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Education Master's and PhD degree programmes Human-Machine Communication
Header image Human-Machine Communication

Human-Machine Communication

How can we model human task performance? How do our brains combine visual and auditory information? What is the ideal interface for a tired air traffic controller?

The Master's degree programme in Human-Machine Communication (HMC) focuses on Cognitive Science and its applications. HMC provides you with insights into human cognition and teaches you to use this knowledge in applied settings, such as tutoring systems, speech technology and human-computer interaction. For example, by leveraging knowledge of human cognition, you can improve the communication between humans and complex computer systems, use language and speech technology, or develop simulation models of users.

Two questions form the basis for this programme:

  • How does human cognition work?
  • How can we use this knowledge in applied settings

To answer these questions, you have to know how humans perform specific tasks and how this performance limits and affects task performance. How do humans acquire new skills and how do they learn to adapt to a new task? In addition, it is important to think about how humans communicate and apply this to human-machine communication. While language is the most natural way of human communication, this might not always be the best to communicate with a machine.

Facts & Figures
MSc in Human-Machine Communication
Course type
24 months (120 ECTS)
Croho code
Language of instruction
Science and Engineering
Why study this programme in Groningen?
  • This programme is unique in its combination of: Artificial intelligence; Cognitive science and modeling; Language & speech technology; Computational neuroscience
  • Our faculty is the home of the 2016 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, Ben Feringa, and the Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Frits Zernike


2-year programme; credits per year: 60 ECTS; most courses are 5 ECTS.

For the complete curriculum, please see:

Programme options
Cognitive Engineering (specialization)
Cognitive Language Modelling (specialization)
Cognitive Modelling (specialization)
Computational Cognitive Neuroscience (specialization)
HTSM Honours Master (honours program)

This Master's degree programme gives access to the additional, highly selective, High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) Honours Master.

The HTSM Honours Master is organized in cooperation with Philips and other major industry partners.

More information about this option

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is recommended
  • For an average of 20 weeks
  • Maximum of 60 EC

Exchange: All our science and engineering programmes offer study abroad possibilities at a number of partner institutions. Our partners include top-100 universities in Europe (for example in Germany, UK, and Sweden) and in the USA, China, South-East Asia, and South America. Our exchange programmes have a typical duration of one semester and count toward your final degree.

Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
knowledge minimum

Sufficient English proficiency on VWO level is required.

previous education

A Bachelor's degree in Artificial Intelligence, Psychology or a relevant degree including the following subjects: Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Psychology or Cognitive Science, Statistics and Research methods, practical skills in Programming.

Information about admission possibilities and requirements for students from a Dutch HBO institute is published on:

Nederlandse studenten kunnen ook in februari starten; neem contact op met de studieadviseur.

Transfer options

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Artificial IntelligenceAll Research universities

No additional requirements

More information:

Access to be decided by the admissions board

Study programmeOrganizationTransition
Artificial IntelligenceUniversity of GroningenNo additional requirements
Information ScienceUniversity of GroningenNo additional requirements
PsychologyUniversity of Groningen

Additional requirements

More information:

Students with a BSc in psychology who have sufficient programming experience and have passed the course Architectures of Intelligence can be admitted.

Admission requirements

Specific requirementsMore information
knowledge minimum

BEFORE YOU APPLY! Make sure to visit 'MSc Application Procedure' at: for all the necessary information about the procedure and admission requirements.

language test

MAKE SURE TO VISIT for all the necessary information about required language tests and minimum scores.

previous education

A Bachelor's degree in Artificial Intelligence, Psychology or a relevant degree including the following subjects:Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Psychology or Cognitive Science, Statistics and Research methods, practical skills in Programming.

This is merely an indication of required background knowledge. The admissions board determines whether the specific contents of this/these course(s) meet the admission requirements of the master programme for which you applied.

other admission requirements

BEFORE YOU APPLY Make sure to visit 'MSc Application Procedure' at for all the necessary information about the procedure and admission requirements.


In cooperation with major national and international companies we welcome students with several scholarships

ASML Scholarship: ASML is one of the world's leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment. The €5000 p/y scholarship is awarded every year to 25 exceptional students, who get the chance to become a Technology Ambassador within their scholarship period. More information can be found here:

Registration procedure

The Admissions Board will decide whether you can be admitted to the Master's degree programme. Applications are evaluated on a continuous basis. You do not have to wait until the application deadline to apply.

Application deadlines

Type of studentDeadlineStart course
Dutch students01 May 202001 September 2020
01 May 202101 September 2021
EU/EEA students01 May 202001 September 2020
01 May 202101 September 2021
non-EU/EEA students01 May 202001 September 2020
01 May 202101 September 2021
Tuition fees
NationalityYearFeeProgramme form
EU/EEA2019-2020€ 2083full-time
non-EU/EEA2019-2020€ 15500full-time
EU/EEA2020-2021€ 2143full-time
non-EU/EEA2020-2021€ 17500full-time

Practical information for:

After your studies

Job prospects

Once you have obtained your Master's degree, you can then use your skills in industrial research and development departments or usability labs, where you make sure that knowledge about human thinking and acting is used as early as possible in the design process.

In companies where computer software and new media applications are made, user interface design experts, usability testers and interaction designers are needed. If you have specialised in the field of speech and language technology, you can for instance get a job at a telecommunication company.

You could also choose to find a job at a research institute where you work as a researcher. This can be done at a university (PhD studentship) or at a research institute like TNO. About 50% of our students choose a career as a scientist, mostly as PhD student.

Job examples

  • Work for a startups to develop smart software
  • Interaction designer
  • Usability tester
  • PhD research position

Interdisciplinary in nature

Within the Master's degree programme Human-Machine Communication, much of the research is connected to the department of Artificial Intelligence and the research institute Bernoulli. Most of the teachers in the Master's programme participate as researcher in ALICE and the content of the courses is closely linked to their research themes.

The mission of the Bernoulli Institute is to perform outstanding academic research and teaching in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Artificial Intelligence, and to maintain international leadership herein; to foster these disciplines as a living body of knowledge, and to make it relevant to society in its broadest sense. The symbiosis between pure and applied science, and between mono- and multidisciplinary research and teaching, is a distinguishing characteristic of our institute. As an important part of this mission we aim to transfer our results to other areas of science and technology, and initiate and expand inter- and multi-disciplinary research collaborations.

The following research groups within the institute focus on Artificial Intelligence:

The research in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering is inherently interdisciplinary in nature. With Computing Science, an interest in formal modeling is shared, where these models may be symbolic, statistical or hybrid in nature. With Psychology and Biology an interest in natural cognition is shared, where the goal is to describe fundamental qualities of cognition in such an explicit way that computational models of perceptual, cognitive, and behavioural control functions can be constructed.

Good ties with the research of other institutes at the University of Groningen

The master HMC also has good ties with the research of other institutes at the University of Groningen. There are ties with the Faculty of Behavioural and Social sciences (Heymans Institute - Prof Addie Johnson), the Centre for Language and Cognition Groningen (Computational Linguistics - Dr Petra Hendriks, Dr Leonie Bosveld-de Smet, Dr Gosse Bouma, Prof Ir John Nerbonne, Dr Gertjan van Noord) and the research centre Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences (Prof Ir Diek Duifhuis).

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If you want to know more about the programme Human-Machine Communication, please contact:

  • Academic Advisor (For questions regarding the programme)
  • (For international students who are interested in a Campus Tour or have other practical questions)
    Email: sciencemasters
						Testimonial of Kai van Amsterdam

    My job is as multifaceted as the programme is

    – Kai van Amsterdam
    Read more

    'I got a job at the UMCG after writing a thesis on anaesthesia monitors. Anaesthesiologists view graphs on monitors during surgery. We wanted to develop a monitor that translates graphs into statistical patterns. It proved that anaesthesiologists cannot recognize these patterns. Maybe a computer can? Could a model predict what's going to happen next? This is the focus of my research.

    I also analyse data for the anaesthesia department. There is too much data for the physicians to process. You need to find the right balance of drugs for each patient, which is why it is important that physicians can make good use of the available data. My job is as multifaceted and practical as the programme was. I get to do research and I’m also involved in various projects!’

						Testimonial of Chris Janssen

    It is good to see that as a student I can already play a role in research and business

    – Chris Janssen
    Read more

    The Master Human-Machine Communication appealed to me because of its combined practical and fundamental programme. By studying the human mind and formalizing theories in computer models, you can test theories on a lot of aspects relatively easy.

    At the moment I work on a project to create a computer game in which players learn social skills. My role is to develop a digital teacher who can assess your level of skill for different training objectives and uses this to dynamically personalize the training. Besides the interesting topic of digital learning, the project is also very interesting as it is done together with a lot of companies. Knowing both some psychology and technology, helps me to play a bridging role between the different partners.

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