SMC Interaction Design BA program slated for spring 2016 after clearing final state approvals

Santa Monica College has now officially gained final approval for a Bachelor’s Degree pilot program in Interaction Design, or User Experience Design. The program’s approval comes after it faced the possibility of not coming into fruition because of overlap between the proposed curriculum and that of Graphic Design curricula at California State Universities Long Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Pomona. “Community colleges are uniquely positioned to deal with the flexible and changing world,” said Governor Jerry Brown, who signed SB 850 at Monday’s board meeting.

“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,” said SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang. “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.”

In California, only two private universities, Art Center College of Design and California College of the Arts, have four-year degree programs in Interaction Design, or IxD. The estimated cost of an IxD degree at either of these schools is $160,000 compared to $10,000 for the same degree from SMC.

The pilot program is set to begin in fall 2016, when upper-level division courses will be offered. Will be up for review by the Legislative Analyst’s office in 2018 and 2022, and will be up for renewal by the Legislature and Governor after the 2022-23 school year.

“This decision cements our place in the greater LA entertainment and tech industry,” said Board of Trustees Chair Rob Rader about the program, which will be housed in an redesigned $89 million design and media campus slated for a spring 2016 opening.

According to an SMC press release, “over 100 letters of support” came from Los Angeles and Silicon Beach tech and entertainment companies like Microsoft, Warner Brothers, Disney, Fox TV, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Web Services, confirming the local demand in this field.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Georgia Lorenz calls it a “historic moment in academic history” and expresses excitement about the approval. “We are excited to offer this degree specifically in Interaction Design which is an important, emerging career path with jobs that need to be filled.”

A list of suggested lower division classes for the first two years of the program will be posted on, where students will be able to sign up for updates.