UX Design Concentration

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

What is UX design?

User Experience (UX) design is an approach to creating products, systems, and services that are effective and enjoyable to use. By placing the user at the center of the design process, we ensure that technologies are easy to learn and use, are fun and enjoyable, and help users to achieve their goals. 

What kinds of experiences can you create as a UX designer?

Websites, mobile apps, desktop applications, kiosks, vehicle dashboards, smartwatches, educational tools, productivity applications, visual interfaces, and more.

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?

Job titles include: User experience (UX) designer, usability engineer, information architect, interaction designer, user experience architect, product designer, information designer, user interface designer, UX developer, and user researcher.

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. 

Great! 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 program lead (Dr. Paul Parsons for the 2022-23 year), with any additional questions about the program and concentration.

Frequently Asked Questions

When are students admitted to this program?

We typically admit students for a fall start only. Some spring admissions may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us if you have questions.

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.

Is there a remote option?

No, we do not offer a remote option at this time. 

I see there is a portfolio requirement for the application, but I do not have any UX projects to show. What should I submit?

Submit examples of any kind of work you have previously completed. We understand that people come from various backgrounds and do not have the same kinds of work to show.

What is the work environment like for a UX student—are the projects more collaborative or individual in nature?

We put a strong emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. Most major projects you work on will be done in teams, although we have individual exercises as well. One exception to this is the final capstone project (CGT 59700) which is done individually.

What opportunities does your program provide for students to gain real-world experience, such as internships or capstone projects?

We do not have a formal internship or co-op program; however, a high percentage of our students end up getting internships during the summer. We also have one class that involves working on real-world industry-sponsored projects (CGT 57200).

Where can I find out about tuition and fees?

The Office of the Bursar sets the rates each year; see their webpage for the 2022-23 rates.

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 501-00 (1 cr.): Seminar in CGT

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

CGT non-UX elective (3 cr.)

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

CGT 501-00 (1 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 501-00 (1 cr.): Seminar in CGT

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


*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 501-00 (1 cr.): Seminar in CGT

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

CGT 501-00 (1 cr.): Seminar in CGT

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 501-00 (1 cr.): Seminar in CGT

CGT non-UX elective (3 cr.)

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

CGT or other elective (3 cr.)

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 572-00: UXD Grad Experience Studio
  • CGT 581-00: Online Communities and Digital Relationships, Austin Toombs
  • 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, Robert Proctor
  • IE 556-00: Job Design, Vincent Duffy
  • IE 559-00: Cognitive Engineering of Interactive Software, Brandon Pitts
  • TECH 533-00: Design Theory and Technology, Colin Gray

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.