UX Design Concentration

UX Design in actionA concentration in the M.S. Computer Graphics Technology Program
in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology

Tackle complex socio-technical challenges with a human-centered perspective

The MS concentration in User Experience (UX) Design prepares students for design, research, and management roles across a range of industry sectors. This 2-year program engages students in complex socio-technical problem solving through a range of projects and course experiences. Students develop skills in user research, problem framing, iterative prototyping, product and experience evaluation, teamwork, and professional communication. Our alumni have gone on to be successful UX designers, UX researchers, product managers, UI designers at the top companies across a range of sectors and geographical locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

When are students admitted to this program?

We admit students for a fall (August) start only. Applications are due February 1 for an August start of the same year.

What exactly will I get to do as a UX designer?

There are several common processes that you will use to design experiences in a human-centered way, ensuring that solutions are not only technically functional, but also meet the needs and desires of users:

  1. User Research—get to know users and their needs by conducting observations and interviews

  2. Problem Framing—use insights from user research to ensure the right problem is addressed, and identify ways we can frame the problem in innovative ways
  3. Prototyping—brainstorm, sketch, and create low and high fidelity physical and digital prototypes
  4. Evaluation—conduct usability tests and other types of evaluations to understand how users think about technological solutions, and to identify and correct any issues that prevent users from having great experiences 

What kind of jobs do people with these skills get?

Common job titles include: UX designer, UX researcher, product designer, interaction designer, product manager, information designer, UI designer, UX developer, and user researcher.

What are alumni of this program doing now?

Take a look at this list of our recent graduates.

Are these skills in demand on the job market?

UX skills are in high demand, ranking in several lists of top high-paying careers. Starting salaries in UX design are about $69,000, according to a report by the Nielsen Norman Group, and average salaries are about $97,000 according to glassdoor.com. Try searching job sites for some of the titles listed above to see for yourself what the current job-market demand is like.

What is the student experience like in the UX Design concentration?

Our core UX Design studios actively engage students in authentic projects, learning concepts and skills that have tangible application. The UX Design concentration includes two studio experiences covering a wide range of application-focused design projects; a foundational readings seminar focused on historic and current trends in the areas of UX and human-computer interaction; and a course on qualitative research methods that provides students with a foundation for doing user research. Students are also able to register for our UX Design "Experience Studio", where they can work in vertically-integrated teams on real-world projects for industry sponsors. 

What if I have no previous UX experience? Am I suitable for the program?

Absolutely! We have had many successful students come from a wide variety of backgrounds (e.g., computer science, engineering, architecture, economics, and others). No prior UX experience is necessary.

Where can I learn more about Purdue's UX degree?

Follow @Purdue_UX on Twitter or Instagram, or connect with the CGT department on Facebook. Feel free to contact the UX concentration lead, Dr. Paul Parsons, with any additional questions.


Please see the FAQ document that we maintain for answers to other commonly asked questions.

Sample Plan of Study

The MS degree in Computer Graphics Technology is highly flexible, allowing for coursework to be taken both within CGT and across other graduate programs on campus. The plan of study below indicates the most common arrangement of courses to complete the MS degree with a concentration in UX Design. All courses required for the concentration are included in the next section.

Fall (Year 1) Spring (Year 1)

CGT 512-00 (3 cr.): Foundational Readings of User Experience Design

CGT 522-00 (3 cr.): UXD Graduate Studio 1: Fundamentals

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT 532-00 (3 cr.): UXD Graduate Studio 2: Cross-Channel

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT 501-00 (3 cr.): Seminar in CGT

Fall (Year 2) Spring (Year 2)

TECH 697-00 (3 cr.): Qualitative Research Methods in Technology Studies

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT 597-00 (6 cr.): UXD Capstone*

CGT non-UX elective (3 cr.)

*Students being admitted into the MS program with a focus in UX Design will be expected to complete a non-thesis capstone project. Students may apply to complete a traditional research thesis in their first semester, and should discuss this option with their academic advisor.

Sample Plan of Study for 3+2/Combined Degree Students

Students participating in the CGT combined degree program (sometimes referred to as the "3+2" program) are able to dual enroll in the BS in CGT program and MS in CGT program, with 9 credits counting both for their undergraduate degree and graduate degree. This plan of study is only available for combined degree students.

Fall (1st semester of Senior year) Spring (2nd semester of Senior year)

CGT 512-00 (3 cr.): Foundational Readings of User Experience Design

CGT 522-00 (3 cr.): UXD Graduate Studio 1: Fundamentals

CGT 532-00 (3 cr.): UXD Graduate Studio 2: Cross-Channel

Summer (after graduation with BS in CGT)

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

Fall Spring

TECH 697-00 (3 cr.): Qualitative Research Methods in Technology Studies

CGT non-UX elective (3 cr.)

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT 597-00 (6 cr.): UXD Capstone*

CGT 501-00 (3 cr.): Seminar in CGT

UX Design Concentration Requirements

To complete a concentration in UX Design, you must take a set of mandatory core courses and one selective course from a list of relevant courses within CGT and in other graduate programs on campus.

Required Core Courses

  • CGT 512-00 (3 cr.): Foundational Readings of User Experience Design
  • CGT 522-00 (3 cr.): UXD Graduate Studio 1: Fundamentals
  • CGT 532-00 (3 cr.): UXD Graduate Studio 2: Cross-Channel
  • TECH 697-00 (3 cr.): Qualitative Research Methods in Technology Studies

Selective Courses (pick at least one)

  • AD 522-00: Interaction Design Evaluation, Zhen Yu Qian
  • AD 532-00: Cognition for Interaction Design, Zhen Yu Qian
  • CGT 513-00: Interactive Multimedia Development & Research
  • CGT 562-00: Cognition and Human-Computer Interaction, Paul Parsons
  • CGT 572-07: UXD Grad Experience Studio
  • CNIT 552-00: Information Technology Project Management, Jeff Brewer
  • ECE 695-00: Crowd Powered Systems, Alex Quinn
  • EDCI 627-00: Educational Software Design, Marisa Exter
  • IE/PSY 577-00: Human Factors in Engineering
  • IE 556-00: Job Design, Vincent Duffy
  • IE 559-00: Cognitive Engineering of Interactive Software, Brandon Pitts

The UX program is considered a STEM program, with the following CIP code (11.0803). Refer to https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87256 for more details.