Join us as a PhD student in the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab at Santa Clara University under the direction of Prof. Kai Lukoff, in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Our location in the Silicon Valley offers unique opportunities to engage with — and also critically examine — the work of leading tech companies. 

You can join us in the Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer Quarter. The application form and deadlines are here.

Potential research areas

Our lab has active projects in several research areas. If you join our lab as a PhD student, you can grow one of these existing research areas or propose your own.

  • Digital wellbeing beyond screentime tools – Researching, designing, and developing digital interfaces to give users a sense of control over how they spend their time online. This work moves beyond the current set of screentime tools to think more deeply about how we can create systems that respect human attention. This builds on a line of research that was awarded the 2023 Outstanding Dissertation Award by ACM SIGCHI, the leading organization of human-computer interaction researchers.
  • Augmented reality (AR) storytelling – In one of our initial projects, we are collaborating with Native American partners to create an immersive AR tour showcasing the past, present, and future of the Ohlone Tribe on Santa Clara University campus (read more).
  • Research tools to understand mobile apps – Researchers in many fields from business to mental health are studying the apps on mobile app stores. However, scraping and analyzing data from mobile app stores is challenging for non-technical researchers and the process is undocumented. How can we create tools and guidelines that help researchers do this important work?


  • Interest in human-computer interaction
  • Motivation to research, design, and develop technologies with a social impact
  • Experience with web technologies (e.g., HTML, CSS, JavaScript)
  • Computer science B.S. degree required, M.S. degree preferred (this PhD position is within the Department of Computer Science and Engineering)
  • See also program information and admissions information

Recommended preparation

A Ph.D. is a major life decision. Before you apply, I recommend you do some background reading. I also recommend you perform this exercise: 3 Papers I Wish I’d Written. When I was considering a PhD, it helped me clarify my own goals. It might also help you.


Please email Kai Lukoff with your CV and a few sentences on why your skills and interests are a good fit for our HCI research lab. If you have completed the 3 Papers I Wish I’d Written exercise, please share that too. We can then schedule a time to speak.