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Interior Design Degree

Interior design focuses on making residential, commercial, and institutional places aesthetically pleasing, functional, and safe. Requiring creative and motivated individuals, interior design has to take into account the purpose of the space, any themes the individual or company may want, and the safety of the end result. This area of study has a direct career path to Interior Designer. Interior design is available at all degree levels, including certificate level. Competition is generally considered to be high within this career.

Program attributes to consider when choosing an institution include asking whether the interior design program is part of the fine arts department or the architecture and building department, or whether it’s an independent program. It can change the types of classes, or focus of the major, depending on where it's housed. 

Associate Level

Opting for a 2-year associate’s degree in interior design won’t likely make students eligible for an interior designer position, but it can be a good segue into the subject. The curriculum will include 3D design, history of design, and design fundamentals.

Careers for graduates with an Associate in Interior Design: Interior Design Assistant. The average salary for this level of education is between $35,000 and $40,000.


The standard degree in this field is a baccalaureate, which usually takes four years to complete. A bachelor’s will expand upon the curriculum offered at the associate level, including knowledge on how to read blueprints, understand building codes as well as safety regulations, and use computer-aided drafting systems. The curriculum will also likely include courses on interior lighting, use of color, architecture, floral design, ergonomics, and professional practice. Psychology classes often play a role in interior design programs, as well. There will often be an option to specialize in specific types of interior design, such as in creating environmentally friendly spaces or set design for films or theatre.

A baccalaureate in interior design can come in two forms, as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Interior Design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interior Design. The BA will focus more on liberal arts courses in conjunction with major courses, while the BFA is often considered more a pre-professional degree with most of students’ time spent in major classes.

Careers for graduates with a baccalaureate in interior design: Interior Designer, Healthcare Designer, Corporate Designer, Green Interior Designer, Set Designer, Space Planner, Lighting Designer. The national average salary for an Interior Designer is $62,000.

Master Level

Graduate degrees in interior design will add on to knowledge learned during the baccalaureate. Depending on the program type, a Master of Arts (MA) in Interior Design curriculum may be geared towards students without a bachelor’s in interior design. On top of furniture design, drawing, and interior materials, programs often include a research and theoretical aspect. Some programs may also offer the opportunity to specialize.

The other option for this area of study is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Design, which, like most MFA programs, is typically considered to be a pre-professional degree due to the extra focus placed on the major subject. Students will learn to problem-solve, become proficient in visual communications and spatial planning, and learn the ins and outs of presentation techniques. The program will likely include courses on emerging materials, textiles and finishes, and more about the human factors in design.  

Careers for graduates with a masters in interior design: Interior Designer, Retail Display Manager, Consultant 

PhD in Interior Design

Doctorates in interior design are primarily for those wishing to become professors and teach future interior designers. The curriculum will include advanced knowledge and practices, application of artistic techniques, and research.

Careers for graduates with a doctorate in interior design: Academic Professor, Facility and Design Manager, Consultant, Lead Designer


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