User Experience, Master of Science

User Experience

Master of Science

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Program Overview

The Department of Information and Media offers a fully online, asynchronous masters-level program in User Experience (UX) to accelerate career prospects of early and mid-career professionals for leadership roles. UX focuses on humans interacting with technologies, as well as business goals, during the design process to create user-centered and socially responsive interactive technologies, applications, and information systems. The program enables students to earn a masters from one of the world’s leading programs without the expense and overall challenges associated with leaving their home or job. The 30-credit program emphasizes a “user-first” perspective, meaning it integrates knowledge of human-computer interaction with industry-relevant methods and social responsibility to prepare students for real-world experiences in the workplace, including technical and/or management careers in user-first experience design and human-centered research.

Program Outcomes

This premier online graduate user experience program combines user-first theoretical and practical knowledge of experience design that will help students build their skills and expertise to become champions of change, drivers of innovation, and creators of sustainable user experiences and engagements. With a Master of Science in User Experience from MSU, graduates will be prepared to:

  • Become a UX leader, driving the technology behind product design and marketing
  • Qualify for UX job roles such as designer, researcher, or project manager
  • Design more usable and accessible websites, software, and products for diverse audiences
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret user experience data to inform decision making
  • Advance dynamic IT developments in the 21st century global workplace

Career Outlook

The User Experience program will position students for rewarding, well-paying careers in human-computer interaction, user experience design, and human-centered research. Graduates will have job titles that reflect the major UX areas:

  • UX Design: UX designer, experience designer, interaction designer, or information architect
  • UX Strategist: UX strategist, UX architect, UX product manager, or UX analyst
  • Visual Design: Visual information designer, user interface (UI) designer, UI artist, or digital designer
  • Research and Usability: UX researcher or usability researcher/specialist/analyst
  • Content: Content strategist or UX copywriter

A Top-Ranked Education

  • 31st among Best Public Universities in America — U.S. News & World Report, 2022
  • A Top 100 Global University — Times Higher Education and U.S. News & World Report

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siarto headshot

Jeff  Siarto

Interim program director of ux, ms.

Jeff is a UI/UX designer, author, and technologist with over 15 years of experience building web and software user interfaces. Since 2013 he’s been working with NASA and other organizations to help make remote sensing and Earth Science data more usable and actionable for scientists, engineers, and the general public.

UX 800 - User Research and Design, 3 credits

UX 802 - Current Topics in UX, 3 credits

UX 805 - Quantitative Analysis and Insights in UX, 3 credits

UX 810 - Social Science for Design, 3 credits

UX 815 - Programming Fundamentals for UX, 3 credits

UX 820 - Usability Evaluation, 3 credits

UX 825 - Visual Design Fundamentals, 3 credits

UX 830 - Design for Interactivity, 3 credits

UX 835 - Accessibility and Design, 3 credits

UX 840 - UX and Society, 3 credits

UX 898 - User Experience Capstone/Practicum, 3 credits

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  • A bachelor's degreefrom a recognized, accredited educational institution (Minimum of 3.0 undergraduate GPA). No GRE required.
  • Previous work experience preferred (Résumé/CV, portfolio is optional)
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores if English is not your native language
  • A written personal statement detailing your professional interests and goals
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Official transcripts from all previous schools

To apply to this program:

  • Complete a departmental and university graduate application 
  • Submit all official transcripts

Fall Semester

Application Deadline

Spring Semester

December 10th

Tuition & Fees per credit

The university reserves the right to make changes in the types, structures, rates for fees, and tuition. Every effort will be made to give as much advance notice as possible.

The MSU Value Promise

You can be ensured a return on your investment at Michigan State University.

As one of the top research universities in the world, Michigan State University has advanced the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community.

MSU has been offering online degree programs for over 20 years. Our maturity is evident in the high quality of the learning experience enjoyed by our online students.

MSU provides programs and initiatives that support and enhance diversity. We will expand our campus and external partnerships to put in place inclusive recruitment and retention practices. We nurture and promote individuals’ varied experiences and perspectives, ensuring structures and processes make possible full participation by all members of our community.

MSU’s nationally recognized online programs foster student growth and well-being throughout their academic career. We will expand inclusive mentoring practices and accelerate improvement across units to implement evidence-based practices to ensure our students complete successfully.

Continuing education  can be one of the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding experiences you undertake in your life. We hope you consider becoming a Spartan, to learn online and reach your career goals.  With highly ranked online programs and exceptional professors, we educate students who advance the common good with uncommon will.

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The School of Information is UC Berkeley’s newest professional school. Located in the center of campus, the I School is a graduate research and education community committed to expanding access to information and to improving its usability, reliability, and credibility while preserving security and privacy.

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The School of Information offers four degrees:

The Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program educates information professionals to provide leadership for an information-driven world.

The Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) is an online degree preparing data science professionals to solve real-world problems. The 5th Year MIDS program is a streamlined path to a MIDS degree for Cal undergraduates.

The Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS) is an online degree preparing cybersecurity leaders for complex cybersecurity challenges.

Our Ph.D. in Information Science is a research program for next-generation scholars of the information age.

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The School of Information's courses bridge the disciplines of information and computer science, design, social sciences, management, law, and policy. We welcome interest in our graduate-level Information classes from current UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students and community members.  More information about signing up for classes.

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Research by faculty members and doctoral students keeps the I School on the vanguard of contemporary information needs and solutions.

The I School is also home to several active centers and labs, including the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC) , the Center for Technology, Society & Policy , and the BioSENSE Lab .

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User Experience Research news

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A group of researchers, including the I School’s own Professor Kimiko Ryokai, recently received a grant of $1.29M from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to tackle this challenge.

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Would you prefer a chart or text when being presented with information? Ph.D. student Chase Stokes has dedicated his studies to answering this question.


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Prof. Farid: “Coronavirus misinformation is going to get a lot of people killed.”

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I School researchers have developed a custom-fit earpiece that that can capture “passthoughts” through brainwave signals from the ear canal, and for the first time demonstrated one-step three-factor authentication.

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How to Become a UX Researcher — No Experience Needed

user research masters

If you have a knack for understanding people and figuring out what makes them tick, a career in user experience (UX) research might just be the right fit for you. In this article, we’ll show you how to become a UX researcher and give you a few insights into what career training opportunities and job prospects are available in the field. 

7 Qualifications and Skills Needed to Become a UX Researcher:

  • UX/Design Thinking
  • User-Centered Design Research
  • Persona Creation
  • User Testing
  • Soft Skills

Interested in not only learning these skills, but also putting them into practice? Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp offers the hands-on experience you need to take the next step in your career. 

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Why UX Researchers Are in High Demand

UX researchers give businesses, designers and developers valuable insights into user behaviors and psychology; these detective-techies tease apart the rationales that drive people to think, feel and act in specific ways when encountering a website or an app or even a piece of software. It’s an exciting gig for the right person — so if you think you might be a good fit, keep reading.

User experience research has become crucial to running a successful modern business. As designer Jacob Gube explains in an article for Smashing Magazine , “Websites and Web applications have become progressively more complex as our industry’s technologies and methodologies advance […] but regardless of how much has changed in the production process, a website’s success still hinges on just one thing: how users perceive it.”

UX describes how people feel when they interact with a system or service and encompasses several factors including usability, design, marketing, accessibility, performance, comfort and utility. A person’s experience when they visit a website can dramatically impact and even change their perception of a company or a service — for better, and for worse. 

Think of a banking website. Consumers expect their virtual financial experiences to be crisp, intuitive and as formal as any in-person interactions would be at a physical branch. How odd and off-putting would it be to expect that level of professionalism and instead find the casual  quirkiness of a gaming website? What works for one audience and intent certainly won’t work for all!

As UX guru Don Norman once shared in an interview , “Everything has a personality; everything sends an emotional signal. Even where this was not the intention of the designer, the people who view the website infer personalities and experience emotions. Bad websites have horrible personalities and instill horrid emotional states in their users, usually unwittingly. We need to design things — products, websites, services — to convey whatever personality and emotions are desired.” 

This isn’t just theory; it’s backed up by facts. When companies invest in UX research and design, they tend to see higher levels of customer acquisition and retention as well as reduced support costs because their products and services are more intuitive and easy to use. These companies also tend to enjoy a higher share of the market for their industry. In 2018, researchers for McKinsey’s report on the business case for good design found that companies that scored in the top quartiles of the research firm’s Design Index outperformed industry benchmarks by two-to-one. As the report’s authors write, “Top-quartile MDI scorers increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially faster than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period — 32 percentage points higher revenue growth and 56 percentage points higher TRS growth for the period as a whole.”

A graph showing the impact of good design on business revenue

Let’s talk about how you can become a UX researcher and kickstart your career in this high-potential field. 

What Do UX Researchers Do?

It’s a no-brainer: all businesses want to appeal to their customers. Their survival depends on doing so — and given this, companies have long tried to craft an experience that their customers find pleasant. With the meteoric rise of e-commerce and consumers’ increasing interest in living more of their lives online, UX research has become a specialized profession in its own right. In 2017, a research initiative that sought to investigate the business benefits of user research found that 49 percent of surveyed executives believed that UX research made their company more efficient, while 56 percent believed that it improved the quality of their products or services. 

These benefits are the result of UX researchers’ work to gather insights and information about what customers need, what they prefer and how they react. UX researchers use both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine and improve the user experience. These research methods encompass everything from simple online surveys to full-scale prototype designs. 

For example, UX researchers might use observation to determine user behaviors and feelings or understand consumers’ mental models (i.e., what they believe about the website or software). They might send out impersonal surveys to user groups, run face-to-face interviews with users of a site or product or carry out hands-on usability tests to assess customer preferences. Then, after the information-gathering phase is complete, UX researchers can analyze the collected data to identify patterns and trends that will then guide design and development decisions for digital products, software or websites. 

Qualifications and Skills Needed to Become a UX Researcher (That Employers Look For)

The top skills UX researchers need

If you want to know how to become a user experience researcher, there are certain skills, qualifications and experience levels that are essential to this field. While clients, products and research goals vary widely across roles, all UX professionals need to master the fundamentals. Below, we’ve listed a few of the most important qualifications and skills to develop when considering how to become a user experience researcher.

1. UX/Design Thinking

Design thinking might have been developed in 1969, but it hasn’t faded with the times. If anything, our growing reliance on digital experiences has made the organizational framework more critical. A design thinking approach helps designers handle complex problems and keep the user in mind at all times. It forces a UX researcher to step into their target users’ metaphorical shoes and, in doing so, empowers them to predict, define and solve the issues users may face. UX research skills are a significant part of design thinking and are invaluable in analyzing user response throughout the process.

2. User-Centered Design Research

User-centered design aims to put a product’s end user at the center of all design plans. Rather than attempting to cast a wide net, this design philosophy homes in on a target user and allows developers to create a project with that ideal user’s needs, goals and preferences in mind. 

UX research is, as you might expect, a crucial part of this process. Without it, this type of design becomes mostly guesswork. Eventually, it devolves into an exploration of what the project’s developers think they would want as users — a dangerous shift, given that what appeals to the site developers might not align with the target user’s needs and preferences. The application of UX research skills is thus essential to the success of user-centered design plans. 

3. Persona Creation

Basic descriptions are all well and good, but when a researcher needs to define an ideal user, understanding how to apply their UX research skills to develop and use a persona is critical. A persona describes an imagined ideal or typical user of a website or product and empowers UX researchers to make sense of the information gathered through user research. A persona reflects the needs and wants of broad user groups by collating the attitudes, skills, technical background, patterns and environment of typical users. UX researchers for a banking app, for example, might build a persona that incorporates their customers’ likely financial knowledge or probable tech-savviness. A UX researcher may even opt to include direct user information, such as specific quotes obtained through user research, into their persona.

Keeping that persona in mind, UX researchers and developers can build empathy with their users and better understand their expectations and needs. Personas allow researchers to go beyond vague imaginations of what users might and might not like and narrow in on a user’s actual experience. When applied, these personas respond to the specific context of a site or piece of software, reflecting the real users of that product and giving designers more accurate insights into what does and doesn’t work well. 

4. UX Mapping

What does a user do, and when? If a UX designer doesn’t have a clear understanding of how consumers progress through a given app or website, they won’t know how to optimize the user’s journey. Mapping is a critical skill for UX researchers, as it allows them to use their collected observations to create an annotated timeline of a user’s journey. A UX map provides an expansive overview of user touchpoints. It demonstrates how decisions made at these touchpoints can create diverging decision “branches” and lead to positive or — depending on the “branch” — negative experiences. Having a visual representation of the highs and lows of a user’s journey can help UX professionals identify and address the touchpoints and decisions that spark poor experiences. 

5. User Testing

Every UX researcher needs to know how to conduct usability testing . While it can be tempting for companies to avoid spending the time — and the money — that proper user testing requires, investing in the process can help project developers avoid severe pitfalls and tailor the end product to user preferences. 

Put simply, user testing tells developers whether they’ve hit or missed the mark. The testing process gauges whether users can successfully navigate the site or app, complete essential tasks and receive the information they need. It flags common user errors and notes any features that, while intuitive for developers, routinely mystify end users. As a UX researcher, you might even test competitor products alongside your own to find out how users’ experiences differ between the two. When initiated early during the development process and repeated regularly, this type of UX research can help designers and developers produce a successful, user-intuitive product.

6. InVision

As in any specialized field, aspiring UX professionals must know the tools of their trade. Of particular note, the popular prototyping, workflow and collaboration app called InVision is a must-know skill for UX researchers . Imagine being able to create a prototype of your incomplete app, and having the ability to conduct user tests as if your users were working with the real, fully functioning website or app. The prototypes allow instant feedback, commenting and other specialized features that feed into an overall UX analysis. This interactive platform enables researchers to test the interactive parts of a site, rather than relying on screenshots, images or PDFs that do not fully replicate the final experience. InVision isn’t just a collaboration tool; it also provides fully featured design software and integrates with other popular products in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite.

7. Soft Skills

Software skills and research aptitude will only ever get you so far in the job market. Soft skills — those concerned with being a good team member and professional — are just as vital as any niche technical capability. Given that learning from and listening to users is at the heart of UX, developing your empathy and ability to communicate is a must. If you can’t communicate well or maintain an open mind, you’ll never manage to see beyond your own opinions and identify what matters to your user. As odd as it might sound, learning how to be an empathetic, thoughtful and perceptive person may serve you better as a UX researcher than any technical guide. 

How to Acquire the Skills to Become a UX Researcher

When it comes to education, aspiring UX researchers have options. You don’t need to have years of experience in tech. Those in the social sciences, for example, are well-suited to UX research because the core competencies in both sectors overlap — though they often need to step up their working pace and alter their research methods to suit the tech sector’s fast pace. Similarly, professionals in marketing and communications fields often already have the user response and interaction training necessary to segue into UX research. 

As researcher Nikki Anderson shared in an article for UX Collective , “One of the number one questions I get every week are people asking me how to break into the field of user research from another role or right after graduating. I speak with people from all different disciplines, some closer to user research, such as marketing, psychology or design, and others further away, such as accountants or writers […] Getting into user research was one of the least straight-forward paths I have taken, and that is often the case for most people breaking into this field.”

Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or want to change your professional path, expanding your knowledge and skill set is essential to kickstarting a new career in UX research. Let’s dive into a few options that may help you gain the knowledge and experience you need to become a UX researcher. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which ones works best for you.

While career interest in UX has grown, there are still relatively few undergraduate degree programs explicitly dedicated to UX research. There are master’s programs for the profession — but even those rarely require any background training in the discipline . That said, if you want to become a UX researcher and are planning on enrolling in a four-year undergraduate program, there are a few majors that will prepare you for the field. These include standby options from computer science and information systems to design, psychology and even anthropology. 

Of course, this is a better option for people who have never received a four-year degree or who have the time and money to go back to school full-time. People who have already graduated and want to stay in the workforce may look for other, faster options to explore this exciting career path.

UX/UI Boot Camps

Boot camps are another option that can help you complete a successful career transition into UX research. These short programs are designed to provide an intensive educational experience and quick entry into tech hiring pools. They are well-suited to learners who have either already left university or don’t have the time to enroll in a four-year degree program. Because boot camps offer a variety of full-time, part-time and online options, they tend to also be more flexible for those who need to juggle working or family responsibilities during their academic journey. Such programs have seen a meteoric rise over the last several years; between 2018 and 2019 alone, Course Report found that boot camps grew an incredible 49 percent.  

While boot camps are most often associated with coding or software development, there are also specific programs for those interested in UX research. Explore your options to see if an intensive UX/UI boot camp could suit your situation and career interests. 

Self-Guided Resources

Who says that learning has to happen in person? If you’re ambitious and self-directed, you may want to use self-guided resources to structure your foray into UX research. An abundance of learning opportunities is available online, from tutorials and discussion forums to virtual courses . These offer price-conscious or time-constrained learners a chance to take their education into their own hands — and even once you enter your career, these sites can be an essential part of lifelong learning and job advancement.

Keep in mind, however, that free online self-guided resources often lack the support and structure that degree programs or boot camps provide. Do your research before you commit to an educational path.

How to Get Hired

Once you gain the education and skills you need, it’ll be time to look for a job in the UX field. Your boot camp or university may have a career assistance office that can help you land internships and interviews with leading technology companies, which can, in turn, evolve into valuable full-time career opportunities.

Do your research; make sure to check out job boards, especially the specialized ones provided by your boot camp or university career center. Networking, attending conferences and actively participating in the UX research community can all put you in good stead to find a great job. When you get the interview you want, prepare in advance to make the best impression possible, and show off your ability to communicate and listen effectively.

User experience research is a rapidly growing profession at the heart of today’s tech industry. With tremendous upward potential and opportunities for people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds, UX research can be an exciting and rewarding career. Will online learning, a  UX/UI boot camp or a university degree be the right option for you? Explore your training options and forge a path that will allow you to become a UX researcher according to your own timeline and educational preferences.

Master’s in Innovation with User Experience

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Grounded in technology, design, and business disciplines, the  online Master’s in Innovation with User Experience (IUX) program is designed to deliver a highly qualified and competitive workforce for the IT industry. The WPI Business School has world-class expertise and resources in UX and is ideally positioned to prepare students as UX professionals and set them on a path to take on leaderships positions such as chief experience officers (CXO). 

UX-driven innovations are no longer a luxury, but a must for maintaining competitive advantage in the marketplace. The continual demand for innovative technologies in our daily lives, both at personal and organizational level, is intensified by the continually increasing pace of our digital economy. Tech companies must ensure that their products are successfully embraced and effectively used by their intended users at home and at work. To achieve this goal, competition in the IT industry has shifted toward developing an outstanding user experience (UX). 

Innovative companies know UX is key to gaining and retaining customers. Become a UX specialist and meet the growing demand for professionals who work with product designers, game designers, and technology designers to deliver exceptional user experiences. Get there by joining our online Master's in Innovation with User Experience graduate program, one of the first such programs in the nation with faculty with UX expertise who provide IUX skills and experiences to professionals with a variety of backgrounds.

A Premier STEM Business Degree, More Affordable Tuition

There is a pressing need for engineers, scientists, and coders with business acumen and management skills. WPI is committed to making STEM education more attainable, and The Business School is doing its part by reducing its  tuition for graduate programs . Today, a premier degree from WPI’s business school is more affordable than ever—meaning you can see a high return on investment from your degree even sooner.

The Business School , established at a premier technology-focused university, has world-class expertise and educational resources in technology and business, and thus is suitably poised to offer valuable graduate-level programs that prepare students to apply entrepreneurial thinking and transform into leadership roles.  

Learning Outcomes

The online Masters in Innovation with User Experience prepares students for working in advanced technological environments where they apply the UX driven innovation (UXDI) framework to help their companies develop competitive products and services. Gain skills for careers in product design, user experience design, user experience engineering, interaction design, human factors in computing, and web and mobile app design.

In our project-based, asynchronous online learning environment, students will:  

Gain needed skills for designing competitive human-centered technologies.

Gain foundational knowledge in design thinking, design science, and the UX-driven innovation (UXDI) framework for developing technological innovations (e.g., smart and connected systems, robots, AR/VR applications) for homes and work environments. 

Develop and execute plans for gaining a deep understanding about user needs. 

Develop and execute plans for discovering opportunities for creating business and social value with UX driven innovations. 

Develop and execute plans for designing and evaluating the discovered UX-driven innovation opportunities. 

Develop advanced skills in focused area(s) of interest through the specialties offered in this program such as Applied Analytics, Understanding User for Developing and Delivering IUX, Managing and Organizing Innovation, IUX Research, System Design for IUX, and others. 

Capstone experience enables students to revise, integrate, and apply their knowledge and skills through a large project.  

Admissions Qualifications for Master’s in Innovation with User Experience

  • BS or BA degree from an accredited school, in any discipline, with a GPA of > 3.0  
  • GMAT/GRE’s are not required for this program  

For specific application requirements, visit  our admissions for online programs  page.

If you do not have a bachelor's degree, please view our list of  undergraduate programs .

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The UI UX master’s online is a 33-credit program, designed as a stackable, professional master’s degree. As such, it involves a realistic capstone project. The MS IUX also serves as an entry to the PhD program in the WPI Business School, and thus allows for research credits (with permission of the IUX program director).  

Students will gain specialized knowledge in the following areas/specialties:

  • System Design. Prepares students for designing advanced technologies that utilize data science approaches such as business intelligence and machine learning.
  • Applied Analytics. Prepares students for careers involving information retrieval, data curation, and data analysis.
  • Marketing. Prepares students for developing product management strategies that take advantage of consumer analytics.

Subject to change based on availability.    View academic term start dates for online courses.   

Students must complete the three-course core as follows: 

  • MIS 583 . User Experience Applications 
  • MIS 585 . User Experience Design 
  • MIS 586 . User Experience Methods 

Students must complete two three-course specialties, selected from the following specialties: 

Brands, Products and Consumers   

  • MKT 500 . Marketing Strategy 
  • MKT 561 . Consumer Behavior and Analytics 
  • MKT 569 . Product and Brand Management 

System Design (Select any 3; The first three are online; the others, which are not FBS courses, may not be available online)

  • MIS 500 . Innovating with Information Systems 
  • MIS 571 . Database Applications Design and Development 
  • MIS 582 . Information Security Design and Management 
  • IMGD 5000 . Game Design Studio  
  • IMGD 5300 . Design of Interactive Experiences 
  • RBE/CS 526 . Human-Robot Interaction 
  • RBE 595 . Synergy of Human and Robot Systems 
  • WR 593 . Robot Futures: Design, Ethics, Communication 

Applied Analytics (Select any 3) 

  • MIS 502 . Data Management for Analytics 
  • MIS 584 . Business Intelligence 
  • MIS 587 . Business Applications in Machine Learning 
  • OIE 559 . Optimization for Business Analytics 
  • DS 501.  Introduction to Data Science 
  •  or,  MA 511 . Applied Statistics for Engineers and Scientists 

Organizing and Managing Innovation (Select any 3) 

  • FIN 500 . Financial Management 
  • ETR 500 . Entrepreneurship and Innovation 
  • ETR 593 . Technology Commercialization 
  • MIS 576 . Project Management 
  • OBC 533 . Negotiations 
  • OBC 537 . Leading Change 

Students must complete a two-course capstone project experience   

  • OBC 505 . Teaming and Organizing for Innovation 
  • Capstone project for IUX and IT students

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Future Students

Master of science.

The University of Washington's Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) prepares its graduates for leadership roles in user experience research and design, interface design, interaction design, product design, and human-computer interaction.

HCDE Master's students solve real-world problems with our award-winning interdisciplinary faculty and students from diverse professional backgrounds. A flexible schedule allows students to attend part time or full time. Courses are offered in-person and cannot be completed online.

HCDE is an inclusive, interdisciplinary academic community. Graduates of HCDE receive engineering degrees and find jobs as user experience (UX) researchers and designers, systems analysts, design researchers, usability evaluators, web and information developers, and more. The University of Washington is located on a beautiful campus in the city of Seattle, and our students have access to the many prominent corporations that call the Pacific Northwest home. 

  • Faculty & Research

Our Students

The Master's program in HCDE attracts students who are interested in researching, designing, and engineering technological interactions from a human perspective. Our students have a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, with an approximate breakdown of one-third from technical and engineering backgrounds, one-third from social sciences backgrounds, and one-third from design backgrounds. About half of our students are working professionals, studying as part-time students; the other half of our students study full-time. 

  • Student profiles

Curriculum & Program Objectives

Students in the HCDE Master's program take a minimum of 50 credits, 24 of which are required core courses. The remaining 26 credits include elective courses, seminars and Directed Research Groups. Upon completion of the HCDE Master's degree, students assume leadership roles in human centered design and engineering in academia, industry, government, and non-profits. 

  • Program Objectives
  • Degree Requirements
  • Course Descriptions
  • Directed Research Groups

The online application is first made available no later than September each year through the UW Graduate School's application portal . The annual application deadline for the HCDE Master's program is on January 15 (except in years when that date coincides with a holiday or weekend, in which case it is slightly adjusted). Students begin the program in the following autumn quarter only. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate deferment requests to any quarter/year beyond this time for accepted applicants.   View admission requirements »

M.S. in User Experience

user research masters

2. Stanford University: M.S. in Design Impact 

Length: 2 years Total tuition: $75,240 Location: Stanford, CA Class size: 13 students/year Attendance: Full-time Format : Campus Founded: 2018 Application fee: $125

GPA: No minimum SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 3 letters TOEFL: 100 IELTS: Not required GRE: Not required Portfolio: Required

Regularly ranked in the top two or three US colleges, and in the top three or four worldwide, Stanford University is a globally acclaimed institution.

Its M.S. in Design Impact (DI), a full-time, two-year program established in 2018, shares that reputation. 

Founded on the idea that design is broader than products, experiences, and systems, the program explores “the technologies and data that power the above” as well as “the implications and consequences of all of our work in the world in the short and long term.”

With the objective of grounding students in the full problem space of this interconnected landscape, the M.S. in Design Impact has three focus areas:

Design Core: I ncluding Project-Based Design Work, Human Factors, Design Ethics, Leadership, and Visualization

Methods: A choice of three focus areas that enable students to effectively implement their design abilities with methods such as analysis, describing phenomena, and design problem application.

Domain: A domain focus area from appropriate courses to gain added knowledge in a field of interest to them.

3. Georgia Tech:

Master of human computer interaction.

Length: 2 years Total tuition: $70,816/2 years (out-of-state); $32,128/2 years (in-state) Location: Atlanta, GA Class size: 52 students/year Attendance: Full-time Format : Campus Founded: 1998 Application fee: $85

GPA: 3.0 SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: Asked letters TOEFL: 100 IELTS: Not required GRE: Required Portfolio: Optional

Established in 1998, Georgia Tech’s Master of Human Computer Interaction (MS-HCI) is something of a veteran among the programs we look at. It has both a very strong US reputation and a growing global one.

Like many of the masters in UX design and HCI, Georgia tech’s program is an interdisciplinary offering. Four schools offer the program collaboratively:

  • Industrial Design
  • Interactive Computing
  • Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC)

Its aim is to equip students with the practical skills and theoretical understandings they need to develop into “leaders in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the next generation of human-computer interfaces”.

4. New York University: Integrated Design & Media, M.S.

Length: 2 years Total tuition: $115,680 Location: New York, NY Class size: 110 students/year Attendance: Full-time Format : Campus or online Founded: 1979 Application fee: $65

GPA: No minimum SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 2 letters TOEFL: Not required IELTS: Not required GRE: Required Portfolio: Required

New York University’s MS in Integrated Digital Media has built its reputation as one of the best UX masters programs because of its emphasis on art and aesthetics. It combines art and technology in a unique, challenging, and fluid way.

Only the second program on our list to offer students the chance to learn online or with a blended mix of campus and online, the Integrated Design & Media, M.S. is set up to cater to all career levels.

And—whatever career stage you’re at— you’ll get to experience new ways of understanding culture, technology, and society and how these inform technological design.

If “The Big Apple” holds the same mystique for you as it does for most of us, you can tap into an unparalleled cultural and technological experience right at its core.

5. University of Washington:

Master of human-computer interaction and design.

Length: 1 year Attendance: Full-time Total tuition: $$55,430 (2023-24) Location: Seattle, WA Class size: 30 students/year Format : Campus Founded: 2013 Application fee: $85

GPA: 3.2 SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 3 letters TOEFL: 106 (26 speaking) IELTS: Not required GRE: Not required Portfolio: Optional

Taught on campus in Seattle, the University of Washington’s Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design (MHCID) is undoubtedly one of the finest masters in UX design out there.

It’s a multidisciplinary program, with course content provided collaboratively by four departments:

  • Computer Science & Engineering
  • Human-Centered Design & Engineering
  • The Information School
  • Division of Design in the School of Art + Art History + Design

The program’s unique, cross-disciplinary approach is designed to cultivate “a new generation of designers, engineers, and researchers” with an education that enables them to “successfully combine the creative aspects of design and the study of human behavior with the analytical techniques of engineering”. 

And—judging by their strong graduate outcomes—they’re doing something right.

95% of the program graduates are employed within six months (70% within three months and the majority join large enterprises (5,000+ employees) in tech. This infographic from the course website shows where their graduates land:

Source: University of Washington

6. UC Berkeley: Master of Design  

Length: 1.5 years Total tuition: $73,130 Location: Berkeley, CA Class size: 23 students/year Attendance: Full-time Format : Campus or online Founded: 2020 Application fee: $140

GPA: 3 SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 3 letters TOEFL: 90 IELTS: 7 GRE: Not required Portfolio: Required

UC Berkeley’s reputation is global, and it won’t surprise many to see its Master of Design (MDes) feature in our list. 

Based on three pillars—technical rigor, design theory, and social practice—the program is aimed at early to mid-career professionals who want to pursue work “at the intersection of design and technology”.

With this in mind, UC Berkeley students are offered the chance to work in fields such as artistic production, technological innovations, product design, and design interventions in cities.

Students are also pushed to develop intelligent new approaches and design toolkits to respond to the changing dynamics of technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, sensing, and the internet of things. 

At the same time, they’re encouraged to take a wider perspective and understand the underlying ethical concerns and questions about their possible, often unforeseen, impacts. 

7. California College of the Arts:

Mdes in interaction design.

Length: 1 year Total tuition: $63,900 Location: San Francisco, CA Class size: 14 students/year Attendance: Full-time Format : Campus or online Founded: 2016 Application fee: $70

GPA: No minimum SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 2 letters TOEFL (or IELTS): 100 IELTS (or TOEFL): 7.5 GRE: Not required Portfolio: Required

Staying on the west coast—the heart of Silicon Valley to be precise—the MDes in Interaction Design at California College of the Arts is the next masters on our list.

Promising aspiring designers the chance to “build the most in-demand design toolkit in the world today” this is a program focused on cultivating systems thinking, design leadership development, and iteration and collaboration skills.

Priding itself on creating skills that can have “measurable social impact”, this MDes is centered on designing for the environment, public health, transportation, education, and other major industries. 

8. Parsons School of Design:

M.f.a. in design and technology .

Length: 2 years Total tuition: $103,500 Location: New York, NY Class size: 80 students/year Attendance: Full-time Format : Campus or online Founded: 1997 Application fee: $50

GPA: No minimum SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 2 letters TOEFL (or IELTS): 92 IELTS (or TOEFL): 7 GRE: Not required Portfolio: Required

Another New York-based option, Parsons School of Design offers an M.F.A. in Design and Technology (DT) which takes a broad and critical approach to tech. Students at Parsons will enter a dynamic, challenging, idea-driven environment that pushes them to think about the “ever-present impact that computational technologies have on our lives”. 

With a wider scope than some other masters programs in the field, students at Parsons can focus on areas of practice including wearable technology, game design, new media art, digital fabrication, physical computing, interaction design, data visualization, and critical design.

9. DePaul University:

M.s. in human-computer interaction.

Length: 2.5 years Total tuition: $44,980 (2022-23) Location: Chicago, IL Class size: 100 students/year Attendance: Full-time, part-time Format : Campus and online Founded: Unknown Application fee: $25

GPA: 2.5 SOP: Not required Resume: Required Recommendation: Optional letters TOEFL (or IELTS): 80 (17 each subsection) IELTS (or TOEFL): 6.5 GRE: Not required Portfolio: Not required

Part of DePaul University’s Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media, the Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) program teaches students how to “ideate, design, implement, and evaluate computer-based technologies so they are useful and usable for end users.”

An interdisciplinary degree, the program draws on concepts and methods from computer science, graphic design, and the social sciences to offer a well-rounded education.

Students are encouraged to pursue user-centered and participatory design approaches in creating dynamic websites, mobile apps, desktop applications, and more.

DePaul’s program has a good reputation with employers and graduates have found well-remunerated employment with a range of major corporations, as this graphic from the course website illustrates:

Source: DePaul

10. Rochester Institute of Technology:

Length: 2 years Total tuition: $100,272 Location: Rochester, NY Class size: 25 students/year Attendance: Full-time, part-time Format : Campus or online Founded: 2004 Application fee: $65

GPA: 3 SOP: Required Resume: Required Recommendation: 2 letters TOEFL (or IELTS): 88 IELTS (or TOEFL): 6.5 GRE: Required Portfolio: Not required

Based in Rochester, NY, a small city (by US standards) on the shore of Lake Ontario, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) boasts an acclaimed M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) .

Students explore “the design methods, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use” to build the skills needed for a career in UX design or research. They focus on creating professionals who understand the shift away from the desktop user and know how evolving tech can be designed to be intuitive, effective, and even compelling.

Perhaps unsurprisingly—with program hiring partners including the likes of Cisco, HubSpot, HP, Bose Corporation, and many more—graduates from RIT tend to fare well in their careers. Graduates report job titles such as UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Usability Specialist, Product Designer, and User Experience Researcher.

Now that we’ve looked at ten of the best masters in UX design out there, let’s quickly wrap up with some final thoughts.

There is no easy answer to this, other than: “it depends”.

There are many factors that you’ll need to weigh up before deciding whether to do a UX design master.

Ultimately, it will hinge on your unique personal situation, so think about things like: 

  • How much time you can invest (and whether you can study full-time or part-time)
  • How much money you can invest
  • Whether you can relocate for campus study if required or would rather go online 
  • Whether you need an accredited program (if you’re an expat or soon-to-be expat for example)
  • How much the prestige (or otherwise) of the institution matters to you
  • Your learning style
  • Your career goals

We realize this is a lot to think about. So—to help you get started with your decision—here are three win pros and cons of UX design masters, as opposed to UX design certifications.

Pros of masters in UX design

  • Prestige: Some masters in UX Design (or HCI) carry more prestige than other types of certification. This will vary from employer to employer though, and UX teams at the best employers are often made up of designers with masters degrees, online certifications, and even self-taught skills.
  • Career prospects: Related to the prestige factor, some employers will look more favorably on candidates with a UX design masters over a certification. Bear in mind that this generally applies less and less the further along in your career you get, as your experience and portfolio—and ability to explain them both—become key drivers of your career path.
  • Formal and structured: Masters in UX design are typically more formal than other UX certifications and often require in-person attendance at lectures or seminars. 

Cons of masters in UX design

  • Long: Doing a masters in UX design will take you a minimum of one year of full-time study, often going to two years or even longer. Meanwhile, online UX certifications can be completed much more quickly ( CareerFoundry: 5-10 months, UX Design Institute UX Design Diploma : 6 months or less, General Assembly UX Design Immersive : 12 weeks full-time)
  • Expensive: Unless you can secure a scholarship or other subsidies, a masters in UX design can be incredibly expensive. The masters we look at in this article range from $44,980 to $115,680, and that’s for the tuition fees alone, without factoring in your living expenses and so on.
  • Geographical limitations: Some masters require, or strongly prefer campus study. This can be limiting for those not able or willing to relocate to study. Online UX certifications, on the other hand, are available to you regardless of geography.

If you’d like to explore online certifications more, we recommend checking out Emily Steven’s The Best UX Design Certification Programs: A Complete Guide .

Alternatively, if you’d like to read more on the pros and cons of accredited courses (masters degrees) and non-accredited (most online certifications), our article on The 7 Best UX Design Schools will be right up your alley.

Before you apply for any UX design course, be it a masters or an online certification, do your research and figure out if the course is suited to your unique personal situation, learning preferences, and career goals.

Whether or not you apply to do a masters will ultimately depend on whether you can make and justify the time, logistical, and financial commitments required.

And remember: in the medium to long term, when you’re three or four years into your career, where you studied will be far less important to prospective employers than your work experience and portfolio. 

How persuasively and logically you can explain your design decisions, and how well you can collaborate and engage stakeholders or clients will count for a lot more than whether you studied at Stanford or completed an online certification.

If you’re interested in reading more about UX design, try the following articles:

  • The Ultimate Guide to UX Research Bootcamps
  • Can You Teach Yourself UX Design?
  • A Day in the Life of a UX Designer

UX Mastery

UX Degrees – A Global List of UX-related Bachelor & Master Degrees

User Experience as a discipline is not yet well-established in many universities. There are, however, degrees in related fields that you can study at a tertiary level. These include: Interaction Design , HCI , Information Architecture, Digital Design, and others.

For more information on the pros and cons of university degrees (especially when it comes to landing a job in UX) read the chapter “Step 1: Get Educated” in our eBook,  Get Started in UX .

The List of UX Degrees

Follow @uxmastery.

UX Mastery

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User Experience Research and Design


Integrate UX Research and UX Design to create great products through understanding user needs, rapidly generating prototypes, and evaluating design concepts. Learners will gain hands-on experience with taking a product from initial concept, through user research, ideation and refinement, formal analysis, prototyping, and user testing, applying perspectives and methods to ensure a great user experience at every step.

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U-M Credit Eligible


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Assistant Professor, School of Information

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Associate Professor, School of Information

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Mark W. Newman

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Courses (6)

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Introduction to User Experience Principles and Processes

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Understanding User Needs

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Evaluating Designs with Users

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UX Design: From Concept to Prototype

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UX Research at Scale: Surveys, Analytics, Online Testing

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UX (User Experience) Capstone

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The Gradcafe

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Top 10 Best UX Design Graduate Programs in 2024

Lisa Marlin

A UX or user experience design degree is one of the most highly sought-after programs today. This is an interdisciplinary field involving studies of human-computer interaction, industrial design, computer science , psychology, and anthropology. Businesses are increasingly focusing on improving user experience for maximum high conversion rates. This means expert UX design technologists are currently in high demand, and this demand is only set to increase in the future.

Therefore, it will not be hard to find a lucrative UX design job  once you complete one of the best UX design graduate programs from a reputable school.

Wondering which are the best UX design schools to get your UX designer degree? Let’s dive into our list!

Table of Contents

Best UX Design Graduate Programs

Each school on this list makes an excellent UX design university. Compare and contrast to find the best fit for you!

Carnegie Mellon University, Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Master of Human-Computer Interaction

Carnegie Mellon University logo

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university with locations on six continents. Its Human-Computer Interaction Institute is one of the top UX schools in the US, and this master’s program was the world’s first-ever user experience program. It is known for its diverse, multidisciplinary student cohorts. As part of this program, you get the opportunity to complete your capstone project with a top industry client.

  • Courses : Communications in HCI, interaction design studio, and programming usable interfaces.
  • Duration : 3 semesters (1 year)
  • Delivery : On-campus
  • Tuition : $77,784
  • Financial aid :  Grants, fellowships
  • Acceptance rate : 17.3%
  • Location : Pittsburg, PA

DePaul University, College of Computing and Digital Media

Master of Science – Human-Computer Interaction

DePaul University logo

DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the country and has a strong anti-discrimination policy, welcoming students from all backgrounds. It also offers one of the best UX design programs around, with an emphasis on ICT evaluation, prototype development, information architecture, and exploratory user research.

  • Courses : Prototyping & implementation, usability evaluation methods, and design ethnography.
  • Credits : 52
  • Tuition : $46,800
  • Financial aid : Scholarships, grants, graduate assistantships, employer tuition deferral, and military benefits.
  • Delivery : On-campus, online
  • Acceptance rate : 70.2%
  • Location : Chicago, IL

University of Washington, Graduate School

Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design (MHCI+D)

University of Washington logo

The University of Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast, with one of the largest library systems in the world. This interdisciplinary UX program is offered by the university’s award-winning research group known as DUB (Design: Use: Build). The group encompasses four departments: Computer Science & Engineering, the Information School, Human-Centered Design & Engineering, and the Division of Design from the School of Art + Art History + Design.

  • Courses : Immersion studio, design of interactive systems, and data visualization.
  • Duration : 11 months (intensive)
  • Credits : 46+
  • Tuition : $53,038
  • Financial aid : Grants, loans, and work-study
  • Acceptance rate : 55.9%
  • Location : Seattle, Washington

The University of California Irvine, Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences

Master of Human-Computer Interaction & Design (MHCID)

University of California Irvine logo

The University of California Irvine was ranked one of the top ten public universities  in the nation by the US News & World Report. Its MHCID is the only low residency, one-year, hybrid master’s program in the world. Thanks to its hybrid format combining some campus visits with online study, you’ll have enough flexibility to complete the program while continuing with your work.

  • Courses : Design & prototyping, interactive technology studio, and user needs analysis.
  • Duration : 1 year
  • Delivery : Hybrid
  • Tuition : $49,500
  • Financial aid : Scholarships
  • Acceptance rate:  29.9%
  • Location : Irvine, CA

Georgia Institute of Technology

MS in Human-Computer Interaction

Georgia Institute of Technology logo

Georgia Tech is globally renowned in the IT sector, ranked 13 th  and 12 th  in computer science and engineering, respectively, in the World University Rankings. Four schools jointly offer this interdisciplinary MS program: the schools of Interactive Computing, Industrial Design, Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC), and Psychology.

  • Courses : Human-robot interaction, human-centered computing, and web design accessibility.
  • Credits : 36
  • Duration : 4 semesters (18 months)
  • Tuition : $24,120
  • Financial aid : Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) and Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
  • Acceptance rate: 21.3%
  • Location : Atlanta, GA

The University of Baltimore, Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences

MS in Interaction Design and Information Architecture

University of Baltimore logo

The University of Baltimore is one of the most prestigious universities around and was named among the top performers for social mobility  by the US News & World Report, 2022. This MS program is one of the best interaction design programs that allow you to study under a faculty whose members are conducting research in specialized fields. You can complete the program with a thesis option or a project option.

  • Courses : Interaction & interface design, information architecture, and interactive multimedia.
  • Delivery : On-campus, Online
  • Tuition : $28,368
  • Financial aid:  Scholarships, grants, loans, and federal work-study
  • Acceptance rate : 80%
  • Location : Baltimore, MD

Purdue University, Department of Computer Graphics & Technology

MS in Computer Graphics Technology – UX Design

Purdue University logo

Purdue University is a reputable public research university with hundreds of programs across various disciplines and academic levels. This MS program is flexible, allowing you to pursue it either within the Department of Computer Graphics and Technology (CGT) or across other available programs. If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree, you can opt for a combined BS and MS, which will take five years to complete.

  • Courses : Foundational readings of user experience design, UXD graduate studio, and interaction design evaluation.
  • Duration : 2 years
  • Tuition : $19,984
  • Acceptance rate : 67.2%
  • Location : West Lafayette, IN

Drexel University, College of Computing & Informatics

MS in Information – Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) & User Experience (UX)

Pasted image 0

Drexel University is a well-known R1 private research university. With this interdisciplinary MS program, you study in a reputed UX design university under a diverse faculty from a range of backgrounds, including engineering and human factors, multimedia design, education, social sciences, and healthcare.

  • Courses : Prototyping the user experience, designing with data, and human-computer interaction.
  • Credits : 45
  • Tuition : $60,975
  • Financial aid : Grants, loans, scholarships
  • Acceptance rate : 77.2%
  • Location : Philadelphia, PA

Pratt Institute

Information Experience Design (MS)

Pratt logo

The Pratt Institute, founded in 1887, is known globally for its art, design, and architecture programs. This MS program aims to develop not only competent UX designers, but excellent researchers, strategists, and communicators. You can choose between two concentrations: research & evaluation or design.

  • Courses : Conversational user experience design, sustainable interaction design, and advanced usability & UX evaluation
  • Tuition : $55,908
  • Financial aid : Scholarships, loans, grants, student employment
  • Acceptance rate : 65.9%
  • Location : Brooklyn, New York

California College of the Arts

MDes Interaction Design

California College of the Arts logo

California College of the Arts is one of the top arts and design colleges in the world. It was also ranked #1  on’s list of the best value art colleges. With this program, you’ll get to study under quality faculty that includes practicing designers connected with some of the world’s largest digital brands, such as Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Our opinion? CCA is one of the best schools for UX design.

  • Courses : Studio: design-people, communication by design, and studio: form.
  • Duration : 1 year (3 semesters)
  • Tuition : $68,112
  • Financial aid : Scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans
  • Acceptance rate : 78%
  • Location : San Francisco, CA

How to Choose the Best UX Design Degree

With so many strong UX design programs available, it can be difficult to wade through the options to choose the right one for you. Here are a few factors that will help you make the right decision:

  • Investment vs. job prospects:  You should first get a basic idea of how much you’ll spend on the program and compare this to your expected earnings as a UX designer. Essentially, this is about the ROI         (return on investment), as well as the program you can afford.
  • Curriculum:  Though many UX programs share courses in common, there are certain differences. Pick curriculums that appeal to your interests and career goals. Additionally, certain programs offer special concentrations and specializations.
  • Duration:  Most UX design graduate programs last two years. However, some schools offer one-year programs, and others that you can complete in as little as 11 months in an intensive format.
  • School reputation:  A degree from a school with a strong reputation can make a         huge difference in securing the job you want.
  • Location:  You’ll want to look for a conveniently located school or one with online options.

Why Choose a UX Design Program?

The major reason to choose a UX design program is that it will qualify you for lucrative roles in one of the most in-demand fields right now. With businesses becoming more and more user-oriented, there is an increasing demand for technologists that can create innovative designs to provide better user experiences.

Additionally, salary prospects in this field are excellent. According to, the average base pay for UX designers is currently more than $115,000 .

UX Design Graduate Program FAQs

Which degree is the best for ux design.

If you want to pursue a career in UX design, you can choose between a few different degrees. Any course covering human-computer interaction, information architecture/design, psychology, interaction design, industrial design, and computer science will be useful.

Though these topics may also be covered in programs like computer science  and psychology , a master’s in UX Design will give you in-depth knowledge across all these fields, making it arguably the best option.

Is a Master’s in UX Design Worth It?

Graduates with a master’s in UX Design are in high demand today. UX designers enjoy an average annual salary of over $115,000 . Additionally, with so much demand in the field, with a master’s in UX Design from a reputable university and excellent grades, you’ll find it relatively easy to secure an excellent role.

What Master’s Degree Should I Get for UX Research?

If you want to work in UX research, a master’s in UX Design is a strong asset. However, some UX research roles require a PhD in UX design. To pursue this type of doctorate, you’ll need a degree in UX design or a related field, such as interaction design, communication design, or industrial design.

Key Takeaways

With so many UI design schools offering UX design master’s programs today, it’s important to do your research and choose the right program for you. If you have a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving, a UX design program could be the perfect fit for you. These programs involve diverse fields of study, including digital, industrial, scientific, and humanities subjects.

Once you’ve chosen from the best UX design graduate programs, take a look at our posts and guides  for advice on putting together a strong application.

Lisa Marlin

Lisa Marlin

Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.

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Ica spring 2024 exhibitions.

An installation at the ICA.

“Dominique White and Alberta Whittle: Sargasso Sea” and “Tomashi Jackson: Across the Universe” are presented as the Institute of Contemporary Art’s spring 2024 exhibitions. The former is an installation that draws inspiration from the Sargasso Sea, the only body of water defined by oceanic currents. The latter, meanwhile, brings together paintings, video, prints, and sculpture by Jackson, who investigates histories related to cities, lands, and individuals in the U.S.

12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Institute of Contemporary Art, 116 S. 36th St.

Immigration Act of 1924 Symposium

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10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The ARCH, 3601 Locust Walk

ADHD Brown Bag Lunch Series

1 in 4 Americans develops insomnia each year, according to new research from Penn Medicine.

12:15 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

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Mariana Sadovska

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Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences

The YouTube algorithm isn’t radicalizing people

A new study from annenberg school for communication’s computational social science lab finds that the youtube recommendation system is less influential on users’ political views than is commonly believed..

A person pressing play on a YouTube video on a smartphone.

About a quarter of Americans get their news on YouTube . With its billions of users and hours upon hours of content, YouTube is one the largest online media platforms in the world.

In recent years, there has been a popular narrative in the media that videos from highly partisan, conspiracy theory-driven YouTube channels radicalize young Americans and that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm leads users down a path of increasingly radical content.

However, a new study from the Annenberg School for Communication’s Computational Social Science Lab (CSSLab) finds that users’ own political interests and preferences play the primary role in what they choose to watch. In fact, if the recommendation features have any impact on users’ media diets, it is a moderating one.

“On average, relying exclusively on the recommender results in less partisan consumption,” says lead author Homa Hosseinmardi , associate research scientist at the CSSLab.

YouTube bots

To determine the true effect of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm on what users watch, the researchers created bots that either followed the recommendation engines or completely ignored them. To do this, the researchers created bots trained on the YouTube watch history from a set of 87,988 real life users collected from October 2021 to December 2022.

Hosseinmardi and co-authors Amir Ghasemian, Miguel Rivera-Lanas, Manoel Horta Ribeiro, Robert West, and Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science , the Annenberg School for Communication, and the Wharton School Duncan J. Watts aimed to untangle the complex relationship between user preferences and the recommendation algorithm, a relationship that evolves with each video watched.

These bots were assigned individualized YouTube accounts so that their viewing history could be tracked, and the partisanship of what they watched was estimated using the metadata associated with each video.

User behavior versus algorithm influence

During two experiments, the bots, each with its own YouTube account, went through a “learning phase”—they watched the same sequence of videos to ensure that they all presented the same preferences to YouTube’s algorithm.

Homa Hosseinmardi and Duncan Watts.

Next, bots were placed into groups. Some bots continued to follow the watching history of the real life user it was trained on; others were assigned to be experimental “counterfactual bots”—bots following specific rules designed to separate user behavior from algorithmic influence.

In experiment one, after the learning phases, the control bot continued to watch videos from user’s history while counterfactual bots deviated from users’ real-life behavior and only selected videos from the list of recommended videos, without taking the user preferences into account.

Some counterfactual bots always selected the first (“up next”) video from the sidebar recommendations; others randomly selected one of the top 30 videos listed in the sidebar recommendations; and others randomly selected a video from the top 15 videos in the homepage recommendations.

The researchers found that the counterfactual bots, on average, consumed less partisan content than the corresponding real user—a result that is stronger for heavier consumers of partisan content.

“This gap corresponds to an intrinsic preference of users for such content relative to what the algorithm recommends,” Hosseinmardi says. “The study exhibits similar moderating effects on bots consuming far-left content, or when bots are subscribed to channels on the extreme side of the political partisan spectrum.”

‘Forgetting time’ of recommendation algorithms

In experiment two, researchers aimed to estimate the “forgetting time” of the YouTube recommender.

“Recommendation algorithms have been criticized for continuing to recommend problematic content to previously interested users long after they have lost interest in it themselves,” Hosseinmardi says.

During this experiment, researchers calculated the recommender’s forgetting time for a user with a long (120 video) history of far-right video consumption who changes their diet to moderate news for the next 60 videos.

While the control bots continued watching a far-right diet for the whole experiment, counterfactual bots simulated a user “switching” from one set of preferences (watching far-right videos) to another (watching moderate videos). As the counterfactual bots changed their media preferences, the researchers tracked the average partisanship of recommended videos in the sidebar and homepage.

“On average, the recommended videos on the sidebar shifted toward moderate content after about 30 videos,” Hosseinmardi says, “while homepage recommendations tended to adjust less rapidly, showing homepage recommendations cater more to one’s preferences and sidebar recommendations are more related to the nature of the video currently being watched.”

What’s next

“The YouTube recommendation algorithm has been accused of leading its users toward conspiratorial beliefs. While these accusations hold some merit, we must not overlook that users have a significant agency over their actions and may have viewed the same content, or worse, even without any recommendations,” Hosseinmardi says.

Moving forward, the researchers hope that others can adopt their method for studying AI-mediated platforms where user preferences and algorithms interact, in order to better understand the role that algorithmic content recommendation engines play in our daily lives.

This story is by Hailey Reissman and Delphine Gardiner. It originally appeared at Annenberg School for Communication .

Two-and-a-half decades of research in Malawi

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In hot water: Coral resilience in the face of climate change

Over a decade, researchers from Penn studied coral species in Hawaii to better understand their adaptability to the effects of climate change.

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At COP28, Penn delegation shares wide-ranging knowledge and builds connections

More than two dozen researchers from schools and centers across the University traveled to Dubai for the UN’s annual climate change conference.

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The Singh Center for Nanotechnology turns 10

Since its founding, the Center’s multidisciplinary approach has been a strength, where researchers from Penn Engineering, Arts & Sciences, and more come together in one space.

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Penn’s West Philadelphia campus is home to 240 different tree species, which put on a show during the fall season.

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February 15, 2024

Boilermaker research demonstrates excellence at scale: Purdue ranks in top 5 in U.S. for U.S. patents received


Purdue University researchers rank 5th among U.S. universities in U.S. patents received in 2023, with 198 patents

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Accelerated bone fracture healing methods. User-friendly, smartphone-driven 3D free-form shape designs. Higher-yield, protein-rich chia seeds. A new crowd management system to help detect and safely evacuate high-density public events.

The connection? All are groundbreaking patents created by Purdue University researchers in 2023. Their innovations — alongside nearly 200 others — reflect Purdue’s status as a global leader among its peers in protecting intellectual property.

Purdue Research Foundation received 198 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during the 2023 calendar year, placing it sixth internationally and in the top five for U.S. universities for the third year in a row. The information was published in a report Thursday (Feb. 15) from the National Academy of Inventors .

“The excellence at scale of Purdue inventions is yet again reflected in the top five ranking of American universities receiving U.S. patents in 2023, translating fundamental research breakthroughs to societal impact,” Purdue President Mung Chiang said. “Launched last year, the Purdue Innovates program will intensify the support for Boilermaker inventors and entrepreneurs in years to come.”

The Purdue Innovates Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) manages the technology transfer process to vet, protect and license innovations developed by university researchers, including filing patent applications. Its technology portfolio covers innovations in subject areas including agriculture, biotechnology, chemistry and chemical analysis, computer technology, engineering, food and nutrition, green technology, micro- and nanotechnologies, and more.

Brian Edelman, president of Purdue Research Foundation, echoes that commitment to innovation across all disciplines. “Purdue Research Foundation is proud to provide critical resources to support faculty, staff and student researchers across all academic disciplines and campuses who want to commercialize their inventions,” he said. “These commercialization resources bring this cutting-edge, innovative work to the public, where it can enhance quality of life and economic and workforce development.”

“Maintaining a top global ranking among U.S. universities serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication of Purdue Innovates and the relentless pursuit of global improvement through Purdue’s technologies by our researchers,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates. “Purdue Innovates takes great pride in celebrating the outstanding achievements of our researchers and their pioneering endeavors. Our committed team works tirelessly to protect the intellectual property arising from these innovations, strategically positioning them for successful commercialization.”

Ken Waite, chief patent counsel and director of intellectual property, reiterated the collaborative nature of Purdue’s success: “I’m very proud of the IP team for their fantastic efforts to protect the important technological advancements being developed at Purdue University. Protecting Purdue intellectual property and sharing that technology with the world is at the heart of our mission at OTC, and we take our role as steward of these great inventions very seriously.”

Among the 2023 patents were:

  • “Ion Focusing,” “Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Microorganisms in Samples,” “Sample Analysis Systems and Methods of Use Thereof” and “Systems and Methods for Increasing Reaction Yield”  by Graham Cooks, the Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry,  College of Science . 
  • “Hardware Accelerator for Convolutional Neural Networks and Method of Operation Thereof”  by Eugenio Culurciello, professor and interim director of the Purdue Institute for Physical Artificial Intelligence, College of Engineering .
  • “Crowd Traffic Management System”  by Eric Dietz, director of Purdue Homeland Security Institute, director of Purdue Military Research Institute, and professor of computer and information technology, Purdue Polytechnic Institute .
  • “3-Dimensional (3D) Tissue-Engineering Muscle for Tissue Restoration” by Sherry Harbin, professor, College of Engineering and College of Veterinary Medicine .
  • “Light-Emitting Device and Method of Making the Same” by Tillmann Kubis, the Katherine Ngai Pesic and Silvaco Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • “Rapid Concentration, Recovery, and Detection of Pathogens in Food Samples”  by Michael Ladisch, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and affiliate of Environmental and Ecological Engineering, College of Agriculture and College of Engineering.
  • “Chia Seed-Derived Products and the Process Thereof” by Andrea M. Liceaga, associate professor, College of Agriculture.
  • “Bone Fracture Repair by Targeting of Agents That Promote Bone Healing”  by Philip Low, Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, College of Science.
  • “Personal Sampler for Bioaerosol”  by Jae Hong Park, associate professor, College of Health and Human Sciences .
  • “Communication Device and Method of Making the Same” by Shreyas Sen, Elmore Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • “Integrated Thermoelectric Film-Based Woven Power Generator”  by Kazuaki Yazawa, research professor, Birck Nanotechnology Center.
  • “Process and Composition Matter of Nanoparticle Formulation for Systemic Treatment of Sepsis” by Yoon Yeo, associate department head, College of Pharmacy .

In the 2023 fiscal year, the Office of Technology Commercialization:

  • Received 400 total disclosures from Purdue innovators: 375 invention disclosures and 25 copyright disclosures.
  • Filed 809 patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and international patent organizations.
  • Received 262 U.S. and international patents.
  • Executed 150 licenses and options.
  • Helped establish 14 startup companies. 

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution demonstrating excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top four in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, including nearly 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 13 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap — including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes — at .

About Purdue Innovates

Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at [email protected] . For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at [email protected] .

About the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted Utility Patents in 2023

The information provided in this list is based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For this report, a university is defined as an institution that has undergraduate degrees. Patents include only utility patents granted during the 2023 calendar year. All assignees are credited for patents when listed. The number of patents granted does not necessarily indicate the value of a university’s technology, the effectiveness of its research, or whether its patents will be successfully licensed and/or brought to market. This is a dynamic list of worldwide institution patents. Some universities may record patents under different, yet similar names or combine their patents under one foundation or trustee name. If you have questions please contact:    [email protected]

Writer/Media contact: Polly Barks, [email protected]

Sources: Mung Chiang

Brian Edelman, [email protected]

Brooke Beier, [email protected]

Ken Waite, [email protected]

Research News


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Simulations Show How HIV Squirms into Cell Nucleus

University of chicago scientists assemble massive model using tacc’s frontera supercomputer.

  • by:   Jorge Salazar
  • Feb. 19, 2024
  • Feature Story


A new study from two University of Chicago (UChicago) scientists has revealed how HIV squirms its way into the nucleus as it invades a cell.

According to their models, the HIV capsid, which is cone-shaped, points its smaller end into the pores of the nucleus and then ratchets itself in. Once the pore is open enough, the capsid is elastic enough to squeeze through. Importantly, the scientists said, both the structural flexibility of the capsid and the pore itself play a role in the infiltration process.

The finding, created by a simulation of thousands of proteins interacting, will point the way to a better understanding of HIV as well as suggest new targets for therapeutic drugs. 

“For example, you could try to make the HIV capsid less elastic, which our data suggests would hamper its ability to get inside the nucleus,” said Arpa Hudait , a research scientist at UChicago and first author of the paper.

The study also provides the most extensive simulation yet of the nuclear pore itself, which is important in many biological processes.

"There were numerous computational challenges," explained study co-author Gregory Voth , the Haig P. Papazian Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry.

To help meet these challenges, he was awarded supercomputer allocations on the National Science Foundation-funded Frontera supercomputer of the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

"We used Frontera extensively,” Voth said. “We developed a powerful coarse-grained model first, that is much faster than an all-atom molecular dynamics simulation, and then ran the coarse-grained model on Frontera to achieve unprecedented scale in the simulation. This HIV capsid/nuclear pore complex simulations is equivalent to thousands of proteins containing billions of atoms.”

user research masters

"We’ve had very good experiences with Frontera," he added. "The system has consistently allowed us to carry out ground-breaking simulations of a very large magnitude, including for HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. This unique resource has allowed us to discover key behavior of these systems not before known."

Capsid vs. Cell

Voth and Hudait focused on what’s known as the HIV capsid—the capsule containing HIV’s genetic material, which enters a host cell’s nucleus and forces the cell to make copies of the key HIV components.

The capsid is a complex piece of machinery, made of more than a thousand proteins assembled into a cone-like shape, with a smaller and larger end. To get into the host cell’s nucleus, it must sneak in. But scientists didn’t know exactly how this happens. “This part has been a mystery for years,” said Voth. “For a long time, no one was sure whether the capsid broke apart before entering the pore or afterwards, for example.”

Recent imaging studies had suggested the capsid stays intact wriggling through the nuclear pore complex. This is the mail slot where the nucleus sends and receives deliveries.

“The pore complex is an incredible piece of machinery; it can’t just let anything into the nucleus of your cell, or you’d be in real trouble, but it’s got to let quite a bit of stuff in. And somehow, the HIV capsid has figured out how to sneak in,” Voth said. “The problem is, we can’t watch it live. You must go to heroic experimental efforts to even get a single, moment-in-time snapshot.”

Seeing the Unseeable

To fill in the gaps, Hudait built a painstaking computer simulation of both the HIV capsid and the nuclear pore complex—accounting for thousands of proteins working together. Hudait is a member of the Voth Group laboratory, which specializes in simulations to unravel the complex biological processes that occur as viruses attack a cell.

user research masters

Running the simulations, the scientists saw that it was much easier for the capsid to get into the pore by wedging its smallest end in first, and then gradually ratcheting itself in. “It doesn’t need active work to do it, it’s just physics—what we call an electrostatic ratchet,” said Voth. “It’s kind of like if you’ve ever had a seatbelt tighten up on you, where it just keeps getting tighter and tighter.”

They also found both the pore and the capsid deform as it goes. Interestingly, the lattice of molecules that make up the capsid structure develops little regions of less order to accommodate the stress of the pressure. “It’s not like a solid compressing or expanding, as one might have expected,” said Hudait.

This unique resource (Frontera) has allowed us to discover key behavior of these systems not before known. Gregory Voth, University of Chicago

The finding may help explain why capsids are cone-shaped, rather than a shape like a cylinder, which might seem at first easier to slip through a pore.

Opportunities Ahead

The scientists said that each detail in HIV’s journey through the body is an opportunity to find vulnerabilities where drugs could be developed. It’s also a look in the broader sense at a fundamental aspect of biology.

"I think this modeling also gives us a new way to understand how many things get into the nucleus, not just HIV,” Voth said.  “Supercomputers, paired with novel advances in computational methodology, can open up a whole new frontier in probing the behavior of dangerous viruses at an unprecedented scale."

Adapted from a news release by Louise Lerner, University of Chicago.

Funding provided by National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The simulations were performed at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the Research Computing Center at UChicago.


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  25. The YouTube algorithm isn't radicalizing people

    In recent years, there has been a popular narrative in the media that videos from highly partisan, conspiracy theory-driven YouTube channels radicalize young Americans and that YouTube's recommendation algorithm leads users down a path of increasingly radical content. However, a new study from the Annenberg School for Communication's ...

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