Master’s in Interior Design Program Guide
The field of interior design is multidisciplinary, welcoming individuals with various skills and training. Professionals in this field combine technical and creative knowledge in a way that helps people feel comfortable, safe, and happy in their environments.
The best interior design online master’s degree programs are designed for students who want to develop the academic credentials needed to pursue a career in this growing field. Commonly, professionals with an interior design master’s degree attain positions such as interior designer, residential designer, furniture designer, or commercial designer with an architecture and design firm. Some interior designers work independently in their own practices or as freelancers.
While enhancing your home’s architectural features, a trained interior decorator may contribute his or her creativity to the overall design. The difference between an interior designer and interior decorator is the type of education and professional design expertise gained through experience.
An interior designer studies the effects of design on the users, in addition to clients. Because a good interior designer will work with you from start to finish, you can be sure that your completed project will be well laid out and perfectly functional in addition to being beautifully conceived.
To create environmentally friendly, healthy, and functional spaces, this field combines recent trends in technology, sustainability, and environmental psychology. Design that promotes workplace wellness is a $43.3 billion industry, according to the publication Interior Design. Furthermore, according to this report, healthcare interior design will continue to play an important role in the field.
The Master’s degree in interior design gives graduates a distinct salary advantage over individuals without an advanced degree. It also significantly increases a worker’s career options. In addition to working as interior designers, graduates can also work as facilities planners, professors, and researchers. The information below describes many of the advantages and opportunities provided by this degree.
Should I Get a Master’s in Interior Design?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to determining whether a master’s degree in interior design is right for you. If you do decide that a master’s degree in interior design is the right path for you, there are many advantages to earning one, including training in research methods and an increased understanding of finances. Obtaining a master’s degree in interior design can also make it easier to find a job and qualify for licensing.
As a result, this degree is appropriate for those who want to pursue an interior design scholarship or teach at the college or graduate level. Students must have a bachelor’s degree in architecture, interior design, or a related field to be considered for most programs.
A Master’s degree in interior design is a popular choice for students interested in the field. Earning a master’s degree in interior design can provide students with the tools needed to pursue a career as an interior designer. Students who pursue graduate-level degrees in interior design are often interested in pursuing a career in higher education and research. This may be an advantage for anyone seeking more senior level roles or positions that require published work.
An interior design master’s degree equips you with the tools to seek out problems and opportunities for improvement in the built environment. Program goals include understanding human behavior and environmental psychology, learning skills in graphic communication like animation and digital trends, and developing strategies in project management as well as leadership and entrepreneurship.
Finally, a master’s degree in interior design provides numerous networking opportunities, which can assist students in publishing their work, obtaining jobs or internships, and collaborating with peers. Many graduate programs assist with job placement.
Working professionals or students with a master’s degree in another field may be more interested in online master’s degrees. On-campus programs, on the other hand, may appeal to students who have recently graduated from college.
How to Choose a Master’s Program in Interior Design
How to Choose a Master’s Program in Interior Design For those interested in becoming an interior designer, the possibilities for earning a master’s degree in interior design are readily available. The online or on campus format, cost of tuition, and program duration can all differ when selecting a program.
The time that you spend in school is among the most important of your life. It is crucial to choose a good program as it will shape the course of your life and career. As you search for interior design master degree programs, it is important to consider whether to pursue an online or on campus program. You can also read about colleges.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a master’s degree program for interior design. As the educational demands in this field continue to increase, a master’s degree shows employers that you have additional skills and knowledge. A master’s program can also help you launch your interior design career.
To begin selecting schools, there are a few factors to take into consideration. First, decide if you would prefer an on-campus or online program. Traditional schools often work best for learners who require more flexibility and cannot commute to campus every week, particularly because you don’t have to factor in the costs of housing and living expenses. Second, compare the overall length of each program. Part-time master’s programs may take up to four years while full-time master’s programs typically last two to three years.
The length of a program can also be affected by whether or not it requires students to complete an internship or other fieldwork. You should also look into the cost of tuition for each program. Tuition costs are affected by a number of factors, including whether you enroll in an on-campus or online program and whether you live on or off campus.
In addition to these factors, look into the curriculum and degree requirements for each program. What types of classes are available in a program? Is there a requirement for you to complete an internship or practicum as part of your program? Do you have a written project to complete, such as a research paper? Many MA programs in interior design require students to write a paper and present their findings at the conclusion of their studies.
The first step in finding the best program for you is to make a list of the most important characteristics you’re looking for in a school. These should serve as guidelines for your next search. Some of the first traits most people consider when choosing schools are cost, location, and class size. Address these areas first before moving onto others.
Choosing a school for your interior design education isn’t easy, so ask for guidance from someone who has done it before. What’s more, you want to look at more than the price tag of a program—beyond tuition and fees, consider how long it will take to obtain a degree, and try to imagine yourself studying at the location for that time. While a college or university may have an incredible reputation, they might not be the right fit if their location just doesn’t appeal to you.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Interior Design?
Students who earn a master’s degree in interior design are prepared to work as researchers, professors, and other industry leaders. This degree also prepares graduates for careers in architecture, urban design, project management, and facilities planning, among other fields. Successful interior designers pay close attention to details and have excellent communication, problem-solving, and multi-tasking abilities. Design software and other design-related technology are also familiar to these professionals. The following is a list of five jobs that candidates with this degree may be eligible for.
To make spaces functional and beautiful, interior designers use lighting, color, and a variety of materials. These individuals work for themselves or for firms that specialize in design, architecture, and engineering. Professionals with an advanced degree in this field may be able to find work in areas such as healthcare, corporate, or sustainable interior design. Professionals with a master’s degree can also pursue leadership positions and earn significantly more money.
Median Annual Salary: $51,500 *
Interior design professors teach undergraduate and graduate students at colleges, universities, and other higher education institutions. A professor typically requires a master’s or doctorate in their field and can earn significantly more than non-teaching interior designers.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000 *
A bachelor’s degree and several years of experience in a design-related field are required for art directors, and a master’s degree in interior design can help workers prepare for leadership roles. Television, film, magazines, and product packaging are just a few of the media that art directors work with. These professionals are in charge of overseeing and planning a project’s overall design as well as deciding how to best express ideas visually.
Median Annual Salary: $92,500 *
Craft and Fine Artists
Many design artists pursue master’s degrees to improve their practice, learn how to teach, and network with other professionals. To create works for sale and exhibition, artists use a variety of materials.
Median Annual Salary: $49,160 *
Many architecture departments at universities offer master’s degree programs in interior design. As a result, interior designers with master’s degrees may be eligible for an architect’s license as well. Architects are responsible for the design of homes, buildings, and other structures, and many of their responsibilities and requirements are similar to those of interior designers.
Median Annual Salary: $78,470 *
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Programmatic Accreditation for Master’s Programs in Interior Design
Accreditation is a badge of approval. It’s an official acknowledgement that you have received a quality education from a school that has met the standards set by an authoritative body. Accreditation can be important for future educational endeavors and employers. Graduate schools, post-graduate programs, and employers often require applicants to show proof of accreditation before they can apply or before they receive benefits.
Programmatic accreditation is when specialized agencies accredit specific programs at a school in order to ensure that curricula meet industry standards. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation frequently grants accreditation to master’s in interior design programs (CIDA). Interior design programs may also be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, as some schools host interior design programs through their architecture departments (NAAB).
Master’s in Interior Design Program Admissions
Graduate programs in interior design are notoriously competitive. Students should also be aware that applying to graduate programs takes longer than applying to undergraduate programs. Transcripts, a resume or a CV, and letters of recommendation are common application materials for both on-campus and online programs.
Admissions and financial aid professionals generally advise students to apply to four to eight schools, with two safety schools and one or two higher-ranked schools included. Keep in mind, however, that many master’s programs require students to pay an application fee when they apply; these fees typically range from $40 to $50, and applying to multiple schools can be costly. Some admissions programs, fortunately, waive these fees for students who show financial need.
Applicants to master’s in interior design programs must have a bachelor’s degree, which must be in interior design or a closely related field.
Prospective students should have some professional experience, which they can get from previous jobs, internships, or practicums. With their application, applicants may be required to submit a portfolio of their design work.
Many master’s programs in interior design do not specify a minimum GPA requirement. Many schools, however, require applicants to have a 3.0 GPA in any graduate-level classes they wish to transfer.
It can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to gather the information needed to complete a graduate program application. Furthermore, many of the required documents in an application packet, such as a design portfolio, may take a significant amount of time to prepare.
Transcripts from previous undergraduate and graduate programs are required for admission to interior design programs. These transcripts allow schools to confirm an applicant’s completed coursework and ensure that they have the experience and knowledge required for graduate school success. Students should contact the registrar’s office at their previous higher education institutions to obtain transcripts. For this service, some institutions charge a small fee.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants are usually required to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation. Former professors and supervisors who can attest to their academic and/or professional abilities should be asked to write these documents for students.
Although international applicants must typically submit TOEFL scores, most interior design programs do not require students to submit any test scores.
The average application fee is $45, though some schools waive these fees for students who have a significant financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master’s Program in Interior Design?
Depending on the school or program, the specific courses and areas of focus may differ significantly. Colleges may offer a master of fine arts (MFA) or a master of arts (MA) in interior design, for example; the distinction affects the types of classes and experiences students can expect from a program.
Courses in a Master’s in Interior Design Program
The specific curricula vary depending on your school and field of study. Most master’s in interior design programs, on the other hand, cover similar foundational topics like research methods, interior design theory and criticism, and environmental psychology. Most programs also allow students to choose from a set of electives to further customize their degree path. The following is a list of five courses that are common in master’s in interior design programs.
Design Innovation and Leadership
This course prepares students to work as art directors and project managers in the interior design industry as well as become interior design entrepreneurs. Participants will learn about the major theories that underpin contemporary design innovation, as well as the field’s history and creative business strategies and processes.
Students are prepared for the rigorous scholarship required in graduate programs by taking research methods classes. Students learn to think critically and analytically in these classes.
Environmental psychology studies the economic, social, mental, and physical effects of small- and large-scale architecture and location on humans. Environmental psychology policies and strategies are taught to students. This course prepares students for careers in interior design fields such as healthcare.
Theory and Criticism of Interior Design
This class teaches students how to approach design from a theoretical standpoint, with topics such as design ethics, history, social science, and sustainability covered.
Interior Design Studio
Students are required to take a studio class in many programs, especially MFA programs. Learners plan and create their own design projects in this class. Students gain knowledge and skills in site analysis, preliminary design, development, construction design stages, and presentation. Students in this class will learn how to work as interior designers and fine artists.
How Much Is a Master’s in Interior Design?
Tuition for this degree ranges from under $20,000 to well over $100,000 for two to three years of study. Many public schools provide significant tuition discounts to in-state students, with in-state students paying up to 50% less than out-of-state students. Tuition costs are influenced by a variety of factors, including whether or not a student takes extra credits or receives scholarships and/or grants. Furthermore, many online interior design programs charge the same tuition to all distance learners, regardless of where they live.
Aside from tuition, there are other costs associated with completing a graduate degree. You may have to pay more for room and board if you choose to live on campus. Housing costs vary depending on where a program is located; larger cities have higher living costs than small towns and rural areas. A graduate program’s overall cost is affected by costs related to technology and other class materials, in addition to housing. Many on-campus students use their school’s technology resources, which often include computer labs, printing stations, and laptop rentals, to help them save money.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Interior Design Prepares For
Certified Interior Designer
The NCIDQ exam, which is offered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification, allows individuals to earn the most prestigious certification for interior designers in the United States. Candidates must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in interior design and relevant work experience to take this test. Candidates with non-CIDA accredited degrees may be required to complete additional work hours before taking this exam.
Certified Healthcare Interior Designer
This certification is offered by the American Academy of Healthcare and Interior Designers to healthcare interior designers who want to gain professional recognition. Candidates must have at least three years of experience in healthcare interior design, NCIDQ or NCARB certification, and a sufficient portfolio. Candidates who do not have NCIDQ or NCARB certification may take the exam if they have at least 10 years of experience and a larger portfolio.
The architecture registration exam is open to students with a master’s degree from an NAAB-accredited program. Candidates who pass this exam can work as licensed architects. The specific requirements for taking this exam vary by state.
Resources for Graduate Interior Design Students
Metropolis has been publishing articles on design research and trends for over 35 years, both digitally and in print. Retail, healthcare, hospitality, residential, and workplace interiors are all covered in the magazine. Architecture and urban landscapes are two other areas of interest.
Kappa Omicron Nu
The KON National Honor Society is open to students pursuing degrees in interior design and other human sciences. KON has nearly 100 active chapters across the United States and focuses on providing leadership, research, and scholarship opportunities to its members.
This firm assists interior design, engineering, construction, and architecture firms in combining successful business practices with cutting-edge design. DI publishes research and other articles, as well as hosting an annual summit that brings together designers from all fields.
Interior Design, which has been around for over 80 years, hosts conferences and roundtable discussions to encourage collaboration and leadership in the field.
This online resource provides information about companies that use cutting-edge interior design to the international design community. The website also includes information on industry trends, new products, and research.
Professional Organizations in Interior Design
Professional interior design organizations assist current and recent interior design students and graduates in preparing for various certification exams. They also host events such as annual conferences, which provide excellent networking opportunities. Interior designers can sometimes register with these organizations and create profiles in order to market themselves and attract potential clients.
American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers
AAHID provides scholarships and research grants in addition to the certified healthcare interior designer certification. Professionals in this field can join the academy and have their profiles listed in the AAHID directory of interior designers, making it easier for potential clients to find them.
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
Architects and interior designers frequently collaborate, despite the fact that NCARB focuses on architecture. The website of this organization includes a blog with architecture news, licensing information, and continuing education opportunities.
Council for Interior Design Qualification
CIDQ, as the primary interior design organization, provides certification information and exam preparation to aspiring designers.
The Commercial Interior Design Association
An advocacy symposium, a hotelier summit, and a healthcare design expo and conference are among the events hosted by IIDA each year. Aside from networking opportunities, the association provides students interested in commercial interior design with a variety of resources, including discounted membership, design competitions, and mentoring programs.
American Society of Interior Designers
ASID is dedicated to assisting interior designers and raising public awareness about the impact of interior design on society. A research database, annual award programs, and insurance programs are also available through this organization.