Earning a masters in UX design could be a strategic opportunity for many students. If you are currently interested in a technological, computer, or media career path, understanding how humans interact with technology can be highly beneficial.
Some students pursue a master in user experience design to develop skills as a UX/UI professional. Others use this opportunity to hone their understanding of how software, apps, websites, and networks are used by many individuals.
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Let’s take a look at this fascinating degree program to see whether it’s a good fit for your interests and goals.
Online Masters in UX Design Programs
A “UX designer” is a relatively new job title. This profession works with technology and with the humans intended to use it to ensure that websites, software, apps, devices, and networks work intuitively.
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A master in user experience design is a recently introduced degree program that helps students hone their ability to recognize and appreciate the relationship between technology and its intended users. This may include tasks such as:
- Designing websites that visitors find easy and pleasant to use
- Creating educational tools to assist users with learning challenges
- Developing healthcare intake systems that meet privacy regulations
- Updating apps and online tools
- Building an internal network system that all employees of a company can access
User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) roles are becoming more popular within computer design and development fields. But the skills that help professionals build simple, “human-friendly” technology can be useful in many other fields as well.
UX design students may wish to focus their education on a variety of concentrations, such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), learning and accessibility, or branding and media. With the skills learned in a UX design degree program, graduates may wish to work in industries such as technology, business, government, education, or healthcare.
Some professionals work as independent contractors, while others may work within a product development department of a business.
UI UX Design Careers & Salaries
Those who pursue their masters in user experience design frequently set goals to become user interface or user experience professionals, but there are also many related fields in which these skills can be beneficial.
Many technological and computer-related careers involve developing software, systems, apps, networks, and programs that will be used by other individuals. So, knowing how humans and technology interact can provide a professional advantage.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of potential careers related to UI UX design.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||$136,620|
|Project Management Specialists||$95,370|
|Web and Digital Interface Designers||$83,240|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||$68,230|
Nearly everyone interacts with programs, apps, software, and other technology each and every day. As a result, professionals with a masters-level understanding of UI/UX design will continue to be in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for web developers and digital designers is highly positive, with 23% growth expected over the next ten years.
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Those who earn a masters in interaction design may choose to work for large corporations or government entities, researching, designing, and building technology for others to use. They may also work as contractors, working for smaller clients in a project manager or consultant role.
Master of UX Design Curriculum & Courses
Each school that offers UX masters programs will offer their own unique curriculum. You may want to review each program’s course catalogue for details about the courses offered.
Here are some common courses that may appear in a user experience design masters program:
- Theory of Human-Centered Design: This course helps you explore how humans interact with a variety of different interfaces based on non-technical tasks.
- Qualitative and Quantitative User-Centric Design Research: In this course, you’ll examine how to conduct UI/UX experiments as well as how to interpret and use the results.
- Visual Interface Design: You’ll have the opportunity to learn about different types of design methods, technology, and theory for apps, software, and other digital displays.
- Human-Technology Interaction: How people connect with technology can help researchers and designers learn more about how to enhance the user experience.
- Solving Design Problems: In this course, you’ll have the opportunity to identify design issues and create potential solutions.
- Information and Visualization: This course helps you make the connection between the visual cues provided to users and the way that information is perceived and acted upon.
- Basics of Technical Communication: You’ll have the opportunity to explore how technology is used to assist and enhance interpersonal communication.
- Ethical Data Analysis: In this course, you’ll explore how to legally extract and review the data they handle.
- Accessibility and Inclusivity in Design: This course provides you with more information on how various physical and intellectual challenges can change a user’s experience.
- Data Analysis and Interpretation: You’ll focus on reviewing data from various resources to determine whether experiments are working and where opportunities and challenges may lie.
Students may also choose courses in areas such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, media, and marketing as part of their degree.
UX Masters Degree Admissions Requirements
The admissions requirements for each masters in interaction design will likely vary, so it’s beneficial to check out the application process for each school before you get started.
In many cases, schools will request information like the following:
- GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
- Transcripts of previous education
- Letters of recommendation
- Scholarly essays
You may also be asked to provide a statement of intent, in which you explain why you are pursuing a user experience design masters. Other programs ask you to complete an interview with program staff.
Master’s Degree in UX Design Programs Accreditation
When reviewing programs that offer master in UX design degrees, you may wish to note whether each school is accredited.
Regional accrediting organizations are recognized by CHEA, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. CHEA offers a list of credible accreditors as well as a database of accredited schools. A school that receives regional accreditation has been carefully reviewed for academic excellence.
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There can be many benefits to choosing a school that has received accreditation. Employers may place preference on candidates who have attended an accredited school, and professional organizations or certification boards may require this as well.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Many students seek financial assistance when paying for their UX masters programs. If you are interested in need-based assistance, you can complete the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This program provides federal-based financial aid to students based on income.
Student loans with low interest rates are the most common form of federal aid. There are also many sources and opportunities for scholarships. You may wish to start by checking with a potential school’s awards, but you can also explore opportunities provided by corporations, private donors, and your own community.
You might also determine whether your employer offers an educational assistance or tuition reimbursement program, which could help offset the cost of your UX UI masters degree.
What Is a UX Design Masters Degree?
A master in user experience (UX) design degree is an opportunity to gain expertise in understanding the relationship between humans and technology.
In a UX design degree program, you can explore the various technologies, theories, and applications involved in researching, developing, designing, implementing, and enhancing how people use and interact with technology. Whether your interest is in design, development, analysis, network architecture, or research, understanding the connection between humans and technology can be beneficial for a variety of professions.
A UX design masters degree can help you more fully appreciate the habits and behaviors of those who interact with technology.
What Can You Do with a Masters in User Experience Design?
UX design graduate students take a deep dive into the user experience, from how humans and technology interact to the methods for researching and developing a solution to UX challenges. For those computer professionals whose work involves an end user, this degree can provide valuable insight into creating a user-friendly product.
Common careers in this field include web designers, web developers, software developers, UX project managers, and research scientists. As noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career opportunities in fields such as web development, software design, and computer research are growing at a rapid rate compared to the national average.
What Do You Learn in a UX Design Master Degree?
Some common goals of user experience design masters programs include students studying the following:
- Fundamentals of user experience and user interface design in a variety of settings
- Usability testing to determine where challenges and opportunities exist
- Principles of visual design and how information and visual cues interact
- Design, development, and evaluation of many different interfaces and products
- Cross-media design and how UX/UI can be influential on many different platforms
While many individuals earn their UX design masters degree with the intention of working on UX/UI projects, the skills learned in this program can be helpful in a variety of fields.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online UX Design Masters Degree?
Different master in UX design degrees can have different timelines due to various program requirements and the amount of time you can devote to your studies.
If you select a program that requires 36 credit hours of study, you may be able to earn your degree in 1 year, provided you remain enrolled full-time all year. This would include a summer semester, if offered. Programs that require a thesis or capstone project may take longer to complete.
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Additionally, enrolling part-time will increase the amount of time it takes to reach graduation. Most full-time students earn their masters in 1 to 2 years.
Should I Get a Masters in UI/UX Design?
Earning a masters degree in UI and UX design is a strategic step for many individuals, but whether it is right for you depends on your personal career goals and aspirations.
Many professionals appreciate the skills and knowledge picked up through a UX design masters program. Regardless of their field, understanding the relationship between people and the devices they use can be helpful.
We live in a very tech-oriented world, and careers in computer, technology, and web-based fields are on the rise. This means your masters in UI/UX design could be beneficial for many professions.
What’s the Difference Between Product Design vs. UX Design Masters Programs?
In many cases, both product designers and UX designers have roles that somewhat overlap. So how do you choose whether to pursue a graduate-level degree in product design or UX design?
Here are some of the differences between the two paths.
|Masters in Product Design||Masters in UX Design|
You may wish to consider your overall career goals when deciding between the two programs.
Is a Masters Degree in UX Design Worth It?
Yes, a masters degree in UX design is worth it for many students. UX masters programs provide a unique experience for students to fine-tune their ability to appreciate the relationship between devices and the humans who use them.
Career opportunities for web designers, software developers, UX project managers, and research scientists continue to grow, which means professionals in these fields will continue to be in demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 23% job growth for web developers and designers over the next ten years.
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If your long-term career aspirations include understanding and adapting technology to meet the needs of users, you might consider earning a graduate degree in UX design.
Universities Offering Online Masters in UX Design Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University offers an online Master of Science in User Experience. The program requires 30 credits, in the form of 10 classes that last 7.5 weeks. Potential courses include Cross-Media Design Solutions, Foundations of Human Systems Engineering, and Fundamentals of Technical Communication.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Azusa Pacific University offers a low-residency Master of Arts in User Experience Design designed to accommodate working professionals. The program requires 30 credits that focus on how to effectively manage creative teams and projects. The curriculum integrates a Christian worldview throughout.
Azusa Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
A Master of Science in User-Centered Design can be earned through Brandeis University. The program requires 30 credits and may be completed 100% online. On average, the degree can be finished in 1 to 3 years. Internships may be offered for the opportunity to earn real-world experience.
Brandeis University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Columbus College of Art & Design offers an MPS in UX Design with opportunities to build a professional network and work on solving real-world problems. The curriculum includes live online class meetings, accompanied by 3 or 4 weekend workshops held in person. On average, the program takes 1 to 2 years.
Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Drexel University offers the opportunity to earn an MS in Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience either on campus or online. The curriculum may provide opportunities to participate in collaborative, hands-on learning experiences. The program typically takes 1.5 to 2.5 years to complete.
Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Kent State University offers an MS in User Experience Design 100% online for working professionals. The program requires 36 credits and can usually be completed in 2 years. Classes tend to be small to foster collaboration and personal connection, and faculty have both educational and practical experience.
Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Maryland Institute College of Art offers an MPS in User Experience Design that may be earned while working full-time. The curriculum includes the opportunity to build a portfolio while working on real-world projects. Coursework is completed online with a cohort, typically over the course of 15 months. Students must also participate in a 2 day virtual industry immersive.
Maryland Institute College of Art is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Michigan State University offers the opportunity to earn a Master of Science in User Experience. The program is designed to teach practical skills in an online, asynchronous format. Potential courses include User Research and Design, Current Topics in UX, and Usability Evaluation.
Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northwestern University offers a Master of Science in Information Design and Strategy that can be earned part-time and online. The interdisciplinary curriculum was developed with help from industry leaders to teach skills for cross-functional roles. The program requires 12 courses.
Northwestern University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Rochester Institute of Technology offers a Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction. The degree is available on campus or online with co-op or internship opportunities. The program offers the option to complete a thesis or a professional project, depending on specific career goals.
RIT is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Rutgers University offers a Master of Business and Science in User Experience Design either on campus or online. The program is designed to teach state-of-the-art technological skills and how to apply psychological, sociological, and communication theory to guide design. The curriculum emphasizes experiential learning.
Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Touro University offers the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Web and Multimedia Design. Classes are available both online and on campus and meet just once a week in the evenings. The curriculum focuses on multi-media products, user experience and design, and graphic design. The program requires 33 credits.
Touro University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Baltimore offers an MS in Interaction Design and Information Architecture. The program consists of 36 credits that can be completed entirely online. Classes may meet during the evening or on weekends. The program offers multiple sessions each year.
The University of Baltimore is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of California – Irvine offers a Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design. On average, this low-residency program can be completed in 1 year. The program offers an interdisciplinary education in small classes taught by diverse faculty. Students work in teams to complete projects for real-world clients.
UCI is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers the opportunity to earn an MS in Innovation with User Experience online. The curriculum covers technology, design, and business principles. Various specialties are offered including System Design, Applied Analytics, Organizing and Managing Innovation, or Brands, Products, and Consumers. All students are required to complete capstone projects.
WPI is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Getting Your Masters in UX Design Online
Earning your master in user experience design degree could be a strategic step toward a new career path or specialization.
Whether you are looking to enhance your current technology career or have goals of becoming a UX professional, getting your masters in UX design online could help you grow your expertise and qualifications. This can be a beneficial opportunity for individuals who wish to contribute to the ongoing and constantly developing relationship between people and technology.
You could start looking at UX design programs offered online by accredited universities to determine which ones best meet your educational and professional goals.