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Answers to the most frequently asked questions.

The IxD Program

How do I keep up to date with the Santa Monica College's IxD Program

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#how-do-i-keep-up-to-date-with-the-santa-monica-colleges-ixd-program

For the most frequent updates and news about the Interaction Design (IxD) program follow us on our social channels: facebook, instagram, and twitter. For less frequent but critical dates and deadlines, subscribe to our email newsletter. Though updated less frequently, this website always has the latest application dates and deadlines.

Why did Santa Monica College choose this degree?

http://ixd.smc.edu/faq#why-did-santa-monica-college-choose-this-degree

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 costs 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

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#is-santa-monica-college-equipped-to-house-such-a-program

Definitely. 

The baccalaureate program is offered through Santa Monica College’s Graphic Design Program located in the Design Technology Department. Students take classes in the state-of-the-art renovated facility, the Center for Media and Design (CMD). The campus includes 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. Learn more about the Center for Media and Design campus.

Is the IxD degree a 2-year program or a 4-year program?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#is-the-ixd-degree-a-2-year-program-or-a-4-year-program

The IxD program consists of 2 years of upper-division IxD classes including 3 general education requirements (as seen on the homepage). The upper division curriculum requires a full-time commitment (12 or more units per semester), and must be taken in sequence.

However, you must apply and be admitted to the IxD program in order to enroll in the upper division IxD courses. Admission is not guaranteed. Candidates must have met the major preparation from lower division requirements and are selected based upon grades, a portfolio, and other supplemental materials. Read more about the admissions process and requirements in the ‘Admissions’ section of the FAQ (or check out how to apply page).

I heard the IxD Program is a Pilot Program. What does that mean?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#i-heard-the-ixd-program-is-a-pilot-program-what-does-that-mean

Santa Monica College is a participant in the California Community College Bachelor Degree Pilot Program. This program was created by the state legislature (Senate Bill 850) as a pilot program currently scheduled to expire in June of 2025. Students participating in the baccalaureate degree pilot program must complete their degrees by the end of the 2023–25 academic year.

Interaction Design

What is UX/Interaction Design?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#what-is-ux-ixd

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, and the design team at Amazon.

What are the Employment Opportunities?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#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 should I expect to practice while in the Interaction Design program?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#what-should-i-expect-to-practice-while-in-the-ixd-program

Students who complete the bachelor's program in Interaction Design at Santa Monica College should expect to learn:

Technical skills

  • User Research: Conducting field research, usability studies, research synthesis, and data analysis
  • Interaction Design: Building flow, form design, micro-interactions, and transition animations
  • Prototyping: Experimenting and learning through paper, digital interfaces, and physical making.
  • Front-End Development: Coding valid HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery
  • Visual Design: Understanding the use of color, grid, layout, and typography
  • Mobile Integration: Creating consistent experiences through responsive layouts, touch interactions, and input techniques
  • Project Management: Incorporating iterative design, agile practices, and software development life cycles
  • Information Architecture: Planning experiences through site mapping, modelling, and wireframes

Soft skills

  • Design Thinking:
  • Presenting: Sharing thoughts and design concepts with peers and stakeholders
  • Facilitating: Extracting design requirements and project direction from peers and stakeholders, while promoting a shared understanding
  • Critiquing: Receiving, giving, and training peers and stakeholders on constructive feedback
  • Storytelling: Communicating and affirming to peers and stakeholders how decisions were made, how principles were arrived at, and how the design will improve the lives of the users
  • Sketching: Communicating emerging design ideas quickly and exploring problem space with peers and stakeholders
  • Leadership: Providing vision, direction, and passion to peers and stakeholders

Where can I see some student work?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#where-can-i-see-some-student-work

Check out the student spotlights on the homepage to see some examples of student work.

Every graduating cohort in the IxD program holds a senior showcase in June during their final semester. Student work will be on display. Sign up for the newsletter or follow our social media channels to get updates about the next showcase.

Admissions

What is the Schedule for Fall Admissions? What are the dates and deadlines to apply?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#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.

Applicants who submit before the Priority Consideration Deadline of January 15th, are likely to hear about their acceptance status earlier than those applicants who submit during the Rolling Admissions Deadline.

Can I take IxD Classes if I’m not admitted into the IxD program?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#can-i-take-ixd-classes-if-im-not-admitted-into-the-ixd-program

No. Only students admitted into the IxD program are allowed to enroll in the upper division courses that make up the IxD program.

What is the Admission Process?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#what-is-the-admission-process
1) Contact an Santa Monica College IxD counselor to discuss whether the IxD program might be right for you.

Speak with an SMC IxD counselor to see if IxD Program might be right for you.

2) Enroll at SMC and set IxD as your intended major (if you haven’t already)
  1. Enroll at Santa Monica College (link to SMC’s main webpage)
  2. Set 'Interaction Design' as your intended major.

3) Work with SMC IxD counselor to establish your IxD Major Preparation plan
4) Complete 60 lower division units of CSU transferable general education and IxD Major Preparation Requirements

Complete 60 lower division units of CSU transferable general education and IxD Major Preparation Requirements (amount of Major Preparation depends entirely on your personal education history; please speak with a counselor to get a personalized education plan).

  • The 60 lower division CSU transferable units of major preparation and general education courses for the bachelor’s can be fulfilled by completing SMC’s Graphic Design Associate’s Degree with a User Experience Certification and IxD CSU General Education pattern or the IGETC for CSU. It’s recommended that lower division classes be taken at Santa Monica College, but substitutions from other regionally accredited high schools and colleges may be acceptable pending counselor approval. If you’ve been in school in the past or already have a degree, you may have already fulfilled some lower division coursework.

5) Complete IxD Supplemental Materials (includes Portfolio and more)

Once you’ve completed your Major Preparation, you must apply to enroll in the final 2 years of Interaction Design BSc. upper division courses.

6) Apply to the program by creating a Slideroom account and submitting your supplemental materials via Slideroom.

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.

[insert edited video from the Jamie’s old vimeo account].

  1. Complete and submit the supplemental materials for the program application
  2. Please see the Application & Supplemental material page in the IxD informational Packet for information about the application form and supplemental materials, including the portfolio requirements. Check out the “Criteria for Admittance” in the FAQ section for more details about the supplemental materials.
  3. Application Deadlines for Fall Admission: Priority admissions deadline is January 15 of the same calendar year.
  4. Rolling admissions continue for applications received through May 15 of the same calendar year

7) Wait to hear if you’ve been accepted into the IxD program.

Applicants who submit on or before the Priority Consideration Deadline of January 15th, will hear about their acceptance status earlier than those applicants who submit during the Rolling Admissions Deadline.

8) Wait to hear if you’ve been accepted into the IxD program.

Congratulations! Once you’ve been accepted in the IxD Program, you must enroll in the final 2 years of Interaction Design Degree Requirement courses. These upper division courses must be taken in sequence and cannot be substituted with any past coursework or coursework from another school.

9) Graduate and receive BSc. in Interaction Design at Santa Monica College!

Who is Eligible to Apply (Submit Materials) to the IxD Program?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#who-is-eligible-to-apply-submit-materials-to-the-ixd-program

Although we prefer that individuals complete their major preparation courses at Santa Monica College, we encourage a broad range of educational backgrounds to apply to the program. We are looking for:

  • Students in junior standing (60 CSU transferable units),
  • Individuals who have earned a previous Bachelor’s degree.
  • Freshman interested in the program are encouraged to enroll now in the lower division Graphic Design courses outlined in the IxD Info Packet you’ll recieve when you sign up to speak to an IxD Counselor.
  • 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.

Everyone is at different levels of their academic path, so speak with a counselor to understand your eligibility to apply.

I’m an International Student, can I still apply?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#im-an-international-student-can-i-still-apply

Yes, we welcome international students to apply to our program. It’s critical you communicate with a counselor first. Especially if you intend to substitute any major preparation classes. More information regarding tuition for international students can be found on SMC’s tuition information.

What is the Criteria for Admittance into the IxD program?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#what-is-the-criteria-for-admittance-into-the-ixd-program

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)
Application Transcripts

Any additional transcripts must be sent to Santa Monica College.

Two personal Essays

Two personal essays are required to submit during the application.

Portfolio

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.

Visit https://smcixd.slideroom.com/ to get started on your application.

Is there an Application fee for the SMC IxD Program

http://ixd.smc.edu/faq#is-there-an-application-fee-for-the-smc-ixd-program

No, there is no application fee for students. Contact a counselor to get started today!

Are there any limits on how many students will be accepted per semester

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#are-there-any-limits-on-how-many-students-will-be-accepted-per-semester

Currently, the IxD Bachelor’s program enrolls around 25 students per cohort.

New cohorts begin every Fall. Another cohort is added each Fall if enough people apply. We currently do not start cohorts in the Spring, but may in the future pending demand.

How much is Tuition?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#how-much-is-tuition
In State:

Domestic students who are California residents will complete 60 units of lower-division coursework at $46 per unit. Domestic students who are California residents 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.) receive

Out of State tuition:

For more information on out of state and international tuition, please visit Santa Monica Colleges’s tuition page.

Is there Financial Aid available?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#is-there-financial-aid-available

While there is financial aid for the IxD program available, it is need based. Students will be considered based on information provided in their FAFSA application. Please refer to Santa Monica College’s Financial Aid page for more information.

Is the IxD Program Veteran Friendly?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#is-the-ixd-program-veteran-friendly

Yes. Please see Santa Monica College’s Veterans resources center page for more information.

Curriculum

What Courses Should I take before enrolling in the IxD Program?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#what-courses-should-i-take-before-enrolling-in-the-ixd-program

The suggested lower division courses for major preparation for the Bachelor’s in IxD follows the existing SMC Associates degree in Graphic Design with a  concentration in User Experience. For a complete listing of the suggested lower division courses, please sign up to speak to a counselor to receive more information. Meeting with a counselor will help you meet admission eligibility and graduation requirements for the Bachelor’s in IxD Program.

What are some of the upper division courses offered in the IxD program?

http://ixd.smc.edu/faq#what-are-some-of-the-upper-division-courses-offered-in-the-ixd-program

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 curriculum listing on ixd.smc.edu for more detailed information on the offered upper division courses.

Will you continue to offer the Associates Degree Program?

http://ixd.smc.edu/faq/#will-you-continue-to-offer-the-associates-degree-program

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

Alumni

How can I stay in touch with the program after I graduate?

https://ixd.smc.edu/faq#how-can-i-stay-in-touch-with-the-program-after-i-graduate

Take a look at the industry page at ixd.smc.edu/industry-partners, to learn more about how IxD alumni can stay in touch and support the program.

Want to know more?

Get set up for success - contact an IxD counselor today! We’re here to answer your questions and help you create a personalized IxD degree plan.

speak to an ixd counselor