Individuals who have earned a master's in interior design have ample career opportunities creating dynamic spaces for their clients. This field is growing quickly and also pays relatively well; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that interior design professionals bring home a median salary of $49,810 per year. Now is an especially exciting time for interior designers, as advancements in technology are providing a large number of tools to develop the interior spaces of the future.
What are the Best Master's in interior Design Programs? Here are our top 10:
|1||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Lincoln, NE|
|2||Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah, GA|
|3||Ball State University||Muncie, IN|
|4||Boston Architectural College||Boston, MA|
|5||Brenau University||Gainesville, GA|
Best Accredited Online Master's in Interior Design Programs
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
|Lincoln, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
UNL's hybrid MS in architecture program includes a specialization in interior design that allows students to prepare themselves for careers rooted in research or academic settings. The program features core courses on evidence-based design, research methods, and evolving issues in interior design. Students can also take electives on branding, environmental behavior, women in design, and the interactions between design and health, picking classes connected to their career goals and research interests.
Additionally, students may add an interior design and gerontology certificate to their degree program, giving them a focus on the wide variety of space needs of nursing homes, retirement communities, and other care facilities.
This 36-credit on-campus and online master's degree in interior design program features two- and three-year tracks, enabling students to choose a pace and format that works best for their needs. Both tracks include a field experience for 3-6 credits. Enrolled students benefit from a variety of resources, including financial aid assistance, academic advising, technical help, and internship and career services.
Before they graduate, students complete a thesis that tackles a problem in interior design. The thesis reflects what students learned throughout the program while offering new insights into how interior design professionals can address emerging needs in the industry.
Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in interior design, architecture, or a closely related field. They also submit a goals statement, college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a portfolio reflecting their previous work in interior design or architecture.
UNL's College of Architecture is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
Savannah College of Art and Design
|Savannah, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
SCAD delivers a 45-credit online MA in interior design that empowers students to gain the technical and research skills they need to excel as upper-level professionals.
The core curriculum includes topics like interior design theory, research methods, emerging materials, and environmental psychology. In the contemporary issues in interior design course, students use critical thinking and practical design concepts to examine and evaluate various methods and issues in the field. Students also complete a final project in their area of interest.
To apply to the master's in interior design online program, prospective students submit their college transcripts, a portfolio, a resume, a statement of purpose, and at least two recommendation letters. Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in interior design or a related field from an accredited college or university. In addition to distance courses, students may opt for some in-person classes at the school's Atlanta or Savannah campuses.
SCAD charges the same tuition for all students, regardless of state residency. The school also offers resources tailored to the needs of online learners, including a writers' studio, peer tutoring, and thesis support and graduate mentor programs. Alumni receive access to career development services and a job board.
All SCAD online classes use an asynchronous format with no set login times. This enables students to view lectures, complete assignments, and contribute to discussions largely on their own time. Students may also take part in study abroad opportunities in Hong Kong, France, and other locations across the globe.
Ball State University
|Muncie, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Ball State offers both MA and MS online degrees in interior design. Both options deliver rigorous coursework and a wide variety of experiences to help students serve as leaders in the field.
The 39-credit master's in interior design online program focuses on meeting the interior space needs of various cultures, populations, and functions, while emphasizing problem-solving and creative thinking. Students take classes on inclusive design, environmental psychology, professional design practice, and design analysis. They also complete a final thesis covering a topic of interest.
While the conventional program includes a three-year plan of study, a fast track option allows individuals to complete all requirements in two years or fewer. Students interact with peers and instructors via email, discussion boards, blogs, wikis, journals, and file sharing. Distance learners can also access key services like academic advising, peer mentoring, technology help, academic support, and career planning. Students may begin the online master's degree in interior design in the fall, spring, or summer terms.
Eligible applicants to Ball State's graduate school must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution, with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Prospective students submit a resume, portfolio, and at least two letters of recommendation from professors or employers. They must also provide a letter of intent detailing their career goals and the electives they would like to take once enrolled.
The interior design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.
Boston Architectural College
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 10%||
The BAC's 30-credit online MS in interior architecture allows students to obtain advanced knowledge in the field, preparing them to create dynamic interior spaces across a variety of applications. The program's format works well for individuals who wish to create responsive environments and apply cultural knowledge to evidence-based design practices.
The master's in interior design online program includes three semesters, with the first focused on contemporary methods and the second on research strategies. Students complete a thesis during the third semester, applying their knowledge to current issues in interior design.
The curriculum includes courses design strategies and research techniques. In the program's human and social factors in design, students learn to leverage concepts in environmental psychology, ergonomics, and anthropometrics in their work.
Although all classes take place online, students must attend two weekend residencies at the school's Boston campus. Through these in-person sessions, the BAC aims to help students network and build communication skills.
To apply to the online master's degree in interior design program, prospective students must provide official college transcripts, a personal essay, a current resume, a portfolio or work sample, and at least one recommendation letter. New students may begin the program in the fall or spring semesters.
The school's Learning Resource Center offers a variety of resources for students, including writing assistance, tutoring, test proctoring, academic advising, resume help, and portfolio support. Resident and nonresident students pay the same tuition. The BAC campus sits in Boston's historic Back Bay neighborhood.
|Gainesville, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Students in Brenau University's fully online MFA in interior design examine contemporary and emerging issues in the field while developing sound research skills. The degree program prepares individuals looking to assume advanced roles in the industry, along with those who aim to serve as researchers and university professors.
The 54-credit master's in interior design online program features classes on building information modeling, contemporary issues in design, applied interior design, and research methods. Students may focus studies on the human or design environments, taking classes and conducting research tailored to their chosen concentration. The program features accelerated seven-week terms, and most students can graduate in fewer than two years when attending full time.
Throughout the program, students work on a thesis that they present before graduation. Learners also must create and present a teaching and design portfolio for an MFA exhibition. The program features a limited number of assistantships, through which students can work directly with instructors to gain hands-on, advanced research experience in the field.
Eligible applicants to the Brenau University online master's degree in interior design must hold a bachelor's degree in interior design or a related field from a program accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, along with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students also submit a portfolio and a current resume.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Interior Design Program?
Below you will find helpful information related to what you can expect to experience while earning an online graduate degree in interior design from an accredited college or university. While no two programs are exactly alike, many of the top programs in this field share some common components.
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Interior Design
Depending on the format and emphasis of your online program, you may have access to a wide range of courses. The list below describes some of the most common classes incorporated into these programs:
- Theory and Criticism of Interior Design: This course looks at interior design from multiple perspectives, including the history of the field, current best practices, and how interior design is likely to evolve in the future. Common components include research papers, class discussions, and independent analyses. This class prepares students for future advanced study as they move through their program.
- Interior Design and Environmental Psychology: Students examine the complex ways human beings interact with their built environments. Social and cultural issues related to gender, health, age, and other factors are also studied. This course gives students well-rounded perspectives on how interior design can impact the health and wellbeing of inhabitants of different types of spaces.
- Principles of Organizational Ecology: In this course, students learn about the concept of organizational ecology and how it affects the day-to-day work of interior designers. Classes often look at the history of social organizations and how they influence the design and construction of spaces.
- Professional Practice in Interior Design: This course teaches students about the business side of interior design. Common topics include business ethics, billing and accounting, business formation, purchasing, and conducting post-occupancy evaluations. Students also learn about national exams, state certification, and licensing issues.
- Building Systems for Interior Design: Focused on the more technical aspects of the field, this course teaches students how to coordinate with design teams and address mechanical, electrical, and structural systems within a building or space. In many cases, students demonstrate their knowledge by creating a construction plan of their own.
How Long Does it Take to get an Online Master's in Interior Design?
Numerous factors affect the length of time you'll need to invest in your master's in interior design program. These include whether you attend school part-time or full-time as well as the types of internship or practicum experiences you're required to fulfil.
The format of each program is another factor. Some schools require students to learn as part of a cohort, where you take classes with the same group of students. Other programs feature independent courses, enabling you to complete your degree more quickly at your convenience.
Most master's of interior design degree online programs require students to take about 60 credits of advanced coursework. It typically takes two to three years to complete these programs, although some colleges and universities offer accelerated formats.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Interior Design Degrees
When exploring potential master's in interior design programs, it's important to make sure that a program or school is regionally or nationally accredited. This signifies the school has undergone a rigorous certification process, ensuring that it offers quality academic programming to its students. Numerous accrediting bodies exist throughout the United States.
In general, regional accreditation is more highly regarded. However, schools with national accreditation still meet specific standards and often have more affordable tuition rates. About 85% of colleges and universities nationwide have regional accreditation.
While searching for online programs, you should look for regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, AdvanceED, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The most common national accrediting agency is the Higher Education Council. Additionally, some interior design programs may be accredited by the Council for Interior Design Education.
Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee regional and national accrediting agencies. The CHEA is an association of more than 3,000 American colleges and universities and recognizes 60 different accrediting bodies. Additionally, the Department of Education holds accrediting agencies accountable by ensuring they maintain rigorous standards.
The Education Department and CHEA both play an important role in making sure institutions of higher learning earn the accreditations they receive. By doing this, they provide assurance to students that academic programs adequately prepare them for careers or more advanced studies.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Interior Design Graduates
While a bachelor's degree often allows you to secure an entry-level position in the field of interior design, a master's degree equips you with the skills and knowledge needed for upper management-level roles. Thus, seeking an online graduate degree in interior design can give you access to higher salaries and the potential for greater career growth. A 2015 report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) and data from Salary.com indicate that graduate degrees offer more opportunities for advancement within interior design and related fields.
|Education Specialty||Median Annual Wage of Workers
with a Bachelor's Degree
|Median Annual Wage of Workers
with a Graduate Degree
Master's In Interior Design Salary
As they move through their careers, interior designers may have the opportunity to move into management roles and earn more lucrative salaries. In the table below, you'll find data from PayScale showing the median salaries in this field for entry-level, mid-career, and late-career professionals. Individuals who hold master's degrees in interior design tend to be at the higher end of the scale.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Entry-Level Salary||Mid-Career Salary||Late-Career Salary|
Master's In Interior Design Careers
With an online graduate degree in interior design, you can fulfill a variety of roles in the interior design and architecture field. Successful professionals use technology and incorporate best practices into their work, while also maintaining a sense of creativity as they design spaces for the 21st century. Interior designers tend to be passionate about what they do and spend time looking for new ways to meet the needs and desires of the individuals, businesses, and organizations they serve.
- Interior Designer
The most common position for those with a master's in interior design degree, these professionals create spaces that are attractive, functional, safe, and flexible. They dive into the details of each project, deciding on the best lighting, colors, and materials. An advanced degree typically allows interior designers to move into management roles.
Median Annual Salary: $49,810
Projected Growth Rate: 4%
Many people with advanced interior design degrees become architects. These professionals design and plan a variety of residential, commercial, and industrial spaces. They also use both technical and creative skills. In most states, architects need to pass an official exam to receive certification.
Median Annual Salary: $76,930
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Landscape Architect
These professionals focus on outdoor spaces, such as parks, common areas, and the exteriors of homes and businesses. Many are self-employed and spend a lot of time working with clients and planning outdoor spaces. They also tend to work outdoors and engage in some manual labor.
Median Annual Salary: $63,480
Projected Growth Rate: 5%
- Industrial Designer
Due to the similar skillsets, which emphasize a combination of creativity and technical skills, many people with master's degrees in interior design go on to become industrial designers. These professionals create concepts for a range of products, including automobiles, consumer goods, home appliances, and heating and air conditioning systems. They must often combine knowledge from numerous areas—including business, art, and engineering—to develop these products.
Median Annual Salary: $67,790
Projected Growth Rate: 2%
- Art Director
Individuals with master's degrees in interior design are well-suited for this career, which utilizes their creativity and leadership skills on a daily basis. Tasks may include graphic design, copy editing, photography, web design, and creating interactive videos.
Median Annual Salary: $89,820
Projected Growth Rate: 2%
Financing Your Online Master's in Interior Design Program
When it comes to financing your college education, be sure to investigate as many resources as you can. To start, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine if you qualify for financial aid, including grants, work-study benefits, and low-interest loans. You should also search online and check with your school to find additional scholarship opportunities. For example, the American Society of Interior Designers offers a scholarship specifically for interior design graduate students.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.