DesignLab/UX Academy vs CareerFoundry



I’m trying to decide between DesignLab and CareerFoundry…it’s a lot harder to decide then I thought it would be, especially after speaking with someone that represents both of them. They are roughly the same in terms being online with a committed mentor/job guarantee, time commitment, and price. Thoughts? Which would better prepare me if wanting to freelance/start my own company? What is the reputation for each in the eyes of employers?

Further info:

  • I’ve been out of the design space for almost a decade. I’ve done a little bit here and there on the side, but nothing major. This is my first real attempt after almost a decade out of it:

  • I’m trying to decide between starting a full service ad agency with a focus in the Design, UX, and web design space with me as a freelancer initially or trying to get a career going as UX professional working for someone else…I’m more heavily leaning towards my own thing, but would love a backup, just incase.



UX DesignLab Academy?
Understanding Web Development

Hey Nathan,
Welcome. :slight_smile:

Heh, that’s the million dollar question!

Have you seen this: CareerFoundry vs Bloc vs DesignLab
and this: Designlab's new UX Academy program

They might give you some more insight – most of the people that took part in those topics are still very active here so feel free to ask questions. @jdebari is also super helpful and works across both courses.

And thanks for your email – you can change your username here:


Thanks for the followup @HAWK :slight_smile:

Those posts definitely gives some insight, but I still feel torn between the two.

Hi @jdebari,

Could you help give me some insight?

When push comes to shove, I feel it comes down to some of the following:

  • mentors
  • coursework
  • portfolio
  • exposure to the the various tools used in UX
  • business connections that the program has
  • how employers view the certification
  • tools to launch one’s own career if wanted/ needed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few things, but I feel that is a decent list for comparison.

Thoughts would be greatly appreciated, especially if someone has been in the thick of it from both programs :slight_smile:




Hi @nathan00,

As far as mentors, both programs are roughly the same. Although CareerFoundry has been a little strange lately in that I have had 2 new mentees whose previous mentors disappeared. I don’t know if it’s an isolated incident or something is going on.
As far as portfolio/coursework, you get more portfolio work out of UX Academy as they have more projects. With CareerFoundry you just do one project all the way through following a specific iterative design process.
Both are about the sam eas far as exposing you to new tools. CareerFoundry might be a bit better because they suggest tools, whereas UX Academy lets you choose your own. However, UX Academy gives you a student discount on Sketch and CareerFoundry doesn’t do that.
UX Academy you would be exposed mostly to Sketch and InVision, plus anything else you wanted to use.
CareerFoundry uses UXPin, InVision, and Google Analytics (for one assignment).

I’m not sure about the business connections and how employers view the certification. There is no standard UX certification and there are many options out there so it might just depend upon what you are looking for. I do know that HFI, Neilson Norman Group, and Cooper are more respected in the industry, however, none of those places offer online training.

As far as I know, neither of the places offer tools to launch your own career. Also, the job placement they both talk about can be contract work, freelance work, part time projects, etc.

Let me know if I missed anything or if you have other questions.



That is very helpful! @jdebari …thank you so much!

It could just be me being weird, but from conversation with each, I sort of feel a funkyness around CareerFoundry that I can’t quite put my finger on, while with UX Academy, I sort of feel the sense that they are still getting their sea legs, but there’s a positive buzz of energy around them, the kind of energy one might find at a startup that really believes in what they are doing. While I felt like there were more resources available in CareerFoundry, the energy feels somewhat off, so what you mentioned does make some sense now. This all just stuff on a visceral level.

When all said and done, I’m looking for some mentoring, a great community that is wanting to grow for the better, some great portfolio pieces, a good foundation to expand upon, regardless of the path I choose, and a piece of paper that has some value to it and says I learned something, I am trainable, and I am employable, incase the whole entrepreneurship thing ends up not being my cup of tea…but I feel it will be.

Thank you again @jdebari :slight_smile:




Hi @nathanphilsteele,

Based on your last message, sounds like UX Academy might be your best bet. There is also another resource called Springboard, that might be worth looking into. Also, don’t be afraid to double up on resources. :slight_smile: I wrote a blog post rating UX videos that might be helpful,

Good luck!



Hi @jdebari

I really appreciate the feedback, but I now feel the need to ask then…what are some of the key difference between UX Academy and Springboard?..I noticed there’s a big difference when it comes down to price and time commitment. Would a better possibility be taking Springboard because one gets a mentor, but then use that time, money, and energy that I would have put towards UX Academy be put towards some of those other resources that you’ve pointed out? Does Springboard have a vibrant community? How is the coursework? How does the mentoring compare? Realistically, how many quality portfolio pieces can I expect from it?

That is a great blog post, by the way.

Thanks @jdebari :slight_smile:



Hi @nathanphilsteele,

Springboard, I think, has better mentors. You’ll do more real “thinking” with Springboard versus tactical knowledge with UX Academy. Springboard has a great community. Although, you do only get one portfolio piece, maybe 2 out of the curriculum, whereas you get 3 or 4 with UX Academy.

But you could, as you suggested, use that “extra” money by combining Springboard with some other courses, say on Udemy, Udacity, or some other platform. Maybe even some of the DesignLab short courses to get some more projects. You can also do some freelance work while working with your mentor and get help with those projects.

Hope that helps!



Thank you for the awesome response @jdebari! That is really really helpful!

Thanks @jdebari!



Hi Nathan,

Indeed there so many different courses to choose from, I went with General Assembly’s online UX course which lasts 6 weeks. I really enjoyed this, as the units comprise of videos, bite size info, quizzes and a solid structure taking you through a tried and test process.

6 weeks isn’t enough time to become a UX expert but it’s certainly given me some basic grounding and filled in some gaps of my working approach. I’m a visual designer of 14 years and although I’ve produced numerous sites to date, I’m still a newbie with user testing, IA, user flows etc.

Hope you find the course you’re after and happy to answer any questions



HI @bentyler33

I really appreciate that info. I do have a couple of questions:

  • What were daily/weekly for that course?

  • Are there any video courses/classes, books, etc. that you’ve found to be especially helpful?




Hi Nathan,

Thats ok, happy to help. Basically the course is for 6 weeks, you have one unit to get through each week and can get given 6 mentor sessions throuout the entire course (1 for each unit). The units comprise of quizzes, tasks such as user testing and recording interviews, to creating wireframes, personas etc…

Its very hands on, and goes a quite a fast pace. Its been 8 weeks, so 2 weeks over the last unit and I am still finishing off my presentation! Its one of those courses, that you get what you put in, and I’ve gone a bit OTT as I’m hungry to learn.

Books wise, I am a newbie, but Ive read Steve Krugs, dont make me think which is a great starter. I believe theres a good resource of books on here actually, ask Hawk and Im sure she will be more than happy to help you.

Good luck with everything.



Hi all, I’m in the same boat as @nathanphilsteele in regard to choosing between Career Foundry and Designlab’s UX Academy. I lost my job in August, so cost is a big issue for me right now, but I think picking a program that has a job guarantee would be the best way to go. But I’m curious, is the “job guarantee” really worth the extra money–worth choosing those types of programs over another?

I have a account for learning UX, but don’t see that there are many (or any?) portfolio pieces to be gained by their career path for UX.?? I also started a User Interface design class with Coursera (but didn’t stick with it past the first week . . . ) and the free online Aquent Gymnasium course, which looks really good. But I haven’t devoted much time to it yet.

Any thoughts on the job-guarantee programs versus cheaper options would be much appreciated.

Thanks all!


I too am in the same boat, however career foundry really has me drooling with the cost and job support.

Springboards stuff looks wonderful also.


Hey, all, I just posted a review of my UX Academy course … but it’s in another thread, so you might want to search for it.


Thank you so much Fred33!




Here you go.


Thats ok Nathan, good luck with whatever you do!


We do offer a 50% discount on Sketch at CareerFoundry :slight_smile:


There is also a discount for Sketch if you are enrolled in UX Academy, but I can’t remember what it was.