Frequently Asked Questions

Information About Our IxD Bachelor's Degree Program

Latest SMC IxD News

Application Deadlines for Fall 2018 Admission
Priority Consideration applications due January 15, 2018. Rolling admissions continue for applications received through May 15, 2018.
Our upper division classes for the new Interaction Design Bachelor of Science degree started in Fall 2016. For more details about the program, see the information below.


What is the latest news?

All students interested in submitting materials to the Interaction Design Bachelor’s degree program should be enrolled in classes and working towards completing the Associate degree in Graphic Design with an User Experience concentration. Santa Monica College is developing the curriculum for the upper division courses and these course are scheduled for approval by the end of the year.

Application Deadlines for Fall 2018 Admission

Priority Considerations applications due by January 15, 2018. Rolling admissions continue for applications received through May 15, 2018.

Why did Santa Monica College choose this degree?

“For us, this has been about our students first, and also about fulfilling our mission to create a competitive workforce to keep California on the economic cutting edge. We are thrilled at the prospect of training our students for a career that pays well and will launch many of them into the middle class, while meeting a dire need in our tech industry.”
– Dr. Chui L. Tsang, Former President, Santa Monica College

Only two private universities in California offer a bachelor’s level degree in Interaction Design (also referred to as “User Experience Design”). The programs at these two universities cost around $160,000 – the four-year degree at SMC would cost just over $10,000.

Over 100 letters of support poured in to affirm the need for SMC’s degree from Los Angeles tech and entertainment companies including giants like Microsoft, Warner Brothers, Disney, Fox TV, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Web Services.

SMC Board of Trustees Chair Rob Rader called SMC’s bachelor’s degree “a natural choice” for a college that sits in the heart of Silicon Beach and the LA entertainment industry.

Is Santa Monica College equipped to house such a program?

Definitely. The baccalaureate program will be offered through Santa Monica College’s Graphic Design Program located in the Design Technology Department. Students will take classes in the state-of-the-art renovated facility, the Center for Media + Design, which is scheduled to open in 2016-2017.

The campus will include a newly-remodeled 50,000 square-foot teaching facility, a new 30,000 square-foot addition with TV and production studios, a cafe, and a new 430-space parking garage.

What are the benefits of this new 4-year program to the 2-year degree program?

The availability of nearby baccalaureate education is essential for community college students who may be place-bound as a result of work and family responsibilities. The baccalaureate degree in Interaction Design offers students a greater ability to advance in the UX/Interaction Design field.

Interaction Design

What is UX/Interaction Design?

The formal definition as defined by ixda.org is:

“Interaction Design (IxD) defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems. Interaction Designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services that they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances and beyond.”

With so many emerging innovations such as mobile apps, smartphones, medical devices, wearable technology, connected appliances, and self-driving cars, technology and design are converging like never before.

A new breed of designer who understands the user and a user-centered approach is required. Designers must consider the following questions:

  • What is the user’s experience and how do people interact with their devices?
  • How do you design a system across a range of devices and contexts, knowing that this is often the first contact point for a business or service?

Here’s a great example of what an Interaction Designer does — Meet Noah, Interaction Designer for Google

Meet the UX designers of Amazon Devices

What are the employment opportunities?

In “Silicon Beach,” Southern California, and state-wide there is overwhelming industry demand for highly trained people in User Experience (UX) and Interaction Design (IxD), and the profession is highly paid. The median salary for UX or IxD professionals in Southern California is $115,000, according to a 2014 salary survey by the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA).

The need for a baccalaureate level degree in Interaction Design is evidenced by examination of labor market gap analyses and current job postings in the field. Area companies such as Activision, Capital Group, DIRECTV, Electronic Arts, Google, Snapchat, Sony Pictures, Symantec and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, to name a few, have all posted job opportunities for IxD/UX designers.

Students completing a four-year degree program in Interaction Design may find positions as a designer, web designer, mobile designer, information architect, user experience designer and interaction designer.

Experience pays

While entry-level creatives are landing good jobs, the designer salary range for experienced professionals is higher, especially for roles requiring more technical skills. Here’s a sampling of starting compensation from The Creative Group Salary Guide.

Graphic designer (1-3 years): $39,750–$56,750
Graphic designer (5+ years): $67,500–$93,000
Package designer: $59,500–$91,000
Visual designer: $66,000–$99,250
Front-end web developer (3+ years): $80,000–$119,500
Web designer (5+ years): $83,250–$118,000
Interaction designer (5+ years): $88,250–$124,500
UX designer (1–3 years): $52,000–$79,500
UX designer (5+ years): $92,750–$138,000

Source: How Magazine


What is the schedule for Fall admissions?

Below is the Fall admissions schedule:

Fall Admissions, Priority Consideration Deadline: January 15 of the same calendar year
Fall Admissions, Rolling Admissions Deadline: May 15 of the same calendar year

Who is eligible to submit materials to the IxD Program?

Freshman interested in the program are encouraged to enroll now in the lower division Graphic Design courses outlined on the Program page. Please see a counselor to set up an educational plan as soon as possible.

Current students in Santa Monica College’s existing Graphic Design Associate degree program can submit materials if they are in junior standing (completion of 60 units). Please check with a counselor to confirm that your coursework is following the major preparation for the Interaction Design degree.

Individuals who are graduates of a Graphic Design program (or related) and/or who possess work experience in design are eligible to apply to the IxD program.

What is the admission process?

To submit materials to the IxD Program, applicants must be (or have been) a Santa Monica College student with a valid SMC ID number. If an applicant is not a SMC student, the applicant must apply to Santa Monica College.

Please see the Apply page for information about the application form and supplemental materials, including the portfolio requirements.

Application Deadlines for Fall Admission:
Priority admissions deadline is January 15 of the same calendar year. Rolling admissions continue for applications received through May 15 of the same calendar year.

What is the criteria for admittance?

We are looking for students in junior standing (60 CSU transferable units), or individuals who have earned a previous Bachelor’s degree.

During the Admissions Review Process, we review the following materials:

  • Application
  • Transcripts
  • Two personal essays
  • Portfolio (3-5 projects)

The portfolio should be a curated body of work that demonstrates your understanding and interest in design. The portfolio should be edited to highlight your best and most relevant design work. Specifically, your submissions should demonstrate your interest in  web and mobile design, user experience and interaction design, along  with understanding of the problem/concept, design process, and evaluation of  the outcome and solutions.

Students with under 60 units may continue to enroll in the College’s two-year Associate program in Graphic Design.

Are there limits on how many students will be accepted?

Currently, the IxD Bachelor’s program can enroll around 25 – 50 students every Fall.

How much is tuition?

Students will complete 60 units of lower-division coursework at $46 per unit. Students enrolled in upper division coursework will pay an additional $84 per unit for upper division courses for a total of $130 per unit. In total, the cost of the four-year program (not including books and other expenses), would be about $10,000.

(For the four-year program, 85 units are lower division courses at $46/unit, and 35 units are upper division courses at $130/unit.)

When will classes begin?

Students may enroll in courses for the Associate Degree in Graphic Design now. See the Program page for more details.

A cohort of around 25 students in the Interaction Design (IxD) program will begin in Fall 2016. In Fall 2016, SMC will start offering the junior-level courses in the IxD program, as well as the upper-division general education courses.

The IxD Program is open to students who have earned a Graphic Design Associate degree (or equivalent), and/or have the necessary work experience.


What courses should I take?

Lower division courses for the first two years of the Interaction Design (IxD) Bachelor’s degree will follow the existing SMC Associates degree in Graphic Design with an User Experience concentration. For a complete listing of the suggested lower division courses, please see the Program page.

What are some of the upper division courses in development?

The baccalaureate curriculum builds upon the Associate level coursework and focuses on industry-identified areas including interaction design studio courses, product design, coding for web development, cognitive psychology, interactive storytelling, tangible interaction, an industry-sponsored senior studio, project management and portfolio preparation. Please see the Program page for more details.

Will you continue to offer the Associates degree program?

Yes, our current Graphic Design Associates degree program will continue to be offered as usual.

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