Bootcamp vs Graduate Degree

Hello everyone,

I am really trying to isolate the best path for myself in transitioning careers to UX/UI design. At the moment I am pretty sold on bootcamp and a self curated education, however I do not want to leave out more traditional routes as online Masters Degrees in HCI are popping up rapidly.

Does anyone have a degree in HCI or UX/UI or information studies with specialties in such? If so what are your opinions about the differences between hands on 1-3 project learning in 6 months vs an actual degree?

I’d recommend listening to this interview that I did with Simon Pemberton last week:
https://uxmastery.com/transcript-simon-pemberton-design-education/
It’s all about design education.

But the short answer is… it depends. What kind of learner are you? How much time and money do you have to spend?

My personal opinion is that both bootcamps and degrees shouldn’t be the first step. I’d start with some online courses (look at Joe Natoli and Interaction Design Foundation’s stuff) and some pro bono work for charity to get experience. Much better use of your time IMO. If you love it then look at next steps.

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Thank you that is really great advice. I have a few short courses lined up to get the feel for the processes etc. but I am very inclined to pursue design and empathy based research.

Honestly I recently found some online masters degrees that cost about the same as a bootcamp ~$5-7k that seem to offer a good amount of diverse educational information but obviously don’t offer things like career services or job guarantees etc.

Personally I like the idea of having another degree as it just has a certain unspoken value to it over a certificate from a bootcamp. But thank you I will check out some short courses first and just do more research over the next few weeks into the degree programs!

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I got my HCI graduate certificate, which is one level below a masters. I can honestly say it made the difference in me get hired for my first UX job. This might be different if you transition into a UX position within a company and then work elsewhere, but if you’re coming to it fresh and your resume doesn’t have a lot of UX work experience on it then it is hugely helpful.

If your goal is more to beef up your skill set then, honestly, do both if you can. A degree or accredited certificate will teach you a career. A boot camp will teach you new techniques. No boot camp can teach an entire field of study in a few weeks and have their students be subject experts.

The long and short of it is there are things that I learned in my program that I never would have in the field. Human Factors details, behavioral models, psychological concepts, etc. But at the same time, there are techniques that I learned “In the wild” that they never even covered in classes.

So you may want to be more specific about what you want. Many boot camps just do cursory user research. If you want in-depth user research skills a research focused Masters program is the way to go. Design seems about the same between boot camps and Masters programs.
Neither option guarantees a job. Talk to alumni from various programs. I know Masters degree students who just went to “average” programs really struggling. There are a few great degree programs and a lot of mediocre ones.

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