Interaction Design (BFA)

Our digital world is brimming with interfaces and experiences that focus on user interaction such as websites, mobile applications, software and even physical objects. The key to our modern digital world is understanding the way humans interact with technology.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interaction Design (IxD) at University of the Arts offers a broad, interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates technology with an experimental approach to making meaningful experiences for users. This program is focused on the future!

As an Interaction Design student, you will learn

  • web and mobile design and development;
  • user interface (UI) and experience design (UX);
  • computer programming to create art and experiences;
  • physical computing;
  • Internet-enabled devices, ie Internet of Things (IoT) technologies;
  • to experiment with technology and the trends of tomorrow - such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The program was developed as an integrated part of the School of Design where you can also explore Graphic Design, Illustration, Product Design and Museum Exhibition Planning and Design. You’ll have access to facilities and resources that round out your design projects, including the Center for Immersive Media, and the Albert M. Greenfield Makerspace.

The program’s curriculum combines creativity with technology and integrates technical skills with critical thinking, content strategy, project management skills, problem-solving and design. This program is for designers, makers, tinkerers and producers who value interdisciplinary exploration and versatility — those with both conventional and nontraditional perspectives and approaches to technology.

Interaction Design is for designers, artists, makers, tinkerers and producers—those with both conventional and nontraditional perspectives and approaches to technology. Delivering diverse and adaptable skills, the program equips graduates to address a wide range of 21st-century challenges and growing opportunities in the creative economy.

Students graduating from the Interaction Design program will be able to succeed in the evolving field of interaction design. Delivering diverse and adaptable skills, the program equips graduates to address a wide range of 21st-century challenges and growing opportunities in the creative economy. With the skills, knowledge and connections developed in the program, graduates will be able to secure a range of professional positions.

Explore Student and Faculty Work


From projection mapping to web sites and media art, Interaction Design students work with all aspects of design and technology.

About the Curriculum

When you look at your smartphone and scroll through your apps, do you ever wonder how they are created? Or when you visit your favorite website, or put on a smartwatch? These are all examples of interaction design, and it shapes our everyday lives. They're all created by interaction designers, who focus on the experience of the end user and ways to improve our world through design.

Interaction design, often abbreviated as IxD, is the broader practice and theory of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. The Interaction Design BFA program will cover key concepts, skills, theories and practices critical to IxD, setting up students for success in the field. 

Students graduating with a BFA in Interaction Design will be able to

  • demonstrate knowledge of designing and producing digital interaction projects in either 2-D, virtual space or physical space;
  • manage and execute interactive digital projects through the application of a process that includes research, usability and documentation while integrating design thinking and technical development;
  • show a solid understanding of basic design concepts through the development of user interfaces;
  • practice proven methods to master the different programming languages required for interactive development;
  • practice using different tools in the Albert M. Greenfield Makerspace and the Center for Immersive Media, in order to conceptualize and develop physical interaction design projects and immersive experiences using motion capture and virtual reality;
  • prepare for a career in interaction design by understanding the future in terms of the “internet of things.”

The School of Design Core — courses taken by all Design students — promotes peer interaction and encourages cross-disciplinary activity. You’ll learn key principles of design, making, thinking, marketing and business that will help you build a solid knowledge base for further study in Interaction Design.

Sample Courses in the Interaction Design Major


Total Credits: 120
Duration: 4 years, full-time
Major requirements: 45 credits
School of Design core courses: 24 credits
Discipline history: 12 credits
Critical Studies**: 30 credits
Free electives: 9 credits

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First Year

Fall: 16.5 credits
Design Process, Theory & Communication (3 credits)
Drawing as Seeing (3 credits)
Digital Design Lab (3 credits)
Writing I Placement (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (1.5 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
Drawing as Thinking (3 credits)
Design Studio (3 credits)
Writing II Placement (3 credits)
Art History (3 credits)
Free elective (3 credits)

Second Year

Fall: 16.5 credits
Markup & Scripting I (1.5 credits)
Intro to Interaction Design (3 credits)
School of Design course (3 credits)
Design for Persuasive Visual Communication (3 credits)
Art History (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
 

Spring: 15 credits
Markup & Scripting II (1.5 credits)
Making Interaction (3 credits)
Web Design I (3 credits)
Design History (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (1.5 credits)
 

Third Year

Fall: 15 credits
Intro to Business & Prep for Creative Practice (3 credits)
Mapping the World (3 credits)
User Interface Design (3 credits)
School of Design course (3 credits)
History of Media & Technology (3 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
Web Design II (3 credits)
ODR selection*  (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (3 credits)

Fourth Year

Fall: 15 credits
Professional Practice (3 credits)
Creative Computing (3 credits)
Senior Thesis I (3 credits)
ODR selection* (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
 

Spring: 13.5 credits
Senior Thesis II (3 credits)
The Internet of Things (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Critical Studies** (3 credits)
Free elective (1.5 credits)
 

Explore the Full Curriculum

Faculty Spotlight
 

A grayscale portrait of Juan Parada, Interaction Design program director.
Juan Parada

Interaction Design (BFA)
Program Director; founder of interactive design company, interactive design industry insider
A grayscale portrait of Brian Yetzer, faculty in the Interaction Design program. Brian is smiling at the camera and wearing dark-framed glasses, a button-up shirt and a suit jacket.
Brian Yetzer

Interaction Design (BFA)
Philadelphia-based educator and UArts associate professor; interactive augmented reality experience designer; president of Yetzer Studio

Alumni & Careers


Career Opportunities


The Interaction Design program prepares graduates for careers including 

  • Interaction designer (IxD)
  • User experience (UX) designer
  • User interface (UI) designer
  • Web designer, mobile designer
  • Extended reality (XR) developer
  • Information architect (IA)
  • Creative technologist
  • Computer programmer
  • Content strategist
  • Interaction artist

Our alumni have started their own firms and worked at top design studios, including Field.io, P’unk Ave, Apostrophe CMS, and Marshmallow Laser Feast.

As a UArts Interaction Design graduate, you will know how to employ technology to develop meaningful concepts, and generate compelling interactive design narratives and solutions.

Alumni Spotlight

A grayscale photograph of Adam Samson BFA ’14 (Multimedia); he is lit from behind so his faceis obscured. It seems to be night and there are lights in the background.
Adam Samson

BFA ’14

London based interaction designer who has worked at cutting edge experiential design studios such as Marshmallow Laser Feast and FIELD.IO
A portrait of Jason Senk BFA ’01. The background behind him is blurred, he is wearing clear acrylic glasses frames, smiling slightly.
Jason Senk

BFA’ 01

Senior Project Manager at M1 Interactive, Inc.
A photo of Alex Gilbert BFA ’06 sitting on a chair. He's smiling and looking at the camera.
Alex Gilbert

BFA ’06

Co-founder & CEO at Apostrophe Technologies, Inc.

Facilities

 

Center for Immersive Media


UArts’ Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction. The space includes
optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;

  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station; 
  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and 
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more about the Center for Immersive Media.

The Albert M Greenfield Makerspace


The Makerspace is a 3,500-square-foot digital and traditional fabrication studio that brings together the entire university community and serves as a catalyst for the collaboration, experimentation and innovation that are characteristic of UArts. The space houses state-of-the-art digital and analog equipment that allows students to create virtually anything they can imagine.

It is outfitted with  

  • a ShopBot PRSAlpha9648 CNC Router;
  • a Roland MDX540A four axis CNC Mill with ATC;
  • a printed circuit board (PCB) and decal printers;
  • two NextEngine 3-D scanners for small objects;
  • two laser cutters/engravers, which can cut wood, acrylic, leather, fabric, paper, etc.;
  • four Ultimaker 3, 3-D printers, with both PLA and ABS plastics, which are able to build up to 7.5 x 8.5 x 8 in.;
  • a ProtoMax waterjet cutter with a 12 x 12 in. working area that can cut any material up to 1 in. thick (even steel);
  • a four-color Janome digital embroidery machine;
  • four electronic soldering stations and a PCB printer; and
  • four Windows-based workstations that are available for anyone to use.

 Learn more about the Makerspace.

Events

Liftoff!

Liftoff! is the spring exhibition for the School of Design. It showcases student work from Graphic Design, Illustration, Product Design, and Museum Exhibition Planning and Design.

Explore Liftoff!

Scholarships & Financial Aid


UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarshipsAll applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about scholarships and financial aid.

 

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline (Feb. 15, 2023).

Spring 2023 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2022
Fall 2023 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2023

We cannot accept spring 2023 applications after Jan. 9, 2023, and cannot accept fall 2023 applications after Aug. 11, 2023.

The following materials are required for your application. 

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A completed application for admission
$60 application fee

If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code

Official high school transcripts
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 
  • International transcript requirements 
  • Transfer student transcript requirements
    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.
    • Official college transcript(s)
      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 
      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available. 
Portfolio

A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission. View a full list of portfolio requirements by program.

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.
Optional letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

Apply Now

About the School of Design


University of the Arts’ School of Design redefines what it means to educate a 21st century designer. We celebrate the reality that the boundaries between all sorts of contemporary design practices are more open than ever before and that a modern designer needs a greatly expanded skill set at their disposal. With this new reality in mind, the School of Design initiates innovation and empowers you to pursue your passions, build core values, broaden your design exposure and become a design leader of the future.

The School of Design strongly believes in collaboration, self-expression and professional preparation through its undergraduate programs in Graphic Design and Illustration, with Product Design and Interaction Design launching in 2023. The School of Design consists of programs that work together, providing depth in your discipline while expanding your understanding of design. This academic model best prepares you to respond flexibly to change and future career opportunities.

Learn more about the School of Design.

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