M.A. in IxD Frequently Asked Questions

The UNT M.A. in Interaction Design, IXD, program offers courses for full- and part-time students. Students can complete an M.A. in under 16-months, receive a minor, or take individual courses to augment a graduate degree in a related field. Individuals and organizations interested in IXD courses for professional development can also customize an educational plan or take single courses without working toward the full M.A. degree. Find some of the most frequently asked questions on this page.

1. What do interaction designers do?

Interaction designers help create effective and efficient ways for diverse groups of people to use a wide variety of technological products and services in their daily lives. Some of us work to create interfaces for websites and apps that help specific “user groups” achieve particular objectives, like executing bank transactions, buying plane tickets, or checking on the progress of our favorite sports teams. Others work in interdisciplinary, collaborative teams to help improve communications between healthcare providers and patients, or news organizations and their readerships, or teachers and students. We try to ensure that people can use what we create to have experiences that satisfy three criteria:

  1. they are desirable,
  2. they are easy to understand, and
  3. they help achieve goals.
2. What are the salary ranges for people in this industry?

There are a number of variables that affect what professionals earn who work in the sectors of IxD and UXD—interaction design and user experience design—in the U.S. and Texas. Among these are levels of experience and the knowledge and skills someone possesses about planning and engaging in research, product or service development, design and/or usability testing. Other factors that have a significant effect on what IxD and UXD professionals earn are where they work geographically, and the type of organization they work for.

With all of that stated: information we’ve gathered from a combination of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Texas Workforce Commission, Glassdoor and Payscale indicate that the median annual income for interaction designers in Texas ranges from just over $76,000 per year to just under $89,000 per year.

3. What types of jobs would this degree help me get?

Interaction designers can be hired into positions at smaller interaction- and user-experience design consultancies that employ five to 20 people, and they can also be hired into positions in larger organizations and companies that employ “in-house” interaction- and user-experience design teams. In team-based situations, interaction-designers often work with professionals who have backgrounds in human-plus-computer interaction (HCI), anthropology, psychology, computer science/programming/IT and technical communications.

Interaction- and user-experience designers often are employed to use research to develop the design strategies that guide the development of components, products, services and systems that are facilitated by people who need or want to use some type of digital technology. This involves using research approaches and methods that yield understandings about why particular groups of people, or “users,” are trying to meet specific goals and satisfy particular desires as they engage in particular types of interactions. These interactions can occur across apps and websites, and in places of business, in museums, and institutions that meet the needs of the public, such as health care facilities, departments of motor vehicles, and libraries.

Once a design strategy has been finalized, interaction- and user-experience designers and their collaborators use it to guide the creation of wireframes and other types of prototypes that are developed iteratively, i.e., in evolving cycles that entail multiple sequences of “build > test > analyze & interpret > build again….” Heuristics, or, more simply put, “trial and error,” are a big part of what most interaction- and user-experience designers do. Most interaction-design projects end with the creation of some form of a high-fidelity prototype that can be tested and then used to guide manufacture and distribution.

4. What kinds of organizations might hire me if I earn an M.A. in IXD?

One of the big reasons we teach the M.A. in IxD program at UNT’s New College in Frisco, Texas, is that it’s located within 20 miles of several north Texas-based private sector and not-for-profit organizations that either operate “in-house” interaction and/or user experience design teams, or who specialize in offering these design and consulting services.

These include larger organizations that employ hundreds of people near our location in Frisco (and that may also employ many more at national or international locations), and smaller organizations that employ between five and a few dozen to a hundred professionals.

The organizations listed below all now employ professionals who have accrued knowledge and skills in interaction and user experience design.

  • Sabre
  • Sam's Club
  • Tekzenit
  • IDEO
  • frogdesign
  • Bottle Rocket
  • Microsoft
  • Dell
  • Intuit
  • 7-Eleven
  • Thumbtack
  • Fjordnet
  • Huge
  • RIGA
  • Crispin Porter
  • Blackband
  • Chase
  • USAA
  • Projekt202
  • AT&T
  • NBC Universal
  • Accenture
  • Cisco Systems
  • Intel Corp.
5. What type(s) of undergraduate and/or professional experiences does this program require?

We accept students into the M.A. in IxD program who have accrued either undergraduate degrees and/or professional experiences in one or more of the following disciplines/professions.

  • interaction or user experience design
  • journalism
  • marketing and/or logistics
  • visual communication or graphic design
  • technical communications
  • business management
  • anthropology
  • psychology
  • sociology
  • information technology and decision sciences
  • computer science
  • information science
6. What types of financial support/assistance are available for students in this program?

There are several ways that students enrolled in UNT CVAD’s M.A. in IxD program can obtain financial support to support their studies. These are described briefly here, and more details are available on the web pages linked to the URLs listed below.

We strongly recommend that potential M.A. in IxD students begin by visiting UNT’s Student Accounting and University Cashiering Services (SAUCS) to calculate what the cost of your specific tuition would be. Several variables affect this calculation, such as whether you are an “in-state,” “Oklahoma resident,” or “out-of-state” student, whether you are a U.S. citizen or a citizen of another country, whether you are a veteran of the U.S. military, etc.

Each variable is clearly explained on the UNT Student Financial Services web page titled Traditional Tuition Plan Calculator and Tuition and Fees.

Many students in the M.A. in IxD program are eligible for Federal Student Aid. We encourage all of the students enrolled in our program to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, once every year on Oct. 1 when the new form for the next academic year becomes available.

We also encourage students in the M.A. in IxD program to make use of the tools and resources at the Gradsense website for resources and information to help graduate and undergraduate students make wise financial decisions that support their long-term educational goals.

When it comes to funding that M.A. in IxD students can obtain through scholarships, awards, grants, fellowships, and teaching and research assistantships, you can more information through the following.

  • UNT Toulouse Graduate School Scholarships & Awards
  • UNT-sponsored scholarships
  • Opportunities for External Grants and Scholarships

Please peruse the information provided on the Toulouse Graduate School Fellowships, Scholarships, Grants & Awards web page.

In particular, we encourage students enrolled in the M.A. in IxD program to use the information on the Fellowships, Scholarships, Grants and Award page to learn about the following.

  • Academic Achievement Scholarships, AAS
  • The Tuition Benefits Program, TBP
  • General Academic Scholarships, GAS
  • UNT’s Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships

Visit the CVAD web pages for Teaching Assistantships and Fellowships and Paying for College.

7. What TOEFL or IELTS score is required for ESL students in the M.A. in IxD program?

Students who speak and write English as a second, third, or fourth language must earn a score of 83 or higher on the Test of English as a Foreign Language—TOEFL—or, attain at least a band score of 7.5 on the International English Language Testing System—IELTS—to be admitted into this program. The ability to actively and effectively communicate in written and spoken English on a daily basis is a necessity for all M.A. in IxD students. An applicant’s “professed success” during enrollments in other undergraduate or graduate programs wherein English proficiency may have been required does NOT meet the standard of the M.A. in IxD program.

8. Are M.A. in IxD students eligible for the F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training Extension of 24 months?

Graduate students who enroll in UNT CVAD’s M.A. in Design with a concentration in Interaction Design, or “M.A. in IxD,” are NOT eligible for a 24-month F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training Extension, OPT. They are eligible for 12 months of OPT, which may be fulfilled all or in part by participating in a professional internship experience during their studies — but after they have completed 18 semester credit hours of study, OR which may be fulfilled for a period lasting between six and 12 months after their graduation date.

9. What GRE or GMAT score is required for acceptance into the M.A. in IxD?

The minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average required for admission into the M.A. in IxD program is a 3.0, and we prefer a 3. With that stated, please know that we admit individuals to this program on a case-by-case basis and that it is possible to gain admission with an undergraduate GPA of between 3.0 and 3.3. We believe strongly that undergraduate GPA is but one of several means to assess an individual applicant’s potential to achieve success within this program.

For American applicants, this undergraduate GPA must reflect the completion of a Bachelor’s-level degree program that requires fulfilling at least 120 credit hours of study from an institution of higher learning accredited by at least one of the following regional accreditors:

  • The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The Northwest Accreditation Commission
  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or
  • The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, NASAD
10. When and where are the courses in this program taught?

Most of the courses that constitute the M.A. in IxD curriculum (six, to be exact, one of which is worth six graduate credit hours) are taught in UNT Art Building, home of the College of Visual Arts and Design.

UNT College of Visual Arts and Design
1201 W. Mulberry St.
Denton, TX 76226, USA

These courses are taught between 6:30 and 9:20 p.m., Monday—Thursday nights.

Some of the three elective courses M.A. in IxD students must take—there are several choices across a variety of disciplines—may be taught at either the UNT New College in Frisco or the UNT Denton campus.

Important Note: Other scholarships may be available through the UNT Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Every semester, be sure to fill out the UNT General Scholarship Application. Read more on the CVAD Paying for College web page.

11. Is it possible to take courses in the M.A. in IxD program "a la carte?"

Yes, although we recommend taking some courses, particularly ADES 5410 and ADES 5420, prior to taking others, like ADES 5430 and ADES 5440.

ADES 5450 “Data and Information Visualization” may be taken at any time by anyone who meets the graduate admission requirements. Visit UNT's Toulouse Graduate School website to review detailed application processes and requirements.

Read the course descriptions for each of the learning experiences that constitute this program on CVAD's Learn: Discover M.A. in IxD web page.

We’ve designed this curriculum to meet the needs of students who wish to earn the complete M.A. in IxD degree, and for those who may wish to enroll in a specific course or two to bolster their bases of knowledge and skillsets in interaction and user experience design.

12. What are the application deadlines?

Fall 2023:

May 12, 2023, 5 p.m. CDT for international applicants;
Aug. 4, 2023, for U.S.-based applicants.

Spring 2024:

Aug. 18, 2023, 5 p.m. CDT for international applicants;
Dec. 8, 2023, for U.S.-based applicants

The application deadline for the Spring 2023 semester is Dec. 8, 2023, 5 p.m. CDT for U.S.-based applicants; the deadline for international applicants for Spring 2023 intake has already passed.

Fall 2024:

May 10, 2024, 5 p.m. CDT for international applicants;
Aug. 9, 2024, 5 p.m. CDT for U.S.-based applicants.

Note: We recommend that M.A. in IxD applicants who wish to begin their studies in the fall semester of 2023 complete their applications by March 15, 2023, which is roughly five months before our fall semester begins.