Top 6 Free UX Research Courses [2023]

Resources & Guides
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November 19, 2022
Free Ux research courses

Are you brave enough to steal a diamond necklace worth 150 million dollars from the Met Gala?

If not, a career in UX Research is a neat second option.

If you’re in America, for example, you’ll make about $100k per year (source).

It’s nothing compared to met gala diamond heist compensations but you’re also less likely to fight off the CIA.

UX research is a key element of any user experience design process.
It helps you identify what your users need and how to deliver it effectively.

If you’re looking to get into UX Research, there are several options available for you.

You can enroll in a masters program dedicated to UX Research. This is the most time consuming, costly, and thorough way to go about it. 

You can enroll in a bootcamp and compress the masters’ experience into a few short years. This method is efficient but still requires you to put in a lot of money.

If you aren’t certain that you want to be a UX Researcher, we wouldn’t recommend either of these methods as your first step into a UX career. You might end up putting thousands of dollars into something you realize you aren’t excited about. As funny as that would be, we would hate to see that happen to you, our best friend.

Our advice would be to get started using a free UX Research course online to test the waters.

If you can enjoy and stick through a free course online, you’re likely ready to take the next step!  You might end up hating UXR. If so, you will have the chance to look into other options without burning a ton of cash (we can’t stress enough on how funny that would be though).

Sounds good? Are you still with us?
Let’s get into our favorite online UXR courses then.

Top 6 Free UX Research Courses

Let go of your met gala 150 million dollar ambitions.

1. UX Research and Design Specialization

Offered by: University of Michigan via Coursera

Reviews: 4.6 ⭐️ (1,619 ratings)

“Easy to understand explanation of UX principles and enjoyed the instructor's videos and commentary. Enjoyed and learned from doing the class assignments.”

Why take this course?

This specialization is a great way to broadly understand UX.

It contains 5 different courses that teach you how to research and design a product and ends with a capstone project. This project lets you use your learnings to create a product from scratch. The fourth course, ‘UX Design: From Concept to Prototype’, is heavily focused on Design and can be skipped if that’s not of interest.

Instructors

The courses in this specialization are taught by five professors in the School of Information of the University of Michigan. The lead instructor in the UX Research course will be Dr. Cliff Lampe. He holds a PhD in Information and researches the design of sites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Everything2, and Slashdot.

Prerequisites

None. This specialization assumes you know nothing about UX.

2. UX Research

Offered by: HEC Montreal via EdX

Reviews: No reviews were publicly available.

Why take this course?

This course focuses exclusively on research. It starts assuming you have no knowledge of the subject and takes you from collecting data to analyzing it and making actionable insights out of it.

Instructors

This course is taught by Professor Sénécal and Professor Grégoire from the marketing department of HEC Montreal.

Prerequisites

This course assumes you know nothing about UX Research.

While there are no prerequisites, this course is unavailable for residents of Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine due to sanctions by the USA.

3. Interaction Design Specialization

Offered by: University of California, San Diego via Coursera

Reviews: 4.5 ⭐️ (3,057 ratings)

“The course content was very crisp and easy to understand. The assignments and suggested reading helped me get a better understanding of the topic.”

Why take this course?

This specialization is great if you want a broader focus on interaction design. It contains 7 different courses covering everything you need to know. Courses 5 and 7 are entirely about Research and should receive the most of your attention. This specialization also ends with a capstone project in which you use your learnings to create a product from scratch.

Instructors

The courses in this specialization are taught by three professors from UC San Diego. The lead instructor on Research-focused courses is Dr. Liz Gerber. She is the co-director and co-founder (!) of Northwestern University’s Center for Human Computer Interaction + Design. Alumni from this center are now working with giants like Google, Meta, and Slack.

Prerequisites

Course 4, ‘Input and Interaction’ and Course 7, ‘Designing, Running, and Analyzing Experiments’, have the following prerequisites:

  1. A few concepts from advanced Algebra, like how to use logarithms and what a mean and median are. freeCodeCamp has an excellent crash course on College Albebra that you can use to refresh or learn these concepts.
  2. You won’t need to code from scratch but you’ll have to copy and paste code in the language R. freeCodeCamp has another excellent crash course on R that can help you get more than ready for this course.

The other UXR courses are accessible without any background knowledge.

4. Conduct UX Research

Offered by: Google via Coursera

Reviews: 4.8 ⭐️ (3,053 ratings)

“The course was great, with detailed explanation and a lot of examples. The assessments and quizzes were very helpful. My experience with this course was really awesome.”

Why take this course?

This course is part of Google's specialization on UX Design. It teaches all the basics of UXR over a month, but you can easily finish it earlier. The course has a slightly steep learning curve, but it manages to stay interesting and challenging.

Instructors

This course was developed by Google as part of their Career Certificates initiative.

Prerequisites

The course is beginner friendly and can be taken without prior knowledge.

5. UX Research for Beginners

Offered by: CareerFoundry

Reviews: No reviews were publicly available.

Why take this course?

This short course contains seven tutorials, each covering a part of UX Research. Each tutorial has a video introduction, comprehensive text, interactive quiz and an optional practical task at the end.

This is probably the quickest course to learn the absolute basics of UXR, although it might feel a little text-heavy in some places.

Instructors

This course benefits from CareerFoundry’s expertise in creating online courses and bootcamps for people looking to switch to a tech career.

Prerequisites

Again, there are no prerequisites to this course. Why are you reading this section?

Also, check: Bootcamps, breaking into to UX, and Quiet Quitting

6. User Interface Design Specialization

Offered by: University of Minnesota via Coursera

Reviews: 4.6 ⭐️ (1,274 ratings)

“It took 3 times for me to pass the exams. Good content and learnt many things.”

Why take this course?

This specialization contains 4 courses that cover designing and testing User Interfaces. Research is specifically covered in courses 2 and 4 but the design specific courses are also worth a look to get a better idea of the UI process.

However, unlike other specializations mentioned above, this one does not come with a capstone project. That might detract from your experience since you won’t get a comprehensive project to test your skills on.

Instructors

The courses in this specialization were created by five professors from the University of Minnesota. The lead instructor for research-focused courses, Dr. Terveen, has published over 100 scientific papers, holds 9 patents, has advised several startup companies, consulted on intellectual property cases, and has held many leadership positions in his profession (Try saying this man's accomplishments in one breath!).

Prerequisites

Take a wild guess.

No prerequisites.

BONUS: Two other UXR courses available for free

These UX Research courses were not comprehensive enough to be included in the original list but are still good resources for beginners.

1. Understanding Research Methods

Offered by: University of London via Coursera

Why take this course?

This course is more academic in nature and will help develop a "research mindset" before you dive into UX Research. It is split into 4 "e-tivities". Each e-tivity starts with instructions for the activity to follow. This is followed by videos of experts giving their views and tips on the topic. Once this is done, you're expected to work on the activity and provide feedback to others who have done the same.

Instructors

The lead instructor for this course is Dr. Rofe, a widely experienced university lecturer who has taught Diplomacy, International Relations, and History to undergraduates and postgraduates for over fifteen years. We get that this isn’t a UX resume, but his academic research credits are impeccable.

2. User Experience - Applied Research and Design

Offered by: Skills Gap Trainer via Udemy

Why take this course?

This 57 minute course takes you through the basics of UX Design and Research. The focus is predominantly on research, with five projects to help you understand the concepts practically. The course is heavily text-based.

Although it doesn’t work as an independent resource for new UXRs, it will serve as a great guide to have a quick glance at when working on a problem.

Instructors

The course was developed by Skills Gap Trainer, a startup dedicated to creating MOOCs for newcomers to the tech industry.

Also, read: The Newcomer’s Guide to UX Research Careers

FINAL BONUS: What if you actually have what it takes to steal a diamond necklace worth 150 million dollars from the Met Gala?

Do it. Look how happy those Oceans 8 ladies were.

Thanks for reading! We hope this list serves as a great resource for you.

If we were a greedy startup looking to improve our page ranking, we would ask you to send this to a friend who might find this interesting. But we aren’t a greedy startup looking to improve our page ranking, so you can send this to a friend who might find this interesting but we won’t really ask.

Enjoy your career as a UX Researcher!

Don't Miss: Top Upcoming UX Research Conferences to attend in 2023


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Free UXR Courses
Learning Resources
UX Research Courses
Best User Research courses
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