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10 Best Degrees for UX Design What to Study for a Career in UX Design

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The best degrees for UX Design are fields of study that teach skills needed for a career in UX. Students who pursue a career in User Experience, or UX, work in a broad computer science field that manages how a user participates and interacts with a website or other product.

Most companies have carefully crafted and designed how a customer or potential customer interacts with a business. Many corporations rely on a well-thought-out plan to maximize positive interactions and minimize the negative ones consumers experience. A UX Designer implements these plans to create the ideal experience.

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What is a UX Designer? 

A User Experience Designer creates a good user experience for a product or website. They are usually responsible for the entire experience, from the layout and design of a website or app to how the user interacts with the interface. They are also accountable for thoughtfully selecting and planning the user interface and the user experience within the application and website.

What Does a UX Designer Do?

A UX designer’s job is to make a website or app more user-friendly and encourage visitors to return and continue interacting with a company’s brand. UX designers help design the user experience for a product or website. They come up with ideas on how to make the user experience for a website more pleasant, efficient, and easy to navigate.

What Does a UX Designer Do?

Daily tasks may include creating prototypes, designing wireframes, and conducting usability testing. A UX designer also creates user personas and conducts user research to understand the type of experience their target audience wants.

What UX Skills Do You Need to Become a UX Designer?

Those pursuing this profession should be computer science 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 – Most successful 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. Computer science languages- ie. HMTL, CSS and JavaScript are all likely to be used and required at some level for most UX positions.

What Soft Skills Do You Need to Be a UX Designer?

  • Flexibility – Many 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 successful 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.

What Degree Does a UX Designer Need?

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 or UX classes, a wide variety of university 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 (UX related degrees) can be paired with a UX certification program to polish the necessary hard skills needed for a career in this field. So a variety of degrees are excellent choices to prepare someone to be a UX designer.

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The 10 Best Degrees or Majors for UX Design

Let’s look at ten of the most helpful university degrees or majors you should consider pursuing a career as a UX Design professional.

1. Computer Science or 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 Human Computer Interaction diploma will be comfortable working through problems and hypotheses surrounding how specific interactions between machine and man work or not.

  • How Human Computer Interaction Prepares You for a Career in UX: This degree is ideal preparation for aspiring UX designers because coursework will be focused on most of the required hard and soft skills needed in this field. As a research-heavy degree, Human Computer Interaction grads will use their Design Thinking and Mapping skills to create potential solutions and answers with peer Collaboration practice using excellent Communication skills. Human Computer Interaction 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. Aspiring UX designers 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.

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 UX 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

A UX program is 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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