When people interact with computers they do so through interfaces. These interfaces are designed by humans, and in the optimal situation, they are user-friendly and easy to navigate. As more of us use computers and machines daily for everything from work to shopping and social interactions, user experience (UX) is more critical than ever before.
A good UX can set a company apart from competitors, helping people achieve a desired outcome. A poor UX can do the opposite, resulting in lower sales or limited interactions. Today there are more opportunities than ever to get a degree that will help you accelerate your UX career. One of those is a master of science (MS) in user experience design or UXD.
What is an MS in UX Design?
An MS in UX design offers the training and skills to understand and develop human-machine interfaces. It blends a wide range of skills together in a rapidly evolving field. To succeed in UX, a student needs to understand how to design interfaces that are:
- Concise and streamlined for a smooth and seamless user interaction
- Clear and unambiguous so it’s easy to figure out how to take the next step toward a desired outcome
- Familiar so a person with limited experience can still navigate the system
- Responsive and quick to reduce or eliminate lag time and delays
- Visually pleasing from a design perspective
- Efficient and productive to help your users achieve their goals
- Helpful and useful, even for a novice user
What Are the Best UX Courses to Take?
Typical UX courses include many hard skills courses including:
- Design Principles in User Experience: Applies the concepts of design to the study of user experience and how to evaluate user experience design.
- Usability: Provides a conceptual and practical overview of the processes and methods of usability testing, such as Think Aloud protocols, performance measurements and eye-tracking analysis.
- Information Architecture (IA): Introduces organization, navigation, labeling, search and other core IA concepts. Students learn to create blueprints, wireframes, process flows and other documents used to communicate an information design.
- Accessibility and Universal Design: Covers different types of disabilities and how that affects user interaction with interfaces plus best practices to make interfaces effective and enjoyable for all types of users.
- Research Methods: Teaches students how to use different types of research methods including interviews, surveys and more to understand user needs, goals and tasks and develop an interface from results.
What Will You Learn From UX Courses?
A good MS in UX design will help you learn and understand the entire user experience as well as professional attributes known as “soft skills” that will help you succeed. These types of skills include:
- Digital design trends: Keeping up with the latest trends in digital design is essential for students to graduate with useful and applicable real-world skills. However, since this field is changing so rapidly it’s not enough to learn about leading trends today. The program should also emphasize how to stay on the cutting edge after you graduate.
- Human behavior and technology habits: Understanding how a person uses a specific device is foundational to UX. But to truly master UXD, students should delve into the psychology of human-machine interactions to create more meaningful experiences.
- Leadership: UX designers are in high demand today, and many new positions are opening in the leadership ranks. Look for MS in UXD programs that help you develop skills to prepare for those roles.
Why You Should Consider Getting an MS in UX Design Online
In an increasingly competitive job market, UX designers with an advanced degree stand out from their peers. A UX master’s degree pairs the technical skills for coding and design with the broad experience of the psychological study of human behavior, leadership development, and UX research. You will be a more well-rounded candidate for any position.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average annual salary for web and digital interface designers at $85,490, with the top 10 percent making more than $140,000 a year. The highest concentration of UX jobs are in California, Washington, Texas, Florida, and New York, with significant growth in other states like Texas, Colorado, and along the East Coast (Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts).1
Master of Science in UXD Career Outcomes
There are a wide variety of careers that await graduates with an MS in UXD, including:
- UX designer: companies from the finance industry to car manufacturing all need UX designers
- Interaction designer: these positions are a segment of user experience that focuses on a person’s interaction with a screen or device, creating efficient designs for better flow
- Information architect: the information architecture is the roadmap for a website or device, and IAs are the ones that develop them for the best user experience
- User researcher: dive deep into the psyche of how and why people make decisions, and consult UX designers on how to use that to their advantage in creating new designs.
- Project manager: website development teams and tech companies need organized and skilled project managers to coordinate UX design projects from start to finish
- Human factors engineer: design objects and environments for optimal user experiences where humans and technology intersect
The Best UX Degrees: Where to Find Them
If you’re interested in pursuing a master’s degree in UX design, look for programs that offer the best courses in a format that works for you. Online programs like Kent State University's online Master of Science in User Experience Design provide the education you need to advance your career or enter the field of UX without stepping onto campus. Learn all about usability, research methods, principles of design and more, 100% online. Complete your education with the option of an internship, research project, paper, or portfolio assessment to get you prepped for the next step in your career. Start your application today.