How to Become a UX Designer: Best UX Design Courses 2020

October 22, 2020
become a UX desiger

Is it possible to become a UX designer just by taking a UX design course? Do you need a UX certification to be qualified for the job? Or maybe, you need to pursue a UX design degree? 

If you’re new to the field of digital design, chances are these questions have popped up in your head at some point. In this article, we’re going to explore UX design programs in educational institutions all over the world. Also, we’ll list top online and offline courses for digital design beginners and professionals.

UX Design Degree vs UX Design Course

The survey held by the NNGroup shows that UX practitioners come from a variety of backgrounds. 82% of the surveyed designers have Bachelor’s degrees in design-related and adjacent subjects. 

Bachelor's by topic area chart

Various design areas represent about 11% of undergraduate degrees. Meanwhile, Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Communication, and English represent 9% each. As for postgraduate degrees, human-computer interaction masters account for a little over 20% of respondents.  

sources of UX education chart

Educational experiences in terms of getting a UX design degree also vary. While 35% of respondents pursued a UX design program in university, the rest did not have a UX-related degree. More than half of the latter group took an online course. 

No wonder, as the choice of UX design courses available on different online platforms is simply mind-blowing. Offline educational institutions cannot provide such a broad selection of options so far.

Being an interdisciplinary field, UX design is impossible to cover with a single academic subject. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interaction Design (ID), and Information Architecture (IA) are closely tied with UX design. Still, these disciplines each address only a specific area of UX.

UX Design Bootcamp

Another educational format worth mentioning is UX design bootcamps. A UX bootcamp is a short educational program for entry-level specialists in the field that typically lasts from 3 months to a year. The bootcamp entrants often have theoretical knowledge but lack practical skills and experience. While at a bootcamp, aspiring UX designers get projects from real clients as well as mentorship from the industry experts.

Here are the pros and cons of joining a UX design bootcamp:

Pros:

  • Access to real projects and accomplished design professionals
  • Mentorship and feedback on your work
  • Soft skills in communication and collaboration
  • Improvement of a personal UX portfolio

Cons:

  • Doesn’t guarantee to land a job in the field 
  • The bootcamp program is too short to get substantial knowledge, compared to a UX degree.

Overall, a UX bootcamp is a great way to set your foot into the industry, but it’s not enough to be considered a full-blown UX design professional. 

How Long Does It Take to Become a UX designer?

There is no definite answer to this question, as digital design is an extremely dynamic area. 

Most online courses in digital design last between three to nine months. They provide basic knowledge to help students choose a further educational direction. 

When it comes to higher education, undergraduate UX design programs may last up to three years with a full-time evening study. Or even up to six years with a part-time commitment. As for postgraduate UX design programs, those typically last a year with a full-time evening study.  Students complete practical modules with real-life design projects. 

Still, the educational process doesn’t end the moment you finish an online course or leave a UX design school. One of the best ways to continue learning is to get employed in the industry. Reading books and articles, receiving mentorship at work, developing soft and hard skills – all of this becomes an inseparable part of a digital designer’s professional growth. 

Higher Education Institutions with the Strongest Digital Design Programs 

Today, there is a variety of on-campus and online digital design courses provided by universities and colleges worldwide. Some of the popular on-campus programs may be temporarily unavailable due to the pandemic. However, more and more educational facilities are making their curriculum accessible online.  

Top 5 Offline UX Design Courses Worldwide

1. Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design

Copenhagen, Denmark

Facebook | LinkedIn

Rating:

Listed among the top 25 design schools worldwide (BusinessInsider)

Interaction Design Programme (IDP) (1 year)

Price: 260,000 DKK ($41,330)

Visiting Faculty:

  • Simona Maschi (CEO and cofounder, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID)
  • Felix Heibeck (UX Design Technologist at Above.se)
  • Shelley Evenson (Managing Director Organizational Evolution at Fjord)
  • Fahmida Azad (Head of Interaction Design Programme (IDP) at CIID)

The Interaction Design Programme focuses on skills, methods, and instruments related to a variety of interactions. Students get a basic idea about human-centred research, prototyping, machine learning, and get introduced to programming. The Interaction Design Programme is split into several modules: 

  • Foundations
  • Investigations
  • Industry Projects 
  • Final Project

OPEN Lectures complement the curriculum by theoretical and practical aspects of interaction design.

Notable Alumni:

Tobias Toft (Creative Director at Google)

Marco Triverio (Design and Prototyping at Apple)

2. UC Berkeley

US Berkeley

CA, USA

Master of Design (MDes) (1.5 years)

Rating:

#6 World University Ranking 2018-2019

#5 Top Universities in the United States 2020-2021

#4 Top 100 US Universities

Price:

$71,000 (tuition & fees)

Professors:

This on-campus program consists of nine compulsory courses and three optional ones. Under the program, students are expected to engage in practical out-of-class experiences known as Design@Large. Students compile a Capstone Portfolio including their design projects and achievements while being a part of the program.

3. Loughborough University

London, UK

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MA User Experience Design degree (1 year full-time, 4 years part-time)

Rating (UK):

  • #3 for Art and Design (Complete University Guide 2021)
  • #2 for Design and Crafts (Guardian University Guide 2021)
  • #2 for Art and Design (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020)

Professors & Lecturers:

Price:

  • UK & EU students £9,300 ($12,039)
  • International students £19,100 ($24,725)

The course is split into two semesters. It includes theoretical modules such as Design for Behaviour Change, Design Research Methods, Experience Design, Usability Principles and Practice. Also, students will engage in practical modules such as Industry Project and Service Design for Social Innovation. And finally, will culminate their education with a User Experience Design Major Project.

4. Barcelona Technology School

Barcelona, Spain

Master in User Experience Design (9 months)

Professors:

Rating:

Price: 

  • On-campus €17,000 ($20,101) 
  • Online €15,000 ($17,738) 

This is a project-based course that encompasses such areas as:

  • UX driven business
  • User-centered technology
  • Content strategy
  • UI design & prototyping
  • Interface development
  • Entrepreneurship and more

Apart from this, the study program includes the introduction to web and mobile development languages. This will help students understand the impact technology has on user interfaces.

Alumni:

Viktor Golubov (Head Of Department at Eggheads Solutions)

Nadine Cumberbatch (Senior Digital Product Owner) 

5. Domus Academy Milano

Milano, Italy

Master in Interaction Design (1 year)

Rating:

Facebook 4.4 / 5

MastersPortal 4.3 / 5

Price:

  • EU & Switzerland Students €20,900 ($24,714)
  • Non-EU Students €28,600 ($33,819)

Professors:

Michele Aquila (Program Leader)

Visiting Professors:

Pier Bardoni (THINGS.is)

Enrico Bassi (Opendot), and others

The curriculum includes compulsory and elective workshops, as well as courses covering different areas of digital design. Storytelling and Visual Narrative, Prototyping, Design Research Methods and Tools, Personal Branding are the courses featured in the study program. Students finalize their education with a Professional Experience in a form of an internship, field learning, or entrepreneurship module.

Top 5 Online UX Design Courses

Coursera, Udemy, EdX, LinkedIn Learning, General Assembly are some of the most popular e-learning platforms. Most online courses in digital design are geared for entry-level specialists.  

However, designers with more experience can find Advanced-level UX courses as well. The benefit of taking an online course is convenience – some of them don’t have time limits, so it’s possible to study at one’s own pace. 

1. UX Design Immersive Online (3 months)

study UX design

General Assembly

Price:

  • Online $14,950
  • On campus €9,000 ($10,673)

Instructors:

This is a full-time UX design bootcamp offering expert mentorship and career coaching with a prospect of further employment. In the syllabus, students will learn UI and UX foundations, Design Iteration and Development, Working With a Product Team. Also, they’ll get to know more about the realities of UX design and UX career planning.

Alumni:

Jade Johnson (UX Mentor @ CareerFoundry)

Dan Staton (Product Design Manager at Wayfair)

Chelsea Nicholson (Co-Founder at Ceremony)

2. User Experience Research and Design Specialization (9 months)

University of Michigan

Instructors:

Price: Free

Rating: 4.7 / 5

This Coursera specialization comprises six courses teaching the basics of UX research and UX design. Perfect for beginners, it provides the introduction to UX principles and processes, user psychology, prototyping, analytics, and testing, etc. The specialization provides a shareable certificate upon completion.

3. UX Design Program (10 months)

CareerFoundry

Mentors: 

Price: $6,555.00 upfront

Rating:  4.93/5

The course teaches basic skills, instruments, and processes needed for UX design professionals. With every module, students grow their professional portfolio with projects for real clients. Apart from extensive mentorship, students get tailored coaching to succeed in job interviews.  

Alumni:

Ally Hangartner (Senior Product Designer at Klaviyo)

Andrada Popan Dorca (Senior UX Designer at ORACLE)

4. UX Courses from Interaction Design Foundation

(Self-paced online course with no deadlines)

learn ux design

Price:

  • free for members with a subscription 
  • $16/mo – Professional Subscription
  • $200/mo – Design League

Rating: 4.86 (Coursereport)

Instructors

The IDF platform offers a variety of digital design courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners. Here you will find courses on UX design basics, creativity methods, design thinking, accessibility, information visualization, etc. At the end of the course, students get industry-recognized certificates to move forward in their careers. 

Alumni:

Fernando Martinez Carreon (Principle Interaction Director at ORACLE)

Clayton Whittle (Research Fellow, Ph.D. at Penn State University)

5. User Experience Design Essentials – Adobe XD UI UX Design (92 lessons, 11hr 7min)

Skillshare

Price: free

Instructors:

Daniel Scott (Adobe Certified trainer)

This course is geared for beginners with no previous Adobe XD experience. In a series of lessons, students will learn about low-fidelity wireframes and tools necessary for creating them. Also, the course reveals how to use other Adobe products (Photoshop and Illustrator) to maximize XD productivity. The exercise files and resources needed to complete tasks within the course come attached.

Conclusion

As of 2020, digital design is a thriving industry that has auspicious career perspectives and financial rewards. Thanks to the variety of online courses, entry-level specialists can try their hand at UX design with minimal investment. At the same time, designers interested in professional growth are welcome to pursue a UX degree. All in all, learning about user-centered design will be a great experience for IT professionals in related areas. 

 

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