Advance Your Career: Blog

Advance Your Career: Blog

Online certificate in user experience design helps graduate pursue his passion

computer programmers

With a family and a fulltime job, Andrew McConville was nervous about going back to school after getting his bachelor’s degree. But he was eager to advance in a job doing something close to his heart: connecting people with technology.

UW–Madison’s User Experience Design Capstone Certificate—called Mad UX—provided McConville with the best of both worlds. The program offered him a way to study online from home while getting high quality instruction on how to develop people-centered products.

user experience designer Andrew McConville
Andrew McConville puts his UW-Madison capstone certificate to good use as a user experience engineer.

“My Mad UX coursework focused on how to create meaningful, valuable, and goal-driven user experiences, which I use every day at work,” said McConville, who is now a user experience engineer for a Wisconsin company where he builds, prototypes, and documents user interfaces.

User experience design is the process of making information systems more people-friendly. Given the value of improving interactions between humans and computers in a digitized world, user experience design practitioners are increasingly in demand in business, nonprofit, educational, and government organizations.

Mad UX is a graduate-level capstone certificate program providing convenient entry to user experience design for those with jobs, families, and other adult responsibilities. Students take a course per semester online and complete the program within one year. They benefit from UW–Madison expertise with less of a time and financial commitment than they would have in a traditional master’s degree program.

Superior instructors, engaging classmates

”When I was looking for a degree program in UX I knew I wanted it to be more than just watching tutorial videos on the internet,” McConville said. “I wanted to interact with my professors and the rest of the class.”

In three courses and a capstone class, students learn techniques for assessing and improving user satisfaction with interactive media. (Check out McConville’s project, Understanding the goals and motivations of Stack Overflow users.) They earn graduate credits that are transferable to a master’s degree. The program draws on the expertise of UW–Madison’s top-ranked Department of Computer Sciences and the iSchool.

“The biggest reason I chose UW–Madison for this degree is the people,” McConville said. “I wanted to learn from instructors who have spent a large portion of their lives doing research in their fields of expertise. I also learned from my classmates, who came from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. This really complemented the coursework.”

Mad UX students are admitted as a cohort and regularly interact with their peers as part of a vibrant online community of learners.

McConville added, “I would recommend the Mad UX program because it has leveled up my ability to conduct user research. User Experience researchers are very sought after within organizations that value great UX, but information how to conduct UX research is not easy to come across. Mad UX gave me what I needed to be successful.”

For more information see Mad UX: UW-Madison Capstone Certificate in User Design Experience.