The Skill Tracker is live! Discover your strengths and work towards your dream job today.
University of Michigan Presents

Review: UX Research & Design Specialization by University of Michigan

Reviewed By Product Expert and Coach
Elizabeth Hogue
September 23, 2023

Program Overview

User experience is one of the fastest growing career fields out there. It's also a great field to use to break into tech, because it does not require a specific technical background. The most popular way to get into UX is to do a bootcamp or get an online certification. The University of Michigan offers one of the most popular UX certifications called User Experience Research and Design Specialization, which is unique because it touches on both research and design principals within the program.

The program is hosted by Coursera, and consists of 5 courses and one Capstone with a recommended 4-8 weeks of work each. This nets a total of 34ish weeks, or roughly 8-9 months for program completion.

The five courses to complete the specialization are:

The material is taught by real industry professionals and covers both high-level and practical aspects of the user experience professions. Some of our favorite concepts included designing and moderating user interviews (something product managers, designers, and UX researchers need to know!), wireframing and prototyping, and how to summarize findings for executive leadership. The curriculum is meant to be consumed over a 8-month period, but it can also be completed at your own pace as a way to upskill or use a company learning budget.

The program is targeted at individuals who are completely new to the career fields of UX design or research and covers the fundamentals, though it would also be helpful to product or project managers looking to get more familiar with the work of user experience. At our time of posting, almost 50,000 people had completed the curriculum.

don't change careers alone ad

Weekly Breakdowns

We’ve recapped the learning objectives from each week to set your expectations for course material. The great part about this program is that you can jump to any course, and any section if it’s interesting to you. For example, if you’re an established PM only looking for prioritization processes, jump to week 4. However, you only can get the certificate if you complete all 20 weeks of content.

To audit an individual week-- find the exact course (we've linked them individually here) and click "audit" to save it to your profile. Then open the desired week on the side panel.

Course 1: Introduction to User Experience Principles and Processes

Learning Objectives from Week 1: What is UX?

  • Define the goals of overall concepts of user experience (UX) strategy.
  • Recognize the pieces of UX-- product, design and research-- and how they work together.
  • Know the specific skills needed for executing on design and research.

Learning Objectives from Week 2: UX Concept Overview

  • Recognize the terminology of user experience research and design.
  • See various prototyping methods and know use cases for each.
  • Incorporate a user-centered focus into the design process.

Learning Objectives from Week 3: How do People Perceive Information?

  • Identify features of human physiology and behavior that can impact designs of interactive systems.
  • Describe the different types of human memory and how this has an impact on design challenges.
  • Discover ways UX researchers identify and assess user problems.

Learning Objectives from Week 4: How do People Act?

  • Identify common user experience terms.
  • List the stages of user action when interacting within an environment
  • See how different features of an environment can influence user behavior.

Learning Objectives from Week 5: Design Heuristics

  • Explain how heuristics is used in the design of an interface, platform, or system.
  • List Neilsen’s 10 heuristics for user interface design.
  • Articulate the value of minimalist design.
  • Critique interactive systems based on human capabilities and behavior.

Learning Objectives from Week 6: Heuristic Evaluations & Recaps

  • Prep and execute a micro-usability test.
  • Rank usability issues when conducting a usability test.
  • Apply heuristics to the usability issues that are encountered when conducting a usability test.

Course 2: Understanding User Needs

Learning Objectives from Week 1: Introduction to Qualitative Research

  • Explain the differences between qualitative and quantitative research.
  • Know the key features of qualitative research, including characteristics of data, data collection and analysis processes.
  • User needs assessments: when to use and focus questions.

Learning Objectives from Week 2: Interview Protocols

  • Get familiar with the different qualitative interview techniques.
  • Develop interview protocols that target research questions.
  • Provide effective follow-up questions in the context of a qualitative interview.

Learning Objectives from Week 3: Interviews, Observation & Data Extraction

  • Interviews: build trust, driving focus, planning and conducting.
  • Determine when it is appropriate to use an affinity wall to analyze interview data.
  • Prepare interview data for affinity wall analysis.

Learning Objectives from Week 4: Affinity Walls & Analysis

  • UX research methods in processing affinity wall data.
  • Identify associated challenges in processing affinity wall data and prepare an affinity wall report.

Learning Objectives from Week 4: Recap

  • Characterize different types of user needs.
  • Evaluate a design context and decide when and how to use learned various approaches.

Course 3: Evaluating Designs with Users

Learning Objectives from Week 1: User Testing

  • Describe the different types of tasks for user testing and how they relate to end goals.
  • Understand the differences between quantitative and qualitative studies.

Learning Objectives from Week 2: User Test Basics

  • Understand the process and methods of recruiting user test participants.
  • Design and choose different tasks for different purposes.
  • Understand the value of the Think Aloud Protocol.
  • Recognize some practical challenges in conducting user test.

Learning Objectives from Week 3: Getting More Out of User Testing

  • Design and use an user test questionnaire.
  • Plan and conduct an user test interview.
  • Understand the roles and tasks of user test moderator.

Learning Objectives from Week 4: Analysis and Reporting

  • Identify different types of user testing observations.
  • Analyze data and report key findings.
  • Conduct a mini user test.

Course 4: UX Design: From Concept to Prototype

Learning Objectives from Week 1: Intro to Design Process

  • Articulate the major components of the design process.
  • Describe the iterative nature of the design process.
  • Explain how designers approach complex problems.
  • Gain design inspiration by conducting formative research.

Learning Objectives from Week 2: Design Ideation

  • Articulate various methods of ideation
  • Apply various ideation techniques to generate variations on an idea or hypothesis and different iterations/versions of an idea.
  • Recognize the characteristics of sketches done for specific purposes.
  • Facilitate rapid brainstorming sessions following the structure developed by Haakon Faste and Eric Paulos.

Learning Objectives from Week 3: Design Constraints and Trade-Offs

  • Evaluate design tradeoffs in the design of a component of a system.
  • Learn how scenario creation moves designers from formative work towards a design solution.
  • Make design decisions in a systematic and principled way following the QOC (Questions, Options, Criteria) framework.
  • Gain experience in the creation of personas, scenarios, and storyboards.

Learning Objectives from Week 4: Building Blocks of User Interaction

  • Define the elements of user interaction: output, state, and mode.
  • Learn the two types of data input: user-entered input and passive input.
  • Design effective inputs and outputs to enable users to complete tasks successfully.
  • Conceptualize design problems by using building blocks of user interaction.

Learning Objectives from Week 5: Low to Hi-Fidelity Prototyping

  • Describe the characteristics and applications of low-fidelity and hi-fidelity prototypes and determine which is most effective in different scenarios.
  • Utilize wireframes as a tool to test design concepts and functionality.
  • Create low-fidelity and hi-fidelity prototypes to assess and improve design.

Learning Objectives from Week 6: Conceptual Issues in Prototyping and Design

  • Differentiate between the affordances and limitations of interface formats.
  • Evaluate how the default features of a design impact the user experience.
  • Identify potential consequences of usage beyond the design intentions.
  • Describe the gulf of execution and the gulf of evaluation.

Course 5: UX Research at Scale: Surveys, Analytics, Online Testing

Learning Objectives from Week 1: How and When to Use Surveys

  • Evaluate how to best construct a survey that matches the goals of your research.
  • Define convenience sampling, probability sampling, and potential errors.
  • Conceptualize strategies to mitigate and reduce sources of error in surveys.
  • Describe four types of survey errors: coverage error, sampling error, non-response error, and measurement error.

Learning Objectives from Week 2: Asking the Right People (Coverage Errors)

  • Differentiate between the various methods of sampling and how to create a high-quality survey.
  • Identify when to use probability sampling versus non-probability sampling.
  • Describe survey research scenarios in which non-probability sampling is most effective.
  • Explain the affordances and limitations of survey panels.

Learning Objectives from Week 3: Getting Answers (Nonresponse Error)

  • Recognize strategies to elicit higher participation rates in surveys.
  • Conceptualize social exchange theories as they relate to benefits in survey participation.
  • Design survey questions that reduce cost of participation and burden to participants.

Learning Objectives from Week 4: Writing Questions (Measurement Error)

  • Learn how to craft effective survey flows that will impact the quality of information provided by participants.
  • Facilitate focus groups and utilize pre-testing to ensure participants understand the survey questions.
  • Use the guidelines for writing three major types of open-ended questions: descriptive, numerical, and list of items.
  • Practice crafting nominal and ordinal questions.

Learning Objectives from Week 5: About Research at Scale

  • Describe the basics of UX research at scale.
  • Assess organizational readiness when conducting UX research at scale using company UX maturity models.
  • Conduct concept testings to validate whether certain design approaches are viable.
  • Practice delivering UX research findings by writing an executive summary.

Learning Objectives from Week 6: Behavioral Analytics

  • Conduct interviews and behavioral analytics to gain information concerning user habits.
  • Use analytics and performance metrics to inform UX research.
  • Assess user trends over time using behavioral analytics.
  • Practice creating visualizations of behavioral analytics findings.

Learning Objectives from Week 7: Remote Testing

  • Learn the most appropriate situations to conduct remote testing sessions.
  • Design effective remote testing scenarios that can yield actionable insights.
  • Write scripts for remote moderated testing sessions.
  • Analyze qualitative data generated in moderated testing sessions.

Learning Objectives from Week 8: A/B Testing and Preference Testing

  • Distinguish between A/B testing and preference testing.
  • Describe the most appropriate situations to conduct a “between subjects” test
  • Practice executing an A/B test and a preference test.

Course 5: UX (User Experience) Capstone

6 Milestones to be Completed Over 6 Weeks

  • This capstone roles everything you've learned over the past 4 courses into one project to show in portfolios and interviews. You will identify a user problem, mock up prototypes, complete a research study, and finalize a design with research report.

Cost and Auditing

The program is only $49/month, and comes with a Linkedin Certificate on behalf of the University of Michigan. If you complete the curriculum on the proposed timeline (34 weeks, though could be completed earlier or later depending on your schedule), it should take around 8-9 months. While that seems steep at $50 for 9 months-- $450 to be exact-- the cost is spread out. Compared to a degree or bootcamp this micro-certification is a steal!

If you can afford it and know in your heart that product management is for you– or already are a designer and and looking to upskill into research– we recommend completing the program and getting the shareable certificate. This will help make your Linkedin more searchable to recruiters who may be looking for specific keywords and programs.

Here’s the real kicker though– to audit the program and simply learn the material, this program is completely free! We recommend auditing the first course (Fundamentals) for those who might be unsure of the design career path and are curious about the high-level concepts. To audit, simply click "Enroll for Free" and click "Audit" on the bottom of the second step. Voila, you're in!

Student Reviews

The course is very highly reviewed by real and aspiring user experience professionals alike– 84% of the reviewers rated this course 5 stars, and 13% rated it 4 stars. This basically yields a 97% satisfaction score!

Some of our favorite positive review points:

  • This course not only gives you a deep understanding of UX principles but it also provides an ability to work on some interesting assignments that will help you gain practical knowledge. - Sirisha L
  • This course really explains the core principles of UX and how to deal with real life related problem. A very well organized introduction for people who really want to learn UX. Recommended. - Abdullah S.

Aggregations of negative review points:

  • Peer reviewed assignments were not graded appropriately because all peers were on the same level.
  • Discussion forums could be updated.
  • Hard to submit and understand some assignments

... and our favorite overall review:

Believe me when I say: You'll finish this course orders of magnitude more learned about UX Design than before signing up. If you're looking for an introductory course to UX design, look no further.

-Abhinav R.

Supplemental Materials

For the analytically-inclined: Google's Data Analytics

Google sponsors a data analytics certificate program through Coursera. This is one of the more coveted certificates in the industry for Google Analytics.It's free to audit, but if you want the certificate to show off (recommended), it's $49 a month to complete at your own pace.

For the fans of learning more design: Google's User Experience Design

This is another Google special-- and an extremely popular and well-recommended program within the industry. It's so popular though, that completing it alone will not help you get hired, which is why we recommend pairing it with the University of Michigan's class.

Both of these Google classes are free to audit, but they're also included in the same monthly subscription that the U of M class is on. So theoretically, you could complete all 3 at the same time for no additional cost!

Alternate UX/UI Courses

Many expensive bootcamps prey on people trying to break into the UX/UI field. Be extra diligent while reviewing these, and know that a lot of successful UX Designers are self taught because it is a portfolio-heavy field. Review our job guide for a cohesive look at the skills and required competencies, and think extra-hard before signing up for a program that costs more than $600.

For the fans of learning more design: Google's User Experience Design

This is another Google special-- and an extremely popular and well-recommended program within the industry. It's so popular though, that completing it alone will not help you get hired, which is why we recommend pairing it with the University of Michigan's class.

Both of these Google classes are free to audit, but they're also included in the same monthly subscription that the U of M class is on. So theoretically, you could complete all 3 at the same time for no additional cost!


University of Michigan's UX Specialization is a great way to sharpen both your design and research skillsets without breaking the bank with an additional college degree or bootcamp.Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. This program could be one notch in your arsenal to really kick your technical expertise into gear!

View all UX/UI Specializations
header describing the article content
Read Full Guide
header describing the article content
Read Full Guide
header describing the article content
Read Full Guide
header describing the article content
Read Full Guide


explore careers

Find information on career paths for high-paying roles that align with your strengths and goals. Try our easy quiz to help you get started.

Help Me Pick
target skill gaps

View the skills you need to learn and develop with our state-of-the-art gap identifier. This is your next stop once you've found a role!

Get Tracking
review certifications

Learn about affordable and reputable certifications that won't break your bank. No expensive bootcamps or schooling required.

Review Certs
identify dream roles

We've vetted jobs at top companies that need talent! Easily match with companies that work with your job preferences.

Explore Roles

your ultimate
career platform

It’s almost impossible to get jobs without experience, and experience is impossible to get without a job.

We're working to change that.

Thank you! We'll be in touch soon!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Try entering your email again.