How can artificial intelligence change the way we interact with computers? What will come after the mouse and keyboard? Human-Computer Interaction educates future leaders who study, innovate and improve information technology for the benefit of the people and society. The study option distinguishes itself internationally by a focus on computational and engineering methods. The rigorous curriculum offers a unique opportunity for students of computer science and engineering to learn how to apply technical approaches in human-computer interaction. The study option is based on outstanding HCI research at Aalto University. The university was recently ranked #21 worldwide in research impact in the area of HCI.
The Master’s Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences – Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) prepares students for professional and academic careers in human-computer interaction. The HCI study option is unique with its focus on methods from engineering and computer science with applications in interaction design, user interface technology, and user research. HCI graduates have:
- A modern computational approach to HCI. Graduates learn a wide repertoire of powerful computational and engineering methods and how to apply them to practical problems in HCI.
- A strong interdisciplinary approach to human-centric technology. Graduates have gained an interdisciplinary experience with a strong emphasis on computer science and engineering, including contributions from psychology, social science, business, and 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, machine learning, robotics, electrical engineering, data science etc.
- Meta-cognitive skills for life-long learning. Graduates understand scientific literacy, have a mindset for critical thinking and possess strong teamwork and leadership skills.
Upon graduation from the Human-Computer Interaction study option, graduates can pursue internationally competitive careers where they take the lead in design, research or management.
Human-Computer Interaction Doctoral Track
Human-Computer Interactionmajor offers also a competitive doctoral track where a limited number of top students can be admitted. Students selected to the doctoral track can have their studies tailored towards pursuing PhD studies and can start working towards a PhD in one of the department’s research groups already during their Master studies. Applicants are asked to indicate their interest in entering the doctoral track in the application form. The best doctoral track applicants will be interviewed.
HCI professionals are well-employed and pursue careers related to user experience, usability, interaction design, human factors, user interface design, human-computer interaction and beyond. Our curriculum includes several contact possibilities with the industry in Finland and abroad, in particular in the capstone project. Half of our students write their Master's 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. 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 Developer, User Researcher, Information Visualisation Specialist. Our students have also pursued academic careers. The studies put emphasis on basic theories and methodologies, offering a solid basis for PhD studies in HCI in Helsinki or internationally.
Graduates of the programme will graduate with a Master of Science (Technology) degree (diplomi-insinööri in Finnish).
The programme qualifies for doctoral studies (Doctor of Science in an applicable field).
Language of instruction
The language of instruction is primarily English, and the programme can be completed entirely in English. Some courses can be taken in Finnish or Swedish.
The tuition fee is 15.000 euros for non-EU/EEA students per academic year.
Content of the studies
Students learn computational approaches to HCI via modelling, theories, and methods, as well as relevant design and empirical methods. As the curriculum progresses, they learn to apply their skills to increasingly more realistic problems.
The first year of studies consists of learning the core methodologies and techniques in the design and analysis of interaction. During the second year, students specialise in a chosen technical topic. The core courses provide a strong foundation in design, empirical methods, and HCI theories on topics such as input devices, interactive media, interaction techniques, interface technologies, interactive applications and multimodal interactive systems.
Here are some examples of the wide course selection:
- Computational User Interface Design (5 ECTS)
- Designing Interactive Systems (6 ECTS)
- Emergent User Interfaces (5 ECTS)
- Human-Computer Interaction (5 ECTS)
- Intelligent Media (5 ECTS)
- Usability Evaluation (5 ECTS)
- User Interface Construction (5 ECTS)
Please note that there may be some changes to the curriculum for 2020-2022. The new curriculum will be published in April-May 2020.
Structure of the studies
The Master’s Programme in Computer, Communication and Information Sciences – Human-Computer Interaction is organised by the Schools of Science and Electrical Engineering and comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:
- Major subject studies (40-65 ECTS)
- Minor subject studies (20-25 ECTS)
- Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS)
- Elective studies (25-35 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 Master’s programmes offered by Aalto University. The elective studies consist of additional major courses, additional minor, multidisciplinary courses, or studies abroad.
At the beginning of their studies, students define their Personal Study Plans (PSP) together with an academic advisor. The primary purpose of the PSP is to ensure that the studies support the student’s interests and are completed in a logical order.
Personal Study Plan (PSP)
Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, i.e. compiling an optimal selection of courses, aligned with the student's interests and programme requirements. PSP is also a useful tool for keeping up with studies. At best, it shows the stage at which students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.
Students are required to complete a Master's thesis, which is a research assignment with a workload corresponding to 30 ECTS credits. The topic of the thesis is agreed upon by the student and the supervising professor. Master's theses are typically written for a company or for one of the research projects of the department(s) in question.
The programme’s reputation is recognised globally and it provides students with a solid foundation for an international career. The two organising schools offer diverse possibilities for exchange studies all over the world. Other possibilities for developing one’s global competence are, for instance, conducting a practical training period, summer courses abroad or acting as a tutor for first-year students.
Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad each year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through studies, but also multiple free time events, activities and celebrations around the campus. Programme administrators, active student tutors and student support services work rigorously to help international students integrate into the Nordic culture and welcome them at home in Finland.
Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus brings students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.
Co-operation with other parties
The research groups involved in the programme co-operate closely with international companies and research groups in the field of HCI. They have demonstrated academic co-operation with high-quality international universities and organisations.
Research in Human-Computer Interaction at Aalto University is internationally recognized for contributions to computational design and interaction. CSRankings.com ranks Aalto University as #4 in Europe in the field of HCI. The groups are also part of FCAI, the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence.
The topics of the major are linked to ongoing research focus areas in the Department of Computer Science and Department of Communications and Networking at Aalto University.
Programme-specific admission criteria
In addition to these programmes - and study option specific admission requirements, applicants must also fulfil the general admission requirements.
Admission criteria to the 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 in the required areas.
Required background for Human-Computer Interaction includes track record in:
- computer science: good or strong programming skills and coverage of relevant core topics in computer science, such as algorithms, software engineering, machine learning, web technology, and networking.
- mathematics, and especially linear algebra, calculus, and probability theory.
Knowledge of one or more the following areas is considered an advantage:
- interaction design or human-computer interaction.
- human factors.
- electrical engineering, signal processing.
- artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science.
- web and mobile development.
The student selection process is competitive and the best applicants are selected according to the following evaluation criteria:
- Content of the previous degree(s)
- Study success: grades achieved and pace of studies
- Recognition and quality of the applicant’s home university
- Motivation and commitment to studies in the programme
- Other relevant achievements (work experience, publications, Junction Hackathon competition or other programming competition wins, etc.)
- Language proficiency
During the evaluation of eligible applications, the applicants’ 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 listed above.
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 recognition of the applicant’s home university affects the final interpretation of academic performance.
The minimum GPA for applicants from Finnish universities of applied science is 4.0. Applicants with a 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.
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.
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.
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. If the applicant already has a valid study right leading to a Master's degree in the admission target in question, the applicant cannot be readmitted without special reasons.
Required application documents
In addition to the compulsory application documents, applicants to the CCIS programme are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)*
- Motivation letter*
- The motivation letter should be written in English. The maximum length of the motivation letter is about 4000 characters. There are no specific instructions for the content of the motivation letter except for the general advice that you should write a separate motivation letter for each study option you apply to.
- At least one original recommendation letter (preferably academic)
- You can upload the recommendation letter(s) to your online application form. There are no specific instructions for their content.
*) The lack of these documents will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.
In addition, these additional study-option-specific documents add value to your application:
- Course descriptions of courses taken in relevant subject areas (see the subject lists above)
- You can either copy the course descriptions from the university website or study guide or summarize them yourself. A list of the most important topics covered will suffice.
- 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
- With documents related to degree studies, follow these instructions. With other higher education studies (e.g. open university or other non-degree), upload the documents to your application as part of the study-option-specific documents.
- GRE or GMAT test results, if available
The application should explain the full educational history of the applicant.
General instructions on study-option-specific documents
All additional application documents described above 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.
Upload the documents to your online application form in pdf format. Name the file(s) according to format: Name of the document-Lastname-Firstname (e.g. CV-Lastname-Firstname.pdf). The maximum file size is 1.0 GB.
The study-option-specific documents must be uploaded for each study option separately, even if you use the same document (e.g. CV). Please check carefully the study-option-specific document requirements for each study option you apply to.
The deadline for the study-option-specific application documents to be uploaded to your application form is 10 January 2020 at 15:00 (GMT +2).
About the School
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