10 Best UX Schools
Skilled UX (user experience) designers are in greater demand now than ever before. If you’re a recent high school grad or are considering making a career change, your choice of a UX design school is critical. The right education will not only give you the skills you need to succeed, but it will also open doors when applying for jobs or looking for new clients.
On this page, we’ve put together a list of some of the 10 best UX schools for aspiring designers. Whether you are just starting your career or are looking to upgrade your skills, the following programs are a great place to start.
What Makes a UX Design School the Best?
Any attempt to list with authority the absolute best UX design schools must ignore the fact that everyone has different educational needs, and that what works for one student may not benefit another to the same extent. As a result, we have chosen not to list the schools on this page in any hierarchical order. Instead, we’ve highlighted schools and programs based on specific unique characteristics that set them apart from the competition.
With that said, let’s begin our look at ten of the best user experience design schools operating today.
Best Free Online UX Design Program: Springboard
Not sure if a career in UX design is right for you? Before you invest the time and money in tuition for a conventional school, consider taking a free online UX design course through Springboard. Springboard’s User Experience Design program can be accessed from anywhere and completed at your own pace. Over 100 hours of course content is available for free, covering topics ranging from the fundamentals of UX design to technical subjects such as remote usability testing.
Best for: Springboard’s UX design program is best for anyone who wants a basic overview of the core principles of this important field.
Best Value Online UX Design Program: Interaction Design Foundation
The Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) is a Danish nonprofit dedicated to making online technical and design education accessible to everyone. The Foundation hosts an extensive catalogue of self-paced, online classes at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Courses include “Information Visualization,” “Mobile User Experience Design,” “Gamification: Creating Addictive User Experiences” and more. Best of all, as a foundation member, you can take an unlimited number of courses for just $14 CAD a month.
Best for: The IDF is the best UX design school for self-directed learners who want an accessible, affordable way to upgrade their skills.
Best Distance Learning UX Certificate: UC San Diego
The University of California at San Diego’s extension school offers an online distance learning Certificate in User Experience Design. The program emphasizes both the science of research and data collection and the psychological aspects of human-computer interaction. The program’s curriculum, which consists of five core courses and at least two electives, is typically completed in two years. A portfolio component is required, ensuring that students who complete the program end up with both a well-regarded diploma certificate and several sample projects that can be shown to prospective employers.
Best for: The UCSD UX design certificate program is best for students who prefer the rigor of a traditional university education but require the convenience of studying online.
Best In-Person UX Certificate Program: Pratt Institute, New York
What better place to pursue your UX education than the nation’s media capital? NYC’s Pratt Institute offers a Certificate Program in UX/UI Mobile Design consisting of four core courses: “Introduction to UX/UI Mobile Design,” “Visual Artifacts in User Experience,” “User Experience Design Research” and “User Interface Prototyping in Code.” Classes are held evenings and weekends, making the program easy to complete on a part-time basis. With a set tuition fee of just $3,500, this program makes Pratt Institute one of the best UX design schools for overall value, too.
Best for: NYC-based students who want to launch a career in UX/UI design but aren’t able to attend school full-time.
Best Certificate Program With a Social Enterprise Component: Austin Center for Design (AC4D)
A key component of AC4D’s mission is to “successfully apply the creative, intellectual methods of design thinking — that have been so successful in generating profit for financially-driven companies — in support of humanitarian causes.” The Center’s Certificate in Interaction Design and Social Entrepreneurship is a one-year program that emphasizes the importance of qualitative design research in a social enterprise context. The program has no formal prerequisites, though previous experience in design, technology or social work is highly recommended.
Best for: The Austin Center for Design is one of the best UX design schools for students with an interest in development or nonprofit work.
Best Undergraduate UX Design School: New York University (NYU)
The Integrated Digital Media program at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering covers the field of digital media from a wide range of perspectives. A flexible curriculum allows students to explore topics such as app development, software design, 2D and 3D graphics and more. The program emphasizes both theory and practice, with the option of completing an internship for course credit. Students also benefit from NYU’s extensive library and laboratory resources. Both a BS and an accelerated BS/MS program are offered.
Best for: NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering is the best UX design school for anyone who wants a well-rounded undergraduate education that will position them for a career in this exciting field.
Best Arts-Based Undergraduate UX Design School: Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), Toronto
OCAD’s Digital Futures program “combines creative approaches to emerging technologies and critical thinking to prototype possible futures.” Many classes are team-based and stress interdisciplinary collaboration between art, computer programming, design and business. In the second and third years of the program, self-directed studio work is complemented by skills-based classes in software and mobile app development. In the final year of the program, students draw from this experience to create a thesis project, often in collaboration with an external partner.
Best for: Students from a fine arts or graphic design background who want to explore the intersections between technology and art.
Best Graduate UX Design School: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Rutgers’ Master’s of Business and Science degree offers a concentration in User Experience Design that teaches the skills necessary to “design and develop engaging, easily learned, accessible and usable computer-based interfaces.” This hybrid degree combines courses from the MS and MBA programs, going into depth about topics ranging from usability evaluation to project management.
Best for: Experienced professionals looking to take their careers to the next level, with an emphasis on the business side of UX design.
Best Overseas Master’s Program: University College, London
Going to school abroad is a great way to experience another culture and gain some context for the highly technical work you’ll be doing in a UX design Master’s program. London’s University College offers a prestigious MSc program in Human-Computer Interaction that can be completed in as little as one year. In it, you’ll approach UX from both a design and scientific perspective through a combination of class and studio work.
Best for: Anyone who wants to study overseas in a highly regarded English UX design program.
Best Overall Reputation: Stanford University, Stanford, California
There’s no denying the reputation of Stanford’s Computer Science program. A degree from the university’s School of Engineering can open doors like no other. Graduates have gone on to work at — or found — some of the world’s most influential tech and design firms.
Students accepted into the Computer Science program can choose the Human-Computer Interaction track for a cutting-edge UX design education. The campus’ location in the heart of Silicon Valley offers plenty of exciting networking and internship opportunities. These factors and more easily place Stanford among the best UX design schools in the world.
Best for: Ambitious students serious about making UX design a career who want to learn from some of the most established leaders in the field.