Comparison between online masters courses (like the Neilson Norman Masters Ceritifcate) and traditional offline masters like UW MHCID or MHCDE

What is your opinion on online masters courses such as Neilson Norman UX Masters Certification? I am considering an online masters because I think traditional offline masters degrees will be very hectic and tiring and I usually have a headache daily. So i am wondering if I should consider an online masters. Would be really helpful if you can share your views about how masters certificates like maybe NN are considered in the job market. Also can you please throw some light on how hectic would UW MHCID or MHCDE be, considering I have headaches daily. Really awaiting your answer Katie!

I’ve taken almost 10 courses from NN/G by now and have received their specialization certification. I’m also in the process of applying for gradschool. Here’s my opinions and experiences with NN/G courses:

Their master certification is NOT the equivalent of a master degree, and it will NEVER be. Their courses are usually span in 1-2 days with 95% lecture 5% group activities (these activities are hit-or-miss since you don’t get to pick your team and there’s no guarantee you get to team up with engaging people) and you get the options of paying an overpriced $80 for a short 30 questions quizzes (with very obvious answers, you cannot pick wrong kinda type of questions) to earn credit toward a certification.

Anybody, literally ANYBODY, who paid money and sit through the course for a few hours and pay some more extra money to complete the obvious quizzes can achieve the certification. People show off their paid UX training certificates from NN/g as if they finished a major research program which is not at all comparable amount of challenges.

Their certificates aren’t officially recognized by any legally established independent organization, I personally find the courses are informative but I don’t think they hold much weight on their own for the money you have to spend. I think of them as more like very expensive MOOC certificates, and the contents are more supplemental to what you already know rather than value generating in terms of portfolio pieces, job readiness etc. Maybe you will find more recognition from other people who have attended their courses but it’s a long shot.

NN/G do put out great contents, but they do take advantages of the fact that people revere and worship them blindly, with marketing and branding being pushed a bit over the edge (we’re a industry leader, we’re superior) to inflate the value of their certification.

TLDR: NN/G certification are overhyped and almost everybody can achieve it as long as they pay money. They CANNOT be compared to a graduate degree.

I understand your concern with the rigor of graduate programs, I don’t know your situation enough to suggest anything, but consider what your goal and motivation in seeking higher education here. Would online certification or a master degree provide you what you lack to achieve your career goal?

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