Degree Spotlight: User Experience Bachelor's Degree at Full Sail University
The User Experience bachelor of science at Full Sail University.
The User Experience bachelor of science degree at Full Sail is unique among other technology degrees offered by the university. For one thing, it requires absolutely no programming knowledge. It's a great option for students looking to get into the human side of tech or gaming, to become the voice of the user, the player, the customer — without the requirements of advanced mathematics or computer science.
This degree program teaches students the foundations of visual and user experience design so they can analyze, experiment, and prototype human-centered designs. It's part graphic design, part research, part human factors, and all UX.
"UX is a really awesome, growing field. I think, for a student who is really interested in technology, who is maybe not super-strong in programming or mathematics, or is intimidated by those things, this can be a good start," says User Experience Program Director Rebecca Leis.
She's also a department chair for the Game Development and Computer Science degree programs at Full Sail. And her comprehensive experience in technology, as well as a bachelor's in Psychology and master's in Modeling and Simulation from the University of Central Florida, helps Rebecca bring a holistic approach to the study of UX.
In the beginning of the program, students will start out with more graphic design-related courses. They'll learn things like typography and how to put together aesthetically pleasing layouts. Then, courses dive deeper into information dissemination — how to put together mock-ups and come up with ideas for pitching applications.
On the research side of user experience, students will explore topics like how the body takes in information through the senses and can physically interact with technology.
As with every Full Sail degree, the last part of the program focuses on the implementation of all of those skills. In User Experience, students may create projects using mock-ups, design, and case studies to show what they've learned.
"Full Sail is so application-heavy. We are focused on trying to get some type of portfolio item, some type of deliverable out of every single class, so that they have a really strong portfolio at the end of the day," says Rebecca.
After graduation, Rebecca says students may have opportunities in areas like quality assurance testing, especially if they're interested in user interface or user experience for games or instructional design.
"The second job I would say is probably a UX designer. That's a really large market right now," she says. "And there are a lot of people looking for UX designers, and they're having a hard time filling those jobs. That's one of the ones that we see a really big potential with."
As someone with direct experience in the industry, Rebecca should know. She brings with her a work history spanning several human factor research projects on "safety critical tasks," in environments like nuclear power plants and oil rigs.
A resume like that, Rebecca says, is just one of the unique benefits students get from earning a degree at Full Sail from instructors who have both academic and professional experience.
"Full Sail is very different from my experience at other universities. Full Sail requires four years of industry experience before they allow you to qualify to teach. So that's four years of industry application and actually doing it, versus somebody who just goes from theory straight into teaching."
Rebecca explains that many people transition into UX design from a different field and can feel intimidated by what they don't know. She's been there, and she understands.
"I knew, from a student perspective, how difficult it could be to pick up a completely new skill that has nothing to do with what you've learned in the past," she says.
"I would never encourage people to feel intimidated and not do something. I'm really all for 'just go for it.' You can do it. Get through this. I promise you, you can, as long as you have the right attitude."