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Field of Study: Interior Design


Interior design programs teach people to plan and design indoor spaces.



Interior design programs include topics such as:

  • Design and furnishing of interior spaces
  • Computer applications
  • Drafting
  • Interior lighting
  • Acoustics
  • Basic structural design
  • Building codes and inspection regulations

Students learn to design residential, commercial, and institutional indoor spaces. They also study the historical and sociological developments in interior design.

Many community colleges offer associate degrees in interior design. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete.

Many colleges and universities also offer a bachelor's degree in this program. A bachelor's degree usually takes four years of full-time study. Some schools offer a post-bachelor's certificate program that usually requires one year of full-time study after getting a bachelor's degree.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in interior design. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.


College preparation

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Marketing
  • Home Furnishings Production
  • Introduction to Business
  • General Computer Applications
  • Computer Graphics
  • Home Furnishing
  • Drafting, Architectural
  • CAD Design and Software
  • Blueprint Reading
  • Art History
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Computer-assisted Art
  • Art Portfolio


Undergraduate special

You must also submit a portfolio of recent and original work. Portfolio requirements and guidelines vary from program to program. However, typically, your portfolio should contain drawings from three-dimensional sources.

You may be able to apply to an undergraduate program without a portfolio. Some schools allow you to apply to their college or university as an undecided major. Then, after completing certain prerequisite studio art courses, you can apply to enter the program.

Most colleges also require good scores on one of the following:

  • American College Testing (ACT) exam
  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)


Graduate admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor¿s degree, good grades, and good test scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General. You also need to submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.

There are two kinds of master's degree programs: "first-professional" and "post-professional." If a school offers a first-professional program, your bachelor's degree does not have to be in interior design or even visual arts-related.

If a school offers a postprofessional program, all applicants must already have a bachelor's degree in interior design. To such a school, you must submit a portfolio. It should contain the most polished design projects from your work as an undergraduate interior design student.


Typical course work

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

  • Art History
  • AutoCAD (Computer-Aided Design) for Interior Design
  • Building Systems
  • Color
  • Computer Drafting Studio
  • Contract Design Studio
  • Drafting Studio
  • Foundation Drawing
  • Furniture Design Studio
  • History of Furniture and Architecture
  • Human Factors in Ambient Environment
  • Interior Codes and Construction
  • Interior Design Communications
  • Interior Design Studio
  • Interior Materials and Finishes
  • Lighting
  • Perspective and Rendering
  • Residential Design Studio
  • Three-Dimensional Design
  • Two-Dimensional Design
  • Workplace Design

Course work in master's degree programs varies, depending on whether the program is first- or postprofessional. As a first-professional graduate student, you have to complete a set of foundational art courses similar to many of the courses listed above. In addition, you would take advanced courses that explore in greater depth certain fundamental topics in interior design. These topics might include lighting, human factors, and marketing and contracts issues. As a postprofessional graduate student, your work is usually very individualized, depending on your interests and preferences.

In both first- and postprofessional programs, you complete a thesis and continue to add to and refine your professional portfolio. Because a thesis is research-oriented, you also take courses in statistics and research methodology.


Things to know

Getting an associate degree in interior design typically prepares you to be a design assistant but not a professional interior designer.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

College Architecture Teachers
College Art, Drama, and Music Teachers
Farm and Home Management Advisors
Home Appliance Repairers
Interior Designers



Council for Interior Design Accreditation

National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ)

Schools that offer program

Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.

Alexandria Technical & Community College , Located in Central
Alexandria Technical & Community College - Online , Located in Central
Century College - White Bear Lake, Located in Metro
Century College - Online - White Bear Lake, Located in Metro
Dakota County Technical College - Rosemount, Located in Metro
Dakota County Technical College - Online - Rosemount, Located in Metro
Dunwoody College of Technology - Minneapolis, Located in Metro
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Minneapolis, Located in Metro