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As a consumer, we all look to businesses to solve a problem, provide a service or even answer a question we have in our lives. For most companies, the way that a customer or potential customer interacts with a business has been carefully crafted and designed. Many corporations rely on a well-thought-out plan to maximize positive interactions and minimize the negative ones that consumers experience. Known as the user experience, companies track and aim to enhance how a customer perceives every interaction they have with the company from the first internet search about a company, product or services all the way to their final or ultimate interactions like online or in-person transactions. As the marketplace continues to widen to include anywhere in the world with a Wi-Fi connection, more and more companies have begun to rely on creating an effective and positive customer experience to distinguish themselves from the competition.

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A UX Design Career

Students who want to pursue a career in User Experience, or UX, will work in a broad field that manages how a user experiences a company as a whole. While a UX career will certainly focus on the technical aspects of a customer’s experience with a company or service, a UX professional will work with all aspects of how a company or service is perceived by customers and potential customers. This means that a UX design career will look at the whole journey taken by a customer, including all types of interactions, so a degree or major that prepares a student for success as a UX designer can take a variety of forms.

Helpful Skills for a UX Design Professional

Those pursuing this profession should be proficient or skilled in specific hard and soft skills needed for a UX design career:

  • Design Thinking – UX professionals spend the majority of their time creating and crafting a strategy-making process to assess problems, create and test possible solutions as well as evaluate these changes for effectiveness.
  • Decision Mapping – A professional in UX will need the ability to create potential pathways to solve problems as well as see opportunities for adjusting solutions within their designs.
  • Prototyping – All designers must have the ability to create a possible solution through the use of creating a prototype. UX professionals will create multiple prototypes by hand and then an HMTL or interactive one, to test out possible products or functions.
  • Basic Front End Coding – All UX professionals will use front-end coding in their job to manage how the “front” or customer-facing parts of a website are designed. HMTL, CSS and JavaScript are all likely to be used and required at some level for most UX positions.
  • Flexibility – UX designers need to be able to adjust and allow their product designs to evolve, so flexibility is a key component to a successful career. Customer needs and desires change and evolve, so being able to adapt or even foresee upcoming changes is a vital soft skill to develop when working with user experience positions.
  • Empathy – This critical soft skill allows designers to step into the feelings, needs, and emotions of a client seamlessly. When designers have empathy, they are able to anticipate a client’s fears, motivations and goals to truly develop a user experience from the perspective of the client.
  • Communication – More important than ever in our remote-work world, this skill should be well-developed for a UX professional that must be able to advocate for and explain or understand the development of UX designs with multiple people in this job.
  • Collaboration – As a team-run position, UX designers should be comfortable working on project-based assignments with others regularly. The ability to collaborate effectively and smoothly is a minimum expectation for a UX professional.

The 10 Best Degrees or Majors for UX Design

This relatively new field is perfect for those who are able to combine elements of artistic design and computer programming abilities. While a few schools are beginning to offer User Experience Design degrees, a wide variety of degrees and majors can prepare students for this project-based, hands-on career. Some students find that earning a degree in a field outside of programming can be paired with a UX certification program to polish the necessary hard skills needed for a career in this field, making a variety of degrees excellent choices to prepare someone to be a UX designer. Let’s look at ten of the most helpful degrees or majors you should consider pursuing a career as a UX Design professional.

1. Computer Programming

A major in the field of programming will be heavy in coursework featuring learning different computer languages, mathematics and statistics. This major could also be further narrowed down to more specific programming applications making it even more helpful in the UX field.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: Students who study programming will be prepared adequately with the hard skills of Basic Front End Coding in a multitude of computer languages. Additionally, most with this degree will be well-versed in Design Thinking and Decision Mapping as well as Collaboration. Since many of the classes would require working to solve problems as a team or with others in some way, a major in programming would be an excellent fit for future UX design professionals.

2. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

This relatively new degree combines aspects of psychology, design and computer engineering to turn out graduates that have a grasp of how computers and humans interact. This degree is heavy on research and graduates with an HCI diploma will be comfortable working through problems and hypotheses surrounding how specific interactions between machine and man work or not.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: This degree is ideal preparation for a career in UX design because coursework will be focused on most of the required hard and soft skills needed in this field. As a research-heavy degree, HCI grads will use their Design Thinking and Mapping skills to create potential solutions and answers with peer Collaboration practice using excellent Communication skills. HCI students will also learn how to create Prototypes as they follow through with ongoing research completed as a necessary part of this degree.

3. English

While a degree in English may not initially seem like a good fit for a career as a UX designer, excellent writing and organizational skills are developed as an English major. Students who have a background in English will be comfortable working with others on projects and will also have well-developed research abilities. UX design professionals that pursue an English major will likely want to have a minor or certification in a computer-based field as this major does not usually provide any programming or computer language coursework.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: An English major will likely be very prepared to be a successful UX designer with strong soft skills like Collaboration, Communication and Empathy. English majors will have experience in Decision Mapping and Flexibility as well since these both are practiced within the coursework as part of applying critical thinking skills as an undergrad.

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4. Information Technology (IT)

Students who want to pursue an IT degree will take classes heavy on business concepts, communication ideas as well as the field of computer science. IT coursework will teach students how computing systems interact with humans, making this undergraduate degree an ideal basis for pursuing the UX design profession. A well-rounded degree, a major in IT will require most students to take courses ranging from philosophy to advanced computer languages as well as participate in cooperative, project-based learning.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: A degree in IT will provide a well-rounded preparation for a UX design career. Since many of the courses focus on teaching students to anticipate, identify and solve problems, IT grads will be ready to work in a job requiring Design Thinking and Mapping hard skills. Information Technology majors also have a lot of experience in Collaboration since their coursework is usually project-based. In addition, IT majors typically gain deep knowledge of coding and computer languages, making them ready to take on a career with the expectation of Basic Front End Coding proficiency.

5. Psychology

A degree in psychology prepares a student to understand how people learn, act, think and feel. Undergraduates studying psychology will study and eventually create studies to explore different facets of the human mind and the actions connected to those thoughts. In researching and studying, psych majors will practice creating a hypothesis, testing out potential solutions or outcomes as well as anticipating human reactions and outcomes by using their own understanding of humanity. As psychology students become comfortable with the research model of this major, they will learn how to work collaboratively and communicate effectively as undergraduates.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: Design Thinking and Mapping will be strong skills for a psychology major to bring to a career in UX design as well as the ability to work Collaboratively. Communication skills, both written and oral, will also be excellent for psychology majors on this career path. As psych majors study how humans think and feel, they will also develop strong Empathy soft skills, easily transferrable to the UX design field. Psychology majors will likely be able to demonstrate Flexibility as well since this degree requires students to deal with multiple potential outcomes or solutions that come with the diversity of the human mind.

6. Graphic Design

This creative major will consist of working with specific computer programs and languages to create and manipulate all kinds of design projects. Heavy on computer coursework, this degree also leans into understanding how and why certain types of design elements are effective, providing a human psychology connection to this creative major. Many collaborative assignments will be completed as an undergraduate in graphic design, and communication skills both written and oral will be developed during this major. While typically connected to art majors, graphic design is increasingly being paired with business or computer coursework.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: Those who major in graphic design will be well-prepared to take on a career in the field because many of the courses and expectations for this major parallel the day-to-day work of a UX design professional. As a student, graphic designers will be asked to solve a problem or create an alternative to a current situation, developing their abilities in Design Thinking, Design Mapping and Prototyping. Graphic design majors will be excellent Collaborators who have worked on project-based coursework that rely on excellent Communication skills combined with solid design program abilities. Some graphic design students may even have laid the groundwork for concrete Basic Front End Coding skills, depending on how focused their degree plan was on programming languages.

7. Industrial Design

Students that major in Industrial Design, or ID, will spend a large part of their education creating prototypes, testing them for efficacy and value. This major will require students to practice the creative design and evaluation process repeatedly while analyzing the products and processes from all angles, developing the student’s abilities through courses in math, problem-solving, science and art. This artistic major will allow creative students to work with product design physically while also utilizing modern design programs, adding to their computer language competencies.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: Students with an Industrial Design degree who want to pursue UX as a career will have many hard and soft skills that will lead to their success in the field. While some will be more hands-on experience rather than only digital, an ID major will be very comfortable creating Prototypes as a result of working through the Design Thinking process. They will also know how to maneuver the Design Mapping needs of a UX professional since industrial design requires students to think critically about multiple solutions to solve problems. Flexibility will be a strong point for ID majors as well as their educational background will stress the ability to alter outcomes of a design based on multiple factors or requirements. Since this degree works on many project-based assignments, ID majors will be comfortable working in a setting dependent on effective Collaboration.

8. Anthropology

A degree in anthropology will entail courses and research that delve into the human condition as well as how people and cultures live with each other now and over time. Courses for this major will focus on the sciences, sociology and researching. Students with an anthropology degree will have a deep understanding of how people interact with others and will be expected to develop an understanding of how people of all eras and places think and feel by putting themselves in that situation to discover and connect to those cultures. Some anthropology majors will also focus on communication, computer programming or other sub-fields, potentially laying the groundwork for working in careers that combine anthropological concepts with UX design ideas.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: Students who want to pursue a career in UX design will be very well prepared in the soft skills necessary to be successful in this field. As undergrads, they will develop Empathy with other people and experiences, making them great candidates showing this type of understanding while working in this position. Students with an anthropology degree will have a deep understanding of effective Communication and Collaboration skills needed to be successful as a UX designer. Working with other students to seek out answers to problems and seeing how past problems have been resolved both build up Design Thinking and Design Mapping abilities needed in the UX design field.

9. Digital Communications and Multimedia

Those who major in this field of communication will master many forms of digital media, including the basics of computer programming, animation and graphic designing, building websites as well as audio and video production concepts. Many courses will include project-based learning in this degree. Students in the communications field will learn about the law, distribution and marketing principles as well in classes like Ecommerce, Informational Design and Website Management.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: Students pursuing a career in UX design will be ready to take on many of the hard skills required for the job with a degree in Digital Communications. Projects in school will teach undergrads how to use Design Thinking and Mapping to solve problems, and digital communication students will likely be able to perform adequate Basic Front End Coding on the job based on the coursework and expectations that come with this major. Digital Communication majors also will excel in Collaboration and of course, Communication skills, making them well-qualified to take on a job as a UX professional.

10. UX Design

The ultimate choice for students wanting to pursue a degree in UX design, this major is not as prevalent in universities and colleges yet but is an optimal course of study for the field. Students in this major can expect to take classes that marry art and design with elements of technology. Collaborative learning encompasses much of the coursework while students work on real-world problem-solving together within the UX world.

  • How it Prepares You for a Career in UX: As the ideal major for students interested in pursuing UX design, graduates with this degree will pair up with major businesses to provide real-world UX problems that students can work through. Collaboration, Communication and Flexibility will be solid soft skills that will be brought to the job by graduates with UX Design degrees. In addition, students with this major will have verifiable experience navigating Design Thinking and Mapping. Graduates with this major will also have first-hand knowledge of Prototype creation and the Empathy needed by a UX design professional to connect with what a client needs and wants since the student will have actually worked on UX design projects in school.

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Find Your Degree

Find Your Degree