Skip to main content

PhD in Human-Centered Computing

Due to the global impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic, The School of Computing’s Human-Centered Computing PhD program will be waiving its GRE requirement for all Fall 2022 applicants. Please be aware that the University’s language requirements for international applicants without a US degree remain in place. The University is currently accepting TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic and Duolingo exams.

The objective of the Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Human-Centered Computing (HCC) degree program is to prepare our graduates for advanced research positions in industry and the academy. The program is designed for students who offer evidence of exceptional scholastic ability, intellectual creativity, and research motivation. The HCC Ph.D. degree is viewed as a certification by the faculty that the student has a solid foundation in Human-Centered Computing and has performed original research in the area. The basis for gaining the degree will be the student's grasp of computing, people, research methods and a cognate or specialty area. The graduates will have extended the frontier of knowledge in at least one area of computing as it relates to a human condition or concern by way of innovative research. The students will demonstrate the ability to express ideas adequately and professionally in oral and written language. The doctoral program usually requires two to four years beyond the M.S. degree and emphasizes research. We encourage prospective candidates to involve themselves in research under the supervision of a faculty member at the earliest possible opportunity. In addition to research activities in various areas of computing and people, there are many opportunities for interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research. 

Course Work and Seminar Requirements

The requirements for the Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing include 60 hours of coursework, of which 36 hours are graded coursework and 24 hours are research hours.

Course Requirements
Graded Course Work (36 hours)  
Fundamentals of HCC 3 hours
Graduate Level Computer Science Courses 12 hours
Courses in People/Human Condition/HCI 6 hours
Research Methods courses 6 hours
Cognate or Specialty Area Approved by Advisor 9 hours
Research (24 hours)  
Pre-dissertation Research (pre portfolio, HCC 8880) 6 hours
Dissertation Research 18 hours

Entering With or Without a Master's Degree

At least 12 letter-grade credit hours of course work beyond the Master’s Degree must be taken at Clemson. There is also an option for direct-entry students without an M.S. to obtain a Master's degree en-route to the HCC Ph.D. degree. Please talk with the Graduate Program Coordinator for the HCC Division for more details on this option.

Entering Without a Computing Background

Students without a computing background can be accepted into the program but are expected to take additional courses to acquire programming skills. (For example, DPA 6000 and DPA 6010).


Full-time students in the HCC Ph.D. program are encouraged to take one seminar (HCC or CPSC 95x0 and 9810) per semester until passing the comprehensive exam (see Ph.D. Examination Requirements below) and one per year until completion of the program.

Examination Requirements

To earn the Ph.D. degree, a student must take and pass three examinations:

  • The Comprehensive Examination
  • The Dissertation Proposal
  • The Dissertation Defense

The Comprehensive Examination

To be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy a student must pass the Comprehensive Examination, which in the SOC is known as the Portfolio. The form of this examination is a portfolio review that is performed by the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC) on behalf of the graduate faculty. This review is intended to certify competency in the core areas of Human-Centered Computing, which are computing, people and research methods. Also, the review is intended to promote scholarship, research, and professional skills.

Students entering the HCC PhD program with an MS must submit their portfolio before the beginning of their fourth semester; students entering without an MS, before the beginning of their sixth.

The student is solely responsible for the contents of the Portfolio, and so it is very important to begin the preparation of the Portfolio early and to solicit the help of your Major Advisor in its preparation. When the complete Portfolio is submitted it is reviewed by GAC, which serves as the examining committee for the comprehensive examination.

A student who is denied admission to candidacy may, at the discretion of the faculty, be given one additional chance to correct the deficiencies that were identified. Graduate School regulations require that a student who fails the Comprehensive Examination a second time be dismissed from the graduate program.

The Portfolio must demonstrate that the student has mastery of the HCC core areas and indicate that the student has the ability to conduct original research and make an acceptable written presentation of the results.

Required Elements of Portfolio

  1. Transcripts: minimum GPA will be 3.5
  2. Writing Sample: A research paper in which a significant component of the writing was done by the candidate must be included. The paper should be of sufficient quality to indicate that the student has the ability to conduct original research and make an acceptable written presentation of the results. Although not required, students are strongly encouraged to submit the paper to a conference or workshop. For such submissions, the student may be the sole author or may be the first co-author with other faculty and/or other students. However, if the paper has joint authorship, the other authors must submit written documentation identifying those sections of the paper that were written by the candidate. The paper does not have to be accepted or published to be included in a successful Portfolio. Although a published paper provides more convincing evidence for research potential, a rejected submission, along with peer reviews, can also be used by the Graduate Affairs Committee to evaluate potential in research. The paper may or may not be related to the student's eventual dissertation area. A candidate's M.S. research paper, thesis, or a derivative thereof may be used to satisfy this requirement.
  3. Statement of Purpose: The student must provide a brief description (limited to one page) of her/his research interests and intended topics in Human-Centered Computing.
  4. Plan of Study: The plan of study should be consistent with the student’s statement of purpose and include a list of courses that the student has taken or plans to take, if the student is not done with her/his coursework.
  5. Major Advisor's Letter of Support: The student will submit her/his portfolio under direction of her/his advisor. The advisor will provide a letter of support for the student.
  6. Student Curriculum Vitae: A copy of the student's CV is required.
  7. Optional Items: The committee will accept optional items such as:
    1. The committee will consider code or an implementation
    2. Other items that support readiness.

The GAC will be looking for evidence of specific research skills, including: the ability to identify a problem, evidence of scholarship, critical analysis, and communication skills (e.g., writing and speaking). Students are encouraged to include all such evidence in the Portfolio.

University Policy Regarding Length of Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. Advisory Committee aids the student in developing a degree curriculum, which includes the selection of specific courses and their sequence. At Clemson University, a minimum of 30 credits past the masters and 60 credits past the bachelor’s degree are required for the doctoral degree. A minimum of 18 credit hours of doctoral research is required. Should the direction of study or research interest change, the student may request the appointment of a new Major Advisor. Coursework leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree is planned to give the student a comprehensive knowledge of his/her field of specialization and a mastery of the methods of research. The degree is not awarded solely on the basis of coursework completed, residence, or other routine requirements. The final basis of granting the degree is the student's grasp of the subject matter of a broad field of study, competence in planning and conducting research, and ability to express him/herself adequately and professionally orally and in writing.


Dr. Eileen Kraemer, HCC Ph.D. Program Coordinator

Apply now

[back to top]