The goal of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute is to foster interdisciplinary research and education in human-computer interaction. The scope of the Institute includes the study of how people design, implement and use interactive computer systems, and how computers affect individuals, organizations and society.

The founders of Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science program argued that computer science includes the study of the phenomena arising around computers as well as the theory and design of computers themselves [Letter from Allen Newell, Alan J. Perlis, and Herbert A. Simon to Science, Vol.157, No. 3795, Sept. 22, 1967, pp. 1373-1374].

Guided by this vision, Carnegie Mellon has had a long history of successful research in areas relevant to human-computer interaction, including user-interface software tools, cognitive models, speech recognition, natural language understanding, computer graphics, gesture recognition, data visualization, intelligent agents, visual interface design, multimedia, computer-supported cooperative work, computer music and drama, intelligent tutors, technical writing, and the organizational and social impact of technology.

The HCII embodies the founders' vision. It provides a supportive environment for integrating these diverse investigations, exploiting interactions among them, and training scientists, engineers, and designers who will produce the next generation of interactive computer systems. Students from supporting departments find a rich source of research opportunities in the HCII; and the Institute also offers a framework for research and development alliances with industry, as well as opportunities for long-term educational visits from industrial partners.