Master's in Human Factors in Information Design
Gain a deep understanding of human behavior and user experience through research and insights that inform experience design and product innovation.
As of June 24, 2021, the MSHFID program has reached capacity and paused rolling admission for Fall 2021. Applications for part-time enrollment may be submitted for waitlist consideration only. Alternatively, the Spring 2022 application for full-time and part-time enrollment opens on July 15, 2021.
Meet Your Program Director
Bill is a professor and the program director of the Human Factors in Information Design program at Bentley University. Bill has received his PhD from the University of Maryland and is an associate fellow of the Society for Technical Communication. He is the founder of the User Experience Center and User Experience Studio; these centers have helped clients around the globe improve the competitiveness of their technology products and services through carefully defined user experience. He has appeared on and has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, Computerworld, Mass High Tech, The Financial Times, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the Washington Times, East Bay Business Times, ABC’s “20-20,” Business 2.0, a nationally syndicated radio show (A Touch of Grey), Investor Business Daily, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His long-term research interests center on the building of a unified theory defining the user experience and the promotion of user experience as a guiding business strategy and other interests are in human factors, localization, behavioral design, and design ethics.
Contact Bill to schedule a time to discuss your background and career goals and how these align with Bentley's MSHFID program.
Frequently Asked Questions about the MSHFID Program
A key point of distinction for our program is the professionally experienced, talented and intellectually capable students who join our ranks each year looking to push their career to the next level. Consequently, we expect students to enter with the appropriate preparation to make an immediate contribution.
This preparation is demonstrated through a combination of GRE score (ideally 157 or higher on each section), educational background (completed bachelor's degree with preferably a 3.3 GPA or higher in a social science, design, or engineering field), and professional experience (at least three years in a user experience or technology-related role).
Any exceptions require program director approval, and all candidates are strongly advised to schedule a consultation with the Admission team before applying. Prospective students new to the UX field who lack sufficient preparation should consider our non-credit boot camp and certificate options to develop relevant experience.
- Gain access to an alumni network where you can connect with leading companies including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Fidelity, Sony and more.
- Learn about human behavior relative to product design, universal accessibility, minimal design, usability and the user experience.
- Master UX research methods, including ethnography, field research, interviews, survey design, and formative and summative usability testing.
- Become adept at moving quickly from research and data to innovative design solutions.
- Gain a firm grounding in business strategy that embraces the critical role of UX in adding value for organizations of every kind.
- Study at Bentley, online from a home or office, at our San Francisco satellite campus, or a combination of the three.
- Named Top Academic Program by UX Magazine
Our program emphasizes the strategic role of UX in enhancing an organization’s competitive advantage. As a result, Bentley graduates routinely land senior-level positions at top companies across the country and around the world. See below for a partial list of employers and job titles our alumni have achieved over the past year.
|Company Name||Alumni Title|
|ARVR at Facebook||Product Design Manager|
|Amazon||Senior UX Design Lead|
|Credit Karma||Senior UX Researcher|
|Dell EMC||UX Researcher|
|Department of Defense||UX Designer|
|Fidelity Investments||UX Designer & UX Researcher|
|Haven Life||UX Researcher|
|Senior Experience Designer, Accessibility & Inclusive Design|
|Tyler Technologies||UX Researcher|
Since 1999 the UXC has worked with well over 200 clients from around the world, including Fidelity, Blue Cross Blue Shield, SAP, TD Bank, Geico, Partners Healthcare, MetLife, Philips, and more.
Projects have included everything from software, websites, mobile applications and intranets to documentation, consumer products and medical devices.
Over the past four years, the program has established strong partnerships with leading tech organizations in the Bay area. This network has supported the placement of graduates in these same organizations and corporate sponsorship of leading-edge design problems in Bentley classes.
Every single course is corporate sponsored (leading tech in business orgs are bringing real problems to our students)
"every HFID class is sponsored by leading tech and business organization including Google, Intuit, Captial One, Fidelity, Verizon"
The Bentley HFID program utilizes three comprehensive learning centers and facilities that allow you to get hands on and work with the technology you will have access to during your professional career.
User Experience Center (UXC)
The campus-based is the hands-on research centerpiece of the MSHFID program. Its full-time staff of UX professionals provide consulting services to corporate and nonprofit clients around the globe. Graduate students accepted to the Research Assistantship program receive financial support and gain valuable experience by working in the UXC on client projects. Many clients return to recruit our students for their expertise.
Dr. Ziat's Haptics Lab
Dr. Ziat holds degrees in Electronic Engineering (B.A.) and Cognitive Science (M.A. and Ph.D.). Taking advantage of her eighteen years of experience in haptics, Dr. Ziat’s lab studies issues related to human-machine interaction, focusing on perception and human interactions with natural and artificial environments. The experimental approach employs the techniques of engineering, cognitive psychology, human-computer interaction (HCI), and neuroscience, to gain an understanding of human touch and how the brain interprets variable sensations as a stable perception of the world. The overall goal is to establish design principles for haptics.
Dr. Ericson's Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab
Dr. Ericson directs a research lab that uses immersive technologies to address complex design challenges in healthcare, sustainability, education/training, and architecture. The lab is a dedicated space designed for safe and effective use of immersive technologies, equipped with a powerful 3D graphics computer, high-quality VR/AR hardware, game development and avatar creation software, and a variety of biometric tools for assessing psychological and physiological responses to immersive experiences. Ongoing research projects include collaborations with faculty at several major healthcare organizations and across various departments at Bentley. The lab is staffed by graduate and undergraduate lab managers, research assistants, and software engineers, and offers opportunities for students to develop marketable skills, coauthor original research papers, present work at conferences, and contribute to novel research in a variety of fields.
Years Average Professional Experience
Domestic Placement Rate
Average age of students in this program
Part-Time Students Enrolled
Top Employers Hiring Our Graduates
The Master's in Human Factors is a 10-course program including three core human factors courses, five electives, and two business electives. California students can choose to take four of their courses at our satellite campus in San Francisco, five courses online and one at Bentley’s User Experience Center on campus in Waltham.
Students have the option to take either HF 710 or HF 725 as part of their three core course requirements. Students may take both, and count one as an HF elective.
Designing intuitive, self-revealing products requires understanding the human factors that underlie the user's interaction with the product. This course introduces the applied theories relevant to the design of information products, training programs or user interface designs. Particularly relevant to those working with critical applications, diverse user populations and new technologies, the course helps students to create applications compatible with the strengths and weaknesses of the user's information processing systems. Students learn to anticipate user requirements before product development, to explain the user's performance during usability and prototype testing, and to foster a smooth transition for users facing new technologies or information.
This course addresses methods and tools that information designers can use to integrate user-centered design approaches and human-factors principles to enhance the usability of information products. Through readings, short papers and team projects, students examine common project-management problems that can adversely affect usability, define the implications of those problems for the user interface, and apply selected project-management techniques for anticipating and managing usability issues. Lectures, discussions and assignments focus on various user-centered design methodologies and human-factors techniques, and examine implementing these approaches in the project environment. Course materials and activities focus on processes such as creating user-centered project environments that support a human-factors approach to user-interface design, setting and evaluating project performance standards. Students examine and define metrics (ROI) for evaluating the effectiveness of the usability effort.
In a business world where change is continuous and innovation essential, leadership and management are critical competencies that every user experience (UX) professional must command. In this course, students will learn how to lead and to manage user-centered strategies, tactics, organizations and teams. Through case studies, visits with Silicon Valley-based UX leaders, lectures, team exercises, short papers and hands-on assignments, students will learn how UX participates at a strategic level, how to communicate the value of UX to executives, as well as how to recognize business challenges that can be turned into UX successes. As part of this course, students will create their own personal strategic plan for use in managing their career as a UX professional and leader.
This course presents the principles, methods and tools for addressing usability issues. Topics covered include processes for assessing the usability of the communicative aspects of the human-computer interface in software applications, websites and other forms of interactive media. Students will plan and administer tests and other means of product assessment through simulated usability problems and case studies. Human-computer interfaces and various forms of documentation (print and electronic) used in assignments and exercises will range from prototype to released products.
Elective Courses: Human Factors
Select five courses from the following:
In today's global marketplace, long-term success requires a strategy for tailoring products to the requirements of the international community. This course introduces participants to the theory and practice of internationalizing all aspects of a technology business, including documentation, training, user interface and marketing. Moving beyond the simple translation of language, the course addresses internationalization from the more comprehensive perspective of cultural theory. The course begins by recognizing the ethnocentric biases that affect all aspects of information design, then proposes a strategy for creating a globalized core design for all aspects of the product line. Working from this globalized core, developers can more easily and economically tailor product design to serve the needs of a local community. The course will focus on the major markets for technology, medical and scientific products, including Japan, China, France, Germany and England.
This course examines the theory and practice of designing dynamic visualizations that clarify thinking, facilitate problem-solving, and foster creativity. This course helps students to harness their visual and creative potential and to display this potential in the visual medium. In practice, students will learn to make large collections of verbal and numerical data accessible through carefully crafted visual displays. The unique strengths and weaknesses of both words and visuals are analyzed. Advancing from this analysis, the course helps students design a visual-verbal system where the strengths of one medium support the weaknesses of the other. This complementary system more fully integrates visual and verbal information, thereby dramatically improving the reader's understanding and retention of the communication design.
This course applies human factor design principles, strategies and best practices in creating various types of websites. The course incorporates the information and knowledge needs of users, clients, product design teams, management and other constituencies involved in creating, implementing, maintaining and using information on the World Wide Web. Topics include the user-centered design process, form and function, technology and usability issues, site types and organization, information categorization and labeling systems, global and local navigation systems, searching and browsing systems, accessibility, interactivity, page layout, template design, prototyping, modularity, scalability, maintenance and management. Students learn to identify for different audiences the value of using information architecture principles and best practices to design highly functional web sites and web applications. The course includes individual and group projects.
This course covers more advanced assessment techniques than studied in HF 750, such as usability benchmarking, competitive testing, and special studies that require advanced measurement skills. The content goes beyond usability to focus on two new overlapping areas: hedonomics and the user experience. These new areas focus less on productivity and more on the broader emotional experience with products and services. The course examines metrics suitable for assessing the contribution of the user experience to the business bottom line. The core learning activity is a field-based experience where student teams conduct research, prepare a detailed report, and deliver a presentation to the sponsoring organization. In addition, influential thought leaders from the user experience community contribute to the class.
This course builds expertise for the HCI professional in a wide range of subspecialties related to human behavior and user-centered design. Three five-week modules on selected topics in HCI are taught by faculty with specialties in requirements gathering, web accessibility, interface design, inspection methods, intelligent agents, and remote usability testing. Students are graded for each module, with the three grades combined for the final class grade. Modules change each semester.
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of engineering expert knowledge into system designs. To overcome the limitations of human processing capabilities, the technology industry must increasingly move from a model of providing support, training and documentation in forms external to the system, to a model where this information is seamlessly integrated in the larger system design. Early examples of knowledge-based subsystems include wizards, agents and expert system support. The very nature of expert knowledge, its value to the expert, and the way in which the expert constructs this knowledge are key elements of the course. Students learn to develop strategies for collecting and organizing knowledge from experts, and study ways to integrate expert knowledge in system designs. The course relies heavily on experts from local research and development labs.
This course embraces an "informed problem-solving" approach to mobile design. In particular, the approach is directly informed by customers – what they do, what they need and how they interact. With the massive growth in smartphone and tablet usage, it is important to think about how UX designers adapt their approach to design for these devices. Smartphones and tablets offer new capabilities, but also new design challenges. The way humans interact with them is different in their ability to use touch, gestures, and other forms of input such as images and voice. This course examines how the traditional research and design process is altered to enable us to create the best mobile products for our customers.
This course introduces students to the process of iterative, user-centered design and to the state-of-the-art user interface design and technology. This course allows the students to experience the benefits of iterative design by requiring them to present several iterations for feedback to the class. Furthermore, by having the students design a non-traditional interface in groups, the impact of iterative design and the importance of carefully analyzing the users in the use context are magnified. Students are also introduced to the latest user interfaces and user-interface research, and read many journal and conference articles, identify and present some issues from these papers, and write a research paper on an interface topic.
This course is a graduate-level introduction to visual, auditory, haptic, and olfactory interfaces used in real, remote, and virtual interaction. When used appropriately, perceptual modalities can enhance interface interaction and enable users to explore and manipulate simulated and distant objects. Class topics include: human perception, auditory, haptic, and olfactory interface design, system evaluation, current applications for these modality-specific technologies and their utilization in VR and AR worlds, and multimodal integration principles (how to combine multiple senses to form a single perception). Coursework includes hands-on homework assignments, reading and discussion of research papers, a lab, and a final project. Students will be required to create an interactive prototype that leverages one or multiple sensory systems.
This course will cover the fundamental principles and methods of interaction design and prototyping. The goals of this course are to provide students with an understanding of interaction design principles and how those principles are embodied in prototypes. The first half of the course will cover the history of interaction design, universal design principles, patterns, design constraints, metaphor, affordances, aesthetics that affect interaction, visual design considerations, human-computer dialog and time-based design.
This course places the concept of field research within the user-centered design life cycle. Methods examined in the class will typically include interviews, observational studies, contextual inquiry, surveys, card sorts, diary studies, focus groups, and cognitive task analysis; how the methods are used, and how collected data fits with business and technical requirements. The course covers the design, planning and delivery of a field study, including preparation, sample definition, administration and data analysis. Students will examine how the data analysis informs the design process. Special emphasis will be placed on different types of user populations and how they affect the way the field research is implemented. Guest speakers and intensive workshop exercises will be interspersed with lecture. Articles will be discussed during class.
Ethnographic research involves naturalistic inquiry aimed at capturing social phenomenon as they occur in a particular setting. Ethnographers can employ multiple data collection strategies to do this, but typically focus on participant/observation methodologies as a primary approach. While primarily found in social science disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, ethnographic approaches increasing are being applied in IT/IS fields for the purposes of achieving better technological designs, improving the user experience, and facilitating collaborative work. This course will introduce the student to the origins of the ethnographic method, discuss the theoretical bases of its use, identify strategies for successful ethnographic inquiry, develop initial skills for data analysis and reporting, and provide examples of how ethnographic studies of work and technological use have been used in a variety of business and organizational contexts.
This course provides students the opportunity to integrate the classroom experience in a diverse range of field experiences in leading high-tech and web development groups. The course requires the development of an educational plan to identify the student's career goals and how those goals can be enhanced through the internship experience. The course also requires close coordination with the internship coordinator and regular meetings with the coordinator throughout the semester.
This course prepares students to engage in professional and scholarly research in human factors, with an emphasis on user-experience design. By critiquing research methodologies and methods from journal and practitioner publications, students will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of particular research designs. Through lectures, readings and interactive classroom discussions of research studies, students will learn how to apply the most appropriate research methodology(s) and method(s) to a particular research problem. The course covers the full spectrum of research from basic to applied.
This course is by invitation to students having shown superior knowledge, ability and skill in their course work. Students need to take HF 700 and HF 795 in the first semester to prepare for their research project. Application for thesis option is open to full-time and part-time students. Students need to apply for the thesis option when they enter the MSHFID program. Students will be evaluated at that time to determine if they possess appropriate academic experience to pursue the thesis option. The decision regarding their admittance will be made in mid-October. Working with a thesis adviser, candidates will develop a research prospectus based on their research interest. The prospectus will be reviewed and approved by the department research committee.
Elective Courses: Non-Human Factors
Select two courses of the following courses, or with approval of the HFID Program Director any other graduate level course at the 600 level or higher.
Python is an easy to learn, widely versatile programming language whose extensive collection of external libraries makes it a popular choice for business analytics and visualization, data science, artificial intelligence, scientific and numeric computing, and many other applications. Its compatibility with leading analytics tools that are widely used in enterprises also places it in high demand. Students in this course will first learn the fundamentals of programming that are common to all programming languages. They will then work with Python libraries to perform common analytics tasks. No prior programming experience is required.
This course teaches programming using the Java language, which is widely used in business. By focusing on algorithm development, data structures, logical reasoning skills, and sound programming practices, students learn to analyze and tackle business programs with software solutions. Emphasis is placed on the importance of writing and thoroughly testing code that is well structured and runs efficiently. Students first gain a solid understanding of programming fundamentals before delving into higher-order concepts, including abstract data types. Practical hands-on exercises and assignments using a well-known, integrated development environment reinforce algorithmic thinking, programming, and debugging skills. No prior programming experience is required.
This course provides a technical focus on information, computer and network security, which together form the basis for securing enterprise systems and services. It introduces what cybersecurity means, both in the abstract and in the context of business information systems. Students learn relevant cybersecurity issues, technologies and approaches found in the contemporary enterprise. Students recognize and understand threats to privacy, confidentiality, integrity and service availability as well as best practices to defend both digital and physical assets against such threats.
This course will survey a range of new and evolving digital technologies, their applications and issues surrounding their use. This discussion-based course will be co-taught by several faculty members, who will lead class meetings, followed by discussions examining issues surrounding the use of the presented technologies in practice. The choice of topics will depend on the contributing faculty and vary from one semester to another. Assignments will include extensive readings and reflections on the topics under study, written summaries and group presentations on specific technologies, and the development of forward-looking ideas on applications of technologies of interest to students and faculty members.
Global Business Experiences are faculty-led courses that last from 10 days to 2 weeks and offer an intensive look at business or cultural practices in a country abroad. These courses are usually offered in January during semester break, in March during Spring Break or in May at the start of the summer semester. Students visit companies daily and meet with business leaders and government officials to further their global mindset and cultural awareness. Through immersion in the business practices of another region, students gain valuable professional skills and develop a stronger bond with their classmates that will benefit them throughout the remainder of their graduate study. Visit the following page for a listing of sites: bentley.edu/offices/international-education/global-business-experiences.
This course provides a conceptual framework for understanding the fundamentals and characteristics of business processes. To set a solid foundation for accomplishing this aim, it reviews the basics of process analysis and introduces process modeling. Included here are various methods of analyzing, measuring and evaluating processes. With these fundamentals in place, the course explores the concept of the value chain to offer a backdrop for understanding both intra- and interorganizational relationships and the associated dependencies that exist. The last part of the course focuses on how information technology can be used effectively in redesigning processes to improve their overall performance. Students are introduced to the enterprise resource planning system SAP. The course includes assignments, exercises and projects focused on different aspects of business processes.
This course examines the multiple roles of ethical and responsible leadership and the challenges associated with leading organizations and teams in a rapidly changing environment. Through discussion, case analysis, and team-based experiential exercises; students explore the complex issues of responsibly leading and guiding organizations and teams in contemporary society. Focus is placed on the development of the student as evolving leader. Students assess individual strengths and weaknesses as a leader, identify and develop a range of leadership competencies, and then apply these leadership skills to a variety of situations.
This course is designed to develop in-depth oral presentation and critical skills in persuasion for a variety of business situations. The course covers strategies for effectively advocating new proposals and defending current policies; addressing audience attitudes and concerns in formulating positions (discovering hidden agendas); establishing arguments through analysis and evidence; creating conditions for mutual persuasion; handling question-and-answer sessions; enhancing well-reasoned arguments and establishing tone through effective language usage; establishing personal credibility (reputation); and recognizing logical and psychological fallacies in arguments. Students will gain experience in thinking on their feet, as well as preparing a coordinated set of strategies for a team position defense and creating effective individual persuasive presentations.
The course will provide a business-focused perspective on analytics in organizations, with emphasis on business fundamentals for analytics professionals (including how businesses are structured, functional areas, core business processes and associated performance metrics, and types of business decisions), the value of analytics in organizations (including organizational-level perspectives on value, managing with analytics, and constraints and consequences of analytics processes such as information security, privacy and ethics), and the practice of analytics (understanding and framing ill-defined business problems in various functional business areas, exploring and visualizing problem-related data, identifying actionable insights, and communicating the results at different organizational levels). The course will feature hands-on exercises with real-world data and analytics applications.
Organizations use a variety of complex work teams to accomplish their objectives. Unfortunately, many organizational teams are not particularly effective. This course is designed to help students lead, participate and work effectively in a variety of team environments – including virtual teams and groups. Students will develop a greater understanding of group dynamics, of their own behavior in teams, and team leadership skills. The course is highly experiential and involves working in teams on graded and non-graded assignments. These assignments include team presentations and written and oral analysis.
This course explores the theory and practice of negotiating, with an emphasis on bargaining within an organizational context. It develops the knowledge of bargaining concepts and models, as well as skills to apply this knowledge in real-life negotiating situations. The course uses multiple negotiating case role plays to increase involvement and to deepen understanding of negotiating principles in face-to-face and virtual online negotiating environments.
This course seeks to improve participant awareness of change dynamics, including: the changing nature of change; understanding the enhanced change complexities in a global, virtual environment, readiness for a change versus continuous change; and the challenge of building change capacity (skills and capabilities). The course focus includes key individual, group and organization-level factors essential for informing leaders and followers as they navigate change efforts in organizations.
This course prepares students for leadership positions in technology-based organizations. The course introduces principles of technology growth and diffusion and how they impact business strategy and planning, markets, the performance of cross-functional teams, product design and project management. Through this course, students gain an understanding of theories, tools and best-in-class practices required to commercialize new technologies or to adapt existing practices in response to either sustaining or disruptive technological innovation. Through lectures, group discussions, case studies and research projects, students explore how leading businesses are creating value from emerging technologies and may continue to do so in the future.
This course presents the specific concepts, systems and techniques for managing projects effectively. It leads students through a complete project life cycle, from requirements analysis and project definition to startup, reviews and phase-out. The role of the project manager as team leader is examined, together with important techniques for controlling project costs, schedules and performance. Lectures, case studies and group discussions are combined to develop skills needed by project managers in today's environment.
In the increasingly complex and global marketplace, innovation is becoming a necessity for competitive strength and survival. Creativity and good ideas alone are not enough for success; they must be transformed into viable goods and services and offered to customers through innovative business models. This course focuses on strategies that leaders use for stimulating and implementing innovation in the workplace. It looks at innovation strategically at the level of the firm and industry. The innovation strategies of successful and unsuccessful firms are highlighted. The course covers topics such as sources of innovation, design thinking, disruptive innovation, business model innovation, first mover advantage/disadvantage, value innovation, and dominant design and standards battles. During the semester, the students will tour innovative companies, and hear from experts in the financing and valuation of small innovative firms.
This course provides students with an in-depth coverage of simple and multiple linear regression methods and, as time permits, an introduction to the analysis of time series data. Simple and multiple linear regression techniques are covered, including the use of transformations such as squares and logarithms, the modeling of interactions, and how to handle problems resulting from heteroscedasticy and multicollinearity. Issues surrounding outlying and influential observations are also covered. The art and science of model building are demonstrated with the help of cases. Autocorrelation is then considered, and an introduction to the ARIMA modeling of times series is provided. This course makes use of statistical packages such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS.
This course focuses on statistical modeling situations dependent on multiple variables, as commonly found in many business applications. Typical topics covered are logistic regression, cluster analysis, factor analysis, decision trees, and other multivariate topics as time permits. Applications of these methodologies range from market analytics (e.g., direct mail response and customer segmentation) to finance and health informatics. A central objective of the course is for participants to be able to determine the appropriate multivariate methodology based on the research objectives and available data, carry out the analysis and interpret the results. This course makes use of statistical packages such as SAS, JMP, R or SPSS, along with more specialized software.
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