What's the Curriculum of an Online Interior Design Associate's Degree?

Students who dream of using their natural design talents can attend an online school for training in interior design. The typical course curriculum is designed to teach students the basic theories, abilities and concepts they will need to become well-trained professionals in the field of interior design.

Interior Design Associate's Degree Program

Before choosing a degree program in interior design, students should know that many employers in the field prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a 2-year, associate's degree program in interior design can prepare graduates to transfer credits to a 4-year program or earn an entry-level assisting job in the field. Some schools offer these programs online for working professionals, and these programs generally provide many of the same courses as on-campus programs.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Programs To become an accredited interior designer, students will have to complete hours of qualified work experience in addition to obtaining a degree
Prerequisites Applicants may be required to submit sketches or proof of artistic ability before entering an interior design program
Possible Careers Party and event design, product display and marketing, CADD technician
Continuing Education An associate's degree may count towards certification by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 4%
Median Salary (2018) $53,370

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Typical Courses

The typical course curriculum for an online interior design associate's degree introduces students to the fundamentals of interior design. It generally includes courses like:

  • Fundamentals of design
  • History of interior design
  • Architectural lighting
  • Textiles for interior design
  • Residential design
  • Color theory
  • Materials for interiors
  • Computer-aided drafting and design (CAD)


Before registering for an online interior design associate degree program, make an assessment of the school's curriculum. Here are some competencies that interior design programs should teach graduates:

  • Clearly describe and explain interior design concepts, classic styles and the work of prominent designers
  • Describe the basic design elements that make up a design and how to apply them
  • Understand the room elements that affect a design project
  • Develop a functional, safe, and visually pleasing space

Certification Requirements

Students who want to earn an associate degree in interior design, but can't attend a campus program can look for accredited 2-year schools that offer online interior design programs. The curriculum should prepare graduates to sit for the National Conference of Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) exam, which is a requirement for working in many states. These topics appear on the NCIDQ exam:

  • A practicum that tests student ability to develop and apply a design project
  • Safety and compliance with building codes
  • Technical drawing conventions
  • Programming and site analysis
  • Furniture, equipment, finishes, and lighting