A newly qualified UX designer sitting at a desk, smiling

The Best UX Design Certification Programs: A Complete Guide

Emily Stevens

As the demand for UX designers continues to rise, employers will increasingly distinguish between self-taught or uncertified designers and those who have obtained an official qualification. If you’re new to the world of UX, a reputable certification program will teach you all the skills and techniques you’ll need to succeed in the field. If you’re a self-taught designer, a certification will formalize your existing knowledge and enable you to market yourself as a qualified UX practitioner.

So what are your options when it comes to getting UX certified?

It’s important to be aware that there is no single, universally recognized UX design certification—so choosing a credible program from a reputable provider is absolutely crucial. To help you in your quest, we’ve put together a list of the best UX design certification programs on the market right now. The first part of our list looks at some of the best online programs, while the second part is dedicated to in-person courses. If you already know your preferred mode of study, skip straight to the relevant section. If not, browse the full list and see which programs best suit your needs.

Ready to get UX certified? Let’s find you a course!

Online UX design certification programs

1. CareerFoundry UX Design Program

The CareerFoundry UX Design Program at a glance:

  • Mode of study: Online, with the support of a personal tutor and one-to-one mentor
  • Ideal for: Beginners who want to make a career change
  • Duration: Between 5 and 10 months, flexibly paced
  • Price: $6,900 USD

Who is it for?

The CareerFoundry UX Design Program is ideal for anyone who wants to become a fully-fledged, job-ready UX designer. The curriculum has been built for beginners, so you don’t need any prior knowledge or experience in the field. What’s more, the course is flexibly paced and taught entirely online, making it a feasible option if you need to fit your studies around other commitments. If you’re not sure whether UX design is the field for you, this free introductory short course will help you make up your mind—highly recommended for anyone in decision-making process!

How does it work?

Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll be given access to the online learning platform and assigned both a personal tutor and a one-to-one mentor. You’ll access all the course content via the online platform, reading through the material and then completing practical exercises. These are submitted to, and marked by, your tutor. You’ll also work on larger projects which go into your UX portfolio. Throughout the course, you’ll have regular video calls with your mentor. There’s no final exam or assessment, but you do need to have each exercise approved in order to progress to the next chapter. You can learn more about how the course works here.

How long does it take to complete?

The program is flexibly paced within an overall 10-month duration. If you dedicate around 15 hours per week, you can expect to finish the program within 10 months. You can also work extra hours each week in order to complete it sooner.

How much does it cost?

The CareerFoundry UX Design Program costs $6,900 USD. You can choose between a monthly payment plan and an upfront one-off payment. Bear in mind that the course is also covered by a job guarantee—if you don’t get a job within six months of completing the course, you could be eligible for a full refund.

2. Springboard UX Career Track

The Springboard UX Career Track at a glance:

  • Mode of study: Online, with the support of a one-to-one mentor
  • Ideal for: Aspiring designers with some relevant experience
  • Duration: 6 months (15-20 hours per week)
  • Price: $7,194 USD

Who is it for?

The Springboard UX Career Track is built for career-changers seeking a direct route into the field, and for those who can demonstrate some relevant knowledge or experience. Prerequisites for the course include an aptitude for problem-solving, communication, and collaboration, together with at least one year of documented professional experience (or a degree) in a related field—such as graphic or visual design, psychology, research, marketing, or web development.

How does it work?

The course takes place entirely online, at your own pace, with the support of a personal mentor who you can connect with via weekly calls. The curriculum is split into twenty-five units, starting with an introduction to Design Thinking and finishing with special topics such as psychology, strategy, and service design. The theoretical material is reinforced with mini-projects throughout, and you’ll also work on three portfolio projects. You can learn more about how the course works here.

How long does it take to complete?

The course takes six months to complete, with most students devoting 15-20 hours per week.

How much does it cost?

The Springboard UX Career Track costs $7,194 USD. If you pay upfront, you’ll get an 18% discount. Springboard also offers a job guarantee, so you may be eligible for a full refund if you don’t find a job within six months of graduating.

3. Designlab UX Academy

The Designlab UX Academy at a glance:

  • Mode of study: Online
  • Ideal for: Beginners and experienced designers who want to get certified
  • Duration: 4-12 months
  • Price: $6,749 USD

Who is it for?

Designlab’s UX Academy is geared towards both experienced and novice designers who want to forge a career in UX. Similar to the programs offered by CareerFoundry and Springboard, the Designlab course focuses on getting you job-ready, so it’s one of the better options for those looking to make a complete career change.

How does it work?

The UX Academy Journey is divided into three stages. The first step, Design 101, takes 4 weeks to complete (at a pace of 10-15 hours per week) and serves as a foundation course to prepare you for the main curriculum. At this stage, students are paired with an expert mentor. If the work you complete as part of Design 101 meets the admissions requirements, you’ll proceed to the main UX Academy. Together with your mentor, you’ll work on a range of projects and exercises over the course of 15 weeks full-time or 28 weeks part-time. The final step focuses on polishing up your portfolio and searching for a job.

How long does it take to complete?

The course takes between 4 and 12 months to complete, depending on whether you opt for full-time or part-time study.

How much does it cost?

The total cost for the UX Academy is $6,749 USD. Designlab also offers a six-month job guarantee, so you may qualify for a full refund if you don’t find a job after the course.

4. General Assembly UX Design Immersive (Online)

The General Assembly online UX bootcamp at a glance:

  • Mode of study: Online
  • Ideal for: Career-changers looking for an intensive course
  • Duration: 12 weeks full-time
  • Price: $14,950 USD

Who is it for?

This is a beginner-friendly program with no prerequisites, ideal for both newcomers to the field and those who already have some experience and want to formalize their practice. While this is an online course, it does require full-time attendance, Monday to Friday, with classes being taught at specific times. This is a great option for those who are comfortable with the higher price point and want the classroom experience without the commute.

How does it work?

This immersive course does exactly as the name suggests, providing an intensive learning experience much like you’d get in a classroom. Lessons take place in an interactive online classroom, where you’ll virtually connect with expert instructors and fellow classmates. Beyond classroom hours, you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with instructors via one-to-one check-ins. The course will take you through key UX techniques such as wireframing, prototyping, and user research, and will also touch on hot topics such as service design and design leadership. You’ll also work with a career coach in final preparation for the job market.

How long does it take to complete?

The course runs for 12 weeks on a full-time basis, with start dates roughly every six weeks.

How much does it cost?

The course costs $14,950 USD, making it one of the more expensive options on this list. You can save $450 by paying upfront, or spread the payment out over three installments.

In-person UX design certification programs

5. Nielsen Norman Group UX Certification

The Nielsen Norman Group UX certification at a glance:

  • Mode of study: In-person
  • Ideal for: Professionals who want to gain certification
  • Duration: 5 full days accumulated over any time period
  • Price: $4,448 

Who is it for?

The UX certification offered by the Nielsen Norman Group is geared towards those who want to add UX design to their existing skill set in order to gain credibility and stand out as a certified expert in the field. It is also ideal for companies who want to instil a user-first approach throughout the business by getting their employees UX certified.

How does it work?

The Nielsen Norman Group holds various UX conferences in different cities around the world. Each conference offers a different combination of courses, and in order to get the UX design certification, you’ll need to attend five of these courses. Once you’ve attended five courses and passed the online exam for each course, you’ll receive your certificate. You can take all five courses and exams at a single UX conference, or accumulate your credits at different conferences.

How long does it take to complete?

To obtain the UX design certification, you are required to attend five full days (or courses) and to sit an exam for each course, with each exam lasting one hour. You will have access to the exams for up to 35 days after each in-person course, so the program can be completed at a relatively flexible pace.

How much does it cost?

The estimated cost for five courses and five exams is $4,448 USD (not including VAT).

6. Human Factors International Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) and Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA)

The HFI certifications at a glance:

  • Mode of study: In-person
  • Ideal for: Beginners and experienced professionals
  • Duration: 10 days in total (per certification)
  • Price: About $6,000 USD 

Who is it for?

The Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) certification is ideal if you’re new to the field, either just starting out in your career or planning to eventually switch to a career in UX. The Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA) certification is for those who already have a solid foundation in UX design (and who have already passed the CUA course).

How does it work?

The Certified Usability Analyst track consists of four courses followed by an exam. The courses cover UX foundations (2 days), user-centered analysis and conceptual design (3 days), the science and art of effective web and app design (3 days), and practical usability testing (2 days). The courses are held in-person at a number of international locations on specific dates. Once you’ve attended all the preparatory courses, you’re ready to sit the online exam. The Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA) track follows a similar format.

How long does it take to complete?

Each of the individual courses that make up the certification take two or three days, and the final exam takes 2 and a half hours. You can choose which courses you attend and when, so there is no specific deadline. However, the exam is only available on certain dates throughout the year.

How much does it cost?

The total cost is around $6,000 USD. However, the courses are priced individually depending on location—you can find a list of courses, locations, and prices here.

7. Flatiron School UX/UI Design Course

The Flatiron School bootcamp at a glance:

  • Mode of study: Hybrid—online and on-campus
  • Ideal for: Beginners looking to make a career-change
  • Duration: 24 weeks, full-time
  • Price: $17,000 USD

Who is it for?

The Flatiron School bootcamp is for anyone who wants to launch a career as a designer, regardless of previous experience or professional background. As one of the most expensive programs on this list, and requiring a full-time commitment for around six months, this is a feasible option for those who are willing and able to make a substantial investment in their career change.

How does it work?

The program runs at various locations across the United States, including New York, Austin, San Francisco, and Seattle. It’s also available in London. Over 24 weeks, this bootcamp provides an immersive experience which is divided into five phases. Phase one focuses on Design Essentials and is taught online on a part-time basis. Towards the end of phase one, students choose whether to focus on UX or UI; you can read about the differences between UX and UI design in this guide. The subsequent phases—Process, Studio, Client, and Portfolio—are all taught on a full-time basis, on campus (with the exception of the Process phase, which is taught online). Throughout each phase, students are given weekly assignments and quizzes, and are also required to attend meetings, give presentations, receive feedback, and work on their portfolio.

How long does it take to complete?

The entire bootcamp takes 24 weeks to complete on a full-time basis. During the Studio Phase, students are expected to commit 40-50 hours per week to the course.

How much does it cost?

The full bootcamp costs $17,000 USD. It is also possible to finance the course with a loan, or to defer your tuition until you are employed and earning above a certain threshold.

8. Ironhack UX/UI Design Bootcamp

The Ironhack bootcamp at a glance:

  • Mode of study: In-person
  • Ideal for: Career changers, career boosters and entrepreneurs
  • Duration: 9 weeks full-time or 24 weeks part-time
  • Price: $12,000 USD

Who is it for?

The Ironhack bootcamp is essentially for anyone who wants to master the art of UX design. There are no entry requirements or previous experience necessary, and the course is built to equip career changers, career boosters, entrepreneurs, and developers alike with hands-on UX design skills.

How does it work?

The course requires in-person attendance on either a part-time or full-time basis at one of their many international campuses. The curriculum is divided into four modules, starting with the prework component which introduces the basics of design thinking and interaction design over 40 hours of online study. Modules 1, 2, and 3 are taught in-person, focusing on user experience design, user interface design, and implementation respectively. As well as learning key design principles and techniques, students also benefit from career coaching and help with building a professional portfolio.

How long does it take to complete?

The full-time program takes 9 weeks to complete at a pace of 40 hours per week, with classes typically running Monday-Friday from 9am to 6pm. The part-time program takes 24 weeks to complete at a pace of 10 hours per week.

How much does it cost?

The course costs around $12,000 USD, with various scholarships and discounts available.

Wrap-up

In this guide, we’ve highlighted eight of the best programs offering a UX design certification. If you’ve narrowed it down to a few possible options, it’s a good idea to conduct some more in-depth research before making a final decision. In this guide, we show you exactly what you should look for in a UX design certification to make sure you’re getting the best value for money. Still not sure if UX is the right career path for you? The following resources will help you decide:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to UX with a free, 6-day short course.
  2. Become a qualified UX designer in 5-10 months—complete with a job guarantee.
  3. Talk to a Career Advisor to discuss career change and find out if UX is right for you.
  4. Learn about our graduates, see their portfolio projects, and find out where they’re at now.

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Emily Stevens

Emily Stevens

Managing Editor at CareerFoundry

Originally from England, Emily moved to Berlin after studying French and German at university. She has spent the last five years working in tech startups, immersed in the world of UX and design thinking. In addition to writing for the CareerFoundry blog, Emily has been a regular contributor to several industry-leading design publications, including the InVision blog, UX Planet, and Adobe XD Ideas.