Human-Centered Design Concentration


Human-Centered Design Concentration Requirements

  • Required Courses (16-24 Credits)
    • Human-Centered Design 101 and 497
    • Complete an additional 8-16 credits total in each of 4 Deepening areas.
      • At least one of these courses must be at the 300-level.
      • Independent studies cannot count toward this requirement.
  • Complete a Collaborative Practical Experience

Deepening Electives

As human-centered design at a liberal arts college values cross-disciplinary connections, students will select one 2-4-credit course in each of four areas for a total of 8-16 credits that will deepen their knowledge by allowing them to explore and apply their basic skills in other disciplines. These areas are:

  • Understand People
  • Understand Artifacts
  • Observe and Evaluate
  • Design and Make


In collaboration with their advisors, students should choose Deepening Courses that serve their particular design interests and goals. Students must take at least one of these courses at the 300-level. Independent studies may not count towards these requirements.

These courses can count for distribution, majors, or minors at the same time they count in the concentration. Students are encouraged to count major courses towards the Deepening Areas so that the HCD concentration builds on their major, and to build connections by selecting complementary courses from other departments and programs. For some courses, especially ones with high enrollment, majors or minors will have priority. Courses may not count towards multiple Deepening Areas within the concentration.

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Collaborative Practical Experience

Students are required to complete a Collaborative Practical Experience for the concentration before taking HCD 497. This can take one of several forms, it can occur during a semester or summer, and it can be paid or unpaid. Students should plan this experience with their HCD advisor.


  • Internship; examples include:
    • UX or user experience design project focusing on web or smartphone applications for families with little or no access to computers or internet
    • Work with a healthcare organization to redesign their client intake process and/or space and/or infrastructure to improve privacy and health-information sharing
    • Placement in a graphic arts design firm working on messaging surrounding climate change
  • Sustained community engagement (ideally project-based or leadership role); examples include:
    • A community fellow position working with the County Health Department to redesign a newsletter and other communication platforms to improve reach to underserved populations.
    • Semester-long placement with an education professional to redesign an afterschool curriculum in environmental education
    • Placement in a library archive to design a digital archive and sharing/storytelling platform for local immigration stories
  • A collaborative project engaging an audience beyond the student and the faculty supervisor; examples include:
    • Student-initiated research and design proposal for a new non-profit comedy club in Walla Walla
    • Collaborative design and production of a public art work
    • Design and building of classroom furniture, in collaboration with local school programs in Skilled and Technical Sciences, to meet needs of local K-12 students with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
    • Design signage presenting historical information to the public at an historic site
    • Research on creating inclusive learning spaces at Whitman
    • Research on the design of automotive information displays for safer driving
Total Credits