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The top UX certification programs for design professionals

UserTesting  |  September 27, 2018

If you’re considering a career as a UX professional—or building on your existing skills—you may have considered earning a UX certification. Although there’s a lot you can learn on the job and through independent study, there are benefits to more in-depth courses that go beyond general introductions to the field and expand more on new skills, best practices, emerging trends, tools, and technologies.

We’ve got some great suggestions to help you further build your human-centered design skills and knowledge, and continue to grow your career in the field of UX. While some students seek a more formal UX master's degree program, for many, a certification program will provide the perfect balance of experience, networking, and education.

Below are thirteen of our top picks for UX certification programs to help you take your career to the next level. To help you sort through your options, courses are organized by time commitment, starting with full-time and long-term courses and immersive programs, followed by part-time/self-paced and short-term courses.

Full-time and long-term UX certification programs

1. Nielsen Norman Group: UX and UX Master Certification

The User Experience Certification Program is an exam-based program—perfect for anyone who’d like to demonstrate their UX skills or gain additional skills in a new specialty or focus.

The UX Master Certification is geared toward more experienced UX professionals who are interested in expanding their skills and knowledge base.

  • Certification is earned in-person by attending NN/g’s UX Conferences.
  • There are two options and each course can be taken individually and can be accumulated over months and years.
    • The UX Certification Program requires five full days plus exams to earn a UX Certification
    • The UX Master Certification requires 15 full days plus exams to earn a UX Master Certification
  • The estimated cost for the UX Certification (including course and exam fees) is $3,900, and the estimated cost for the UX Master Certification (including course and exam fees) is $11,600.

More information: NN/g has suggested course paths depending on your current skill level, and specialty tracks that include Interaction Design, Mobile and Multi-Channel UX, UX Research, or Web Design.

2. General Assembly: User Experience Design Immersive

UX certification: General Assembly

If you want to jump-start your transition into a role as a UX designer and have the ability to commit full-time for ten weeks, this course is a great way to quickly learn from top practitioners, build your portfolio, and even find a job once you complete this UX design course!

  • In-person at one of General Assembly’s 20 campuses, worldwide.
  • Full-time, Monday-Friday, 10-week course.
  • Tuition varies based on location, ranging from $13,500 to $14,950.

More information: General Assembly is an education startup that focuses on technology, design, and entrepreneurship. The UX program covers a lot of ground—from user research and information architecture to design and interaction.

3. Human Factors International: Certified Usability Analyst or Certified User Experience Analyst

HFI offers two tracks depending on where professionals are at in their UX career. For those just starting out, the Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) track will help teach the skills needed to grow and advance in the field.

The Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA) track is for more experienced professionals who want to learn more advanced skills.

  • In-person at a number of different U.S. and international locations.
  • Each of the tracks consists of four courses over ten days.
  • About $6,000 for each track.

More information: HFI is a consulting firm that specializes in user experience. Training is one way they deliver on helping companies grow UX strategies and teams.

4. California State University at Fullerton: Certificate in User Experience and Customer-Centered Design

UX certification: California State University at Fullerton

 

Relevant to anyone interested in bringing the concepts of user-centered experience to their job.

  • Online and/or in-person—although because this is a Cal State school, there are some restrictions for those taking the course outside of California. See the website for more details.
  • Six courses for a total of 9.8 credits, which translates into 98 hours of lectures and labs (approximately 10-12 months for most students).
  • Estimated costs for this program are $4,240 for certification.

More information: the courses focus on user-centered design that can apply to many areas of expertise. Note non-California residents may be eligible under special circumstances. You can learn more here.

5. Bentley University’s User Experience Center: UX Certificate Program

UX certification: Bentley University User Experience Center

A course designed for both experienced and beginning professionals.

  • Classes can be taken in person on Bentley’s campus in Waltham, Massachusetts, and most courses are also available online. Bentley will also deliver classes on-site to corporate clients.
  • The program consists of three required courses and six elective courses. Each course is two days and presented in person over a Thursday and Friday (or online). Taken back to back, the courses would take eight weeks to complete although most students complete the certification over the course of one year. Courses can be taken at any time and in any order.
  • Each course is $1,400, so all nine classes would be a total of $12,600 for the certification.

More information: credits can be transferred and applied to the school’s Masters in Human Factors in Information Design. You would need to apply and be accepted into Bentley’s McCallum Graduate School of Business.

6. University of Washington: User-Centered Design Certificate

This evening graduate course is great for anyone who wants to enhance their skills in UX research and design.

  • This is a hands-on program offered at the Seattle campus.
  • The certificate is a 13 credit program, which can be completed in one year.
  • The estimated cost for this certificate is $10,348, plus a $45 registration fee and a $50 application fee.

More information: successful completion of the certificate course will earn students graduate credit that can be applied to the Master of Science in Human-Centered Design and Engineering.

7. UC San Diego Extension: User Experience (UX) Design Certificate

UX certification: San Diego Extension

This online UX certification is great for anyone with basic UX skills who wants to build up their portfolio and gain a solid foundation in UX that they can immediately utilize in their current roles, or use to pursue more advanced roles.

  • All the required courses are offered online, with select courses offered onsite each quarter.
  • The program consists of five required courses and two electives, which can be completed in five to eight quarters (taking one to two courses per quarter), depending on your desired course load.
  • Tuition ranges from $595 to $795 per course, as well as a one-time $95 certificate fee upon acceptance to the program.

More information: online courses in this certificate are led by live instructors, but students can access lectures according to their own schedules.

8. San Francisco State University Extension: UX/UI Design Certificate

This course is perfect for aspiring UX/UI designers who possess a working knowledge of UX principles and want to build their portfolio to enhance their existing career or seek out new roles in the field.

  • All classes are held in-person at SFSU’s downtown San Francisco campus.
  • The program is 129 hours of coursework, scheduled over a 12-month period.
  • The estimated cost is $3,900 for tuition, plus an additional $50 certificate fee upon completion. Note that each course in the track is individually priced.

More information: credit is recorded as continuing education units (CEU) which are standard measurements for non-degree learning. However, they can’t be applied to a degree. This program is also part of CalJOBS which provides employment training for adults and dislocated workers.

Part-time and short-term UX certificate programs

1. The TeamW/Weinschenk Institute: UX Certificates

With three certificates to choose from, these courses work no matter where someone is at in their career.

  • The UX Certificate Design Concentration will focus on UX fundamentals, user testing, interaction design, user research, and more.
  • The UX Certificate Strategy Concentration is great for those who are a bit more experienced and want to take their skills beyond design and into strategy.
  • The Advanced UX Certificate is for anyone who’s ready to pull out all the stops and get one-on-one learning and mentorship with none other than Dr. Weinschenk herself! Note, that in order to register for the Advanced UX Certificate, applicants must have first earned a UX Certificate with The Team W.

Other details:

  • Pre-recorded sessions can be bought and viewed at your own pace. Dr. Weinschenk can also come to your campus to do corporate team training for an additional fee.
  • Because these courses are available online, 24 hours a day, students can complete at their own pace. On average, students take about 20 hours to complete each course, exercises, and quizzes which can be completed over any period of time.
  • Estimated costs vary depending on which courses you take, but range between $595 and $2,695.

More information: Dr. Susan Weinschenk, known as The Brain Lady, has designed a program combines practical ideas and examples based on scientific research on brain and behavioral science, that help professionals apply psychology to design and experience. Course topics cover User research and user testing, conceptual model design, detailed interaction design, designing for engagement, design thinking, lean UX, and agile UX.

2. University of Baltimore: Graduate Certificate in User Experience (UX) Design

This fully-online program is designed for working professionals to give them the advantage they need to get ahead in the growing field of UX. The program emphasizes interaction design, information architecture, and usability analysis.

  • The program can be completed entirely online at the student’s own pace.
  • The certificate is a 12-unit program which is typically completed over the course of one year.
  • Tuition is $16,166 with an estimated cost of books and supplies of $1,600.

More information: students must complete a Hypermedia Proficiency Examination before starting the certificate program. If not, students can complete an introduction to web development.

3. Udemy: The Ultimate Guide to Usability and UX

UX certification: Udemy

This course is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the time or budget for more in-depth courses, but still wants to get a solid foundation in UX, gain experience, and build a portfolio in just a few weeks.

  • This course is only offered online.
  • This is a 12-hour self-paced course. Most students complete the course in about two to three weeks.
  • The estimated cost is $194.99, however, sometimes Udemy has special deals, so watch the page for discounts.

More information: this course offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s very little risk-taking this course!

4. CareerFoundry: Certified UX Designer

UX certification: CareerFoundry

This certification is great for folks who want a real-world experience that employers want and need. This course is taught by industry experts that provide one-on-one mentoring to provide guidance throughout the course and help build a strong portfolio.

  • The program is completely online and self-paced.
  • The 10-month program is completely online and self-paced, allowing students to work based on their own schedule. Most students spend about 15 hours per week to complete the course within the 10-month period.
  • The estimated cost is $6,649 if paid in advance, however, other financing options are also available.

More information: CareerFoundry has an impressive job placement rate—96% of eligible alumni. They’re so confident that you’ll find a job upon completion of this certification that they guarantee that you’ll get a job within six months, or they’ll refund the cost of the course.

Bonus: CX Certification: CCXP Certification

CX certification: CCXP

As CX becomes more and more of a household name, there will likely be more offerings for certification, but for now, the most reputable customer experience courses are offered by CCXP. This certification is for anyone wishing to enhance their customer-centered focus and earn one of the industry’s only CX designations, CCXP.

  • All study is independent, however, exams are offered at designated locations and must be taken in person.
  • All exam preparation is self-paced so applicants can apply to take the exam as soon as they feel ready.
  • Fees for the application and exam are as follows:
    • CXPA Member: $495 (USD)
    • Non-Member of the CXPA: $645 (USD)
    • Non-Member including a one-year CXPA membership: $690 (USD)

More information: for more information on the exam format, required competencies, and exam testing locations, visit the CCXP Resources page.

Must-read resources to take your UX certification to the next level

Even if you’re not ready to head back to school, we still have plenty of free resources to help broaden your UX and CX knowledge! Check out these resources below to learn more and good luck with your studies!

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