Questions About UX Research From an Undergrad

Greetings Ux research community nice to meet you. I apologize in advance if these questions seem kinda basic.

I’m getting ready to enter my sophomore year of college in a few days and am really interested in pursuing a career in UX research. During the 3 years that I have left as an undergrad I was planning on doing a handful of courses on Linkedin, Coursera, and maybe even doing the google certificate program on UX/UI design to have better foundational knowledge. Although in all honesty, I’m still unsure about starting the google certificate program as I know it’s geared toward design a bit more. I also planed on approaching a few professors about research assistant positions in my school’s psychology department to help my resume. That’s about all I’ve been able to come up with so far and was hoping if you guys had any advice on anything else I could do as an undergrad? I also happened to be majoring in communications with a minor in psychology and was wondering if this would be a good background to have when pursuing a career in UX research? Or if I should do a complete 180 and major in psychology or cognitive science?

My last question was about obtaining a master’s in HCI. I know everyone’s paths are different and there’s no cookie-cutter format to going into UX research but would you say boot camps such as GA could be substituted for masters in HCI? The only reason I ask this question is that the tuition for grad programs seem so expensive and I noticed a lot of people on Linkedin getting hired as UX researchers after completing some sort of boot camp but I’m not sure if boot camps are meant for people who are pivoting in there careers and already have some professional experience or if it’s geared towards everyone or if you think it’s possible to get hired after finishing undergrad? I would really appreciate hearing some of your guy’s thoughts and advice. Thank you

Don’t major in psychology, it is apparently the most unemployable degree going. UX research is also more about finding out rather than knowing, i.e. you can’t call on psychology theory as an answer to a UX research question.

TBH I have no idea what a communications degree is about. I would also say that as a UX designer who also does research, I have never come across HCI, even though I work for a software company, we talk about motivations, reasons, people rather than how can a human work with a computer. developing a portfolio of your side research projects would definitely be a good move, if it is in addition to a degree it will show your dedication.

Hi Luke @bh18H Welcome to the UX Mastery Community :slight_smile:

It is refreshing to hear that someone is willing to pursue User Research. Most often, UX designers start with the goal of wanting to build something and jump into creation mode - well, at least that’s how I started :wink: And you’re right - a lot of bootcamps are geared towards building something and tend to include some elements of user research along the way. The fact that you are so aware of user research as a career path is heartening!

While I don’t know what is taught in psychology and communications degrees/minors, I think knowledge from those fields would certainly help UX design, and research methods such as interviews. I agree with @rachelreveley that psychological theory is not an answer to UX research. That said, perhaps, methods and tools to draw insights from people, and a general understanding of the human condition could be useful. (I belong to the camp of people who believe no knowledge goes waste!).

Also, I strongly agree with Rachel - a strong portfolio (based on internships/side projects) that demonstrates your way of thinking would definitely be the way forward. Bootcamps are a sort of shortcut way to build that portfolio, and it is certainly not a requirement from a hiring perspective. Each Bootcamp has a different take on this. If you’d like, you can check out this Bootcamp comparison, to see if they work out for you.

I would have suggested the specialized 3-month, part-time UX Research Bootcamp from the Interaction Design Foundation, but I just noticed that it kicked off earlier this week and I’m not sure if the next cohort would fit your time goals (or your budget). If you’re interested in the theory, and to understand the lay of the land before diving into larger time/financial investments, you could take these (relatively) inexpensive online courses:

Or better yet, read the freely available literature here:

As state above, courses, degrees and bootcamps aren’t a prerequisite for getting hired. A portfolio, on the other hand, is. I recommended reading this article to get an insight into what hiring managers look for in design candidates:

I hope this helps :slight_smile: and best wishes for your research & (l)earning journey!