Human-Centered Technology, Innovation & Design, Ph.D. | NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Human-Centered Technology, Innovation & Design, Ph.D.

On Campus

Person on laptop

Request Information

Modern technologies are redefining and reshaping lifestyles, social and cultural practices, norms, and values, services, institutional processes and models, and socio-technical systems, economies and infrastructures. Understanding the implications of these technologies to inform designing for social and cultural change has become a fast-growing and highly important arena for research. The mission of the Tandon School of Engineering's Doctor of Philosophy in Human-Centered Technology, Innovation & Design program is to educate and train scholars who will produce pioneering research and scholarship at the vanguard of technological practice and theory.

This is a unique interdisciplinary Ph.D. that unites the strengths of the Departments of Technology, Culture & Society and Technology Management and Innovation at NYU Tandon to offer a rigorous, five to six-year course of study that combines practice, theory, and research. The program fosters student research through its focus on high-quality supervision and training by faculty members with significant research strengths in a diverse range of technology-related fields: digital media and creative practice, design and human-computer interaction, science and technology studies, urban and environmental studies, and technology management and innovation.

This terminal degree program is for research-oriented students who are largely interested in pursuing careers teaching and/or doing research at institutions that value the interdisciplinary study of technology and material culture. Universities with undergraduate and graduate programs that emphasize the integration of design and technology development with the social study of technology or management sciences are a primary source of career opportunities for our graduates. In addition, government agencies, not-for-profit research organizations, corporate research centers, and research-based consulting firms also will seek our graduates.

City skyline with digital info graphics superimposed

Urban Science Doctoral Track

Tandon Ph.D. students can specialize their studies in human-centered technology, innovation & design with a focus on urban science through the new doctoral track offered by the Center for Urban Science + Progress.

Admissions/Applications Requirements

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Human-Centered Technology, Innovation & Design program at the School of Engineering is based on an in-depth evaluation of the applicant’s academic record, professional experience, research potential, interest in doctoral study, and overall intellectual and professional qualifications. In some cases, the department contacts applicants for a telephone or personal interview.

To apply to the program, submit the following:

  • Application form with required application fee.
  • Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework completed indicating a bachelor's degree with at least a B average from an accredited college or university. Transcripts must be sent directly from the institutions providing them to the Office of Graduate Admissions.
  • Official score from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • TOEFL IBT scores for international students whose primary language of instruction in school was not English. A minimum score of 90 is required for admission.
  • 3 letters of recommendation from persons qualified to comment on your aptitude for doctoral study and research. At least 2 should be from academics.
  • Statement of purpose that at least covers why you are seeking entrance into the program, you research experience, and research interests.
  • A research-based writing sample (minimum of 10 pages). This could be a paper or research project you have worked on in the past. This writing sample should be uploaded to the "optional uploads" section of your application.

Find out more about admission requirements.

Degree Requirements and Curriculum

The curriculum for the Ph.D. in Human-Centered Technology, Innovation & Design Program fosters a research-intensive doctoral education relevant to understanding and shaping the impact of new technologies on a complex and rapidly-changing society and its institutions. We focus on how technology shapes and molds society and culture and how, in turn, social and cultural institutions respond to those impacts. This includes the rapidly changing areas of interdisciplinary design and media, human-computer interaction, institutional innovation, and data science and urban studies. 

Core coursework for the Ph.D. in Human-Centered Technology, Innovation & Design exposes students to advanced design and research skills modulated by the development of a critically reflexive understanding of the ways in which society and technology deeply influence design and development. Research methods courses help students develop advanced qualitative and quantitative research skills in the social sciences and humanities as the basis for inquiring into, designing, and evaluating new technologies in the service of society.

Thematic elective courses help students gain in-depth knowledge in a focused thematic area related to designing and making in a number of domains that our faculty specialize in, including human-computer interaction, disability studies and inclusive design, citizen science and urban sustainability, socio-technical transitions and systems design, design for governance based on collaboration and participation, and intersectional politics and ethics related to issues of technology. Students and doctoral advisers work together to curate and develop a rigorous course of study in the program.

Students are required to complete 75 credits, including 51 credits from the course work and 24 credits from the dissertation. For more information on specific faculty interests, please refer to the faculty pages under the relevant programs.


  1. Research Methods Courses (9 Credits)

Coursework requirements entail that students take three methods courses: two in qualitative and quantitative research methods, and one methods course related to the student’s plan of study taken after consultation with their primary advisor and the program director.

  • MG-GY 9413 Quantitative Analysis
  • MG-GY 9433 Qualitative Research Methods
  • Methodology course related to student’s plan of study (requires advisor and program director approval)
  1. TCS Courses (15 Credits)

Students will have the opportunity to hone their areas of expertise and specialize through selecting TCS courses relevant to their research interests. Students should consult with their research advisor and select 5 appropriate classes).

  • Can be in any subfield(s), see last page for options
  • At least 3 courses must be offered through TCS department
  1. Doctoral Seminar (12 Credits)

Students are required to take four 3-credit doctoral seminar courses to provide strong research background required for doctoral studies. These four research seminars should be completed before taking the comprehensive exam.

  • DM-GY Doctoral Seminar in Technology, Culture and Society 
  1. Independent Research: (15 Credits)

Students will build their research experience through independent study courses where they will conduct research under a faculty member. Students must complete at least 15 credits of this course before registering for their dissertation, and enroll with at least two different TCS faculty over their course of study.

  • MG-GY 9913 Independent Research 3 Credits
  1. Doctoral Dissertation: 24 credits

The dissertation is evaluated in two parts: Proposal Defense and Final Defense. For details, contact the Ph.D.-TCS Program academic director.

  • MG-GY 990 PhD Dissertation in Technology, Culture, and Society 

Comprehensive Examinations

Students must successfully pass two comprehensive examinations before starting the dissertation.

  • Part One: This examination includes material covered in the methodology courses. It can be taken after completing 30 graduate credits.
  • Part Two: This examination includes material from the thematic elective and associated thematic research courses, doctoral seminars and research methods courses. It can be taken after completing required course work.

Students can take both examinations together. Results are provided within one month of the examination. Students have only two chances to pass each examination, and we recommend they start during the end of their 2nd year.

Research Training and Interaction with Faculty

Students are expected to work actively with one or more faculty each year, and focus on completing research. Students are strongly encouraged to present research in progress once a year and work towards publishable papers, usually with a faculty as co-author. Students are strongly encouraged to work with their primary advisors to outline a plan of study where they can be involved in institutional research.

Every student participates in formal research seminars with departmental faculty and visitors.

Advising and Ph.D. Student Evaluation

The TCS doctoral program faculty director advises all first-year doctoral students. During their first year students have many opportunities to get to know the research interests of all departmental faculty. By the beginning of the second year, students have selected an intermediary adviser who will guide them through the comprehensive exam process and up to the thesis stage. By the middle of the third year students will have selected a thesis adviser. Each year every student submits a report of intellectual progress to their primary adviser.

All faculty meet to review the progress of all students in a day-long meeting each year. At this time, the student’s intellectual progress is reviewed and plans for the following year are considered. The results of this review include a formal letter to the student assessing the previous year’s work and offering guidance and recommendations for the following year’s work.

Prerequisites and Additional Policies

Students who have a master’s degree or who are transferring from other institutions (or other departments within Tandon) are admitted based on the same qualification standards that apply to new students. For each required MS- or PhD-level course, if students have taken a similar course, they may transfer credits for the course. However, students still have to take and pass both qualifying exams. A minimum of 30 credits, including all dissertation credit, must be taken at Tandon. No dissertation credits from other institutions can be transferred.

All students must take the required coursework as assigned and follow the stipulated curriculum. The course work must be finished within the first three years and the dissertation thesis within the next three years, so all students complete the doctorate within six years.

Technology Management

Technology Management Core Courses

  • MG-GY 6013 Organizational Behavior 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6073 Marketing 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6083 Economics 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6093 Accounting and Finance 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6303 Operations Management 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6503 Management of Information Technology and Information Systems 3 Credits

Electives and Seminars 

  • MG-GY 6313 Organization Theory and Design 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6543 Economics for Information Sectors 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 6603 Management of New and Emerging Technologies 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 8653 Managing Technological Change and Innovation 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 8693 Special Topics 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9203 Seminar in Managing Knowledge-Workers in Innovative Organizations 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9213 Seminar in Information Systems Management 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9223 Seminar in Business Process Innovation 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9233 Seminar in Managing Technological Change and Innovation 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9243 Technology Management and Policy 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9253 Technology Strategy, Structure and Decision Making 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9263 Strategic Marketing Seminar 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9273 Doctoral Seminar in Technology Adoption and Diffusion 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9283 Doctoral Seminar on Entrepreneurship 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9293 Seminar on Content Innovation 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9303 Advanced Topics—Organizational Behavior and Organizational Theory 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9313 Introduction to Behavioral Sciences 3 Credits
  • MG-GY 9323 Special Topics 3 Credits

Integrated Digital Media

  • DM-GY 6043 Theories and Cultural Impact of Media & Technology 3 Credits
  • DM-GY 6033 Media Organizations 3 Credits
  • DM-GY7033 Media Law 3 Credits
  • DM-GY 9103 HCI (Theory)
  • DM-GY6063 Creative Coding 3 Credits
  • DM-GY 6143 Interaction Design Studio
  • DM-GY6053 Ideation & Prototyping 3 Credits
  • DM-GY 9103 User Experience Design
  • DM-GY 9XXX Design Studio in Human-Computer Interaction
  • DM-GY 6103 Live Performance Studio
  • DM-GY 6113 Sound Studio
  • DM-GY 6123 Cinema Studio
  • DM-GY 6133 Mobile Augmented Reality Studio
  • DM-GY 6153 Game Design Studio
  • DM-GY 6193 Web Studio
  • DM-GY 9990 Graduate Colloquium

Special Topics in Digital Media

  • DM-GY 9103 Advance Creative Coding
  • DM-GY 9103 Advance Digital Design
  • DM-GY 9103 Costumes as Game Controllers
  • DM-GY 9103 Data Visualization for the Community
  • DM-GY 9103 Design Studio: Radical Architecture
  • DM-GY 9103 Developing Assistive Technology
  • DM-GY 9103 Interactive Installation
  • DM-GY 9103 Interactive Objects and Systems
  • DM-GY 9103 Looking Forward
  • DM-GY 9103 Micro-Environment Exploration Lab
  • DM-GY 9103 Motion Capture
  • DM-GY 9103 Narrative VR
  • DM-GY 9103 Technology and Social Change
  • DM-GY 9103 Technology, Media, and Democracy
  • DM-GY 9103 Un Chained: Assessing Emerging Technology for Social Good
  • DM-GY 9103 Video Art Installation
  • DM-GY 9103 Wearables