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Human-Computer Interaction - Computer, Communication and Information Sciences, Master of Science (Technology)
Language of instruction:
Field of study:
How will artificial intelligence change the way we use computers? What will come after the mouse and keyboard as input devices? What makes a computing system trustworthy or interesting to people? How to design interactions that thrill and motivate users? These are some of the topical questions the interdisciplinary field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) looks to answer. HCI has a crucial role in developing next-generation computing products and services that people want to use – and in helping society make the most out of world-changing technologies, such as AI, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, and IoT.
In the Human-Computer Interaction major, you acquire the necessary skills to innovate new ways to interact with computing systems and information technologies for the benefit of people. The major has an internationally unique engineering and computational (CS/EE) focus with a strong contribution from psychology and design. Students learn how, e.g., computational methods are applied in a human-oriented way. Aalto University’s HCI research – of which this major is based on – has gained international recognition: between 2018–2023, Aalto has ranked #3 in HCI research in Europe.
HCI graduates have:
- Radical creativity and a modern approach to HCI. Graduates learn a wide repertoire of powerful computational and engineering methods – including state-of-the-art methods in AI – and how to apply them to practical problems in HCI.
- A strong interdisciplinary approach to human-centric technology. Graduates gain interdisciplinary experience in psychology, social science, business, or design. The HCI study option emphasises the systematic understanding of humans as the basis of our decisions.
- A globally recognised skillset. Graduates understand modern design problems from a computational perspective, including challenges in concept creation, interface technologies, algorithms, data, and modelling. They are ready to work in teams with a focus on AI, VR, machine learning, robotics, electrical engineering, computer science, usable security and privacy, data science etc.
- Meta-cognitive skills for life-long learning. Graduates understand scientific literacy, have a mindset for critical thinking and possess strong research, teamwork, and leadership skills.
Language of instruction
In the HCI major, the language of instruction is English.
Tuition fees and scholarships
Aalto University’s tuition fee for master’s programmes taught in English is 15 000 euros per academic year. Tuition fees apply to citizens of countries other than those of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland.
Aalto University has a scholarship programme to support non-EU/EEA citizens who study in a fee-charging degree programme. The scholarship may cover 100% or 50% of the tuition fee.
More information about tuition fees and scholarships at Aalto University is available here.
Structure of studies
The Human-Computer Interaction major is part of the two-year Master’s Programme in Computer, Communication, and Information Sciences. The programme comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits:
- Major studies (40 or 60 ECTS)
- Minor studies (20-25 ECTS)
- Elective studies (25-30 ECTS)
- Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)
Students can select their minor either from the other study options in the Master's Programme in Computer, Communications and Information Sciences or from other programmes offered by Aalto University. All major and minor studies are intended to be completed during the first year – students learn the core methodologies and techniques in the design and analysis of interaction.
The second year is dedicated to the Master’s thesis and elective studies that give students the opportunity to specialise in a chosen technical topic. The elective studies consist of additional major courses, additional minor, multidisciplinary courses, or studies abroad. You can choose practically any combination of elective courses – from Aalto as well as other universities in Finland and abroad – that supports your studies and suits your interests. HCI students have the opportunity to, for example, participate in the Interaction Design course organised by Aalto’s School of ARTS.
The teaching methods in this programme vary from lectures and group works to programming and a capstone course, a big project in which companies in the industry participate.
More information about the programme content and curriculum can be found in the Student guide. There may be some changes to the courses for the academic years 2024–2026 — the new curricula will be published in April 2024, when they will also be visible in the Student guide.
The HCI major has a wide course selection, giving students the opportunity to freely choose their study path that best suits their interests and aspirations. However, if a student wants to specialise in certain topics, they can choose to complete a set of recommended courses. Such topics include, for instance:
- Interactive AI
- Virtual and augmented reality
- Visual and interactive computing
- Interactive systems engineering
- User-centred design
- Technology and society
Aalto University is known for its international study and research environment. Every year, Aalto welcomes thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad. Programme administrators, active student tutors, and student support services work rigorously to help international students integrate into Nordic culture and welcome them at home in Finland. Additionally, many of our professors and researchers have international backgrounds and experience, bringing their global networks close to students.
The HCI programme is recognised globally and it provides students a solid foundation for an international career. The two organising Aalto schools – Science (SCI) and Electrical Engineering (ELEC) – offer diverse possibilities for exchange studies all over the world. Other possibilities for improving one’s global competence include, for instance, conducting practical training, summer courses, or the Master’s thesis abroad as well as becoming a tutor for first-year students and learning foreign languages.
Further study opportunities
The Human-Computer Interaction major puts emphasis on basic theories and methodologies, offering a great foundation for doctoral studies. Many of our students have pursued academic careers at top universities, such as ETH Zürich, University of Copenhagen, and University of Lausanne.
HCI professionals are well-employed and work in different fields related to, e.g., interactive AI and systems, user experience, interaction design, and user interface design. Our students have the possibility to network with both Finnish and international companies especially in the capstone course, opening them career opportunities. Additionally, about half of the students write their Master's thesis for a company.
Thanks to their strong engineering and design skills as well as other technical and professional know-how, our graduates can pursue internationally competitive careers where they take key roles in design, research, or management. As mentioned before, many of our graduates decide to pursue academic careers and work as researchers at various top universities. And since the programme provides essential knowledge of how to make products and services successful, it is also well suited for students who want to become entrepreneurs or work at startup companies.
Typical job titles among the graduates include:
- User Interface Engineer
- Behaviour Analyst
- Interaction Designer
- User Experience Designer
- User Researcher
- Information Visualisation Specialist
Sami Nieminen graduated as a Master of Science in Technology in the summer of 2022, majoring in human-computer interaction.
Co-operation with other parties
At Aalto University, bridging different disciplines is made easy – students may choose their elective study modules so that their degree is a combination of science, technology, business, and arts. They can supplement their studies with courses from other Aalto schools and programmes as well as courses offered by other universities, including international. For example, HCI students can participate in the Interaction Design course organised by Aalto’s School of ARTS. This multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas, friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.
As mentioned before, the HCI major also cooperates with the industry especially in the capstone course, and many students write their Master’s thesis for a company. Additionally, the research groups involved in the HCI programme collaborate closely with international companies and research groups in the field. The groups are also part of FCAI, the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence.
Webinar | Human-Computer Interaction
Learn more about Master's programme in Human-Computer Interaction. Watch the Webinar recording where programme representatives and students tell more about the studies, career possibilities and answer some other questions you might have.
Programme-specific admission requirements
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies are evaluated according to the below Evaluation criteria. The evaluation process is described under Applicant evaluation process. In addition to the obligatory application documents, this study option asks the applicants to submit also the documents listed under Requested documents.
The applications to Human-Computer Interaction - Computer, Communication and Information Sciences (CCIS) are evaluated based on the following criteria:
|What is evaluated?||Grades of the previous degree(s) and pace of studies|
|What we look for in an applicant?||
The CCIS programme is looking for applicants with excellent academic performance in their previous studies. In study options where the number and quality of applications is high, this means that the applicant has achieved consistently excellent grades throughout the degree studies (very high weighted average grade or GPA).
The applicant’s study success will be evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA) and grades in key courses. The time spent on the previous studies will also be taken into account. All the applicant’s previous university studies, including incomplete degrees and non‐degree studies, will be taken into consideration when evaluating academic performance.
Applicants from Finnish universities of applied sciences (AMK)
|Method of demonstrating competence||Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)|
Relevance of previous studies
|What is evaluated?||Content and scope of previous studies|
|What we look for in an applicant?||
Applicants are expected to have a high-quality Bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, communications engineering, or electrical engineering. Excellent candidates with degrees in other fields including but not limited to information systems, engineering, natural sciences, mathematics or physics will be considered if they have sufficient studies in the required areas.
The required university-level studies for Human-Computer Interaction are:
Advanced studies in all areas of HCI are advantageous for the applicant. Please ensure that extra courses are mentioned in your transcripts and motivation letter.
The contents of the applicant’s previous degree(s) are evaluated based on the courses on the official transcript of records. Relevant work experience, professional certificates and online courses can also be taken into account in the evaluation, but they do not in general compensate for the absence of university-level studies covering the theoretical foundations of the knowledge areas.
|Method of demonstrating competence||Transcript(s) of records, course descriptions|
Recognition and quality of institution
|What is evaluated?||Recognition and quality of the applicant's previous institution|
|What we look for in an applicant?||We expect applicants to have completed their previous degree in a high-quality university and programme. The recognition of the applicant’s home university affects also the interpretation of the grades when evaluating the academic performance.|
|Method of demonstrating competence||International and national rankings of higher education institutions|
|What is evaluated?||Applicant’s suitability to the study option, motivation, commitment to the studies, and written communication skills|
|What we look for in an applicant?||
The applicant should be motivated to study the chosen subject and committed to full‐time studies with a plan to complete the Master’s degree in two years. We are looking for applicants who are able to express clearly the reasons for applying to the study option and describe why they would be excellent candidates for the study option.
Studies in the Master’s programme should provide genuinely new knowledge for the applicant. If the applicant already has a Master’s or a higher degree or is studying towards one, the motivation letter should clearly indicate why another one is necessary. In most cases, non-degree studies are recommended instead.
|Method of demonstrating competence||Application as a whole including motivation letter|
Other areas of competence
|What is evaluated?||Work experience, other qualifications and achievements|
|What we look for in an applicant?||Beyond their academic record, applicants may have other experience, knowledge and qualifications that prepare them for the Master’s studies and distinguish them among their peers. We particularly value demanding work experience in the area of the planned studies, participation in scientific research leading to publications, entrepreneurship, and special achievements such as success in competitions (e.g. Junction Hackathon).|
|Method of demonstrating competence||Curriculum vitae (CV), recommendation letters, proofs of employment, publications, other certificates, GRE or GMAT results (if available).|
During the evaluation of eligible applications, Human-Computer Interaction applications are first evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Academic performance
- Relevance of previous studies
Only the applications who fulfil the requirements for these criteria will be evaluated against the full set of evaluation criteria. It is not possible to compensate for these criteria with other criteria. This means, for example, that motivation for Master level studies in this subject does not compensate for low grades or that relevant work experience does not compensate for higher education studies in the required subjects.
After the evaluation of the remaining criteria below, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation of all five criteria.
- Recognition and quality of institution
- Other areas of competence
The admission process is very competitive and only the best applicants are selected yearly. Not all applicants fulfilling the requirements can be admitted.
In addition to obligatory application documents, the applicants to Human-Computer Interaction are requested to provide the following programme-specific documents:
- Self-evaluation form*
- The online form (webropolsurveys.com) will be open during the application period. Please fill in and submit only one self-evaluation form. You can save the form and return to it later.
- When you submit your answers, a summary page will appear. Download the summary page as a PDF file and attach it to your application in studyinfo.fi (study-option-specific documents). Do this before you click Finish. If you by mistake submit more than one self-evaluation form, please contact us at [email protected].
- Remember to submit the form and add it to your application in studyinfo.fi before 9 January 2024 at 15.00 (3 pm, GMT +2).
- Motivation letter*
- Based on your application documents (transcript of records, CV, other supporting documents), reflect on your
- relevant experience and achievements,
- expectations and motivation for MSc studies majoring in Human-Computer Interaction at Aalto University, and
- future career aspirations and how MSc studies in Human-Computer Interaction contribute to them.
- The motivation letter should be written in English. The recommended length is one page (font size 11 pt).
- Based on your application documents (transcript of records, CV, other supporting documents), reflect on your
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)*
*) The lack of this document will cause rejection.
In addition, these additional documents add value to your application:
- At least one original recommendation letter
- The recommendation letter should preferably be from a university professor, lecturer or a thesis instructor who has supervised the applicant’s studies. There are no specific instructions for the contents of the recommendation letter. The letter should comment on the applicant’s suitability and aptitude for the programme. Recommendation letters written by work supervisors are accepted as well in case some time has passed since graduation.
- Short course descriptions of courses taken in the relevant subject areas
- Work certificates and certificates of other relevant achievements
- Copies of any publications
- Official transcript of records for additional university studies which are not included in the mandatory part of the application (e.g. incomplete degrees, exchange studies, non‐degree studies)
- GRE or GMAT test results, if available (please include a scanned copy of the test result)
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Learning Services at Aalto University School of Science
For enquiries regarding the programme-specific application documents or studies in the programme, please contact Learning Services of Aalto University School of Science
For enquiries regarding the application process, obligatory application documents or English language proficiency, please contact Admission Services