Written By - Isabel Murphy

Edited By Arlene Ward

Review & Contribution By Erik L. Cato

Interior designers are the architects of environments, creating spaces that meet our practical needs and resonate with our emotions. The evolution of interior design from its nascent stages in the early 20th century to a fully-fledged profession reflects its transformative impact. Master’s in Interior Design programs are designed to equip individuals with a multifaceted skill set and technical expertise. From an understanding of textiles, materials, color theory, and space planning to proficiency in software applications for 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM), students delve into the intricacies of the field. Moreover, a comprehensive education includes knowledge of structural requirements, health and safety considerations, and adherence to building codes.

In the contemporary landscape, interior designers collaborate with diverse professionals, including contractors, architects, engineers, craftsmen, furniture dealers, and businesses, engaging in residential, commercial, and public space projects. A graduate degree in Interior Design prepares aspiring designers to navigate the complexities of the modern design landscape and make meaningful contributions to the built environment. In the further sections, we explore the different parts of this program.

Masters in Interior Design

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs

Choosing to pursue a master’s in interior design comes with a set of challenges, including deciding on the right program, selecting the best school, and determining the ideal university to enroll in. Cost, placement opportunities, starting salaries, employment, and acceptance rates are crucial in this decision-making process. The OMC team carefully navigated through these considerations and compiled a list of the top online master’s in interior design programs. Explore our rankings below:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/masters-in-interior-design-online/">Masters in Interior Design</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
New York University
70 Washington Sq South, New York, New York 10012
Savannah College of Art and Design
342 Bull St, Savannah, Georgia 31402
Ball State University
2000 University Ave, Muncie, Indiana 47306
University of Nebraska,Lincoln
1400 R Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588
University of Wisconsin-Stout
712 S Broadway St, Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751
Chatham University
Woodland Road, Office of Institutional Research, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15232
The New School
66 West 12th Street, New York, New York 10011
Academy of Art University
79 New Montgomery, San Francisco, California 94105
Clary Sage College
3131 South Sheridan, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74145

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs

A master’s program in interior design will develop an understanding of interior architecture through research into the general principles of design and the specific histories of interiors and designers. During the online master’s course, students study contemporary and historic interior spaces to learn how to assess how their design creates a livable environment critically. Course lectures investigate specific components of interior design, such as scale, density, and the concept of the place, to understand how to communicate what creates a successful design and how to cultivate that success in work.

Interior design master’s degrees offer students creative abilities and excellent interpersonal skills. Interior design professionals are generally organized people with great attention to detail. Regarding technical skills, these students require the ability to make calculations and be proficient in using design software applications. An interior designer is responsible for selecting the convenient materials and products used to create and furnish living spaces and must know how texture, color, lighting, and other factors combine and interact.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Interior Design Master Programs

A Master’s in Interior Design program typically features a well-rounded curriculum that equips students with the knowledge and skills needed for a successful career. Core components often include design studio courses, where students engage in hands-on projects spanning various interior spaces. Additionally, theoretical courses delve into the history and principles of interior design, providing a contextual understanding of the discipline.

The specific courses offered in a Master’s in Interior Design program can vary between institutions, but here is a list of standard courses that students would find:

Furniture Design and Selection
This course delves into the intricate process of designing and choosing furniture to elevate interior spaces’ functionality and aesthetic appeal. Students explore furniture design principles, learning how to harmonize form and function. Emphasis is placed on selecting pieces that complement the overall design scheme while ensuring ergonomic efficiency.

Building Systems and Technology
In this technical course, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the intricate systems that underpin interior spaces. From plumbing and HVAC systems to construction methods and the integration of cutting-edge technologies, they learn how to navigate the complex technical aspects of interior design. Practical applications include incorporating technology seamlessly into designs for optimal user experience.

Professional Practice in Interior Design
This course equips students with the essential skills for a successful career in interior design. Ethical considerations form a cornerstone, ensuring responsible and moral practice. The curriculum covers client interactions, project management strategies, and the business aspects of running an interior design practice. 

Sustainable Design
This course places a strong emphasis on environmentally conscious design practices. Students explore sustainable materials, technologies, and methodologies with a focus on minimizing environmental impact. From eco-friendly materials selection to energy-efficient design principles, students are equipped to integrate sustainability seamlessly into their designs.

Visualization and Presentation Techniques
Mastering the art of visual communication is pivotal in interior design. This course covers various techniques, from traditional drawing and rendering to leveraging digital visualization tools. Students learn to effectively convey design concepts to clients and stakeholders, honing essential skills in presenting and marketing interior design proposals.

Some additional courses that one finds across graduate programs in interior design include:

  • Design Studio I-IV
  • Interior Design Theory and History
  • Spatial Planning and Design
  • Color Theory and Application
  • Textiles and Materials
  • Interior Design Research
  • Cultural and Contextual Studies in Interior Design
  • Advanced Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Lighting Design
  • Interior Design for Specific Environments (e.g., Healthcare, Hospitality, Retail)

Students in a Master’s in Interior Design program typically gain diverse skills that prepare them for successful careers. Here are some common skills developed during such programs:

  • Design Proficiency
    Master conceptualizes, plans, and executes interior designs for various spaces.
  • Technical Knowledge
    Understand how to build systems, construct methods, and integrate technology within interior design.
  • Research and Analysis
    Ability to research contemporary design trends, innovations, and cultural influences.
  • Client Interaction
    Effective communication and client management skills for understanding and meeting client needs.
  • Project Management
    Ability to manage interior design projects efficiently, including budgeting and scheduling.
  • Ethical Professional Practice
    Understanding and adherence to ethical considerations in the practice of interior design.
  • Presentation Skills
    Effective presentation and visualization techniques to communicate design concepts to clients and stakeholders.
  • Cultural Sensitivity
    Appreciation for cultural and contextual factors influencing design, ensuring designs resonate globally.
  • Team Collaboration
    Collaboration skills for working effectively with architects, contractors, and other professionals involved in the design process.
  • Problem-Solving
    Aptitude for identifying and resolving challenges encountered during the design and implementation phases.

Interior Design Master’s Degree Types

There would typically be a few variants of a master’s in interior design, with a few subjects changing concerning the specialization being pursued. Below, are the different types of master’s that can be pursued in interior design.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Design

The MFA in Interior Design is an advanced program emphasizing creative exploration and theoretical understanding. Through advanced design studios and research, students delve into historical foundations and may specialize in areas like sustainable design. The program culminates in a thesis or capstone project, fostering creativity and critical thinking.

Master of Arts or MA in Interior Design

The MA in Interior Design is a holistic program encompassing design theory, history, and practical skills. Students gain a comprehensive understanding through hands-on design studios, exploration of advanced materials, and ethical considerations. Research components contribute to academic discourse, while collaborative projects and interdisciplinary experiences enrich learning. Graduates emerge well-prepared for versatile roles in the dynamic field of interior design.

Master of Science or MS in Interior Design

The Master of Science (MS) in Interior Design offers a rigorous and research-focused approach to the discipline. This program combines advanced coursework in design theory, history, and practical skills with a strong emphasis on research methodologies. Students engage in design studios, explore innovative materials and technologies, and contribute to the academic field through in-depth research projects.

Specializations in Interior Design Master’s Programs

There are several specializations in the master’s of interior design, so of which are listed below:

Sustainable DesignSustainable Design fosters environmentally conscious design practices. Students explore sustainable materials, energy-efficient technologies, and strategies for creating eco-friendly interiors.Sustainable Design Consultant, Green Building Specialist, Environmental Design Strategist.
Healthcare DesignThe Healthcare Design specialization is designed for those interested in creating interior spaces that contribute to the well-being of individuals in healthcare settings. Students learn about patient-centered design principles, healthcare regulations, and technology integration in healthcare environments.Healthcare Interior Designer, Medical Facility Planner, and Wellness Design Consultant.
Retail DesignRetail Design specialization emphasizes the creation of captivating and functional retail spaces. Students explore customer experience, brand representation, and innovative approaches to enhancing the retail environment.Retail Interior Designer, Visual Merchandiser, Store Planner, and Brand Consultant.
Hospitality DesignHospitality Design focuses on designing interior spaces for hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality environments. Students learn about guest experience, functionality, and the unique requirements of creating appealing spaces within the hospitality industry.Hospitality Interior Designer, Hotel Space Planner, Restaurant Designer, Event Planner.
Workplace DesignWorkplace Design specialization centers on optimizing office environments for productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being. Students delve into workplace ergonomics, space planning, and the incorporation of innovative design elements.Workplace Interior Designer, Office Space Planner, and Corporate Interior Consultant.
Residential DesignResidential Design specialization is tailored for crafting aesthetically pleasing and functional living spaces. Students explore individual lifestyle considerations, spatial optimization, and creating unique residential interiors.Residential Interior Designer, Home Stylist, Interior Decorator.
Educational Environments DesignEducational Environments Design focuses on creating interior spaces for educational institutions. Students learn about pedagogical needs, flexible learning environments, and technology integration to foster practical learning spaces.Educational Interior Designer, School Space Planner, and Campus Design Consultant.
Exhibition and Museum DesignThe Exhibition and Museum Design specialization is designed for individuals interested in creating compelling spaces for exhibitions and museums. Students explore exhibit design, storytelling through space, and the curation of cultural and artistic displays.Exhibition Designer, Museum Exhibit Planner, Curatorial Assistant.
Urban Interior DesignUrban Interior Design centers on integrating interior design principles within urban contexts. Students explore spatial optimization, community engagement, and interior spaces’ role in contributing to urban environments’ vibrancy.Urban Interior Designer, City Planning Consultant, and Community Development Coordinator.
Universal DesignUniversal Design specialization focuses on creating inclusive and accessible interior spaces catering to individuals of all abilities and ages. Students learn about accessibility standards, inclusive design practices, and the importance of universal design principles.Universal Design Consultant, Accessibility Specialist, and Inclusive Design Advocate.

Timeline for Graduating from Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs

To complete a master’s in interior design, students take around 36 total credits spanning 1.5 to 2 years for full-time students, with part-time options extending to 2.5 to 3 years or more. Some programs offer accelerated timelines, condensing the coursework and studio projects into a shorter duration, often around 12 to 18 months. The program encompasses initial semesters focused on core coursework, progressing to specialized classes and advanced design studios. Final semesters often involve culminating projects, a thesis, or comprehensive exams. Internships and work experiences can be pursued during breaks. Graduation preparation includes completing a thesis or capstone project, if applicable. The post-graduation phase involves a job search or further education. It’s essential to consult the specific program’s structure for accurate timelines.

Accelerated Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs

An Accelerated Master’s in Interior Design is a fast-paced journey for individuals keen on quickening their education and entering the professional world promptly. Last around 12 to 18 months, these programs demand a full-time commitment, immersing students in a focused curriculum covering crucial core courses and specialized subjects. The main focus is hands-on design studio work, providing an intensive exploration of design concepts. The program is efficient, with minimal breaks between semesters and streamlined thesis or capstone projects. Suited for those with a strong design background or relevant work experience, it offers a speedy path to career entry. Some colleges providing such accelerated degrees in interior design include:

Admission Requirements for Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs

Admission requirements for Master’s in Interior Design programs can vary among universities but generally include the following:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
    A completed undergraduate degree from an accredited institution is typically required. Degrees in interior design, architecture, fine arts, or related fields are often preferred.
  • Transcripts
    Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions are usually necessary. A solid academic record is advantageous.
  • Portfolio
    A portfolio showcasing the applicant’s design work is a crucial component. This allows the admissions committee to assess creativity, design skills, and personal style.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    Most programs request letters of recommendation from academic or professional references. These letters should speak to the applicant’s qualifications and potential for success in a graduate program.
  • Statement of Purpose
    A Personal Statement outlining the applicant’s academic background, career goals, and reasons for pursuing a Master’s in Interior Design is often required.
  • Resume/CV
    A current Résumé or curriculum vitae detailing work experience, academic achievements, and relevant skills is typically requested.
  • Interview 
    Some programs may require an interview in person, over the phone, or via video conference as part of the admission process.
  • GRE Scores 
    While not always mandatory, some programs may request GRE  (Graduate Record Examination) scores.

Accreditation for Interior Design Master’s Programs

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. In the United States, the accreditation of Master’s in Interior Design programs is often overseen by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) [4]. CIDA is a recognized accrediting body that evaluates the quality and standards of interior design programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Programs accredited by CIDA undergo a rigorous review process to ensure they meet specific criteria related to curriculum, faculty qualifications, student outcomes, and facilities. Prospective students seeking assurance of program quality and recognition in interior design should look for programs accredited by CIDA, which signifies adherence to established standards and best practices in design education. Thus, accreditation, in essence, is enforcement of quality. Read more about Accreditation.

No GRE Interior Design Master’s Programs

Several Master’s in Interior Design programs do not require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as part of their admission requirements. The program’s philosophy may influence the decision to waive the GRE, the specific requirements of the institution, or the belief that other aspects of an applicant’s profile, such as their portfolio, academic background, and professional experience, are more indicative of their potential success in the program. Some colleges providing a no gre interior design master’s program include

Free Interior Design Courses

Free courses provide a valuable introduction to the fundamentals of interior design. Some free programs that students of a master in interior design program include:

CourseRoom by Room Designing [8]
Provided byOxford Home Study
DescriptionUpon completing this course, participants will possess the skills and knowledge necessary to design and furnish living rooms with versatility and creativity. They will be adept at tailoring their designs to meet specific client requirements and preferences, considering various styles and spatial constraints.
CourseMaking Architecture [9]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionStarting with the fundamentals of the profession and culminating in creating a scaled site model, the course is designed as excellent preparation for those considering pursuing an undergraduate degree in Architecture. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of architectural principles and hands-on experience in model production, making the course a captivating journey into architecture.
CoursePractical Guide to Interior Design [10]
Provided byAlison 
DescriptionParticipants will gain proficiency in the principles of technical drawing for effective client presentations and learn to distinguish between professional and computer-aided design models. The course further explores the transformation of design concepts into realistic representations, emphasizing surveying techniques and enhancing freehand drawing skills.

How to Pay for Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs


Scholarships offer a straightforward and popular means of securing funding for advanced education. Unlike loans, scholarships are free money that students are not required to repay. (There are several Scholarship Scams that students should not fall prey to.)


Full-time students often qualify for merit-based or project-based fellowships that support their higher studies endeavors.


Certain universities may offer Graduate Teaching Assistantships or Graduate Research Assistantships for Master’s in Interior Design students. These positions allow students to teach, work, or research while pursuing their degree.


Grants from federal, state, or private sectors cover various student expenses, including tuition, study materials, transportation, and equipment.

On-Campus Employment

Some universities provide on-campus employment opportunities for students. Unlike assistantships, this option treats students as regular employees, allowing them to earn money that can partially fund their tuition.

Federal Loans

Federal or private loans are an option to secure funds for education. However, it’s important to note that loans come with interest and can contribute to student debt if not repaid promptly.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid):

FAFSA is a viable avenue for funding graduate studies, providing a comprehensive understanding of financial aid options.

The best Financial Guide should be read to understand college funding better.

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Interior Design Online Graduates

Post a master’s in interior design online, one can delve into many roles in the design and architecture fields. They could vary from an interior designer role at an entry-level to a chief executive role of a design studio at the top of the hierarchy. There would be other intermediary roles in between. Earning a Master’s in Interior Design opens up diverse career opportunities in various sectors. Here are some potential careers for individuals with a Master’s degree in Interior Design:

  • Interior Designer
  • Architectural and Design firm professional
  • Specialized Design Studios Expert
  • Furniture Design and Manufacturing Specialist
  • Real Estate Development Professional
  • Set Design for Film and Television Specialist
  • Retail Space Design Expert
  • Corporate Interior Design Professional
  • Educator/Instructor
  • Interior Design Consultancy Owner
  • Sustainable Design Specialist
  • Healthcare Facility Design Professional
  • Exhibition Design Expert
  • Freelance Interior Designer
  • Design Writing and Journalism Contributor
  • Color Consultant
  • 3D Visualization Specialist
  • Facilities Management Professional

Below is a list of roles and salaries with their responsibilities highlighted:

OccupationIndustrial Designers[11]
SkillsAnalytical, artistic, computer, creativity, interpersonal, mechanical, and problems-solving.     
Median Annual Salary$75,910
Job Growth (up to 2032)2% (As fast as average)
Job DescriptionIndustrial designers develop the concepts for products such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. When developing new product concepts, industrial designers consider products’ function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability.
OccupationLandscape Architects[12]
SkillsAnalytical, communication, creativity, problem-solving, technical, and visualization skills.    
Median Annual Salary$73,210
Job Growth (up to 2032)1% (Little or no change)
Job DescriptionLandscape architects specialize in planning, designing, and managing outdoor spaces, ensuring they are aesthetically pleasing, functional, and sustainable. They work across various settings, including parks, campuses, recreational facilities, businesses, private homes, and other open spaces.
OccupationCraft and Fine Artists[13]
SkillsArtistic, business, creativity, customer service, talent, and interpersonal skills.   
Median Annual Salary$53,140
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionCraft and fine artists use various materials and techniques to create original works of art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create objects, such as pottery, glassware, and textiles, that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create pieces of art more for aesthetics than for function.
OccupationArt Directors[14]
SkillsCommunication, creativity, leadership, resourcefulness, and time-management skills.  
Median Annual Salary$105,180
Job Growth (up to 2032)6% (faster than average)
Job DescriptionArt directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design and direct others who develop artwork or layouts.  
OccupationInterior Designers[15]
SkillsArtistic, creative, detail-oriented, interpersonal, problem-solving, and visualization skills. 
Median Annual Salary$61,590
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionInterior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining requirements and selecting essential and decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They must be able to draw, read, and edit blueprints. They also must be aware of building codes, inspection regulations, and other considerations, such as accessibility standards.

Certifications and Licensure for Master’s in Interior Design Online Students

Currently, 26 states and jurisdictions have licensing requirements for interior design practitioners. In many of these states, one cannot even call oneself an interior designer unless one meets or exceeds a certain level of accredited education and, in some cases, passes the qualifying exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) [16]. Below are a few certifications in the field of interior design:

Certificate Program in Interior Design and Interior Architecture [17]This certification offers a comprehensive education that combines studio courses with the study of design theory and history. This certificate program also provides educational credits to qualify for the California Council for Interior Design Certification exam (the IDEX® California exam) and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification exam.
Interior Design Certificate Online [18]This certification prepares individuals to become professional interior designers. Individuals will study design trends and history, furniture styles and fabrics, color theory, and lighting. The Designers Society of America (DSA) approved this interior design course. Students can apply for their RIDQC interior design certification[19]. This industry certification is a powerful addition to any designer’s resume. 
NCIDQ Certification [20]NCIDQ Certified interior designers must complete at least six years of specialized education and work experience and pass the three-part NCIDQ Exam, which is based on CIDQ’s independent, comprehensive analysis of the profession and the daily practice of interior design in various settings. NCIDQ Certification meets legal and regulatory standards for the interior design profession as established by more than half of the states across the U.S. and the provinces in Canada.

Additional Resources for Master’s in Interior Design Online Students

A master’s in interior design is a gateway to an industry with huge potential. But to further their careers, keep being relevant in this fast-paced industry, and practice their craft, professionals need to become members and accredit themselves with a professional organization in the field of interior design. Apart from being a body that assists in developing and distributing knowledge, professional interior design association bodies keep their members informed about the newest developments and innovations in the industry. We discuss a few such organizational bodies below:

Professional OrganizationDescription
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)  [21]ASID is a leading professional organization for interior designers in the United States. Student members can connect with professionals, attend events, and access educational materials.
Industrial Designers Society of America  [22]With abundant networking and professional development opportunities, IDSA membership is a personal advantage professionals carry throughout their careers. As a member-centric organization, IDSA focuses on helping individuals achieve their best through programming that supports their long-term success as industrial designers.
Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) [23]IDEC focuses on advancing interior design education. Students and educators can join to engage in discussions, attend conferences, and stay updated on educational trends.
The International Federation of Interior Architects / Designers (IFI) [24]IFI – the International Federation of Interior Architects / Designers (IFI) is the world federation for the discipline’s design communities, policymakers, experts, and enthusiasts. At the world level, IFI’s responsibilities include comprehensively strengthening professional knowledge, the caliber of work, and integrity of practice, promoting the value of quality design, and advancing its impacts.
International Interior Design Association (IIDA) [25]IIDA is a global community of interior designers providing members with networking opportunities, industry news, and educational resources. Students can access design competitions and events.

FAQs About Master’s in Interior Design Online Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pursuing a graduate degree in interior design worth it?

Taking up a master’s degree in interior design offers a comprehensive exploration of various facets of the field, allowing students to specialize in creative areas and understand the business aspects of design. The potential salary increase and broad scope make a master’s degree in interior design a valuable pursuit.

Is there a master’s degree program in interior design?

Where is the highest demand for interior designers?

What GPA is required for a master’s in interior design?

Do interior designers need a license?

What technology and software skills are emphasized in a Master’s in Interior Design program?

Can I pursue a Master’s in Interior Design if my undergraduate degree is not in design or a related field?

Is there a thesis or final project requirement in most Master’s in Interior Design programs?

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