Getting a master’s in UX design can be advantageous in that you have the opportunity to build upon your existing education and offer more skills to an employer. Undergraduate studies offer sufficient education to help you start your career, but they may not help you with understanding the more advanced aspects of UX/UI design. Going through a master’s in UX design program can help you become a better visual artist and advances your understanding and implementation of visual design that brings the user into an intuitive state of use with the computer program or app.
If your undergrad program didn’t include a lot in the way of graphic design classes, getting a master’s degree in UX can help you focus your career as a specialist in UI/UX. A UX master’s degree can help you build your design portfolio as well as give you credibility when seeking to get employment in the field. Ultimately, a UX design master’s degree helps you transition into a UX/UI career, especially when you have no prior connections or depth of experience to help get you hired.
How We Ranked the Best UX Masters Programs
UX and UI design are still amazing, wide-open fields with many facets and many UX master programs are still in their infancy and there’s not a lot of variation in their offerings. This works to your advantage because you have a lot of school options to choose from in order to earn a master’s degree in UX. For prospective students, Best Master’s Programs has put together a diverse and carefully researched ranking of programs in UX, UI, and related fields. Programs are ranked according to:
- Cost (IPEDS data)
- Reputation (Niche scores)
- Salary Potential (College Scorecard data)
Both on-campus and online programs are represented.
1. DePaul University
The MS in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University teaches students to create programs that are simple and friendly for users. Known as one of the best UX masters programs in the country, this two year degree integrates graphic design, computer science, and social science. Students in DePaul’s HCI program find that they graduate with skills that are in high demand in today’s tech-centered job market.
DePaul University is committed to helping it’s graduate students succeed in the real world. Within six months of graduation, 93% of students who earn the MS in Human-Computer Interaction are either enrolled in a higher education program or employed full-time. Graduates work at highly ranked, competitive companies, such as Microsoft, Motorola, and JP Morgan Chase.
Degree: MS in Human-Computer Interaction
Format: Online or Campus
2. Carnegie Mellon University
The Master of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University is one of the best interaction design masters available today. This program was the first of it’s kind, training students to develop user interfaces that allowed them to succeed when interacting with technology. The program can be completed in one calendar year. Students get to work with experienced faculty who are working to drive positive change in the human computer interaction industry.
Carnegie Mellon University is known for its tough admission criteria and intense academic standards. Students who graduate from CMU are highly regarded in the professional world. Graduates of CMU’s HCI program typically go on to work as entrepreneurs, software developers, program designers, and more.
Degree: Master of Human-Computer Interaction
3. University of Colorado Boulder
The MS in Computer Science – Human-Centered Computing at the University of Colorado Boulder is designed to teach students how to create computer programs that are user friendly, and create a unique user experience. This program is known as one of the best interaction design masters programs, as it puts heavy emphasis on improving existing technology to improve user experience.
The University of Colorado Boulder provides students with world-class faculty who are leaders in their fields. This can result in a stellar internship and research experience, as well as connections that are unavailable at another school. Students at the University of Colorado Boulder emerge ready to take the world by storm. This program takes place on campus, and many students find that they benefit greatly from face to face interaction with their instructors.
Degree: MS in Computer Science – Human-Centered Computing
4. Florida Institute of Technology
The MS in Human-Centered Design at Florida Institute of Technology is known as one of the best UX design masters available today. This program offers students the opportunity to specialize in several different fields, including crisis management, organization design and management, cognitive engineering, modeling and simulation, and more. Students who earn their MS in Human-Centered Design at FIT emerge as experts in their chosen specialty.
Florida Institute of Technology boasts over 30 years of expertise in educating future experts in management, education, design, and science, and their MCD graduate degree is no exception. FIT believes in treating all students as individuals and emphasizes one on one connection with instructors to create a personalized experience for each student.
Degree: MS in Human-Centered Design
5. University of Baltimore
Graduates of the MS in Interaction Design and Information Architecture program at the University of Baltimore are heavily sought out by employers upon graduation. The MDIA graduate degree is one of the best interaction design masters programs available on the east coast. Students in the program benefit from working with professors who are managing research projects and are leading the charge in changing user experience in technology.
At the University of Baltimore, there’s a heavy focus on students learning from one another. Many graduate programs are filled with students who are already at the top of their field, and collaborating with one another creates a one of a kind experience that can benefit students later in their careers. Classes are offered in the evenings, weekends, and online to accommodate the schedule of a busy professional.
Degree: MS in Interaction Design and Information Architecture
6. Drexel University
The MS in Information – HCI/ UX program at Drexel University prides itself as one of the best HCI masters programs in the country. Students who enroll in the HCI/ UX program learn not only how to create a user experience that looks great, but also how to incorporate social sciences to help users feel great about their experience as well.
Students who choose to enroll in the HCI/ UX program at Drexel have the opportunity to attend the school at its gorgeous campus in central Philadelphia, or to take classes online. Students can also choose a hybrid option if they’d like to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Degree: MS in Information – HCI/UX
Format: Online or Campus
7. New Mexico State University
New Mexico State University’s MA in Psychology – Engineering Psychology is paving the way in technology education for the future. This program doesn’t just focus on creating excellent programs – it focuses on how a user’s brain reacts to different facets of the program. This means that graduates are prepared to create new user experiences and applications in a way that’s never been seen before. This program is one of a kind, and it’s known as one of the best HCI masters programs available today.
Alumni of the program are able to work in any applied technology setting. Graduates of the program have gone on to work at Dell, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and more. Faculty at New Mexico State University are well-connected and ready to help graduates find a job that makes sense for them.
Degree: MA in Psychology – Engineering Psychology
8. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s MS in Human-Computer Interaction/ MS in Human Factors Engineering & Ergonomics programs allow students to create individualized plans of study to cater to their interests. This individual course of study makes these programs some of the best UX masters programs in the country. Students enjoy working closely with faculty to develop their interests.
At Virginia Tech, students are seen as individuals, not as a number on a bursar’s account. Graduate students at Virginia Tech are valued, and a high emphasis is put on teaching students to use and trust their creative processes to make advances in technology. Students at Virginia Tech need to have a strong drive and the ability to work on an individual basis.
Degree: MS in Human-Computer Interaction or MS in Human Factors Engineering & Ergonomics
9. Northwestern University
At Northwestern University, the MS in Information Design and Strategy program is one of the best interaction design masters programs in the United States. This program allows students to work collaboratively to problem solve and create new design strategies in various facets of technology. This program is interdisciplinary and is designed to develop students into leaders who will create lasting change in the tech world.
Graduates from the MS in Information Design and Strategy program go on to work in diverse fields, including business, technology, healthcare, government, and the arts. Technology is now interlaced with every facet of society, and Northwestern works to create well-rounded students who can apply their graduate education in any industry. Northwestern’s emphasis on leadership is clear within this program. The school looks for busy professionals who are interested in taking their education to the next level while also continuing to advance their careers. The program can be completed online, making it easy for emerging tech leaders to continue their work and earn their graduate degree.
Degree: MS in Information Design and Strategy
10. University of Idaho
The University of Idaho’s MS in Psychology – Human Factors program allows students to learn about how psychology relates to technology and user experience. This unique approach makes this one of the best interaction design masters program available to students today. Students in this graduate program work to understand how psychology affects decisions that users make, and then use that information to inform and create a better user experience.
The University of Idaho has many psychology labs that allow students across social science disciplines to work together and learn from one another. In addition to creating great networking opportunities, this also allows students to learn more about other disciplines and can prepare them for their careers in various fields. This program is offered both on campus and online, allowing busy professional students to participate on their own time.
Degree: MS in Psychology – Human Factors
11. Georgia Tech
The MS in Human-Computer Interaction at Georgia Tech is known as one of the best HCI masters programs available today. Students in Georgia Tech’s HCI program typically have worked for several years before pursuing higher education. The program’s emphasis on collaboration allows students to learn from one another as they further their education. The program offers the opportunity to take several elective classes, tailoring the program to each individual students’ interests. Electives may include human factors, human-robot interaction, computer science, architecture, music technology, and more.
Georgia Tech has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence. The school attracts a diverse field of students, allowing for a deeper educational experience. Students who graduate with their MS in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech go on to be leaders in their careers, paving the way for change in user experience.
Degree: MS in Human-Computer Interaction
12. New York University
New York University’s MS in Integrated Digital Media combines art with technology in a unique way. While many of UX design programs focus solely on technology, NYU’s MS in Integrated Digital Media is known n as one of the best UX masters programs due to its emphasis on art and aesthetics. NYU saw a gap in available education for students who wanted to combine art and tech, and filled it with this program. Students will experience a unique way of learning about culture, technology and society, and how to use these factors to inform technological design.
NYU is proud to cater to students at any level of their career, whether they’re going to school full time or are working to balance getting their education with advancing in their career. Students can choose from online, on campus or a blended learning option. Located in the heart of New York City, NYU provides students with unmatched cultural and technological experiences during their time on campus.
Degree: MS in Integrated Digital Media
Format: Online or Campus
13. San Jose State University
The MS in Human Factors/ Ergonomics at San Jose State University prepares students to apply technological concepts in a practical way. Known as one of the best interaction design masters programs in the Southwest, San Jose State University provides students with the opportunity to create their own program. Students work with talented faculty to develop a program that combines core courses with electives to give them the education that makes sense for their chosen career path.
At San Jose State University, the master’s program culminates in a thesis, which is not typical for master’s programs. This emphasis on personal research gives students a unique ownership of their learning not typically seen at the master’s level. This means that students graduate with experience and confidence that allows them to soar in the professional world.
Degree: MS in Human Factors/Ergonomics
14. Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s MS in Human Systems Engineering is one of the best interaction design masters programs available today. This program works to combine psychology and engineering, allowing students to create unique user interfaces that make intuitive sense. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively, using one another as resources to learn more about their interests.
The MS in Human Systems Engineering culminates in a capstone project. This allows students to spend much of their time focusing on their personal research interests, which are typically related to their greater career goals. This means that the work done while earning their degree can often benefit them at work as well. A capstone project is a great way to learn more about a chosen area of technology.
Degree: MS in Human Systems Engineering
15. Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University’s MS in Digital Media Arts and Engineering is known as one of the best UX design masters programs in the country. This program hugely emphasizes student creativity and encourages students to come up with unique solutions to technical problems. This program is perfect for students who want to bring their artistic side to the technology world. LSU emphasizes team-based work and collaborative problem solving, allowing students to work with one another to build their leadership skills while earning their degree.
At LSU, students are encouraged to develop their own course of learning based on their interests. This means that they’ll graduate as a specialist in a focus area. This can make graduates invaluable in the workplace. For students who are already working, this is a great way to develop the skills needed to advance in their chosen career field.
Degree: MS in Digital Media Arts and Engineering
16. Missouri University of Science & Technology
The MS in Information Science with HCI/ UX certificate is a well-rounded tech program at Missouri S&T. Known as one of the best HCI masters programs, this multifaced program allows students to study design, technology, and information systems with an emphasis on understanding human computer interaction. For students who want to earn their information science degree and also want a leg up in HCI, this program is the perfect fit.
At Missouri S&T, faculty and staff are committed to helping all students get the education they deserve. There are research fellowships available for promising graduate students. Missouri S&T wants to give all students the chance to succeed.
Degree: MS in Information Science with HCI/UX certificate
17. Stanford University
Stanford University’s MS in Symbolic Systems degree is a research-based degree that allows students to create a program that makes sense for them, based on their career goals and interests. Stanford University is known as having one of the best interaction design masters programs in the world and for good reason. The program uses research from several disciplines to ask unique questions about art, design, psychology, and technology, and allow students to develop the answers to the questions using their own research. Students who graduate from Stanford University’s MS in Symbolic Systems program emerge ready to think critically about complex technological problems facing the world today.
Stanford University is highly competitive, and students who are accepted to the MS in Symbolic Systems program can expect to work with other future leaders in the industry. At Stanford, faculty members are committed to helping students advance int heir careers, and provide valuable networking opportunities.
Degree: MS in Symbolic Systems
18. California College of Arts
At California College of Arts, the MDes in Interaction Design is a unique way to combine a love of technology and art. Known as one of the best interaction design masters programs available today, the MDes in Interaction Design at California College of Arts allows students to use human-centered technology, design skills, and systems thinking to help them create unique solutions to today’s tech problems.
When students choose to attend graduate school at California College of Arts, they’re getting to work and learn in the heart of Silicon Valley, where tech gurus and artists collide. There is no better place in the world for students who want to work at the intersection of art and technology. Whether students choose to stay in the area for a career, or simply want to network for opportunities elsewhere, there is no shortage of connections to be made during and after the MDes program.
Degree: MDes in Interaction Design
19. Kent State University
Kent State University’s MS in UXD program offers students the opportunity to participate in one of the best UX design masters programs in the United States. At Kent State, students will learn how design affects every facet of user experience. The program teaches students how to use design concepts to make programs more user friendly. When students understand the psychology behind design, they’re able to create applications and programs that make every interaction with an interface a positive experience for the user.
At Kent State University, faculty provide students with world-class instruction. Over 70% of the faculty at Kent State holds the highest available degree in their field. Students not only get to work closely with faculty – but they also get help with networking and job opportunities after they graduate. At Kent State, students are treated as individuals. In the MS in UXD program, students work in small groups with faculty and get to know one another while sharing ideas and solutions. For students who want a personalized experience, Kent State is a great fit.
Degree: MS in UXD
20. Clemson University
The MS in Computer Science – Human-Centered Computing at Clemson University provides students with one of the best HCI masters programs in the country. This program is meant to prepare students for Ph.D. level work. Many graduates of this program go on to work in software development, technology positions with the government, or research positions within the software industry. Students have the option of either doing coursework only or completing a thesis in the area of their choice. This allows students to decide whether it makes more sense for them to do a general MS degree or a more individualized course of study.
Clemson University’s MS in Computer Science – Human-Centered Computing is one of the few programs specifically designed for students who want to go on to earn their doctorate degree. The program allows students to utilize transfer credits, making this program a great option for students who have already completed some of their graduate education. Assistantships are available for qualified students, helping to lighten the load of the cost of a graduate education.
Degree: MS in Computer Science – Human-Centered Computing
Format: Online Hybrid
21. Rutgers University
Rutgers University’s MS in User Experience Design allows students to experience one of the best UX design masters programs in the country. The program focuses heavily on allowing students to design their own curriculum. Faculty work closely with students to help them find their voice when it comes to user experience design. Graduates of this program understand their unique role in the tech world and feel confident to use their skills to develop new programs and user interfaces. Students participate in a summer practicum experience, providing them with the opportunity to work in a real-world tech company. This unique experience lets students understand what it will be like to work in user experience design after graduation.
At Rutgers University, instructors value students as individuals. The goal is never to get students in and out the door – the educational experience is tailored to each student and their needs and interests, creating a one of a kind program that allows every student to flourish while earning their graduate education. The school understands that many students who are interested in earning their MS in User Experience Design are already working hard in the tech field, so they offer flexible course hours that allow students to continue to advance in their careers while also earning their degree.
Degree: MS in User Experience Design
22. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
The MS in Human-Computer Interaction at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis is one of the best HCI masters programs available to students today. Focusing on product design and creation of user interfaces, the program delves into how humans interact with technology and pulls on social sciences and social computing research to help students understand how to create an amazing user experience. Students culminate their education with a capstone project, allowing them to spend time focusing on areas of personal interest.
At Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, faculty work closely with students to help them grow within their chosen specialty. Hands-on projects and individualized attention from instructors help students prepare for real world HCI work. Upon graduation, students begin careers with an average salary of $85,000.
Degree: MS in Human-Computer Interaction
23. Rochester Insitute of Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology’s MS in Human-Computer Interaction program is one of the best interaction design masters programs in the United States. While earning their degree, students at RIT benefit from working with faculty who are leaders in the field. The program teaches students to think on the fly, helping them to provide tech companies with the quick-thinking, ever-evolving tech gurus they need to rise to the top of their industry. Students are required to take elective courses to help them develop their own interests and specialty throughout the program.
At Rochester Institute of Technology, creativity is valued and developed. Students have the option of completing a thesis or capstone project, helping them to further develop their creative interests. Graduates of the MS in Human-Computer Interaction make an average salary of $115,000 per year upon graduation, making this program from RIT incredibly valuable, and well worth the time and money students need to invest to complete the program.
Degree: MS in Human-Computer Interaction
24. Bentley University
Bentley University’s fully online Masters in Human Factors in Information Design is a great option for students who are already working as busy professionals and want to take their career and education to the next level. Known as one of the best interaction design masters programs in the U.S., this flexible learning program encourages students to use what they’re learning in tech to make a difference in their communities.
This program caters to busy professionals. If students prefer a combination of online and in classroom experience, hybrid learning options are available to provide face time with professors. 61% of students in this program participate on a part-time basis, allowing them to continue advancing in their careers as they further their studies. Bentley believes in the importance of students using their creativity and passion to become an asset to their employer. Bentley encourages students to use their tech knowledge to find creative solutions to complex business problems.
Degree: Masters in Human Factors in Information Design
25. University of California, Irvine
The Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design at UC Irvine is an on campus program that teaches students to use an interdisciplinary approach to apply their tech knowledge and user design experience to any field. As the world moves quickly toward fully digital, it’s essential that companies have employees who understand how to create a user friendly design experience, and UC Irvine is committed to making graduates of the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design program the perfect fit.
At UC Irvine, every class is taught by an esteemed faculty member who has support from multiple teacher’s assistants. This means that students in the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design get the attention they need to succeed and thrive. While most of the course offerings are conducted in person, students will also get to take advantage of online classes, helping them to save time and money as they earn their degrees.
Degree: Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design
Should I Get a UX Design Master’s Online?
Getting a UX Design Masters online gives you more options to pursue the degree than you would have if you were attending university in a physical location. The master’s in UX degree is one that isn’t directly fed by an undergraduate degree. Your undergraduate degree can be in graphic arts, but then you decide you want to add to your skills with a UX master’s degree. Instead of going straight from college to a UX masters program in a physical school, you can start your career and take advantage of accelerated UX master programs online.
Online courses for a master’s degree in UX can be done at your own pace. If you want to take your time, you can find an online program that gives you that option. In the event you want to get the degree quickly, there are programs that last three semesters and allow you to graduate sooner. Getting your degree through an accelerated program can help you get a higher UX design salary at your current employer or with another company.
The fact that UX/UI design is primarily performed on computers makes it a natural fit for online courses. You don’t need to take valuable time out of your days or nights to get the same educational experience that you would at a physical campus. Educators are available to answer your questions, there’s interaction with other students, and you work at a predictable pace. The flexibility and predictability of online courses gives you the freedom to work at a day job and attain further education so you can enjoy a user experience design salary instead of the salary dictated by your undergraduate degree.
How Much Can I Make as a UX/UI Designer?
UX designer salaries vary depending on the amount of experience you bring to the position. The average salary of UX designer is anywhere from $50,000 to $110,000 on average. The UX designer average salary can be higher or lower, but the entry-level user experience designer salary will always be lower than a UX design manager salary. Holding a UX master’s degree can help increase expectations for an entry-level user experience designer salary. As always the answer to the question of “how much do you make as a UX designer” is it depends. Experience plays a stronger role than education when it comes to the role of UX/UI designer, but the role is still loosely defined and having a UX design master’s degree may become valuable as time passes and the role becomes more focused. Here’s a look at UX designer salaries to help you answer the question of how much do you make as a UX designer:
- Entry-level UX design salary: $59,000 per year
- UX design manager salary: $90,000 per year
- Senior UX designer: $128,000 per year
The average UX design salary is $85,000 per year which makes getting a UX design master’s degree worthwhile. The base pay for someone who doesn’t have a UX master degree is good for someone who’s fresh out of university. Engaging in one of the many UX master programs can pay off in the form of a higher user experience designer salary after graduation.
Advancing an undergraduate degree in a computer or graphic design-related field can pay off in the form of a higher salary and greater job satisfaction. The degree may be in its infancy, but is poised to become invaluable as computer interaction technology increases.