Columbia College Chicago’s bachelor's degree in Interaction Design trains you to be both a technologically-competent designer and a design-minded developer. You’ll learn a creative, art-driven approach to finding the best design solutions for users of electronic interfaces from websites to voice-activated programs.
You’ll learn to design with users in mind and be an independent professional who relies not on narrow technical skills but on best practices and theories of human-computer interaction. But we don’t ignore the "hard" skills. With required courses in programming and physical computing, combined with extensive course work in user research and design, you’ll enter the workforce ready for careers in programming, user experience, interface or industrial design, product development, and web development.
Interaction Design teaches you to find solutions. You’ll be tested and challenged in this bachelor’s degree program, but through your successes—and mistakes—you’ll learn and grow as an artist, student, and professional.
A bachelor’s degree in Interaction Design requires a foundational set of 30 credits from across all four concentrations. Armed with a solid knowledge base, you’ll then dive deeper into your area of special interest and select one concentration for additional course work.
In our most popular concentration, we connect front-end design with back-end development to prepare you for a career as a product developer or designer who can speak across the skill set of interaction design.
This concentration merges artistic and creative vision with technical and problem-solving skills. In addition to Interaction Design courses, you’ll take a heavy course load in Graphic Design to focus more on the graphic arts side of interaction.
Students in this concentration explore interaction design outside the visual user interface. Work on projects using voice-user interface technology like the Google Home or Amazon Echo, or wearable interfaces like the Fitbit for personal fitness or medical health monitors.
User Experience (UX) professionals work in and negotiate between the front and back-end teams, business strategy, and user needs and interests. In this concentration, you’ll learn how to contextualize a problem, identify solutions, and test those solutions through research and user testing.
In your first year as an Interaction Design major, you'll focus on building your toolbox of technical and creative skills. You’ll learn theory and start putting it into practice, working on practical projects such as writing a small program or building paper prototypes. You’ll begin building your user interface and user experience vocabulary to become a persuasive advocate for the user, and you’ll learn how to effectively critique and assess work. Many of your classes include team projects to mimic the real-world work environment of this field. These skills will come into play when you begin creating actionable interfaces in future semesters.
In the Interactive Arts and Media Team capstone course, you’ll perform an integral role within an interactive production team tasked with solving a problem for your client. This course will test your technical and creative skills and, most importantly, your ability to work collaboratively to get the job done. You’re not just creating a hypothetical project—this course is all about creating and deploying real solutions for real clients like the Special Olympics, Six Flags, the Field Museum, and other companies in Chicagoland and beyond.
Chicago is home to a thriving community of creative services firms with job opportunities for Interaction Design majors. You can find our student interns at places like Bethesda Softworks, Braintree, NetherRealm Studios, High Voltage Software, and WMS Industries.
Learn more about how Columbia's Career Center can help you find the right internship.
What kind of jobs can you get with an Interaction Design degree? We teach our majors the full spectrum of front-end and back-end design thinking, so you’ll enter the workforce prepared for a number of jobs, including product developer, product designer, user experience (UX) designer, web developer, programmer, and more.
Plus, our location in the heart of Chicago will give you a head start. Chicago is a great city full of creative services firms looking for potential employees, and our faculty connections with local industry can help you launch your career.
Each year our department hosts an industry night for graduating seniors to network with industry professionals and discuss their individual and team capstone projects. It’s a great night to meet professional contacts—and maybe get a job offer.
Columbia College Chicago Alumni
You can find Columbia alumni at companies like BBDO, Braintree, Deloitte, Golin, Google, IBM, Jellyvision, Leo Burnett, Motorola, Pandora, Paypal, Razorfish, SapientNitro, Venmo, and more.
“I wanted to learn more about how people interact with technology, and how I could be a part of the actual making of a product, such as a piece of software.”
-Rebecca Young ‘15
We have a number of maker spaces and labs for student use.
Our faculty members are working professionals and experts in their field. They’re award-winning game designers, accomplished audio artists, and expert programmers. Most importantly, they’re dedicated teachers, bringing their knowledge of groundbreaking theories and techniques directly into the classroom. View all department faculty.
“Students leave Columbia ahead of the game ... They learn to not be self-serving as a designer, but instead empathetic and ready to take informed chances.”
-Assistant Professor Lauren Liss '04
We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.
If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.