Are UI/UX design courses from universities better than bootcamps?

Path Unbound
4 min readAug 21, 2023


When aspiring UI/UX designers weigh their options for formal education programs, they often encounter this dilemma — is it better to enroll in a course from a university or attend a bootcamp? In this article, we’ll delve into the characteristics of these educational paths, explore popular choices, and weigh the pros and cons of each.

UI/UX Design Courses from Universities

The choice between university-affiliated UI/UX design courses and bootcamps can be perplexing. Each option carries its own merits and drawbacks, and understanding the nuances is crucial for making an informed decision. Let’s start by clarifying the distinctions between degree programs and continuing education in the realm of UI/UX design courses offered by universities.

Degree Programs vs. Continuing Education in UI/UX Design

UI/UX design education encompasses both degree programs and continuing education offerings within universities. Degree programs, whether undergraduate or graduate, span a more extended period and often involve a comprehensive curriculum. However, they come with higher costs and a potentially more competitive admission process.

On the flip side, continuing education in UI/UX design adopts a flexible approach. It caters to learners seeking to enhance their skills without the commitment of a full-fledged degree. These programs provide versatility, allowing students to choose from live, online, or self-paced courses that culminate in a certificate. While they lack a formal degree, they offer a cost-effective and accessible route to skill enhancement.

Characteristics of University-Affiliated UI/UX Design Courses

University-affiliated UI/UX design courses, within the continuing education context, boast distinct traits that shape the learning experience:

  1. Segmented Learning Journey: Courses are often structured as a collection of shorter modules, allowing students to explore specific design topics.
  2. Diverse Course Availability: Not all required courses are available in the same semester, extending the overall program duration.
  3. Career Support: University continuing education programs may offer limited career support compared to degree programs.
  4. Focused but Not Comprehensive: Courses tend to focus more on UX processes rather than comprehensive design foundations.
  5. Varied Faculty Quality: The caliber of faculty might not match that of degree-granting programs due to budget differences.

Popular University UI/UX Design Programs

Here are some of the most popular university-affiliated UI/UX design programs:

  1. University of Washington — Certificate in UX & Visual Interaction Design
  2. University of Toronto User Experience Design Certificate
  3. University of California Irvine UX/UI Bootcamp
  4. Pratt Institute UI/UX Design Certificate
  5. Emily Carr University User Experience Design Certificate
  6. University of Cambridge User Experience Design course
  7. UCLA Extension User Experience Design Certificate

UI/UX Design Bootcamps

UI/UX design bootcamps, though sometimes critiqued, remain an effective gateway to the field. They prioritize intensive, hands-on learning, offering focused benefits:

  • Fast-Track Transition: Bootcamps swiftly equip students with job-ready skills in a concentrated timeframe.
  • Practical Skill Emphasis: Intensive programs focus on practical skills aligned with industry needs.
  • Personalized Guidance: Students benefit from personalized mentorship and instruction.
  • Enhanced Industry Relevance: Mentor involvement often brings real-world industry insights to the learning process.

Popular UI/UX Design Bootcamps

Here are some of the most popular UI/UX design bootcamps:

  1. Path Unbound School of Design
  2. Path Unbound Portfolio School
  3. RookieUp
  4. Interaction Design Foundation
  5. Memorisely
  6. Springboard
  7. Careerfoundry
  8. Thinkful
  9. Designlab

Pros and Cons: University UI/UX courses vs. Bootcamps

The decision to opt for a university UI/UX program or a bootcamp hinges on various factors, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

University UI/UX Programs:


  • Potentially Lower Costs
  • University Brand Recognition
  • Access to Research Resources


  • Prolonged Completion Time
  • Potential Faculty Quality Variance
  • Limited Career Support
  • Lack of Continuity in Content
  • Potentially Non-Comprehensive Education

UI/UX Design Bootcamps:


  • Robust Career Support
  • Expedited Learning Journey
  • Industry Connections
  • Practical Skill Focus


  • Moderate Costs (Relative to Some Universities)
  • Mentor Quality Variation
  • Limited Time for Skill Depth
  • Homogenous Portfolio Risks

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between University UI/UX courses vs. bootcamps

As you stand at the crossroads of university UI/UX courses and bootcamps, several factors warrant consideration:

  1. Career Objectives: Align your choice with your career aspirations, considering whether you seek end-to-end support or rapid skill acquisition.
  2. Learning Style: Evaluate your learning preferences — structured academia or intensive hands-on training.
  3. Time Commitment: Gauge your willingness to commit to extended university programs versus accelerated bootcamps.
  4. Financial Implications: Compare program costs and financing options, factoring in potential returns on investment.
  5. Credibility and Recognition: Research program reputation and industry recognition for both university courses and bootcamps.
  6. Networking Opportunities: Examine networking potential, given the industry connections each path offers.

In conclusion, the dichotomy between university-affiliated UI/UX courses and bootcamps necessitates an individualized approach. Your decision should align with your learning style, career aspirations, and budget considerations. By assessing the pros, cons, and key factors relevant to your journey, you can confidently navigate the dynamic landscape of UI/UX design education.

Remember, each path offers unique advantages — it’s about finding the one that resonates most with your goals and aspirations.



Path Unbound

Championing comprehensive design education for creative career success.