Online Interior Design Degrees
What makes a room look and feel good? The lighting, the placement of the furniture, the clever use of space or even the colors on the walls can make a massive difference. While architects may often be responsible for the design of whole structures, they often bring in other experts to tap into their building’s potential. Interior designers often work with architects who are building or renovating a space to refine their designs and layouts for interior spaces to optimize the layout, functionality and design of commercial, industrial and residential spaces. In short they look at both the stylistic and practical aspects of an interior space.
If you are interested in earning postsecondary credentials in this field but don’t have the time to attend college on-campus, then online degrees in interior decoration may be something you could consider.
Why choose online interior design programs?
The College Board states that interior designers need to be artistic, creative, flexible as well as good with people as interior designers work with clients as well as contractors to bring their designs to life. Online interior design programs can help you develop the stylistic skills and learn the hands-on knowledge needed to be successful in the field. Online interior design degree programs may suit career changers, recent high school grads or working professionals earn their degrees while still adhering to work, family and other commitments. Online programs also allow students to use the computer as an integral part of their career from the start, and this familiarity could prove beneficial when it comes to using computer design programs, marketing a business online or searching for and purchasing materials via the Internet.
What do interior designers do?
Interior designers use their skills to make commercial and private places welcoming, safe, tasteful and functional. They may work with architectural firms, interior design firms or own their own businesses. Typically their duties include:
- Determining client needs and ideas for a project
- Sketching designs for the use of the space along with design elements
- Specifying materials, floorings, fixtures and furnishings for the space
- Ordering necessary materials and overseeing their installation
- Creating timelines and ensuring the project remains within clients’ budget
- Overseeing the implementation and construction of the design plans
Interior designers may specialize in a particular type of design or design space. For example, some interior designers may specialize in designing restaurants while others may specialize in a particular design style.
Occupations and Career Outlook for Interior Designers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), two areas that are growing in popularity are elder and environmental design. It also reports that designers who are up-to-date with the latest design tech, such as three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software may have the best job prospects.
Projected Job Growth
Careers Related to Interior Design
The table below lists the occupations related to the field of interior design along with job openings, average salary and employment outlook for the decade leading up to 2026 using data from the BLS.
Projected Job Growth
|Architects, Except Landscape and Naval||129,900||$82,320||1%|
|Commercial and Industrial Designers||42,200||$71,640||-4%|
|Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators||11,070||$ 65,020||0%|
Online Certificate Programs in Interior Design
What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?
Interior design certificate programs online can introduce students to the basic principles of interior design including how to plan layouts and choose colors.
Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
Typical coursework: Curricula can include topics that discuss the evolution of interior design, how trends come about and how to draft basic plans. Some topics you may study include:
- Color theory for interiors
- Basic drafting
- Visual concepts
- Textiles for interiors
- Historical styles
Possible electives: Case studies in interiors and furniture; human and social factors in interiors
What can I do after earning a certificate in interior design?
An interior design certificate may allow you to launch your career in the field starting with basic job roles in an interior design firm or work with a retail store specializing in design pro. You may also be able to transfer your credits to an accredited online interior design degree program. Potential job titles include:
- Designer assistant
- Retail design sales representative
- Decorative product specialist
Online Associate Degrees in Interior Design
What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?
An online interior design associate degree program can help students learn to build their foundational skills as interior designers and to start building professional portfolios.
Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
Typical coursework: Unlike certificate programs, online interior design associate degree programs also include general studies courses which can help you build soft skills. Core subjects students study can help them understand design theory, learn different drafting techniques and grasp basic technical skills. Students may also learn about the construction methods and materials used by architects. Some topics you may study are:
- Construction documents
- Digital imaging
- Hand drawing and rendering
- Introduction to lighting design
- Presentation techniques
What kind of jobs can I get after earning an associate degree in interior design?
An associate degree in interior design may set the foundation for further study or allow graduates of these programs to work in different settings with architectural firms, interior design agencies and home-furnishing stores in entry-level roles. Some potential job titles include:
- Interior design assistant
- Home furnishings consultant
- Materials sales representative
- In-store design associate
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Interior Design
What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?
Online interior design programs at the bachelor’s level can teach students about design fundamentals such as color palettes, furniture, lighting and window coverings, along with more sophisticated areas such as reading design blueprints, making facilities handicap-accessible and meeting building and fire codes.
Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
Typical coursework: Curricula builds on the coursework offered in an online interior design associate degree program to include topics on architecture, computer-aided design, ergonomics, furniture design and more. Some courses you may take include:
- Building systems for interiors
- Digital drawing for ID
- Form, space and order
- Rendering for the interior
- Space planning fundamentals
You may have to complete an internship or a capstone project a part of your online degree program.
What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor’s in interior design?
A bachelor’s degree in interior design can allow you to work as a full-fledged interior designer. According to the BLS, industries like specialized design services, architectural, engineering, and related services and furniture stores are the biggest employers of interior designers. Potential job titles include:
- Commercial designer
- Design showroom manager
- Designer for architects
- Interior designer
- Residential designer
- Space planner
Online Master’s Degrees in Interior Design
What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?
Master’s degrees in interior design may work well for individuals looking to delve deeper into the field and hone their expertise or for individuals wanting to switch careers from a different field. There are typically three types of master’s degrees offered in interior design. The differences may be subtle but may have a bearing on the career path you want to follow.
- Master of Arts (M.A.): Can allow interior designers to advance their careers, start their own businesses. MA programs may accept students with undergraduate degrees in other fields.
- Master of Fine Arts (MFA): Is a professional degree that can allow students to enter academia and teach in universities. Most MFA programs require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in interior design or have professional experience in the field.
- Master of Science (M.S.): Is typically directed toward students who wish to conduct research in the field of interior design.
Online master’s degree programs in interior design can provide students with an in-depth look into the finer aspects of the field. Students may learn different design strategies, look at the psychology behind the use of space in different buildings, analyze building sites and more.
Typical duration: Two to three years of full-time study
General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
Typical coursework: Curricula may include research methodologies, business codes, CAD drafting, sustainability and the history of architecture and design amongst other topics. Some courses you may take include:
- Building information modeling
- Environmental behavior
- Evidence based design
- Sketching and perspective for interior environments
- Survey of sustainable design
You may have to complete a master’s thesis or a capstone project as a part of your online interior design degree program.
What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master’s in interior design?
Holders of master’s degrees may be eligible for superior jobs in terms of wages and responsibilities than individuals with bachelor’s degrees. They may also be eligible for management roles in interior design studios or architectural firms. Potential job titles include:
- Architectural drafter
- Art director
- Facilities planner
- Healthcare facility designer
- Hospitality designer
Online Doctoral Degrees in Interior Design
What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?
Online doctoral degrees in interior design can teach students the skills needed for leadership and research positions needed in the field and may prepare them to make significant contributions to the advancement of their field.
Typical duration: Three to seven years of full-time study
General prerequisites: Master’s degree
Typical coursework: Curricula can include a mixture of research methodologies, advanced theories, artistic techniques and the latest tech. Some courses you may take include:
- Art and design
- Environment and aging
- Housing, neighborhood design and sustainability
- Interior design systems and practices
- Philosophical foundations of design, housing, and apparel
Dissertation: Doctoral degree programs typically culminate in a dissertation comprised of original research. Students must successfully defend their theses before an appointed committee of experts in order to receive their degrees.
What kind of jobs can I get after earning a doctorate in interior design?
A doctoral degree in interior design may qualify you for executive positions within the field of interior design. Potential job titles include:
- Interior design consultant
- Lead designer
Attending accredited online interior design degree programs can be important for most aspiring interior designers. Accreditation is a voluntary process schools undergo to demonstrate that their programs meet or exceed necessary professional standards. Accreditation may be programmatic whereby interior design programs are accredited by professional bodies.
Being enrolled in an accredited online interior design degree program can be important for receiving federal financial aid, transferring credits and more. Employers too may prefer hiring graduates of accredited programs. Professional accrediting bodies for interior design programs are:
- Council for Interior Design Accreditation
- National Architectural Accrediting Board
- National Kitchen & Bath Association
- The National Association of Schools of Art and Design
Specializations in Interior Design
Nearly every kind of interior space needs some design elements whether they are purely functional, aesthetic or a combination of both. This means that the scope of interior design involves nearly any construction with an interior space. This has led to a number of different specializations within the field. Some of them are:
- Bathroom design
- Commercial design
- Healthcare facilities design
- Interior landscaping
- Restaurant design
- Sustainable design
Licensures and Certifications in Interior Design
The BLS reports that the rules for licensure vary across states. Some states require interior designers to be licensed to carry out interior design work while some only prohibit unlicensed individuals from using the ‘interior designer’ moniker. Still others permit both licensed and unlicensed individuals to use the term interior designer and carry out interior design work. In short, it can be a good idea to consult your states’ licensing board to know what you need to do.
Professional certifications may or may not be mandatory based on the state you practice in. According to the BLS, obtaining a National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) is often a prerequisite for receiving an interior design license. Interior designers can also seek professional certifications like:
- Certified Interior Decorator (CID)
- Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD)
- Certified Remodeler Associate (CRA)
Scholarships and Financial Aid Programs for interior design students
The wide application to interior design means that there are plenty of scholarships offered by professional organizations and foundations to eligible students of the subject. It can also be a good idea to contact your college’s financial aid office to see if you are eligible for any schemes, grants or scholarships they offer. Some scholarships to help you get started in your search are:
- American Society of Interior Designers Foundation Scholarships
- IFMA Foundation Scholarship Program
- New York School of Interior Design Scholarships
- NEWH Green Voice Design Competition
Other resources for aspiring interior designers
- American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers
- American Society of Interior Designers
- International Interior Design Association
- National Kitchen and Bath Association
- U.S. Green Building Council