It used to be that computer programmers learned how to design a robust user experience on the fly, sometimes with minimum computer science training. Those days are long gone. Roles for self-taught Renaissance experts have largely given way to a number of specialized careers in programming and web design. One such career is the lucrative, in-demand field of user experience (UX) design.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in UI/UX design will grow an impressive eight percent by 2029—much faster than the average for all other careers—due to the continued popularity of e-commerce and mobile devices.1 Salaries in UX design aren't bad, either. Glassdoor reports that the average base pay is $113,982, deviating from a low of $80,000 and a high of $163,000.2
A UX master's degree is one of the best ways to prepare for a career in user interface (UI) or UX design. Getting a UX design master's degree online allows you the flexibility of studying where you already live while giving you access to the cutting-edge education you'll need to succeed in the field.
Read on to learn what a UX master's degree entails and the benefits of getting a UX design master's degree online.
What a UX Masters Degree Entails
A UX master's degree can take as little as one year, but most online students will complete the program in two years, including coursework taken during the summer semester. Just like with undergrad courses, you’ll take a combination of required and elective classes that are designed sequentially so that you can build on the information you learned in previous coursework.
While the required courses teach the main concepts in user experience design, electives allow students to obtain more specialized knowledge so that they can use their UX design degree to work as an information architect, a usability analyst, or a graphic designer.
Online UX design master's students will most likely start off with foundational, required courses that focus on the principles of UX design. These types of UX design courses will introduce students to the methods employed in various fields and the concept of design evaluation, how research into human behavior informs UX design and introduce them to methods of creative problem solving to make the user experience more fluid. UX design students will likely also encounter courses in information architecture early on in their curriculum, learning the science of organizing and structuring website content.
A critical aspect of UX design is conducting research on the user experience. Students should anticipate taking courses on how to conduct design research that understands user needs, goals, and tasks. You’ll also likely learn about using research methods to produce a design that is human-centered and information-rich, including interviews, diary studies, surveys, and other applicable methods for generating robust research. UX master’s programs also will teach students how to design while taking various human disabilities into account and how to perform an accessibility evaluation of a UX design.
Once you have taken the required courses, you can choose electives based on where you would like to further your knowledge. Electives are typically offered in information architecture and usability as well as topics like leadership.
Top programs will include opportunities for students to perform actual usability testing, employing software tools to facilitate data collection and analysis. The best master’s programs also offer a portfolio design or critique course that gives you the opportunity to receive professional and peer feedback and walks designers through how to create a compelling resumé and collection of work examples.
UI UX Design Masters Degree Career Outcomes
A master's degree in UX design teaches students that web and mobile design influence user experience at every level, showing them how to apply design concepts to enrich and improve user experience. A UI/UX master's degree has application across a broad range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, finance, and government institutions.
Here are just a few of the careers that are possible with a UX master's degree:
- Information Architect: You'll design how content on a website is organized.
- Interaction Designer: You'll map out the interactions between users and digital products—i.e., websites and apps—and develop interactive prototypes to test the user experience.
- Usability Analyst: You'll look at how design problems negatively affect the user experience and provide recommendations for improvement.
- User Researcher: You'll figure out what product users want and how to use that information to create a better UX design.
- Graphic Designer: You'll learn how to create web and mobile designs that conform to brand expectations and improve the user experience at the same time.
The Benefits of Getting a UX Design Masters Degree Online
You won't need to relocate or leave your current job. Online courses give you the flexibility to study at your own pace. You may even be able to get your boss to pay for some of the cost of getting the degree, especially if it will improve your job performance.
You'll need minimum equipment. A computer with broadband internet, and the ability to record video and audio, will suffice.
You'll earn more money after graduating. Graduates of Kent State's UX design master's degree online report an average salary increase of more than 75 percent once they complete the program.
You won't sacrifice quality by getting an online degree. Online master's programs are every bit as reputable as traditional residential degree programs.
Where to Find the Best Online Masters Degree in UX Design 2021
Gone are the days when employers looked down on online degree programs. That doesn't mean, however, that you can throw all caution to the wind when selecting a UX design master's degree online.
The most important thing is to make sure the institution you’re interested in attending is accredited. Most highly-ranked UX master's degree programs are offered by accredited institutions of higher learning, so the lack of accreditation is a huge red flag. You’ll also want to make sure that the curriculum covers the topics you’re interested in and gives you the opportunity to build a portfolio. Finally, the program should have experienced faculty and produce quality graduates who make successful job candidates. A strong faculty and alumni pool also provides UX master's degree candidates with networking and career opportunities.
Design Your Way to a Better Future
An online UX master's degree from top-ranked Kent State University is your ticket to one of the fastest-growing careers in the world today. Earn your UX design master's degree online in as little as two years through collaborative student-centered courses. Contact one of our Admissions Advisors today to craft your personalized degree plan.
- Retrieved on October 5, 2021, from www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm
- Retrieved on October 5, 2021, from, glassdoor.com/Salaries/user-experience-designer-salary-SRCH_KO0,24.htm