Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What distinguishes Bentley’s Human Factors graduate program from other programs?
First and foremost, our program design is truly different, with an unwavering belief that a human-centered process improves all that we design and create. Depending on your focus in the program, you can choose paths that prepare you for successful careers in user experience research and design or customer experience. Based on the broader program philosophy, others have applied experience design thinking to the built environment (schools, museums, hospitals, and workplaces) and still others on the patient experience in the health-care sector.
Our program provides a deep understanding of human behavior (cognitive, social, and cultural psychology; human perception, and behavioral economics), complemented by strong qualitative and quantitative skills (those pursuing a customer experience focus sometimes add a business analytics certificate — two extra courses), with a goal of identifying insights leading to design innovation.
Other key differentiators include:
- Experienced faculty who are key thought leaders in the field with decades of professional experience.
- Classes with research and product design problems sponsored by leading tech organizations, resulting in strong additions to your portfolio.
- A nationally ranked Career Services office that leads to job placement in the world’s leading tech organizations.
- Focus not just on your first job but your long-term career progression by considering emerging technologies such as VR/AR, voice interaction, IoT, wearables, behavioral design, and the like.
- Your two business electives. We regularly hear from those who employ our graduates how much they value our students’ ability to not only advocate for the user but also to appreciate the needs of the business.
- A strong, supportive alumni group that mentors students, provides a key advantage when seeking internships or full-time employment and serves as a valuable professional network throughout your career.
What are the program requirements?
Since our program incorporates significant field work with real clients, we expect students to enter with the appropriate preparation to make an immediate contribution. This preparation is demonstrated through a combination of GRE score (ideally 157 or higher on each section), educational background (preferably a 3.3 GPA or higher in a social science, design, or engineering field), and/or professional experience (optimally at least years in a user experience or technology-related role). Any exceptions require program director approval, and all candidates are strongly advised to schedule a consultation with the Admission team before applying. Prospective students new to the UX field who lack sufficient preparation should consider our non-credit boot camp and certificate options to develop relevant experience.
Should I go full-time or part-time?
In choosing between full-time and part-time, you have to factor in your relevant work experience. If you are considering a major career change or have less tech work experience, we strongly recommend full time, allowing for a UX internship and thoughtful portfolio development critical to a career transition. In that case, you can complete your degree in 11 to 18 months, depending on your selected course load.
If you are currently working in UX or a closely related field, either part time or full time is appropriate. With part time, you can complete your degree in two to two and a half years — again, depending on your selected course load.
How does your admissions cycle work?
While our largest intake is in the fall, we do accept a smaller group of students in January. We offer all required classes each semester, so there is no disadvantage to a spring start.
How does the online program work?
Our online program is a synchronous offering where students participate live in the classroom learning experience. We use the Zoom learning platform, which allows you to see and hear what is happening in the classroom experience as well as being able to be seen and heard. Our high-tech learning environment fully supports effective distributed learning teams. Most critical university services are available remotely.
Students must have the flexibility to participate live one night a week on Eastern Standard Time (5:00 to 7:20 p.m. and 7:30 to 9:50 p.m.). Online students are welcome to attend classes in person when convenient at either our Waltham or San Francisco campus. All online students are required to attend the Innovation Boot Camp the last week of July on campus.
How does the California option work?
Most important, the Bentley program is a single unified, co-mingled program whether you are full time or part time, studying in California, Waltham or online. Quite simply, we have designed a program that offers optimal flexibility to accommodate your location or busy professional life.
We offer four classes each academic year in San Francisco, two in the fall and two in the spring. Each course is offered in an “executive format,” full day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday — three weeks in faculty monitored virtual teams — and a closing Friday to Saturday in the classroom. We lease classroom space from Golden Gate University on Mission Street. All California students are required to attend the Innovation Boot Camp, Sunday July 26- Friday July 31 on campus. Your remaining five courses are online.
How do I apply for one of the positions in the User Experience Center?
Once your application is submitted, email the Program Director to express your interest in one of the positions. Please include your résumé. Once accepted into the program, you will be interviewed for a position much in the same way you would for any job opening. Your actual selection will depend on your qualifications and the center’s needs at that time.
When should I apply if I'm an international student?
We encourage all international students to attend at the Waltham Campus and to apply for Fall Admission. Spring starts are possible but completion in eleven months is not possible if you desire an internship.
The vast majority of our applicants meet the required work experience and appropriate undergraduate degree requirements. In each admission cycle, we admit a very small number of candidates with less than the required three years experience in the technology sector or those who have an unaligned undergraduate degree. In these cases we are looking for candidates who have extraordinary experiences and accomplishments in their academic, personal or professional lives. Otherwise, we encourage pre-experience candidates to seek appropriate work experience and apply at a later date.
I am an experienced tech professional, is a graduate program right for me?
Our UX program requires relevant tech work experience; the most recent class had 6.7 years on average. We expect everyone to bring a special strength to the program, we then build on and extend that strength in your program of study.
While on-the-job experience is critical, it is not a substitution for a comprehensive examination of a discipline. Work experience may only provide the perspective of a given company or industry while graduate study moves across and beyond those views. Students also share the value of validating their experiential learning, filling in the gaps, and making corrective adjustments to their current practices. Finally, most students will design a program of study that complements the strength of their experience by focusing on areas of weakness. For example, you could build upon strong research skills with interaction skills or the converse, strong design skills with new research or technical skills. All of these factors lead to our experienced and talented students taking their career to the next level after leaving the program.
What technical (coding) skills are required of the program?
While 20 percent of our typical intake have strong technical skills, the program does not require coding skills for admittance or while in the program. You can choose to build your technical skills (desirable for some jobs and companies) by taking available programming courses for your two business electives. Others choose to build this competency outside the program through a code academy in order to preserve their electives for other interests.