Ph.D in UX related field (e.g. HCI) - Wil it be helpful enough as investment?

9 Oct 2011 - 7:28am
4 years ago
2 replies
2155 reads

How do you think about Ph.D in UX related field (e.g. HCI or Interaction Design)?

There are many discussions going around in academia but some professionals has complained that the researches are not useful enough to apply to the working process for real products. They argues that the academia cannot lead the innovation for the next 5~10+ years any longer, and that sometimes they are even behind the industrial world. 

What is your opinion about the role of academia nowadays? And what do you expect?

So far, many UX designers are from various fields and their enducational background cannot be standardized. And is also true that in some companies, everybody talks about UX and thinks that anybody can actually do UX design. 

One of my colleagues thinks HCI will be integrated as a mandatory course in Computer Science or Design, but NOT stand as an independet descipline.

If somebody is considering about getting Ph. D in this field, what will you advise, especially for someone with 4-6 years of experience as a professional?

Do you think it's time to establish this field academically? Or all of these academic discussions are too much (or useless or stagnant) and keep going with the real products are the best practice?

Will this investment (Ph.D) be worth making for the future career (professional or academia)? 


Thank you. :D


11 Oct 2011 - 9:09am

I'm glad you brought this up. You mention some very important points. For me, quite simply, it would be a matter of whether or not you look at a PhD as a financial investment in which you expect to see some kind of return; or do you see it as a self-enriching pursuit to help establish yourself as an "expert", or to conduct formal research. I think in today's age, pursuing a PhD in HCI is probably a waste of money, but not necessarily a waste of your time.

14 Oct 2011 - 6:04pm

I have heard the argument that UX should be a required component of both design and technology and while I agree, I still think there will always be value in specialists.

And I agree that innovations rarely seem to surface from the academic world when compared to the professional world, but I think thats in large part due to budget/resource availability when compared to the private sector (and possibly that having a boss/VC partner to answer to makes you get things done instead of iterating endlessly in academia).

I've thought about the PhD path and I dont think it helps in a private sector career.  My decision came down to the choice of deciding if am I more interested in having the oppertunity to pursue intellectual concepts where the end result might not be as polished/full-featured as you can create in the private sector but you will have more control vs. more financial oppertunity but compromise that seems to be more probable in the commercial world.

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