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User Interface Design Master's Degree Programs

Those interested in pursuing careers in graphic design or computer programming might opt to earn a master's degree in user interface design. We'll explore the available programs as well as salaries, career growth potential, and educational options associated with completing this master's degree program.

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A master's program in user interface design (UID) is ready-made for an individual who enjoys a multi-faceted challenge. Skills and experience gained in this degree program can lead to a broader career in this growing job market. It requires an understanding of design elements along with some programming skills. Any company that has products that involve human interaction with a computer, from automobile dashboards to mobile devices, needs this skill set.

Related Careers/Jobs Table

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth Forecast (2016-2026)*
Graphic Designers $48,700 4%
Multimedia Artists and Animators $70,530 8%
Computer Programmers $82,240 -7
Software Developers $103,560 24%
Computer and Information Systems Managers $139,220 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Master's Degrees in User Interface Design

UID programs are as varied as the institutions offering them, and each one varies slightly from the other. The titles for these programs include user interaction design, user-centered design, and human-computer interaction and design. Though the programs' names may differ, students should expect to complete core coursework from the following list of sample courses:

Information Architecture

The goal of this course is to take complex information and make it easy to understand. Focusing on the end user, it teaches the importance of organization and design in the presentation. Emphasis is placed on elements such as research and how it supports an effective design. Evaluation techniques will be covered to assess the effectiveness of the design.

Psychology of User-Centered Design

Underlying user interface design is the need for a thorough understanding of social and psychological elements the end user will be experiencing. A partial list includes motivation of the user, social and environmental aspects, reasoning, and filters to perception. Concerns about user interaction and the possibility of error in that interaction are discussed. These could be as simple as a label used in the design. This course helps to identify and design around these challenges to interaction.

Design

Design brings all the elements together. Through classroom interactions and exercises, concepts identified in previous steps will be tried, challenged and refined. This may take place in group activities or in smaller teams and will provide opportunities to work on different platforms.

Prototyping

Prototyping is the process of building the product. As this process moves further along towards completion successive iterations of creation and testing are completed. Feedback is gathered on elements like usability, clarity of labeling, and navigation. Adjustments are made to the coding or graphics and the process is repeated.

Managing Interactive Projects

UID projects can be complex with many roles contributing to the final product. Therefore, management of the project is critical, and scheduling tasks so that resources, both human and material, are available at the right moment will make the difference between a successful and a losing project. Effective leadership, team building, implementation tasks and budget management are presented in this course.

Electives

In addition to the sample core courses just reviewed, elective courses are added to the program and allow it to be tailored to fulfill personal goals by emphasizing programming, web development, mobile development, or graphic art. The student can select from a full range of these elective subjects.

UID Master's Degree Programs Admission Requirements

While schools have their specific requirements, most also have some universal admission requirements. Schools typically will require GRE scores and a minimum undergraduate GPA. Letters of recommendation, a resume/CV, and prerequisite degree (possibly in a specific area) may also be required with one's application.

Traditionally, companies have relied heavily on experience when hiring. However, because the number of applicants with degrees who are applying for these design jobs is increasing, the best approach is to combine real-world experience with an advanced degree. A degree program will provide knowledge and skills in areas that an individual isn't likely to encounter with only work-related experiences.

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