Degrees Without Borders: Online Programs in UX, UI & HCI

In a world increasingly powered by technology, skills in user experience (UX), user interface (UI), and human-computer interaction (HCI) have never been more important. UX, UI, and HCI professionals are experts in the relationships between people and technology. Utilizing skills in design, communication, and sociology, they help craft the experiences that users have with both software and hardware, and make them feel both efficient and intuitive.

UX, UI, and HCI may be a relatively young fields, but it’s a rapidly growing one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), the need for web developers and digital interface designers, a category that includes UX, UI, and HCI professionals, is set to grow by 13 percent between 2020 and 2030, a rate that’s significantly higher than the national average for all professions during the same period (8 percent). At the same time, it’s never been easier to upskill in UX, UI, and HCI, with online degree programs available at every level.

To learn more about online programs in UX, UI, and HCI, read on.

Fast Facts: Why Are UX, UI & HCI Skills Important?

  • Fast-Growing Field: The BLS (2021) projects the need for UX, UI, and HCI professionals to grow 13 percent between 2020 and 2030.
  • Flexible Work Schedule: While most UX, UI, and HCI professionals work full time, an estimated 18 percent are self-employed.
  • Business-Boosting Power: Data from Forrester, a research firm, suggests that every dollar invested in UX brings in approximately 100 in return.
  • Human-Focused Tech: Gaining UX, UI, and HCI skills allows one to bet on an increasingly technology-powered world, but still empathetically focus on the human users of that technology.
  • Opportunity for Artistic Expression: UX, UI, and HCI professionals get to design experiences for end-users that are not only efficient, but aesthetically pleasing, too.

Mentors: Three UX, UI & HCI Gurus to Know

Accredited Online UX, UI & HCI Degree Programs

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online bachelor of science degree in graphic information technology with a concentration in user experience. The program takes an interdisciplinary approach, with a triple foundation in design, research, and communication.

The curriculum includes classes such as digital publishing; professional portfolio design; information design and usability; human-computer interaction; user experience; and qualitative research methods. Graduates will be prepared to work in a number of different roles across user experience, user interface, human-computer interaction, and graphic design. The program consists of 120 credits.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Duration: Four years
  • Tuition: $15,972 per year
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Arizona State University (MS)

Arizona State University offers an online master of science degree in user experience. Taking a holistic approach, the program is a collaboration between three different areas of study: human systems engineering (product development), graphic information technology (graphic development), and technical writing and communication (information development).

The curriculum is project-based, providing students with the skills they need to enter into advanced employment roles. Students also benefit from industry advisor boards, whose members interact directly with the program through meetups, workshops, competitions, and lectures. The program consists of 30 credits.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Duration: 18 to 24 months
  • Tuition: $6,188 per semester
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Drexel University (Certificate)

Drexel University offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in human-computer interaction and user experience. Designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field (such as computer science, engineering, or the humanities), it offers an introductory look at the world of HCI and UX.

The program’s flexibility allows for students to continue working full-time while enrolled. Students can also connect with faculty members who have worked in the field, and network toward job placement after earning their certificate. The program consists of nine credits.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Duration: As little as 10 weeks
  • Tuition: $1,355 per credit
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Drexel University (MS)

Drexel University offers an online master of science degree in user experience and human-computer interaction. This is a highly interdisciplinary program, stretching between media arts, design, psychology, and sociology.

Courses include subjects such as social and collaborative computing; designing with data; prototyping the user experience; social network analytics; and information visualization. The program culminates in a capstone project that can be either design-based or research-based. The program consists of 45 credits.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Duration: 16 to 24 months
  • Tuition: $1,355 per credit
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Indiana University (MS)

Indiana University offers an online master of science degree in human-computer interaction. Students will be immersed in a project-based and hands-on learning environment, one where they work with emerging research and collaborate with industry leaders.

Courses include subjects such as prototyping for interactive systems; psychology of HCI; tangible and embodied interaction; conversational user interfaces; and informative research design. The program consists of 36 credits.

  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Duration: 18 to 24 months
  • Tuition: $577 per credit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

DIY Skill-Building in UX, UI & HCI – Bootcamps, MOOCs & More

The rise of modular, DIY, online learning means that students can now upskill in areas like UX, UI, and HCI without committing to a large and long-term degree program. These DIY programs do not culminate in a formal degree, and they won’t have official accreditation. But in partnering with cutting-edge online learning platforms, they’re able to retain top-class faculty and provide the actionable skills that working professionals are looking for, often for a fraction of the cost of degree-seeking programs.

Arizona State University (UI/UX Bootcamp)

In partnership with Thinkful, ASU is offering a digital bootcamp in UI/UX for individuals either interested in the UI/UX field or just starting a career in it. The program features a flexible curriculum that provides an intense and comprehensive learning experience in UI and UX. Students can choose to specialize in one of three areas: UX research, UI design, or frontend design.

The curriculum includes a self-determined capstone project. Students will also gain access to a team of professional mentors and career coaches who can help them prepare their professional portfolios and sharpen their interview skills. Graduates will be equipped with the skills they need to land their first job in the field and receive both a digital badge and an accompanying professional certificate.

  • Partner: Thinkful
  • Duration: Six months
  • Tuition: $9,500 in total

University of California, San Diego (Interaction Design Specialization)

In association with Coursera, UCSD is offering an online specialization in interaction design.

The program consists of eight courses: human-centered design; design principles; social computing; input and interaction; user experience research and prototyping; information design; designing, running, and analyzing experiments; and an interaction design capstone project. Upon completion of the specialization, students will earn a certificate in interaction design.

  • Partner: Coursera
  • Duration: Ten months
  • Tuition: Free

HEC Montreal (MicroMasters in UX Design and Evaluation)

In partnership with edX, HEC Montreal offers a MicroMasters program in UX design and evaluation. As a MicroMasters program, the coursework represents 20 percent of the coursework in a MS degree in UX from HEC Montreal.

The program consists of seven courses: introduction to user experience; UX research; UX design; UX prototyping; UX evaluation and user testing; UX data analysis; and UX management. Students will also have access to the Tech3Lab, an applied laboratory in management science that specializes in the analysis of interactions between technological interfaces in organizations and their customers or employees.

  • Partner: edX
  • Duration: Ten months
  • Tuition: $1,795 in total
Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.

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