What Degree Do I Need to Become a UX Designer?
Written by Coursera • Updated on
Set yourself up for success in UX with the right degree or certification.
Starting a career as a user experience designer (UX designer) lets you leverage your problem solving and creativity to design products people love to use. But what qualifications do you need to get started? In this article, we’ll explore the types of degrees that translate well into UX, whether you really need a degree to get hired, degree alternatives, and tips for choosing the right UX program for your goals.
UI/UX design degrees: What should I major in?
Since UX is a relatively new field, you’ll only find a few UX-specific degree programs out there (at least so far). Human-computer interaction, interaction design, and information architecture degree programs have the most overlap with the skills and concepts of UX.
Luckily, there are many common majors that can help prepare you for a career as a UX designer. You may already have a degree in one of these fields, and if not, these are good majors to consider:
In UX design, you’ll be a champion of the user by understanding what they want and need. You’ll also need to understand the technical side of building apps or websites. No matter what degree program you choose (should you decide to pursue a degree), try to balance your coursework between a study of people (psychology, anthropology, sociology) and technology (computer science, programming, graphic design).
While you might not find many degrees specific to UX, consider a degree that offers a concentration in UX. With the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree from the University of London, for example, you can register as a specialist in user experience to focus your studies.
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Do UX designers need a degree?
Many UX designers do not have a degree in UX or a UX related field. In fact, it’s possible to start a career in UX without a degree at all. Having said that, some employers may prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree. You may find that having a degree opens up new job opportunities.
Did you know?
Eighty-two percent of UX designers surveyed by Nielsen Norman Group, a leading UX design consulting firm, have at least a bachelor’s degree. Thirty-one percent have or are pursuing a master’s degree .
Luckily, getting a degree doesn’t mean you have to drop everything to go back to school full time. With many top universities offering online degree programs, you can often complete coursework at your own pace while working, raising a family, or keeping up with your other life obligations.
Thinking about going back to school? Learn more about seven things you should consider.
Alternatives to university degrees
A degree is only one of several paths you can take toward becoming a UX designer. Relevant experience and transferable skills, certification, and self-guided learning can all help you prepare yourself for a new career in UX. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Certification and certificates
Earning a credential from a UX industry leader can be an excellent way to show recruiters and hiring managers that you have the necessary skills for the job. Unlike more established fields, like information technology or cybersecurity, there are not many industry-recognized UX certifications.
You’re more likely to find certificate programs and bootcamps, where you can learn critical UX skills, complete UX case studies for your portfolio, and earn a credential to share on your resume. You can find a guide to the top UX bootcamps and certificates here.
With the Google UX Design Professional Certificate, available on Coursera, you can build the job-ready skills you need to get hired in less than six months—no degree required. By completing the program, you’ll also have three end-to-end projects—a mobile app, responsive website, and a cross-platform experience—to include in your portfolio.
Many people approach UX design assuming they have no relevant experience and have to start from the beginning. This may not be the case. Depending on your previous jobs, you may very well have experience that translates to UX (and that you should include on your resume).
In addition to workplace skills, like empathy, critical thinking, collaboration, and time management, here are some examples of how more technical, job-specific skills could translate into UX:
Customer service > user empathy
Quality assurance (QA) > usability testing
Academic research > user research
Copywriting > UX writing
Graphic design > user interface design (UI)
Technical drawing > wireframing
Read more: How to Use Transferable Skills to Land Your Next Job
The internet is teeming with resources for learning the art and science of UX. If you’re a self-directed learner with good time management skills, you could design your own UX design program to develop the most important UX skills. Take advantage of UX books, blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, and UX communities. When it comes time to prepare a portfolio, there are several types of projects you can do that don’t depend on having a job in UX.
Read more: 7 UX Designer Portfolio Examples: A Beginners Guide
While it’s possible to learn UX design on your own, you may find several benefits to a more structured learning environment, like a degree or certificate program. We’ll look at a few of them.
Benefits of a UX program
Some jobs require it: Companies list a degree or certification as a requirement in their job description.
Structured learning: You don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify the gaps in our own knowledge, and a certificate program or degree can provide a structured, methodical approach to ensure you learn all the key skills and concepts.
Networking opportunities: Learning as part of a structured program gives you the opportunity to start building a professional network of other UX designers at various stages of their careers. It’s typically much easier to apply for jobs if you have a connection. UX courses are an excellent place to start making those connections.
Projects: You can complete UX projects and case studies on your own, but when you’re a part of a UX program, you gain the benefit of collaborating with others and getting feedback on your work.
Job search resources: Many UX programs offer job search resources as part of the package. This might include job interview practice, hiring consortiums, or resume reviews.
Choosing a UX program: What to look for
The UX field is buzzing right now, and that means you’ll find a huge range of courses, bootcamps, certifications, and certificate programs geared toward aspiring UX designers. Not all of these programs are created equal. As you evaluate where to invest your time and money, here are some things to look for in a program:
Project-based learning: Having a portfolio is practically a must when applying for UX design jobs. Choose a program that includes hands-on projects that you can use to build your own portfolio. Plus, we learn better by doing than simply by reading or watching videos.(Video) What Does A UX Designer Actually Do? (In 2023)
Taught by UX experts: As you research programs, look at who’s teaching the course or courses. What UX experience do they bring? Do they actively practice UX design in addition to teaching? Who have they worked for? Does the organization providing the program have a credible presence in the UX world?
Positive career outcomes: Does the program work? Look for programs that offer statistics that show positive career outcomes as a result of completing the training or coursework.
Matches your learning style: Depending on your unique situation, you may be able to study full time, or you might require flexible learning that you can build into your busy life. Some bootcamps and degree programs require a hefty time commitment. Others let you learn at your own pace. Think about how you want your UX learning to fit into your life.
Hands-on experience with design tools: UX designers use a range of software during the design process. You’ll want to get some hands-on experience with common design tools, such as Figma, Adobe XD, or Sketch.
Get started as a UX designer
Launch your career in UX by learning job-ready skills from user experience experts at Google with theGoogle UX Design Professional Certificate. Learn at your own pace as you build a professional UX portfolio. Get started for free.
Google UX Design
This is your path to a career in UX design. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.
743,034 already enrolled
Average time: 6 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
User Experience (UX), UX Research, Wireframe, Prototype, User Experience Design (UXD), Usability Testing, mockup, Figma, Adobe XD, UX design jobs
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
The exact skills covered will vary from program to program, but a typical UX course should cover:
- Design thinking
- User-centered design
- UX research
- Empathy maps, personas, and user stories
- Wireframing and prototyping
- Visual design elements
- Information architecture
- Design patterns
- Usability testing
According to a survey by UX consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group, 50 percent of surveyed UX designers can write some HTML and CSS . While you don’t need to know how to program to succeed in UX, having some foundational knowledge can help you collaborate with developers and give you a competitive edge in your job search.
The average base salary for UX designers in the United States as of June 2022 is $100,795, according to Glassdoor . Learn more about how much you can make as a UX designer, and what might influence your salary.
There were UX designers working remotely even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced design teams to work from home. While some companies are returning to in-person work, others are embracing a work-from-home or hybrid environment. If you’re looking for remote work as a UX designer, consider these tips:
Familiarize yourself with remote collaboration tools, like Figma, Slack, Google Docs, InVision, and Trello.
Look for jobs in or near your time zone. This will make it easier to sync up with your team for Zoom calls and other online collaboration sessions.
- Expand your job search to include both traditional and remote-only job boards. Some examples of the latter include We Work Remotely, Remote.co, and Remotive.
What Does a UX Designer Do?
9 Essential Skills for UX Designers in 2021
UI vs. UX Design: What’s the Difference?
UX Design Books, Blogs, and Podcasts: A 2021 Resource List
1. Nielsen Norman Group. "User Experience Careers, https://www.nngroup.com/reports/user-experience-careers/." Accessed June 7, 2022.
2. Glassdoor. "User Experience Designer Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-user-experience-designer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,27.htm." Accessed June 7, 2022.
Written by Coursera • Updated on
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
What degree should a UX designer have? ›
They've also specified that a “BA degree in design or a related field is preferred but not essential”. Both of these job ads are heavily focused on practical, industry-specific skills. And, although we've only taken two ads into account, they are representative of many UX design jobs you'll find online.What programs do you need to know to be a UX designer? ›
What are the most popular UX design tools? Tools from Adobe's Creative Cloud are typically considered industry standards, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Adobe XD. Other platforms, like Figma and InVision, are also popular UX design tools used across many companies and industries.What major does UX design fall under? ›
For many UX designers, a software-related subject will be their major. Common degrees for UX designers include: Computer science. Graphic design.Can I get a UX job without a degree? ›
No, you do not need a specific degree to be a UX Designer, but you do need the right hard and soft skills to be considered for a role in UX design.How do I start UX design with no experience? ›
- Find your area of interest. UX design is a broad discipline. ...
- Get educated. ...
- Find a mentor. ...
- Master the right tools. ...
- Get practical skills. ...
- Create a portfolio. ...
- Write about design. ...
- Connect with others.
No, most UX Designers are not required to code (at least, not at an advanced level). However, it's still to their advantage to develop an understanding and appreciation for what Developers do.Is UX design harder than coding? ›
Many people are considering the career change because UX design seems much easier than coding and still pays pretty well and you're working in tech.Does degree matter in UX design? ›
You don't have to have UX experience without a degree but you are almost certainly going to need some kind of professional experience to offset the absence of a degree. You may also find that it's easier to transition into a UX role within a company that has seen some of your other skills.How do I know if UX design is for me? ›
UX design may be a good fit if you aspire to a creative and analytical position, a decent salary, long-term job security, a chance to branch out skill-wise, the possibility of freelancing, or just the chance to do some meaningful work that makes the world a better place.Does UX design require math? ›
But all designers, not just UX ones, employ cornerstone principles of math every time they use a paintbrush, a pencil, or a touch-pad. In fact, some of the most fundamental techniques of design are rooted in mathematical concepts.
Can I be a UX designer if Im not creative? ›
No! There is a decent amount of drawing involved in UX / UI Product Design. However, the purpose is to develop or communicate ideas, and that can be done very simply – meaning, it doesn't take a great deal of artistic talent.Is UX a hard field to get into? ›
It is hard to get a job in UX because of several reasons. First of all, many designers are looking for a job. Because of that, competition is fierce, and companies know it. They can go for someone with a lot of experience, even if the job doesn't require it.How do I get my first job in UX? ›
- Do volunteer/pro bono work.
- Freelance/indie hacker.
- Get a degree longer than one year.
- Networking with someone in the industry.
- Learn UX design fundamentals.
- Learn key design tools.
- Work on your own projects to develop your UX design skills.
- Develop a portfolio to showcase your UX design work.
- Apply to relevant UX design jobs.
The UX/UI industry welcomes individuals of all ages, and there are no official educational or experiential prerequisites to get started. However, UX is not immune to ageism, and older designers may face additional challenges when they join the field.How long does it take to learn UX design? ›
You can expect to spend around 40 hours in the classroom, as well as 20 to 25 hours per week to complete projects. At the end of the program, you'll have not only a new set of UX design skills, but an industry-ready portfolio as well.Can a UX designer be self taught? ›
Luckily, it's not impossible to teach yourself UX design. After all, the original UX designers that pioneered the field did something very similar to the self-taught designers of today, but with even less resources than are available now.What language do UX designers use? ›
While having a degree in this field isn't required (in fact, this field is so new that few degree programs exist right now), training and certification will only boost your career path.Who gets paid more UX designer or web developer? ›
Web developer salaries tend to be higher than web designer salaries primarily because of the coding skills of developers, which is highly valued in today's increasingly digital world.
What was the most difficult thing to learn in UX design? ›
Understanding how to use data and qualitative feedback to help underline the importance of user experience problems and how to then use this information to tell a great story that convinces stakeholders is an art. And like any art it is hard.Do UX designers get paid more than web developers? ›
The average salary for a UI/UX Designer is $73,000 (Source:Indeed.com) compared to the average salary of a Front End Developer which is $62,000. When it comes to landing your dream job in the tech industry, making the right decision on which role to pursue is crucial. Almost every business today has a website.Is UX design degree worth it? ›
UX design may be a good fit if you aspire to a creative and analytical position, a decent salary, long-term job security, a chance to branch out skill-wise, the possibility of freelancing, or just the chance to do some meaningful work that makes the world a better place.Is there a degree for UI UX design? ›
Candidates can pursue a UG degree in UI/ UX if they have completed their 10+2 from a recognised board with passing marks. Aspirants from any stream (Science/ Commerce/ Arts) are eligible to apply for admission to UI/ UX course.Can I be a UX designer with a graphic design degree? ›
A graphic design education is an excellent starting point to becoming a UX designer. However, you'll still need to complete 6 months to 2 years of learning to make the switch. You can take some courses online for free, or you can invest $30,000+ for a master's degree. Both options have pros and cons.Does UX design require computer science? ›
While it's not necessary to study computer science to pursue UI/UX, it may be the one of the closest programs available that can provide you with a strong basic foundation.Do you have to draw well to be a UX designer? ›
Contrary to popular belief, if you want to become a UX designer, you don't need to learn how to draw. Typically, when people see the word 'designer,' they automatically think about the arts, and therefore drawing can come to mind. The only thing that UX designers draw is usually sketches.Is UX design a lot of coding? ›
Do UX designers need to know how to code? User experience design does not require coding. However, understanding the basics of coding can help you as a UX designer. Understanding how software development works gives you a better understanding of what's possible, allowing for more efficient work and better designs.Is UX high paying? ›
What is an average UX designer salary? The average base salary for UX designers in the US is $95,572 per year as of February 2023, according to Glassdoor . The role was also listed as sixth in Glassdoor's list of 25 Highest Paying Entry Level Jobs .What degree is needed for UI design? ›
UI design roles typically require a bachelor's degree in graphic design, art, web design or a related field. Strong portfolio of previous UI design experience and projects.
How do I become a UX designer with no experience? ›
- Determine Your Ideal Career Path.
- Take a Free Course.
- Utilize Free Resources.
- Work on Projects.
- Complete a Bootcamp.
- Get a Certification.
- Gain UX Experience.
- Promote Your Skills.
Taking a UX bootcamp is generally the fastest way to start a UX career. Instead of investing two years or more into obtaining a master's degree, most bootcamps allow students to learn UX design in less than 12 months.Can a BA become a UX designer? ›
The roles have similar methodologies which allows BAs to technically be able to do UX work and vice versa. It simply depends on what the focus is on. A business analyst that is user focused and a UX designer that is business focused… do the same role. One difference between the two roles is in the career trajectory.