User Experience Design

User experience designers are responsible for building products that feel effortless to use and meaningfully made. That simplicity and personalization is born from a complex balance of design sensibility, user research, active empathy and technological literacy.

Prime’s 18-week immersive User Experience Design program was crafted to help people with interests in design, organization, and technology build the foundational skills to start a career in user experience. Prime worked hand-in-hand with industry employers to ensure that graduates are ready for the challenges of building complex experiences that are valuable for businesses and resonate with users.

Upcoming Course Dates

Campus Deadline Tier 1 Tier 2 Graduation
On Campus 7/10 8/8 9/19 12/9
Start Your Application Now

Apply before the Jul 10 deadline.

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What is User Experience Design?

User experience (UX) is a field that draws from many different disciplines including design, psychology, business, library science, organizational development, and software programming, to make sense of human-centered problems. With a playing field that wide, it’s no surprise that organizations don’t always agree on where the boundaries of UX are. Prime believes that the core of UX is based on expertise and context in a few core areas:

User Research

Understand what users need, and more importantly, why they need it

Info Architecture

Structure and organize content based on user goals and business objectives

Interaction Design

Manage how digital elements work together to help users achieve their goals

Usability

Conduct evaluative research to see how designs perform for real users

Visual Design

Control the graphic components of a design to support its use and goals

UX professionals have their own unique blend of experience and expertise in these areas based on how they build their career. If you ask a UXer what they do, you’ll get a slightly different answer depending on who you ask. While the day to day may vary, a career in UX will let you explore:

  • People, culture, and behaviors
  • Creative strategy
  • Many different possibilities (instead of one clear answer)

UX designers produce design artifacts such as:

  • Sketches
  • Wireframes and storyboards
  • Interactive prototypes
  • Research documentation (e.g., journey maps, findings reports)
  • Communications materials (e.g., strategy roadmaps, stakeholder presentations)

User Experience Designers are integral to modern software development teams. UX designers apply skills from the above areas to serve as advocates for the user and help keep the team centered on the needs of the user. Sometimes designers work alongside developers; other times designers work with product owners and business analysts. Titles vary widely as well—user experience professionals may be labeled as UX designer, information architect, product designer, usability specialist, or interaction designer, to name a few. Prime familiarizes students with the software development lifecycle and how they can exercise their skills in each phase of the process.

What are we looking for?

User experience is a dynamic and interdisciplinary field and practitioners have a wide variety of backgrounds—some with formal training in human factors, psychology, or visual design, to name a few—and many others who have learned the practice through a non-traditional path. The eclectic mix of working professionals in user experience is part of why Prime is focused on celebrating diversity within our cohorts and why our cohorts include a spectrum of experience, backgrounds, and ages.

Applicants come from varied backgrounds but there are a few things that make someone a compelling candidate:
  • Basic computer skills and digital literacy (you should be comfortable using the web)
  • A passion for approaching problems and a willingness to learn from what's already been done
  • A growth mindset that practices progress over perfection
  • A desire to generate various solutions and consider different ways of communicating ideas
  • Related experience in tangential, human-centered fields (e.g., visual design, education, direct client services, etc)

About the Application

Prime's admission process starts with an online application. You'll answer short essay questions, logic puzzles and you'll be presented with a creative challenge where you'll show us how you think. The process is designed to be fun–there's no timer and you can continue working on your answers at any time. Once submitted, our Admissions team will review and contact you with the next steps. Candidates that are invited to interview will have the chance to sit down with someone from our admissions team to confirm that the program feels like a mutual fit. Generally speaking, you'll know whether you're offered admission within 2-3 weeks of completing your application.

Start Your Application

Curriculum: 18 Weeks at a Glance

Our immersive user experience design program focuses heavily on the broad foundation of skills employers are looking for in UX designers. The curriculum spans the entire end-to-end design process—including up-front user research, wireframing and design, interactive prototyping and evaluation. The breadth of the program arms emerging UX designers with the context they need to build a career. The program is broken into three tiers. Click on each tab in the timeline below to learn more or fill our the form and we'll send you a copy of the syllabus.

By the end of the program you will be:

  • Comfortable with ambiguity and discomfort
  • Comfortable trying, learning and trying again
  • Fluent in visual and interaction design principles
  • Experienced with low-and mid-fidelity prototyping
  • Experienced in planning, conducting, and reporting on user research
  • Familiar with various research methods, including generative and evaluative
  • Familiar with basic software development processes (e.g., scoping, Agile)

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Weeks 1 - 6

Estimated Time Commitment: 13-20 Hrs/week
Schedule: Daily progress and 1-2 hours of synchronous video chats weekly

Getting Started

Tier 1 is a chance for you to learn and begin practicing with the basic tools of the trade in user experience. This includes a design process model, user-based research methods, and tactical tools like Sketch, Figma, and Axure. We’ll discuss everyday design examples to understand how all these components impact the user experience.

During Tier 1, you'll be making daily progress on weekly activities, and you’ll be meeting with your cohortmates, instructor, and cohort advisor through weekly, synchronous video sessions.

Goals:

  • Understand the foundational principles of visual and interactive design
  • Gain familiarity with visual design tools
  • Gain familiarity with interactive design tools
  • Begin practicing user research methods
  • Develop a model for understanding the UX research and design process

Topics covered:

  • Visual design principles
  • Usability principles
  • UX design process
  • UX research methods

Weeks 7 - 12

Estimated Time Commitment: 60+ Hrs/week
Schedule: M-F 8:30-5:00 plus weekend work

Developing Your Skills

Tier 2 is when you really start practicing what it means to be a UX practitioner as you navigate real projects, sourced uniquely for your cohort. You'll complete four week-long project sprints as you practice research and prototyping methods in a low-stakes setting. You’ll gain experience in creating professional devilverables, including journey maps, annotated wireframes, and usability test reports. You’ll practice communicating your insights and ideas to your team and your client(s), and will experience how design teams operate in various settings. Communication is a recurring theme at Prime; beyond the classroom work, you’ll also participate in public speaking and leadership training with students from all of Prime’s programs.

Beyond the context that you’ll receive from instructors, Prime regularly hosts guests from the industry to share different perspectives on various aspects of user experience design, software development and product management overall.

Goals:

  • Navigate the complexities of UX design
  • Practice prototyping and presenting
  • Gain familiarity with usability and UX research methods

Topics covered:

  • Prototyping tools & methods
  • Qualitative & quantitative research methods
  • Findings reports

Projects completed:

Weeks 13 - 18

Estimated Time Commitment: 60+ Hrs/week
Schedule: M-F 8:30-5:00 plus evening/weekend work

Project-Based Learning

Tier 3 is where the foundations you’ve been laying since Tier 1 are really put to work! You’ll work in pairs and small teams to solve a design problem for and with real clients. You’ll gain practical experience with the entire design process, from problem definition to prototyping, evaluating, refinement, and execution. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of designing for digital experiences, and the challenges you are likely to encounter when working on a UX team. We will also explore how to define and create concepts for designs that extend beyond a single screen.

Building your skills is important, but without something to show off your work, employers aren’t able to see the impact you could have on their team. Alongside project work, you’ll be collecting artifacts you’ve been creating throughout the program into a portfolio that will help you to put your best foot forward with prospective employers. This work, along with coaching and resume review from Prime staff and volunteers from the community, will get you ready to make a great first impression with employers at career day.

Goals:

  • Advance your design skills
  • Practice usability and UX research methods
  • Engage in an iterative design process

Practice with:

  • High-fidelity prototyping
  • Iterative design
  • Stakeholder and client presentations

Projects completed:

Skills Beyond Design

Prime’s emphasis on communication and collaboration runs through the entire experience. Students learn how to build on their teammate’s abilities. Sessions on effective team-based communication methods help to set the stage for positive interactions. Public speaking and leadership training will help you find your voice and practice critical but often overlooked skills.

Industry Insights

Each week you’ll add to your professional network when Prime hosts a wide variety of friendly speakers from the Twin Cities' design and development communities. Guests share context on their industry and expose you to new, different and sometimes opposing perspectives on the technology, techniques and philosophy shaping modern software. All this will help you to develop your own unique outlook on the field you’re entering.

Career Support

Prime connects students with employers searching for fresh talent, but we don’t send you in unprepared. We’ll work with you to build a resume and a portfolio of work that you can show off with pride. You’ll receive coaching on interviewing strategies from your instructors as well as actionable feedback from industry recruiters and local hiring managers who spend time with you on a mock interview day. Prime’s industry network team is always connecting job seekers and alumni with fresh opportunities.

MEET YOUR MENTORS

Success after Prime sometimes depends more on who you know than what you know. Through our mentor program, we introduce you to smart, supportive professionals from the local tech community. During your first week in the classroom, we pair small groups of students with a few working professionals, including one Prime alum who understands exactly the rigors and rewards of your education. You’ll meet bi-weekly with your mentor group for advice and insights to help kick-start your new career.

Career Day

The culmination of all this preparation is career day, a remarkable opportunity to interview with multiple employers excited about Prime and eager to speak with you. Prime’s huge network of employers means there are always companies ready to talk to you about open positions. Not every student lands their first role through a connection from Career Day, but every graduate benefits by shaking off their entry-level interviewing butterflies and gaining confidence in speaking about themselves and their portfolios.

Continued Education

Prime partners help connect students with valuable skills beyond graduation. Improve the inclusive web with free courses from Deque, and bolster your resume by pursuing your Digital Accessibility Certification with a partner prep course.

Tuition To Change Your Future

Your tuition supports Prime’s industry-leading instruction staff, excellent student-to-teacher ratio, development of our employer network, and ongoing curriculum development. Tuition covers instruction and access to educational software licenses. Students are responsible for their own transportation, meals, living expenses, and portfolio hosting fees (~$150). Note that financing need not be finalized when you apply. Once accepted into the program, we’ll work with you one-on-one on your best option!

Lowest Cost

Upfront Tuition

Pay out of pocket or finance on your own.

$16,500

includes $500 discount

For students paying out of pocket with their own funds or planning to secure a personal loan through their bank or various lender options.

Tuition is $17,000
Students paying up front receive a $500 discount
$1,500 down payment due on acceptance
$15,000 due first day of Tier 2
Least Upfront Investment

Pay-As-You-Go Tuition

Start learning with a low investment.

$364+

per month (based on credit)

We offer flexible financing with Ascent or Climb that can cover your down payment, tuition and living expenses no matter what your credit score.

Tuition is $17,000
$1,500 down payment due on acceptance
Living expenses of up to $5,000 available
3 and 5 year repayment terms are available
Deferred/interest-only payment options available

MSP TechHire Support

We’re proud to partner with the city of Minneapolis, the city of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis to bring Prime to diverse Minneapolis and St. Paul residents who would be otherwise unable to afford the program. The application process screens and verifies eligibility for student aid (household income must be "very low" based on the CDBG income table). Eligible students may receive grants to cover up to 100% of tuition. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis so apply today.

Other Scholarships

Prime provides a number of scholarships to support students seeking to attend our programs. Prime and our partners are committed to building a diverse tech community. To encourage women and people of Color pursuing tech careers, Prime Digital Academy grants a $500 scholarship to members of those groups accepted into the program. Additionally, Prime sponsors a Black Lives Matter in Tech scholarship that provides an additional $1,000 to Black students seeking to study. We are also proud to partner with DEED on a grant supporting study for Minnesota residents of Color aged 18-31.

Veteran Scholarships

Prime is an educational partner for the VA's Vet Tec pilot program. The program is designed to support GI Bill eligible veterans pursuing high value, non-traditional programs like Prime. Funding for the program is available on a first-come, first-served basis with budget being refreshed each October. Participation in the program does not consume a veteran's GI Bill benefits. We encourage interested vets to check out the program information at the VA and apply to Vet Tec and Prime in parallel. Prime is also an educational partner for VRRAP which supports unemployed veterans who are not currently GI Bill eligible.

MAC LAPTOP REQUIREMENT

Having access to a computer you call your own is a critical part of achieving mastery as a tech professional. To provide a consistent experience we've standardized on Apple laptops (running a current version of OS X). If you aren't sure if your computer meets these specifications or want help selecting a laptop for Prime contact us. Prime will provide you with an external monitor for use in the classroom.

Not Sure How to Fund Your Training?

Paying for a program like Prime is a big deal. Check out all the resources and options open to you in more detail on our funding page.

Learn More about Scholarships and Funding Options

Prime's Alumni Community

Prime is committed to maintaining real relationships with our alumni and providing support and advice that spans your entire career. Whether you’re swinging into Prime to say hello or touch base with friends on Slack, alumni are part of our community forever.

We provide free co-working space for alumni to ensure that no grad goes through their job search alone. We also operate a weekly session for alumni who are currently job searching called Alum Scrum. These sessions focus on specific interviewing tips and advice on navigating the tricky situations that arise in a job search.

Beyond job search support, Prime encourages alumni to continue to hone their skills through whiteboard challenges, coordinated user group attendance, and keeping in close contact with your classmates as you all make your marks on the local tech industry.

"Today was my first day as a UX Designer with a job!!! You guys did such an incredible job preparing us for this field. I tracked with everything they were talking about and I was even able to contribute a couple thoughts and questions in my first meeting with my team. Prime definitely prepared me to hit the ground running!"
"My experience at Prime Digital Academy was transformative. I've never experienced education in a more immersive, well-supported, and holistic way. The instructors' don't consider you just a number (as I've experienced in so many mainstream institutions); they really want you to succeed. My life has been forever changed for the better."
"The learning is intense and the teachers know how to push you to the edge of your abilities and then watch as you make things happen that you wouldn't have thought possible. The amount of knowledge you absorb is incredible. What you find is that your classmates and the Prime staff is there to support you throughout the entire experience."

Upcoming Cohort Dates

The following upcoming cohort dates are planned. You are encouraged to apply early (even if your cohort's applications aren't open yet) as you may be asked to complete pre-study work depending on your experience. Each row in the table below represents a cohort at Prime and the dates that they'll enter the various tiers of study within the program.

Format Deadline Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Graduation
On Campus Jul 10 Aug 8 Sep 19 Oct 31 Dec 9