Masters worth it for someone with industry knowledge?

Hi Kaiting,

Thank you for putting together your site – extremely helpful. Just a little background before I ask my question. So I went the bootcamp route and have been working in UX/UI for the past 3 years, primarily in the startup environment. Of the UX process, I would say what I enjoy is the research and UX strategy side of things. I can do UI, but it isn’t my strength.

That being said I have hit a wall in what I can learn at my current company and the companies in the area are not the most mature in their UX understanding/ the companies that do understand UX are the big names like google etc.

My question is whether or not a masters would be worth it? Or if there is a masters program that would be worth it for someone already working in the industry?

I have been looking at both UW’s program, UC Irvine, and San Jose State.


If your goal is to be a UX researcher in big name companies, the reality is that you will not only compete with people with Master’s degree, but also PhDs. Unlike design which can generally be demonstrated through a “portfolio site”, research typically requires longer time to establish credibility through work experiences, degrees, papers you published, conferences you present at, etc.

It’s really hard to answer your question regarding “if it’s worth it”, because getting the degree won’t guarantee a job, and depends on your situation (portfolio, connection, job market in your location, luck…etc), you might not need a degree either.

You mentioned that you “hit a wall”. Perhaps you can think about:

  • What do you like to get out of the Master’s program to break the wall? (To improve the research skill? To build the connection? To gain credibility? To change your location?)

  • Based on the answer to the above question, access the programs on your list to see how likely each program will meet the goal. Talk to their alumni to see if what they are currently doing align with what you want to do in the future.

Good luck!