User Experience Design Degree Programs

User experience design is a field dedicated to combining technology, design, and human psychology to create helpful products. This article explores the typical admission requirements, as well as common courses found in user experience design programs.

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User Experience Design Degree Programs

With the rise of interactive media - mobile phone apps, video games, and virtual reality - the demand for user experience designers is higher than ever. In order to meet this demand, bachelor's degree programs specifically in user experience, or UX, design have recently been created all across the nation. The coursework for each institution is bound to vary, but students can expect to study computer graphics, psychology, and interactive technology on their path to a degree. Detailed information including course facts, program requirements, and possible career options will be discussed below.

Admission Requirements for User Experience Design Degree Programs

The admission requirements for many user experience design programs include completing an institution's application and sending in the appropriate high school transcripts and official standardized exam scores (either the SAT or the ACT). Optional materials include a personal essay and a letter of recommendation.

User Experience Design Program Coursework

Since user experience design spans so many disciplines, the coursework from institution to institution can vary. There are colleges that may focus more on the art aspect of UX, while some may hone in on the psychological aspect. However, no matter the differences, there are classes that remain staples in the study of user experience design, and they are described below.

Fundamentals of Interactive Design

In this course, students will learn about the role an interactive user experience designer plays in today's world. They will explore the context of the industry and the modern-day market for interactive design. Students will also find out how to create design-centered deliverables to build their portfolio for future employers.

Studio and Practicum Courses

In the field of user experience design, courses that provide real-life applicability and the ability to be hands-on are important. Students are likely to encounter several types of labs and studio courses. The focus of these studio courses can include creating prototypes, computer graphic design, designing for small businesses and designing for a corporate market. Options might incorporate art and storytelling studios, technology labs, or user-focused practicums.

3D Animation

There may be several courses involved in the mastery of 3D animation, and students could begin in introduction classes and work their way up to advanced courses. Learning 3D animation equips students with animation skills that are often used in mobile game and computer gaming industries. These courses strike a balance between 3D technical skills and aesthetics and may end in a portfolio-building project.

Human-Centered Research

As its title would suggest, humans are at the center of user experience design. Students will learn the proper way to conduct and interpret research based on user testing, evaluations, and data. They will also find out about market research and user personas that will help them to better define their audience. Students may then create prototypes that best fit this audience and work towards improvements based on every cycle of user testing and feedback.


A basic knowledge of the human mind is important when it comes to user experience design. This course will increase student's understanding of human motivation, perception, personality, and much more. Specializing in organizational psychology - or psychology that focuses on how humans behave in an organization - is sometimes recommended for aspiring user experience designers.

Ethics in Interactive Media

As technology becomes more integrated into our everyday lives (consider apps, for example), the question 'what is ethical and what isn't?' is something user experience designers find themselves asking. This course may help them answer that question as it delves into the contemporary issues that surround interactive media. Students will learn the best practices to use when faced with certain issues.

How to Choose a Degree in User Experience Design

When deciding how to choose a user experience design program, prospective students should consider several issues. A handy online program may be the best route, especially if time is not a readily available resource. The drawback of this option, however, is there may be no group project work available to students - an aspect that may be crucial for some individuals. For others, a hands-on experience that focuses on real-life applicability through a practicum studio may be best, but there is a physical time-requirement for students. In addition, students might make the strongest job candidates upon graduation by taking part in programs with the most interdisciplinary course requirements to gain the broadest experience possible.

Career Options with a User Experience Design Degree

Typical graduates of this degree go forward to become user experience designers. According to Payscale in 2017, designers in this career earn a median annual salary of $72,464. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't collect information for this profession specifically, but does state that the related career of web developers should expand by 13% from 2016-2026. Occupations that user experience design graduates may consider are below.

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