Human-Centered Design and Development, B.S. (Capital)

Program Code: HCDCA_BS

Program Description

The Human-Centered Design and Development major (HCDD) in the College of Information Sciences and Technology is a Bachelor of Science degree program that will educate students in the fundamental concepts and state-of-the-art skills in developing applications of technology for people, with a focus on learning outcomes needed to: a) identify opportunities to support human activity with technology; b) design and create useful and usable technology-mediated activities; and c) evaluate and iterate designed technologies in their context of use. Students graduating with a degree in HCDD will be positioned for successful careers in industry, government, and education, helping to ensure that our world of increasingly complex and pervasive technologies remains aligned with human aspirations, requirements, and limitations.

The HCDD major is interdisciplinary, combining foundational coursework in mathematics, statistics, information technology, and application development with specialized courses in social and psychological aspects of information and technology use, usability engineering, user research methods, and user interface design. The major draws on courses already taught as part of the IST BS degree, but also includes new courses that expand the user-centered analysis and design concepts and methodological rigor needed to succeed as an HCDD professional.

What is Human-Centered Design and Development?

Human-Centered Design and Development is the study of how to identify, design, build, and evaluate technologies to enhance people’s lives. The field focuses on understanding people and their use of technology, the methods and tools used for designing and building effective technology solutions, and the modern information technologies used to create effective solutions. The field involves working with potential users and customers to understand their needs and unique contexts, and then how to design, build, and evaluate impactful products and services. Human-centered design and development integrates ideas from design thinking, human-computer interaction (HCI), interaction design, and user experience design with the skills and techniques needed for software development.


You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are passionate about designing and building interactive technologies
  • You want to design, build, and evaluate web, mobile, and other software applications
  • You enjoy working with people to understand how they live and how technology fits into their lives
  • You want to design, conduct, and interpret data from user studies
  • You embrace uncertainty and change, and are not afraid to fail on the path to getting things right


Entrance to Major

To be eligible for the Human-Centered Design and Development (HCDD) major, students must:

  1. Have completed the following entrance-to-major requirements with a grade of C or better in each: HCDD 113S or HCDD 113, IST 140 or (CMPSC 101 and IST 240) or CMPSC 121 or CMPSC 131, IST 210, IST 220, IST 242 or CMPSC 122 or CMPSC 132, STAT 200
  2. Have achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00 prior to and through the end of the semester during which the entrance to major is requested.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Information Sciences and Technology, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 6-12
Requirements for the Major 78-84

15 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 6 credits of GQ courses, 3 credits of GS courses, 6 credits of GWS courses.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
IST 495Internship1
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
HCDD 264Design Practice in Human-Centered Design and Development3
HCDD 340Human-Centered Design for Mobile Computing3
HCDD 364WMethods for Studying Users3
HCDD 440Human-Centered Design and Development Capstone Course3
IST 210Organization of Data3
IST 220Networking and Telecommunications3
IST 230Language, Logic, and Discrete Mathematics3
IST 256Programming for the Web3
IST 311Object-Oriented Design and Software Applications3
IST 402Emerging Issues and Technologies3
IST 411Distributed-Object Computing3
IST 412The Engineering of Complex Software Systems3
STAT 200Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
ENGL 15Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course3
or ENGL 30H Honors Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course
ENGL 202CEffective Writing: Technical Writing Keystone/General Education Course3
or ENGL 202D Effective Writing: Business Writing Keystone/General Education Course
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
or SOC 3 Introductory Social Psychology Keystone/General Education Course
Select 12 credits from the Application Focus course listings. These are listings maintained by the department as support of major courses. At least one course must be at the 400 level. Students may also complete a custom Application Focus course sequence with approval from an academic adviser and an HCDD teaching faculty member. Students may want to consider choosing courses that also fulfill US and/or IL requirements.12
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
HCDD 113SFoundations of Human-Centered Design and Development FYS3
or HCDD 113 Foundations of Human-Centered Design and Development
IST 261Application Development Design Studio I3
or IST 361 Application Development Design Studio II
MATH 110Techniques of Calculus I Keystone/General Education Course4
or MATH 140 Calculus With Analytic Geometry I Keystone/General Education Course
Select one of the following:3-6
Introduction to Application Development
Introduction to Programming Techniques
Programming and Computation I: Fundamentals
Introduction to Programming Keystone/General Education Course
and Introduction to Computer Languages
Select one of the following:3-6
Intermediate & Object-Oriented Application Development
Object Oriented Programming with Web-Based Applications
and Intermediate Programming
Programming and Computation II: Data Structures
and Object Oriented Programming with Web-Based Applications

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Program Learning Objectives

  • Understanding Humans: Understanding how humans' physical and cognitive capabilities inform interaction and experience design.
  • Understanding Context: Understanding the context and technology requirements of users and other stakeholders, and articulating how design and evaluation concerns are affected by their context.
  • Modeling Human Activity: Developing models of human activity with and without technology support.
  • Prototyping: Envisioning, designing, and evaluating new technology prototypes using appropriate interaction modalities, styles and techniques.
  • Developing Production and Technologies: Developing working, production technologies to address identified design opportunities.
  • Evaluating: Applying and developing skills in a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to collect and analyze formative and summative usability data.
  • Managing HCDD Projects: Selecting, organizing and implementing design and development activities involving users and other stakeholders.
  • Communicating: Communicating with colleagues, users, and other stakeholders about complex ideas describing actual and envisioned technology in use.
  • Enacting Ethics: Understanding the importance of professional ethics and enacting these in human-centered design and development practice.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



David Kitlan
Program Coordinator
Olmsted Building E335
Middletown, PA 17057

University Park

Undergraduate Academic Advising Center
E103 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2024-25 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition.

Human-Centered Design and Development, B.S. at Harrisburg Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
HCDD 113S*#3IST 210*#3 
IST 140*#3IST 242*#3 
MATH 110 or 140 (GQ)‡†4CAS 100A or 100S3 
Application Focus Selection 13ENGL 15, 15S, 30T, or ESL 15 (GWS)3 
PSYCH 100 or SOC 3 (GS)‡†3STAT 200 (GQ)*‡#†4 
 16 16 
Second Year
IST 220*#3IST 311*3 
HCDD 264*3Application Focus Selection 23 
IST 230*3Elective3 
General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3IST 256*3 
IST 261*3General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3 
 15 15 
Third Year
HCDD 340*3HCDD 364W*3IST 495*11
Application Focus Selection 33IST 361 (or Elective)*3 
General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3IST 412*3 
General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3 
ENGL 202C or 202D (GWS)‡†3General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3 
 15 15 1
Fourth Year
IST 411*3HCDD 440*3 
IST 402*3General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3 
Application Focus Selection 43General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3 
General Education Course (GS/GH/GA/GN/GHW)3Elective3 
 12 15 
Total Credits 120

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement


IST 495 is typically completed the summer after junior year, but may be completed at any time during the student’s academic career.

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and satisfy a portion of that General Education requirement. If the student’s program prescribes GWS these courses will replace both ENGL 15/ENGL 30H and CAS 100A/CAS 100B/CAS 100C. Each course is 3 credits.

Advising Notes:

Students are encouraged to meet the general education requirements of inter-domain and linked courses in their general education credits.

Students are encouraged to complete the US and IL university requirements as part of their General Education course selections or, in some cases, as part of their Application Focus course selections.

Students pick one of the application focuses areas below or create a custom four-course application focus. Students must pick three credits at the 400 level. All twelve credits must be in the same application focus area.

Students in the Human-Centered Design and Development (HCDCA_BS) major are expected to complete 24 credits of upper-level course work in the major at Penn State Harrisburg. This is in compliance with Faculty Senate Policy 83-80.5.


PSYCH 244Introduction to the Psychology of Human Factors Engineering Keystone/General Education Course 13
PSYCH 221Introduction to Social Psychology Keystone/General Education Course 13
PSYCH 253Introduction to Psychology of Perception Keystone/General Education Course3
PSYCH 256Introduction to Cognitive Psychology Keystone/General Education Course 13
PSYCH 301WBasic Research Methods in Psychology 14
PSYCH 370Psychology of the Differently-Abled3
PSYCH 420Advanced Social Psychology 13
PSYCH 421Self and Social Judgment3
PSYCH 423Social Psychology of Interpersonal/Intergroup Relationships3
PSYCH 458Visual Cognition3

Course available at Harrisburg campus

  • Note that this assumes PSYCH 100 will be chosen from Additional Courses, as it is a prerequisite for many of these classes.


SOC 207Research Methods in Sociology 13
SOC 403Advanced Social Psychology 13
SOC 404Social Influence and Small Groups 13
SOC 405Sociological Theory 13
SOC 425Social Conflict 13
SOC 429Social Stratification 13
SOC 435/HDFS 434Perspectives on Aging 13
SOC 471Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology3

Course available at Harrisburg campus

  • Note that this assumes SOC 3 will be chosen from Additional Courses, as it is a prerequisite for many of these classes.


IST 222HCommunity Informatics Keystone/General Education Course3
IST 234NDigital Cultures Keystone/General Education Course3
IST 237Digital Entrepreneurship3
IST 301Information and Organizations 13
IST 337Technologies for Digital Entrepreneurs3
IST 402Emerging Issues and Technologies 13
IST 437Digital Design & Innovation3
IST 431The Information Environment3
IST 4413
IST 446An Introduction to Building Computer/Video Games3

Course available at Harrisburg campus

Security and Risk

CYBER 100Computer Systems Literacy 13
SRA 111Introduction to Security and Risk Analysis Keystone/General Education Course 13
SRA 211Threat of Terrorism and Crime 13
SRA 221Overview of Information Security 13
SRA 231Decision Theory and Analysis 13
CYBER 262Cyber-Defense Studio 13
SRA 268Visual Analytics3
SRA 311Risk Analysis in a Security Context 13
CYBER 366Malware Analytics 13
SRA 421The Intelligence Environment3
SRA 468Spatial Analysis of Risks3
SRA 472Integration of Privacy and Security 13

Course available at Harrisburg campus

Geographic Information Systems

GEOG 6NMaps and the Geospatial Revolution Keystone/General Education Course3
GEOG 260Geographic Information in a Changing World: Introduction to GIScience Keystone/General Education Course3
GEOG 361Cartography--Maps and Map Construction3
GEOG 362Image Analysis3
GEOG 363Geographic Information Systems3
GEOG 364Spatial Analysis3
CAS 101NIntroduction to Human Communication Keystone/General Education Course 13
GEOG 461WDynamic Cartographic Representation3
GEOG 463Geospatial Information Management3
GEOG 464Advanced Spatial Analysis3
GEOG 485GIS Programming and Software Development3

Course available at Harrisburg campus

Digital Arts and Communication

CAS 101NIntroduction to Human Communication Keystone/General Education Course 13
GD 100Introduction to Graphic Design Keystone/General Education Course 13
AA 121Design Thinking and Creativity Keystone/General Education Course 13
COMM 100NThe Mass Media and Society Keystone/General Education Course 13
AA 122Introduction to Graphic Storytelling Keystone/General Education Course3
CAS 1753
CAS 215Argumentation Keystone/General Education Course3
CAS 271NIntercultural Communication Keystone/General Education Course3
CAS 383NCulture and Technology Keystone/General Education Course3
CAS 471Intercultural Communication Theory and Research3
COMM 190/GAME 140Gaming and Interactive Media Keystone/General Education Course 13
COMM 241Graphic Design for Communications 13
COMM 310Digital Media Metrics3
COMM 318
COMM 325Effects of digital games3
COMM 418Media Effects: Theory and Research3
COMM 441Advanced Graphic Design for Communications 13
COMM 450ADigital Campaigns3

Course available at Harrisburg campus

Data Sciences

DS 120Scripting for Data Sciences1
DS 200Introduction to Data Sciences 14
DS 220Data Management for Data Sciences3
DS 310Machine Learning for Data Analytics3
STAT 184Introduction to R 12
DS 300Privacy and Security for Data Sciences3
DS 330Visual Analytics for Data Sciences3
STAT 380Data Science Through Statistical Reasoning and Computation 13
DS 402Emerging Trends in the Data Sciences3
DS 410Programming Models for Big Data3
MIS 301Business Analytics 13
MIS 431Business Data Management 13
MIS 441Business Intelligence for Decision Making 13
MIS 445Business Intelligence4

Course available at Harrisburg campus


HPA 101Introduction to Health Services Organization 13
HPA 210Health Care Payment 13
HPA 211Financial Decisions in Health Care Organizations 13
HPA 332Health Systems Management 13
HPA 470Health Care Information Management 13
HDFS 210Z3
HDFS 249NAdult Development and Aging Keystone/General Education Course 13
HDFS 445Development Throughout Adulthood 13
BBH 101Introduction to Biobehavioral Health Keystone/General Education Course 13
BBH 302Diversity and Health 13
BBH 305Introduction to Global Health Issues 13
BBH 315Gender and Biobehavioral Health 13
BBH 316Foundations and Principles of Health Promotion 13
BBH 402African Health & Development3
BBH 432Biobehavioral Aspects of Stress 13
BBH 440Principles of Epidemiology 13

Course available at Harrisburg campus

Business Administration (Harrisburg Students Only)

The Business Administration focus is for students who desire the opportunity to develop and apply skills relevant to businesses and other organizations. Included in this focus area are courses in the core business disciplines of accounting, finance, management, and marketing. Select at least twelve (12) credits from below, with at least three (3) credits at the 400 level.

ACCTG 211Financial and Managerial Accounting for Decision Making4
ECON 102Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course3
or ECON 104 Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy Keystone/General Education Course
MIS 250Introduction to Problem Solving with Spreadsheet Analysis and Information Systems Management3
BA 243Social, Legal, and Ethical Environment of Business4
BA 364YInternational Business and Society3

The following courses may require prerequisites:

MIS 301Business Analytics3
MIS 390Foundations of Information Systems3
MGMT 301Basic Management Concepts3
FIN 301Corporation Finance3
MKTG 301Principles of Marketing3
SCM 301Supply Chain Management3
MGMT 418Project Planning and Resource Management3
MGMT 420Negotiation and Conflict Management3
MGMT 433Leadership and Team Building3
MIS 420Business Process Management3

Custom Application Focus

There is an option for a student to create a custom 4-course application focus sequence. It must be a coherent sequence of courses that provides context for the student in terms of content relevant to the HCDD program. It must contain three credits of 400-level coursework, so it’s important to consider course prerequisites when creating your custom application focus area. It must be selected in consultation with a teaching HCDD faculty member and an academic adviser.

Career Paths

Society increasingly recognizes the need for technologies designed to account for people’s capabilities, needs, desires, and limitations. Human-Centered Design and Development graduates have many career paths available to them depending on their strengths, interests, and focus of study.

Students with more technical interests can become web and mobile application developers, front-end developers, and user interface/user experience designers and developers. Those most interested in the human dimension of technology can become usability researchers, interaction designers, and product managers. In addition, there are many opportunities to pursue graduate study in these areas.




Olmsted Building, E-355
Middletown, PA 17057

University Park

411 Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub Building
State College, PA 16801