Best Interior Design Graduate Programs

If you're a bachelor's degree holder interested in sharpening your interior design knowledge and building your portfolio, you can earn a master's degree in interior design. Read on to find out more about some of the best interior design graduate degree programs in the nation.

How Do I Choose an Interior Design Graduate Program?

Graduate students can earn a Master of Fine Arts, Master of Science or Master of Interior Design degree from numerous accredited universities. Some of these programs are offered by art and design schools, while others are general academic institutions with strong design programs. Although you'll need a bachelor's degree to earn your master's, it doesn't necessarily have to be in interior design. Many schools offer pre-professional options or post-professional options in their graduate degree programs, with the pre-professional option intended for students who have little or no previous design education. Other programs allow you to tack basic prerequisite classes in drafting and design onto your master's degree curriculum. Because of the hands-on nature of the industry, all graduate programs require completion of multiple design lab courses. Some also require students to complete and present a thesis. Course credit requirements may vary widely depending on admission prerequisites, but students who have already taken prerequisite classes can generally complete their master's degree studies in approximately two years. All schools detailed below are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Design Graduate Program BasicsPre- and post-professional degrees available depending on previous design education
Pratt InstituteMaster of Fine Arts in Interior Design
Drexel UniversityMaster of Science in Interior Architecture and Design, optional environmental sustainability minor
New York School of Interior DesignMaster of Fine Arts in Interior Design
University of Texas at AustinPre- and post-professional Master of Interior Design degrees

What Will I Learn in Pratt Institute's Interior Design Program?

Pratt Institute, a visual arts college in Brooklyn, offers a 60-credit Master of Fine Arts degree in interior design. The MFA program provides an in-depth education in theories and practical aspects of design, including analog and mechanical drawing, color theory, digital fabrication, and design blueprints. Students also receive plenty of practical design experience, with the six-semester curriculum featuring several required lab and studio courses. Studio-based courses give students practice in researching and developing sustainable and durable designs from inception to completion. A thesis project is also required for graduation. In order to gain admission, students with design-related undergraduate degrees must submit a portfolio of relevant work. Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in a design-related area can still apply to the MFA program, but must complete 24 credit hours of foundational coursework upon admission.

Pratt Institute was ranked the number-one graduate interior design program in the country for the 2018-19 school year by DesignIntelligence, an independent industry surveying company that has ranked college design programs since 1999.

What Will I Learn in Drexel University's Graduate Program?

Students can earn a Master of Science in Interior Architecture and Design from Drexel University's Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. The Philadelphia school's two-year MS program is one of the few graduate-level programs in the nation to be certified by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. This designation qualifies graduates to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification after earning their degrees. In addition to teaching students all about various design materials, creative concepts and techniques for both home and business projects, Drexel also offers a 24-credit minor in environmental sustainability. Students who opt into the minor will learn how to incorporate plants, ecology and other elements of nature into environmentally friendly designs. Common topics covered in required courses for the MS program include:

  • Lighting concepts
  • Furniture planning
  • Construction materials
  • Spatial manipulation
  • Pre-design research
  • Building code compliance

What Will I Learn in the New York School of Interior Design's Graduate Program?

If you're interested in studying at an institution dedicated to interior design, look no further. The New York School of Interior Design offers a professional-level Master of Fine Arts degree program open to students with bachelor's degrees in all areas. The Council for Interior Design Association-certified program requires completion of 90 credits in six semesters, all but the last of which include a design studio lab where students can put into practice the theoretical components of classroom instruction. In the program's final semester, students must complete a thesis in a relevant area. The New York School of Interior Design boasts small class sizes in this graduate program, allowing all students to maximize their education with extra attention from professors. Common required and approved elective courses include:

  • Historical design styles
  • Contemporary architecture
  • Blueprint drawing
  • Kitchen and bath design
  • Furniture detailing
  • Interior textiles

What Will I Learn at the University of Texas' Interior Design Program?

The University of Texas offers both first professional and post-professional Master of Interior Design degree programs at its Austin campus. The first professional degree is open to students with bachelor's degrees in non-design related fields and takes about three and a half years to complete due to the inclusion of foundational coursework. It educates students in the mechanical, practical and environmental elements of design. The post-professional degree is designed for students with design experience and education who want to sharpen their knowledge in one specific design-related area. In addition to a thesis or practical work experience, students must also complete a Master's Design Study with a mentor or industry leader. Students are also required to declare an area of concentration and take several elective courses in that area. Concentration options include sustainable design, business and commercial design, art history and historic preservation.