2017: I Still Recommend Against Kent State’s Masters in UX

Posted By Debbie on October 20, 2017

Wow, has it really been a whole year since I was still vocally against the Kent State Masters in UX Design? Well guess what. I have an update. And the update sounds like the same old news.

I recently met someone at an event. He was nearly finished with this Masters degree. He had evidently previously stumbled on my blog posts so I don’t think he was too happy to meet me in real life. But after the event, we spoke in the parking lot a while.

Short version: I don’t think he is a Master of UX. Based on what he told me he experienced and how he self-assesses, I don’t think he’s ready or qualified for any entry level job in UX. He received no mentoring. He said for most of his assignments, he got one or two sentences of feedback. He has no idea what he really did well or not well.

He didn’t know about User-Centered Design, the main model used by nearly every UX team around the world. He seemed to think that was a general term and nobody really agrees on the definition. No, it’s a thing. It’s formalised. It has steps and tasks and deliverables. Not every project requires all of them but I think we all generally agree on what this is and follow it where we can.

They are still teaching the LUMEN model, the made-up derivative of UCD that could and possibly should get you laughed out of a job interview. And if you go into a job interview and tell them that UCD is a general term that nobody really agrees on… ugh, good luck.

You still graduate with nearly no portfolio. The Masters in UX Design still contains almost no design work. What will you show a potential employer?

Is that just online education?

The saddest part was that this really nice and talented guy, this guy who deserved a great UX education, was rationalising it. Oh, this must just be online learning. I guess online learning doesn’t really teach you things and you have to do your own studying.

Wait. It’s always good to do your own studying. But do you think that if I ran my own online school that I would let ANYBODY feel that way for even a second? I would make sure instructors really taught, not just shepherded online discussions or wrote you one line of feedback about an assignment. I would make sure you had mentoring. I would make sure you had an adviser who cared about you rather than never being around because he has a real day job in addition to his eUniversity side gig. I would make sure you understand what you were doing, why you were doing it, other ways to do it, etc…

Just because something is online doesn’t mean it HAS to be inferior. Kent State has CHOSEN for it to be inferior. Do not make excuses for their cheap choices.

In a future blog post, I will take a look at various UX education choices and what I suggest for 2017. But I still suggest staying away from Kent State’s programmes. I know they are cheap and easy to get into. But do you want to date the person who is cheapest and easiest to get into? Sorry for that mental picture but seriously, consider that when it comes to your education, quality is important and not replaceable.

Quality won’t require you to make excuses for it… because it will be QUALITY. A quality programme won’t make you question why, nearly two years in, you really don’t know or understand any of the material and wouldn’t be able to create the deliverables on your own.