluated based on the courses available on the official transcript of records and the course descriptions submitted. The applicant is expected to have completed sufficiently studies in the major-specific subject areas (see above). Relevant work experience, professional certificates and/or online courses are judged case-by-case, but they do not, in general, compensate for the university level studies that include also the theoretical foundations of the required subjects.
  • Study success: grades achieved and pace of studies
    • The applicant’s study success will be evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA) and results in key courses. Very good previous study success is expected. The minimum GPA for applicants from Finnish universities of applied science is 4.0. Applicants with GPA below the limit cannot be admitted unless they have other exceptional qualifications. Programme’s courses or equivalent courses completed in open university or as non-degree studies with excellent grades may support the application.
  • Recognition and quality of applicant’s home university
    • The recognition of the applicant’s home university affects the final interpretation of the previous study success.

During the evaluation of eligible applications, the applicant’s previous study success and contents of the previous degree(s) are checked first. Only the applications who pass this preliminary evaluation will be evaluated against the full set of criteria.

  • Motivation and commitment to studies in the programme
  • Other relevant achievements (work experience, publications, etc.)
  • Recommendations
  • Language proficiency

In the final phase of the academic evaluation, the applicants who passed the preliminary evaluation, are ranked and the best applicants are selected. The programme does not have a minimum quota to be fulfilled, and not all eligible applicants will necessarily be admitted. The selection process is paper-based.

Studies in the Master’s programme should provide genuinely new knowledge for the applicant. If the applicant already has a Master’s degree, the motivation letter should clearly indicate why another Master’s degree is necessary. In most cases, non-degree or e.g. open university studies are recommended instead of degree studies to complement the earlier degree or to improve one’s professional skills.

Application documents

In addition to the compulsory application documents, the applicants are requested to provide the following, additional documents:

  • at least one original recommendation letter (preferably academic)
  • course descriptions of courses taken in relevant subject areas (see the subject list above)
  • work certificates and certificates of other relevant achievements
  • copies of any publications
  • official transcript of records for other university studies which are not included in the mandatory part of the application
  • GRE or GMAT test results, if available

The application should explain full educational history of the applicant.

Applicant’s motivation letter (compulsory part of the online application form) should be written in English. Also additional application documents described above (recommendations letter(s), course descriptions, work or other certificates, and publications) should preferably be submitted in English. If some other language than English, Finnish or Swedish is used in them, the applicant must provide precise, word-for-word translations of them.

Contact information

Location: Aalto University School of Science, Otaniemi Campus, Espoo


  • For enquiries regarding the application process, compulsory application documents or language requirements, please read instructions first. If you cannot find an answer to your question, contact Aalto University Admission Services at admissions [at] aalto [dot] fi.
  • For enquiries regarding the contents of studies or additional application documents, please contact Master Admissions at the School of Science at masters-sci [at] aalto [dot] fi.

Page content by: | Last updated: 05.06.2018.