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Interior Design Schools and Degree Programs

Interior design degree programs teach you how to design spaces in homes, businesses and schools using furniture, decorations and lighting to meet clients' desires. Continue reading to learn about school and program options for interior design.

What You Need to Know

Interior design is a field that's regulated in some states, so graduating from a program that's nationally-accredited may be required to meet state licensure or certification requirements. You should also choose a school that offers internship or apprenticeship opportunities in order to develop the artistic and technical skills needed to work in this field.

Degrees Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design
Certificates Certificate in Interior Design, Certificate in Interior Design and Architecture Studies
Courses Furniture style and construction, building systems and codes, kitchen and bath studio, materials in interior design, CAD drawing and design, residential studio

Where Can I Study Interior Design?

You can find interior design programs at community and technical colleges, universities and professional design schools. Schools offering programs that have met the standards of a quality interior design education are accredited by organizations like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation or the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. These programs often require that you submit samples demonstrating your artistic ability prior to admission. The following schools offer interior design degree programs:

  • Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design (GA)
  • Alexandria Technical and Community College (MN)
  • American Institute of Interior Design (Fountain Hills, AZ)
  • Dakota County Technical College (Rosemount, MN)

What Are My Undergraduate Degree Options?

Certificate and associate programs typically can be completed in 2 to 3 years and can qualify you to work in an entry-level position. An associate program of at least 60 credit hours or a more advanced degree may qualify you for a formal design apprenticeship program, enabling you to gain experience in the field after graduation. A bachelor's degree program can provide a more comprehensive study of the field and might qualify you for employment in a higher level position. Undergraduate degrees may cover these courses:

  • Design basics
  • Drafting
  • Building systems and codes
  • CAD drawing in design
  • Interior design sales

What About Graduate Programs?

Master's degree programs typically are structured to provide experienced designers with in-depth study in a specific area of the field, such as kitchen and bath design. A Master of Arts or a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design may be available as degree programs. Students will gain studio experience in addition to an internship. A Master of Science program in Interior Architecture & Design may also available for interested students. The program may require a master's thesis for degree completion.

What Might I Study?

Interior design programs can teach you skills pertinent to the industry, such as using computer-aided design software and reading blueprints and other construction documents. You will learn to plan spaces and understand safety codes while studying basic coursework, such as illustration and rendering, design basics, drafting and lighting design.

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

Interior designers work with clients, architects, businesses and other design professionals to meet the varying needs of interior spaces. Their work includes selecting furniture, lighting and textiles to enhance offices, personal residences, schools, theaters and numerous other locations. Many times, interior designers also help plan the layout and architectural details of a space. Working alongside engineers, contractors and other professionals, you would follow a timeline and oversee the design process of the project.

A typical project for an interior designer would begin with a meeting between you and your client. Based on the client's needs and wants, you would establish a budget and determine the client's preferences and expectations for his or her space. You also would visit the space to determine how you could improve its functionality and appearance, building on this information to create a design plan.