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I'm looking for recommendations for Master degree programs where I can learn UX / IxD, especially in Europe (but not limited, other people from other parts of the world could be interested in this topic). I know there are many universities with this specialization in USA, but that is very very far for me (I'm from Romania, EU).

This topic is somehow related to http://ui.stackexchange.com/questions/74/must-read-user-interface-book, but actually I would like to get a degree and get the chance to work/learn with/from people that share the same passion.

I'm asking this question because is much easier for people that work/live in a country to know universities that have the best reputation (I can tell you that you can't find this kind of Master in Romania).

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This isn't an answer to your question, but my personal opinion would be to get a job ASAP and learn through practice. I don't place too much value in degrees in UI/UX/IxD because our field is all about exposure to actual behaviour, not theorising for 4 years about how things would work. My (controversial) 2 cents. :-) –  Rahul Sep 9 '10 at 9:55
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Thanks Rahul, I have a job and is an "Interaction Designer" position, but all I've learned is self taught and sometimes I wish I had learned this topic "the right way". –  risherry Sep 9 '10 at 14:02
    
What's "the right way", though? Isn't observation and learning from experience the right way, ideally? I mean, the point of a course/major is to introduce you to a field to the extent that you can go forth into the industry and perform that specialisation with some degree of a head start. But it sounds like you already have a head start. What do you want to gain from doing a masters degree in this field? –  Rahul Sep 9 '10 at 14:27
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Cool, those are some good arguments. I do disagree on a degree giving you a more professional badge - it depends on who you ask. My company doesn't care, and neither do companies like 37signals. My personal technique for getting around people who devalue expertise if it doesn't have a degree attached is to just not apply for those kinds of jobs - those people would apparently not value me, and I probably wouldn't like working there either. :-) –  Rahul Sep 9 '10 at 15:46
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This is not going to answer your question either. You can't choose a Master Degree by a recommendation from some random person on this site. You choose university based on the professors teaching the course. If you are really interested in working together with them, talk with them to see if the course suits you. The best uni / course for person A, might not be the best for you. You really have to do this yourself. –  Wousser Nov 12 '11 at 16:25
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12 Answers 12

For masters courses In the UK you might want to take a look at:

As for the course/no-course opinions...

I agree with everybody who is saying that a degree isn't going to magically get you respect, make you employable, get you on the speaker circuit, cure acne or make you more attractive to prospective partners.

Remember the people who require a degree for a job also look at the experience of the applicants. So the most experience still wins - the degree just lets you take part in the race.

You can certainly have a wonderful career in the UX field without a degree in the area. I don't have one and people still seem quite happy to pay me :-)

It's certainly not going to instantly improve your skills. Only lots and lots of practice does that.

However - that doesn't mean a degree is useless.

  • It will get you an instant network of people in the field - your classmates. They'll all go off to different places and have different experiences. Keep in touch. You'll learn a lot.

  • Universities tend to be full of fairly bright folk. Knowing bright folk outside of your field is useful too. Whether they be in academia or industry.

  • It can be hard to get a broad overview of a field when you're working in the trenches. If you're employed to do visual design for web apps, getting the spare time to learn how to do usability testing of desktop apps, or ethnographic studies isn't easy :-)

The degree I do have (in Computing and Artificial Intelligence for those who care) I went into after I had four years of industry experience (well - experience of people paying for the software I wrote anyway :-) I'm glad I did that degree since it gave me a whole stack of knowledge and skills that I wouldn't have easily got in such a short period elsewhere. Indeed - it was the cognitive psychology aspects of that degree that were part of my journey to working in UX :-)

The degree didn't make me employable. What I did with the contacts and knowledge I got from there did.

Whether you should do a degree or not really depends on what you want out of it. It's not a ticket to success. It is a way you might get some useful fuel to help you be more successful.

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Thanks Adrian for your recommendations. It's an interesting perspective the classmate's community that forms and the help they can give you after you finish the school. It's interesting because with all this freelance trend and the self education, we tend to get very individualistic. That's why I appreciate communities like this, open source and academia, because you get to meet people and learn stuff together. –  risherry Sep 10 '10 at 13:37
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Check this out. It has list of some of the best design schools across the world.

http://tutoforadobe.blogspot.com/2010/11/18-excellent-design-schools-from-around.html

Apart from these, School of Design at Stanford (Palo Alto, CA -USA) is also good.

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I don't know which school you should go to, but make sure you go to one that has "practical engagement" courses, i.e. gets you practicing your coursework by working directly with clients. I'm currently in a Masters program for HCI (I won't tell you where unless you really want to know) and I can tell you that both practical experience and theoretical knowledge are necessary to really succeed at UX or Interaction Design.

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Msc Human Computer Interaction with Ergonomics at UCL, London is a very good grounding in user research, design and psychology. Very well respected course. I disagree about that degrees don't have much value, I learnt so much from doing this course: design, user research, usability and analysis that wouldn't pick up from working. Too many companies pigeon-hole into design centred or user research centred roles. It's important to know UX is an evolving cross-discipline.

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I would actually recommend the free online course by Standford University Human-Computer Interaction.

Best value for money. Evar.

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Thanks for sharing. Looks promising. –  FrankL Dec 16 '11 at 14:41
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Georgia Tech in Atlanta (my alma mater) has an MS in Human-Computer Interaction: http://www.ic.gatech.edu/future/mshci.

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I am graduating this month from Bentley University's Human Factors in Information Design degree program. The program has given me a good grounding in theory, which helps me generalize my design decisions and see patterns and combinations I might have otherwise missed. I also like knowing the basis for all kinds of user research techniques.

Bentley is a business school and the program is oriented towards working professionals. All the courses can be attended remotely with online software. Unfortunately, since all classes are scheduled in the evening Eastern Time, this would make for very late nights for you in Europe.

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Thank you for your answer :) –  risherry May 9 '11 at 16:50
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Found this great map "Map of European interaction design education" by Alexandra Deschamps.

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Some interesting 'left field' suggestions on that map - though it misses the more obvious courses in the UK –  PhillipW May 10 '11 at 8:53
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I would recommend the Interaction Design master study at the Utrecht School of the Arts (Netherlands).

It is the first interaction design study in the world, for 20 years now. I found it a really nice and flexible school (just graduated). Actively looking at the field and outside world, teaching you the ideas behind things and programs without binding you to a program/theory that is hot right now.

I don't really agree with learning by working. The 'learning by doing' practice can easily be done inside a school environment, at least that is my experience with this one. And you get way more from the network the school can offer in my opinion.

(There is also a bachelor study, but only available if you speak Dutch. Though they do offer you to join for a half/full year the bachelor in English as well.)

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Thanks Lode for your answer. –  risherry Sep 13 '10 at 10:27
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I'd definitely recommend the Interaction Design masters programme at Umeå Institute of Design in Umeå, Sweden. I have studied in the Advanced Product Design programme in the same school, took some cross courses with IxD, and I can say it is one of the best when it comes to applied knowledge and hands on skill development. The programme is in English, the school is hugely multinational, with lots of bright people from around the world to help and teach you.

The only down side in my opinion is the dark winters (and I mean dark) you get at the latitude of 62°N. The swedes call it "North of nowhere" :)

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Thank you for the recommendation. I heard Sweden has a lot of IxD programs, also in Malmo and in Uppsala. If there are just dark winters and not so cold would make a point :P –  risherry Sep 10 '10 at 6:26
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I am aware of a couple of programs in the United States that might be of interest. Stanford has an interdisciplinary Institute of Design, there's a Masters in Design and Technology program at Parsons, and there's an Interaction Design program at Carnegie Mellon. I'm sure there are other good ones, these are just programs that I remember hearing good things about off the top of my head.

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Thank you for the recommendations –  risherry Sep 10 '10 at 6:23
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I also think as Rahul does. And, to add a little something to that, I haven't really found the right degree for UI/UX/IxD either, since I'm from Mexico. I tried a masters in graphic design myself, but I dropped it as it wasn't quite the idea that I had in mind.

I found a good job on the field and, as an added value, I read articles and books on the subject and have attended to a few conferences on the subject, it has really helped me out.

Still, I know what you mean, though. It's pretty much self-taught. But you can channel that experience through reading and listening to the occasional speaker at some UI design presentation.

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Thanks Pam for the answer. I think not having an education in this degree will keep us always just as listeners/learners and not as speakers (depends on the experience and production focus). –  risherry Sep 9 '10 at 15:34
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I don't think you can't be a speaker on the subject without a degree, I know people with great potential and a ton of experience. My boss, for example, didn't study anything on the subject since all of his degrees are mexican, but I really respect his knowledge. –  Pam Rdz Sep 9 '10 at 15:54
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