Create spaces that inspire and energize by taking on the future of interior design!
While you may think that you have the skills to put furniture in a room and make it look appealing, interior designers are specially equipped with a skillset and training to make a wide variety of spaces appeal to specific audiences. Some people have an eye for design, and those individuals are ahead of the game, able to take their design vision to new levels with a foundational interior design education. While others may not have the natural talent for interior design, they can still learn concepts and techniques through one of our 20 accredited online colleges for interior design!
What Will You Learn With An Interior Design Degree?
Interior design programs give students the foundational knowledge necessary to understand color theory, design theories, and how to make spaces both functional and beautiful. During these programs, students also learn how to utilize a variety of design tools that will allow them to create spaces virtually for presentation to clients. Examples of some subjects you may learn when enrolled in an interior design program include residential and commercial design, lighting, furniture design, small business marketing, and 3D imaging.
While the classwork is fundamental to becoming an interior designer, many of the programs recognize the importance of gaining real-world experience through working with professional interior designers. Many programs incorporate real-world experience by requiring students to complete internships during one or two semesters before graduation. This is a time for students to utilize design concepts and design software for projects that real customers are paying to have completed. These experiences are also an excellent opportunity to network with professional interior designers who may connect you with your first job opportunity.
What Are the Best Accredited Online Colleges for Interior Design Degrees?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. For more information, see our methodology page.
When choosing a school for interior design, you have many options but none better than the Master of Science in Architecture with a specialization in Interior Design from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. This degree is especially suited for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in architecture or interior design. Additionally, this program is geared toward interior design research. Because of this, those who complete the degree are ideally placed to start teaching interior design or architecture at the college level.
The MS in Architecture with a specialization in Interior Design is a 36-credit-hour program that can be completed on a two- or three-year schedule. Students are only admitted into this program in the fall of each academic year, so you’ll have to do a little planning to ensure you don’t miss the application deadlines. Those accepted into this program can also pursue another specialization through the school’s Interior Design and Gerontology dual-certificate program.
The Master of Arts or Master of Science in Interior Design from Ball State University was created with all students in mind, from those with an interior design undergraduate degree to those without an interior design background. The fast track option available is for those who have an undergraduate degree in interior design or architecture and consists of 33 credit hours of graduate-level coursework that is completed over two years. Students in this program will take around two classes per semester, and the program does require students to complete a thesis to be eligible for graduation.
Those without previous interior design experience are eligible to apply to the school’s three-year track that consists of both undergraduate coursework, to give students a foundation in interior design, and graduate coursework. This program is 80 credit hours in duration and does require some in-person courses to be completed, although much of the coursework is completed online.
Those interested in remodeling and designing older buildings will want to check out Rhode Island School of Design’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture. This degree combines the best of interior design with architecture and conservation. The BFA in Interior Architecture is a four-year degree program in which students take courses across a variety of disciplines, which include literary arts, philosophy, and the theory and history of design.
The degree comprises 126-credit hours of study, and students will take classes such as Spatial Dynamics, Introduction to Interior Studies, History of Interior Architecture, and Building Structures and Systems for Adaptive Reuse, among many others. Finishing this degree requires that students complete a senior project that pulls together concepts learned throughout the previous three years.
By laying a foundational knowledge of design, the Associate of Science in Interior Design Technology from Palm Beach State College will teach students the skills needed to be successful interior designers. The program can be completed in two years by full-time students or three-to-four years for students needing a slower pace. Students enrolled in this program will learn subjects such as design process, elements and principles of design, building systems, regulations and guidelines, residential and commercial design, and much more.
After completing this program and gaining the necessary two-to-three years of professional work experience, students will be eligible to sit for the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) examination, which is considered a gold standard in the interior design profession. Students who dream of completing a bachelor’s degree can transfer the credits earned from the AS in Interior Design Technology to one of Palm Beach State College’s bachelor’s programs.
Those just thinking about pursuing a career in interior design may want to look at Tulsa Community College’s online Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design program. The program was created with the rookie in mind and teaches students the foundational skills necessary to make it in the competitive world of interior design. This program teaches students skills ranging from cost estimating to purchase orders to drafting for interior spaces.
This is a direct entry program, which means you’ll graduate with the skills necessary to land that first job in interior design. The curriculum is 72 credit hours in length, 18 of which are general education credits, and the other 54 credits are specialized coursework specific to interior design. Students are also expected to complete two field internship courses, which will give them the experience to operate effectively as an interior designer after they graduate.
Scottsdale Community College has partnered up with Northern Arizona University to make it easier for students who complete an associate’s degree, like the Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design, to continue their education through a bachelor’s at NAU. The AAS in Interior Design through SCC is a career-ready degree that will prepare students for employment upon graduation, but you never know if you’ll end up going back to school later to complete your bachelor’s, which is where this degree and its partnership with NAU comes in handy.
The AAS degree has a total credit requirement ranging from 64-73 credit hours of work, which can be completed on either a full- or part-time basis. The full-time pathway consists of four terms, with students carrying a course load of 12-18 credit hours per semester. Students needing a slower pace or who have prior obligations can select the part-time pathway that is completed over ten terms, with students taking 11 credit hours or less of coursework a semester.
The University of Wisconsin-Stout knows the world is a fast-moving, ever-changing place that requires innovation and creative thinking to stay relevant, which is why cutting-edge skills are incorporated into its Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design program. What makes this degree unique is students’ ability to study related disciplines, such as video game design, graphic design, or studio art, along their journey to graduation. This cross-disciplinary approach to learning is how the school fosters innovation and creative thinking in its students.
This MFA degree program is 60 credit hours in length, with the core curriculum consisting of 30 credit hours. In the core curriculum, students will take classes such as Sustainable Design Practice, History of Design Seminar, and Research Strategies in Design, to name only a few. Competitive applicants to this program will have earned a bachelor’s degree in design, art, or a related field and have a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA.
Individuals not looking to go or go back to school for years will want to check out UCLA Extension’s Interior Design: Foundation Level certificate program. With estimated program tuition of just under $15,000, this program is a reasonable investment that can pay off when you start working as an interior designer. What’s more, the school allows students who complete this program with a 3.0 GPA or higher and who already hold a bachelor’s degree to apply to the school’s Master of Interior Architecture program.
This certificate program consists of 18 courses: 16 core classes and two electives. Students can also take advantage of mentorship opportunities, internships, and job placement facilitated through the school. Additionally, this program meets the educational eligibility requirement for students to be able to take the National Council of Interior Design Qualification examination, which grants certification in the field.
With both a thesis and a non-thesis degree option, those wanting to enroll in a master’s degree program in interior design will find a good fit at Stephen F. Austin State University. The school offers a Master of Science in Human Science with an emphasis in Interior Design to its students. The program consists of 27-36 credit hours of coursework, depending on whether students select the thesis or non-thesis option.
The thesis option is a 27-credit hour program, with nine credit hours dedicated to the human science core curriculum. Classes you’ll take in the Human Science core curriculum include Philosophy of Human Sciences, Social Statistics, and Sociological Inquiry. The rest of the 18 credit hours of the thesis option are courses specific to interior design. The non-thesis option features the same core curriculum, with the addition of a course in Service Management in Human Sciences.
The Certificate Program in Interior Design and Interior Architecture from the University of California Berkeley Extension allows students to take the California Council for Interior Design Certification and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification certification exams. This program may be particularly suited for those who reside in the Golden State due to the opportunity to obtain two different certifications.
This certificate program consists of 24-26 courses for a total of 61 semester units of work. The core curriculum includes 21 courses, or 57 semester units, and students are able to focus on particular subjects that interest them with the two-to-four elective courses. One of the only prerequisites to register for this program is that students must hold a bachelor’s degree in any field.
Whether you choose American River College’s Associate of Arts in Interior Planning and Design or one of the school’s many design certificates, you’ll learn from professors who genuinely care about you and your future success. The school offers certificates in Para-Professional Interior Planning and Design, Designed 4 Life, Green Building and Sustainable Design for Interiors, Interior Retail Merchandising, and Universal Design. The AA in Interior Planning and Design is a 60-credit-hour program that allows students to obtain a comprehensive understanding of design principles, with 40-43 credit hours of design-specific coursework.
Certificate programs range from nine credit hours to 43 credit hours of coursework to complete. The Para-Professional Interior Planning and Design consists of 43 credit hours, the Interior Retail Merchandising Certificate features 15 credit hours, the Universal Design Certificate covers 13 credit hours, and both the Designed 4 Life and the Green Building and Sustainable Design for Interiors certificates are nine credit hours in duration.
The online programs from the Academy of Art University feature the same high-quality curricula that its in-person courses cover; the only difference is that with online classes, you have the convenience and flexibility to complete the work on your own schedule. Both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture & Design are offered to the school’s online students. The school’s BFA program is composed of 132 credit hours of coursework, with the core curriculum consisting of 36 credit hours, and the Interior Architecture & Design major coursework totaling 42 credit hours.
Expanding interior design knowledge and the understanding of advanced theory is what the school’s MFA degree program aims to do for its students. The MFA is composed of 63 credit hours of coursework, which is completed over six semesters of study. Students accepted into the MFA program will have to complete a thesis project before they graduate with their degree.
Individuals who live in or near Minnesota should check out Century College’s hybrid Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design and Interior Design Associate Diploma programs. The school also offers a 30-credit-hour certificate in Home Furnishing Sales for interested students. The AAS in Interior Design is a 60-credit-hour program designed to be completed over four semesters of full-time study. Of the 60-credit-hour total, 44-credits are spent teaching students how to become interior designers. Prior to graduation, students will create a design portfolio and participate in an interior design internship.
The Interior Design Associate Diploma consists of 48 credit hours of coursework that are also typically completed over four semesters. The diploma program’s core interior design curriculum allows students to learn interior design over 42 credit hours of discipline-specific study. The remaining six credit hours are met by completing an English or communications class and by taking a three-credit-hour elective course.
Since the Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design is considered a terminal degree, those who acquire this level of education are able to work anywhere they desire within the interior design field, which may range from teaching in college to opening their own interior design company. The MFA in Interior Design from Brenau University is designed for individuals who already have a Bachelor’s in Interior Design, Architecture, or another related design field.
This university boasts an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, so students who may need a little more attention can trust they will receive it in their course of study. What’s more, you’ll want to take advantage of the faculty at this university, as all of them have experience working in real-world interior design jobs. Students pursuing this degree will develop and teach undergraduate interior design students as well as complete a thesis project before graduating.
If you’re looking for a master’s degree program in interior design that places an emphasis on pursuing research, then the Master of Science in Design Studies from Samford University may be ideal for you. Students who choose to enroll in this program will start developing their thesis and research project early on, giving them time to work with advisors to complete the program in the recommended 24-month period. The entire program comprises 33 credit hours of study that emphasize three areas: design, research, and teaching.
If you end up choosing the MS in Design Studies, you’ll start classes with the rest of your cohort with a weekend of on-campus summer orientation. The program seeks applicants who hold professional certifications and degrees in interior design, architecture, or landscape architecture. Since there is only one program start date each year, you’ll want to mark April 15 on your calendar, as this is the deadline for submitting your application.
The interior design diploma offered through Clary Sage College is a skills-based educational program that teaches students through hands-on projects. Students in this program will learn how to make a space both functional and safe, all while developing a professional aesthetic unique to them as interior designers. Students wishing to pursue this diploma program can attend either in-person classes at the school’s Tulsa, OK, campus or study entirely online.
The diploma program was designed to be completed in under 15 months of study, which comes out to around 60 weeks. Students eager to start working toward the diploma are in luck, as classes through this university start every three weeks. Students are also eligible to apply for scholarships, some of which will cover 100% of the tuition costs, so be sure to check if you qualify.
If you’re a working design professional and want to take your expertise and knowledge to a new level, then check out Chatham University’s Master of Science in Interior Architecture. The program is designed for anyone who has a bachelor’s degree in interior design, interior architecture, or architecture. This program emphasizes the theory of design, so you can walk into any space and understand the individual components that enhance or take away from the design.
The MSIA program includes 30 credit hours of study, with the ability for students to focus their studies on specific building types, user groups, or design issues. In this program, students will take classes such as Interior Architecture Inquiry, Issues in Interior Architecture, and Supervised Teaching, among others. Tuition runs at $987 per credit hour, but you’ll get what you pay for because this is a top-notch education in advanced interior design.
If you’re someone who is just looking for a program to teach you the basics of interior design, then Boston Architectural College’s Principles of Interior Design Certificate program may be right for you. The program aims to teach students how to use color, light, and materials to create spaces that promote humans’ physical and mental health and well-being.
This certificate program consists of only nine credit hours of coursework, or three courses. Students can choose from classes like Color Theory for Interiors, Materials and Methods, Interiors Lighting, Case Studies in Interiors and Furniture, and Human & Social Factors in Interiors. These classes emphasize hands-on work to gain a thorough understanding of interior design. The school also offers an online Master’s of Design Studies with an emphasis on Design for Human Health, Historic Preservation, or Sustainable Design.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design provides students with a comprehensive and well-rounded education in design principles. The program will cover areas such as lighting design, space planning, interior materials and systems, manual drafting and computer-aided design, environmental and human behavior, and construction documents and contracts. Students will also be exposed to a wide variety of related disciplines, such as graphic design and architecture, during this program, which gives them a broad knowledge base from which to draw in their designs.
The BFA in Interior Design program consists of 126 credit hours of work. The coursework is segmented into 15 credit hours of foundational courses, 39 credit hours of liberal arts education, 66 credit hours of interior design, and six credit hours of studio electives. Students here will be exposed to and learn increasingly complex design tools as they progress through the program.
Goddard College understands that art is individualized and that no two artists are the same, which is why it created its MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts. This program is designed to give students the flexibility to explore and develop their own unique artistic talents while learning artistic concepts that can be applied across a variety of situations and contexts. This program is not entirely online, which may be a problem for some. Each semester requires that students travel to the main campus for an eight-day residency.
This MFA is a 60-credit-hour program that takes students five semesters to complete. There are two locations that students can go to complete their eight-day residency requirements each semester: the school’s main campus in Plainfield, VT, or the Port Townsend, WA, campus. Students accepted into this program can choose to concentrate their studies in either Indigenous and Decolonial Art or Performance Creation.
What Kind of Job Can I Get After I Graduate With An Interior Design Degree?
After graduating from your interior design program, you may think that you’ll only be able to work as an interior designer, but you may be surprised to find that there are a variety of careers you can choose to pursue. The majority of individuals looking to attend an interior design program will, in fact, want a career as an interior designer, so let’s take a minute to look at what this career has to offer.
Interior designers can go by various titles, including “Interior Design Coordinator,” “Interior Design Consultant,” “Interior Design Director,” and many others. O*NET states that interior designers, “plan, design, and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings.” The overwhelming majority of interior designers are also reported to have a bachelor’s degree, while only 10% of working interior designers have only an associate’s degree.
As of 2018, there were a reported 75,400 individuals employed as interior designers, and the profession is projected to grow at an average rate of 4-6% between 2018 and 2028. That means that there will be an estimated 8,000 job openings available during this period. For 2019, the median annual salary of interior designers was estimated to be around $56,000.
For those wanting to expand their skillset and move into other related areas of interior design, you’ll want to look into becoming a marketing manager. Interior designers are trained to assess and meet customer demands, which gives them an ideal background to be successful as a marketing manager. Many interior designers will end up doing their own marketing to promote their company’s brand, which will give them the first-hand experience necessary to manage a marketing campaign. It’s reported that around 56% of marketing managers have a bachelor’s degree, while 24% have a master’s degree.
How Much Can I Expect to Make With An Interior Design Degree?
Becoming a marketing manager can pay off, as this career is reported to have a median annual salary of $136,850! While there are quite a few professionals currently employed as marketing managers, the profession is expected to grow faster than average, with a growth rate of between 7% and 10%.
Another vocational avenue for interior designers that incorporates the best of interior design and marketing is starting one’s own interior design firm. As the owner of a firm, you’ll be responsible for getting work for interior designers who you employ as well as ensuring your customers are satisfied with the service. With great responsibility comes the potential for large financial rewards, which will depend on the quality of the service provided, the number of interior designers employed, and the size of your market, among other factors.
Can I Learn What I Need To Be Successful in An Online Program for Interior Design?
Whether you can learn what you need to know to be successful in an online program depends on a few factors. One of the most important factors to consider is whether or not you can learn in an online environment. Some students have more difficulty with this than others, but you can test out how you learn by auditing an online course. Some key aspects of online learning you’ll need to master are time management and organization.
Online programs on this list will give you the information needed to become an interior designer, but one aspect that cannot be missed in your education for this career is hands-on learning. This is why many of the programs on this list require students to perform an internship with a professional interior designer. If your program does not include this aspect, you’ll want to seek an interior design mentor who will teach you how to implement the knowledge you learn in the classroom and who may lead you to your first job opportunity!
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out the 30 Most Affordable Online Business Bachelor’s Degrees and 25 Accredited Online Colleges for Graphic Design!