CMU MDes admission offer

Hi Kaiting and everyone,

Just like everyone else who has written in the Forum, I’m really grateful to you for creating this elaborate platform for aspiring UX designers to have a dialogue. Both, the list: Top UX school and your tips, served as very useful references in helping me decide on which schools to apply to.

I aspire to work in the capacity of UX Designer/ Interaction Designer. I have an admission offer from CMU’s MDes in Design for Interactions and have another 10 days to make my decision about it. I would really like to accept the offer, but my decision rests on ROI and hence everything that affects that. Hence following are my questions:

  1. The name of the course is Design for Interactions (previously known as Interaction Design), would a course of this nature equip me with the skills necessary to work as UX designer too?
  2. Studying at CMU is a huge investment (120,000 USD to be precise) and naturally, I wonder if it is worth collecting so much debt. Having said that, some insights into the average salaries one could expect entering the industry as a CMU graduate might be helpful.
  3. I’m a Canadian Permanent Resident, my husband would be located in Toronto for the foreseeable future and hence I might like to move back. Any insights into the Canadian UX industry would also be much appreciated.
  4. What would be the pros-cons of me studying at CMU v/s applying next year to universities in Canada considering my situation?

Any suggestions and thoughts are welcome, thank you for the help in advance :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi Isha,

Congrats to the offer! To answer your questions:

  1. In theory, UX design is a broader concept than interaction design. But in reality these have become almost interchangeable terms that it doesn’t make much difference in terms of program names or job titles. The curriculum of CMU MDes looks quite solid to me for developing a UX design / Interaction design career.

  2. The cost of the U.S. higher education has become so unbearable! :cry: To calculate the ROI, it has less to do with what school you go to, but which location and what kind of company you work for. If we only talk about jobs in the west coast of the U.S., for first tier large tech companies (e.g. Google, Facebook…) and unicorns (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest…), a junior designer’s overall compensation (salary + stock + bonus) is around 100k - 170k / year. For mid-size tech companies and well-known design agencies, it’s around 70k - 120k / year. For startups, non-tech companies and small agencies, it’s around 50k - 90k / year. I found Glassdoor a good tool to find out more details on salaries in different companies.

  3. I don’t know much about the Canadian UX industry. My general guess is that comparing to the U.S., Canada has fewer UX jobs and lower pay, but the living cost is lower too. I actually have many Canadian coworkers who came to work at Seattle because of the financial incentive.

  4. I personally think that the biggest selling point to study in the U.S. is the opportunity to work in the country after graduation (vibrant industry, more job opportunities, higher pay, etc). If your goal is not to stay in the U.S. after graduation, it definitely becomes harder to justify so many loans given that there are likely equivalent education resource in Canada.

The truth is, if you believe that you have the talent in UX and fully commit to the career, you will probably do great either way. Good luck!! :slight_smile:

Hi Kaiting,
Thank you so much for taking out the time to reply to me. These insights are really helpful to put things in perspective.
Hope to keep in touch and contribute to the Forum as and when I can!


Sounds good!! :slight_smile: