Human-Centered Design, M.S.

Human-Centered Design, M.S.

Get a Master's in Human-Centered Design

Human-Centered Design MSHuman-centered designers are multi-stage problem solvers who analyze and foresee how users are likely to use a products and life-critical systems, testing user behavior in real-world environments. Technology, organizations and people jobs need to be designed by the participation of several disciplines, where creativity, as synthesis and integration, becomes the central asset to be learned. Life-critical systems include energy, medical, aerospace, education and telecommunication systems. A master's in human-centered design (HCD) from Florida Tech gives graduates the educational foundation and hands-on research experience needed to enter a career in human-centered design.


The opportunities for human-centered design careers are very diverse and because there are so many relevant study topics, many individuals select a particular interest and specialize in it. This could include specializing in a particular area such as, cognitive engineering, advanced interaction media, modeling and simulation, organization design and management, a specific life-critical domain, or complexity analysis. Human-centered design is an emerging field that offers opportunity in design and engineering research and interactive complex product development such as cockpit design that enables pilots or astronauts control and manage risk-taking missions.

Studying for a master's in human-centered design at Florida Tech is a multidisciplinary experience that includes other scientific disciplines, from human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence to architecture, ethnographical design and crisis management. In addition to specializing in HCD, the School of Human-Centered Design, Innovation and Art also offers courses on creativity and design thinking, function analysis, industrial design and user experience.

Earn a Doctoral Degree

After receiving a master's in human-centered design, many students enter a doctoral program at Florida Tech. Along with a chance to conduct additional research, a doctoral degree typically increases an individual's earning potential and increases recognition for the graduate as a subject-matter expert. Some tuition scholarships are available.

Why Pursue a Master's in Human-Centered Design at Florida Tech?

Students and professionals that study and work in engineering, science, aeronautics and technology environments understand the complex concepts that arise in areas such as product development, systems or industrial design, function and organizational analysis. Florida Tech has more than 30 years of experience educating engineering, science, technology and management professionals to become skilled experts in a variety of unique and interdisciplinary fields, such as human-centered design.

Creating a new generation of designers to lead 21st century companies focused on science, technology and engineering demands a curriculum that blends a variety of disciplines. Florida Tech's human-centered design curriculum trains professionals for such human-centered projects as life-critical systems, modeling and simulation, human factors, usability engineering, industrial design, cognitive engineering, and more – all focused on creativity, innovation and sustainable solutions to industrial design challenges. Florida Tech's high tech with a human touch approach creates graduates who know how to deal with complex interconnected systems through analysis, design and evaluation.

Experienced Faculty

Guided by a world-class faculty with extensive experience in the field, students earning a master's in human-centered design experience an intimate learning environment where class sizes are small and research is hands-on using our well-equipped design platforms. Professors at Florida Tech bring years of industry experience to the classroom, providing students with real-world understanding of the environments and issues they will face in their careers. The faculty creates a professional learning environment for students, using a highly customized curriculum for each student using independent study, research projects and fieldwork. Professors train students to be creative, to "think" design (with a human touch) and to find interdisciplinary solutions that incorporate different design principles such as cognitive engineering, organizational design or complexity analysis.

A Culture that Develops Leaders

Students earning a master's or Ph.D. through the School of Human-Centered Design find a learning culture that supports a cross-disciplinary approach to design thinking to tackle the challenges in design, engineering and technology. Human-Centered Design students have a unique blend of design and management skills that sets them up for success in a variety of leadership roles.

High-Tech Research Facilities

Florida Tech's research university status ensures that students have the tools and facilities they need to conduct research in their preferred area. Florida Tech's advanced research centers and laboratories are home to essential engineering equipment and software including the Cockpit Research Lab and Advanced Interaction Media Lab used in advanced situational awareness in life-critical systems.

Students earning a master's in human-centered design have state-of-the-art facilities on campus at the School of Human-Centered Design labs. These laboratories and instrumentation facilities provide outstanding capabilities for studies of control, complex systems design and management, knowledge management including big data management, visualization including 3D printing capabilities, tangible interactive objects design and development. Our international multidisciplinary network offer access to industry and government institutions where most graduates might continue their life endeavors.

An Emphasis on Research

Students tackle problems and challenges that are not merely theoretical in nature, but which are practical issues regularly encountered in their career. Students have an opportunity to bring their own unique insights and expertise to the project, whether it is industrial design, advanced interaction media, organization design, cognitive engineering or others. In-class projects, special independent study topics and master's theses are all part of the curriculum.

Gain Practical Experience

As a leading research university, the curriculum, laboratory and field research for students earning a master's in human-centered design is robust, encouraging students to think outside the box and formulate new ideas that contribute to the field. Florida Tech is near some of the most diverse HCD, including the commercial aircraft and adaptable spaceship cockpit simulators, and advanced interaction media laboratory, providing students with up-to-date equipment to conduct cutting-edge research.

Excellent Career Preparation

What better place to get a human-centered design degree than at Florida Tech – where students in the School of Human-Centered Design work with some of the most well respected names in science and technology such as NASA, Boeing, SESAR (Europe), and Areva. Graduates are immediately ready to step into design and leadership roles at high-tech firms, advance in their current position, or start their own business creating new technologies like advanced cockpits, control rooms, educational tools, simulators and new living environments–just to name a few.

What Human-Centered Design Research or other opportunities can I expect?

Graduate students in human-centered design research and apply many concepts to their projects, testing best practices and theories with real-world application. This can include a cross-disciplinary approach to design thinking such as:

  • Cognitive engineering approach to nuclear power plant control and maintenance
  • Life-critical human-computer interaction
  • Situation awareness assistant for human deep space exploration
  • Improving commercial flight operations within the next generation
  • Cognitive ergonomics
  • Improving design of tools and environments in education
  • Human-centered organization design and management
  • Advanced interaction media
  • Complexity analysis for human-centered design
  • Modeling and simulation
  • Function analysis
  • Usability engineering

The School of Human-Centered Design at Florida Tech supports not only training students in design thinking, but also to be natural leaders who understand complex relationships among technology, organizations and people.

Student designers learn how to research, analyze, design and evaluate highly complex and dynamic interconnected systems using many skills in complexity science, human factors, ethnomethodology, prototyping, usability engineering and modeling and simulation. With these skills, students work in either research or industry, integrated in industrial design teams to apply this design thinking to such projects as making cockpits, control rooms and devices, safety-related complex systems, operational procedures and regulations, educational tools and methods, multi-agent systems, industrial simulators and new living environments.

The School of Human-Centered Design develops research activities for students in:

  • Aeronautics
  • Space
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Education

The institute is connected with other research organizations outside Florida Tech such as NASA, Boeing, Harris, Areva, FAA, SESAR in Europe, NLET, University of Valenciennes and Ecole Polytechnique of Paris, France.

How Will a Master's Degree benefit my Human-Centered Design career?

As the human-centered design approach continues to be adopted by innovators in the marketplace, a greater demand is put on industry professionals who understand how to make technology more accessible, user-friendly and informative.

Earning a master's or doctoral degree in human-centered design helps propel graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including engineering, psychology and science, to become crucial contributors to their organizations' new technology creation and enhancement. Much like an industrial design career, this design thinking process demands professionals who are passionate about tackling and solving problems using creative thinking and innovation.

Career Outlook

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), provides detailed information about hundreds of occupations, including, desired education, overall working environment and employment prospects.

Employment of creative design thinkers in an industrial design career are projected to grow modestly through 2022, however designers working with precision instruments and medical equipment are likely to find more opportunity. Graduates with cross-disciplinary knowledge and experience will also find themselves in more demand for job opportunities since their expertise includes engineering, science, aeronautics and business.

From the systems engineer to the cognitive scientist, human-centered design graduates find themselves in the heart of the design process in an industrial design career, creating new technologies in such careers as designing advanced cockpits, control rooms, educational tools, simulators and new living environments–just to name a few.