Curiosity regarding various UX and IxD programs Nomenclature

Hello everyone !

I am Himank Nagpal from Gurgaon, India. I am a Graduate- Bachelor of Technology in Computer Engineering Currently I am working at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. ( which is India’s largest car manufacturer) in IT division.

I am interested to pursue UI/UX design - majorly i am interested in UI- the look and feel- the aesthetics. I came across this website and have been following that lately for getting formally educated- doing a Masters.

A major doubt i have is regarding the nomenclature and nature of programs offered in the US and elsewhere. In the US they seem to offer mostly M.Sc whereas in Europe it is M.Des or MFA as well.

  • What exactly is the difference between those ?
  • Are these degrees equivalent ?
  • Do the students from both types of schools land in the same jobs ? Which degree is more artistically focussed ?

In my country, mostly M.Des is offered but the seats are very less, say around 100 total from reputed colleges , therefore i wanted to pursue a Masters from a reputed college from abroad and have been saving money for that. But i have been unable to actually be able to know about the exact nature of the courses even after browsing through a lot of curriculums .

I want to do a more studio focussed masters where it is more about art and practicality and less about theory and thesis.

After browsing a lot about colleges and degrees and courses and asking fro help from a few people and being unable to get a clear cut picture , i had an idea to mail Kai-Ting and ask about this to which she encouraged me to ask a question on this forum. Kindly help.

Thanks a ton
Best Regards.

Hi Himank,

I think it might be useful to first talk about the terms: UI, UX and IxD which might eventually help to answer your question about nomenclature and nature of the program. They are closely related and often used interchangeably, but there’s a little difference: UI is more about the visual design (mostly used with respect to digital interfaces), so more about the look and feel; UX is about the overall experience of a product/service that you are creating and includes both digital and non-digital aspects; and IxD is how you design the interactions as a part of overall experience. UX and IxD work hand in hand to inform the UI. Refer to this diagram that Kaiting has listed on the FAQs page, I think this does a pretty good job of explaining the relationship between these terms:

Having said that, in my opinion, the nomenclature doesn’t matter so much as long as the course trains you for the skills that you aspire to gain. UI is the implicit part of any of these programs. For example, students from both IxD and HCI programs can work as UX designers since they pick up the necessary skills along the way. Based on the curriculums I’ve seen while I was applying, MFAs are typically more experimental and ‘artistic’ in nature, however these may or may not be industry oriented. The general focus of the program is dependent on the school/department’s philosophy.

I think if just UI is your focus, an online course would be good to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills, maybe do one with a certification. Along with that, identify which market would you like to work in: UI design in India or US? Pursuing graduate study in the US/Europe would surely open more chances for you to work in the country, but obviously, it’ll be more expensive than studying in India. When I was applying I was advised to identify my goals and then make a choice of the program in line with them. I agree that that’s the best way to go about it.

About me: I’m an aspiring Experience and interaction designer and applied recently for graduate study in US. I’m starting MDes in Interaction Design at Carnegie Mellon University this fall. Its a 2 year program with thesis but CMU’s approach to projects is very practical and industry oriented rather than theoretical (even for the thesis). I’m yet to enter the industry myself, hence my advice is based on what I’ve learnt from my own research, understanding and conversations with people who are in the industry.

Hope this is of some help!

Wish you good luck,

1 Like

Isha has brought up many good points!

I have one thing to call out: UX by its nature is NOT an art-oriented discipline. The core of UX is about users, not the artists’ personal expression. If you are referring to the general aesthetics of UIs (pretty Dribbble shots?), then “graphic design” and “motion design” are the directions to look into.

Regarding the nomenclature, I think it has more to do with the program’s history. A program offered by a Design/Art school is likely to have a M.Des or MFA degree, whereas a program offered by an engineering school would have a MS degree. Like Isha mentioned, in reality, the actually curriculums of these programs can be very similar, and they can be either industry-oriented, theory-heavy or studio-focussed. It’s better to dig into each program’s curriculum to learn more.