Online interior design degrees are available at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree level. In these degree programs, students learn about the history of design, how to use computer-aided design software, and how to work with architects and other design professionals. A bachelor’s degree in interior design is the fastest way to launch a full-fledged design career, although a bachelor’s in another area, plus required CAD and design classes, can also work.
Online Interior Design Degree Levels Available
- Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
- Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
- Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years to complete
- Master’s Degree: 2 years to complete
- Doctoral Degree: 4-6 years to complete
A professional online associate degree in interior design can be useful for those with or without an undergraduate degree; some programs focus on general education and design classes, while others focus only on professionally oriented skills. Students receive an introduction to the major realms of interior design, including retail, residential, hospitality, and workplace design. Accredited programs can prepare students to sit for the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.
If you lack an undergraduate degree, an online bachelor’s in interior design can provide an in-depth introduction to the field. These programs cover the business skills required to become a designer, along with the necessary creative and technical knowledge. Courses cover building codes, computer-aided design, interior design theory, and communication skills. Many bachelor’s programs include optional specializations in particular design areas, such as sustainable design or historic preservation.
Online master’s degrees in interior design can be used by non-designers to gain the credentials to enter the field; current interior designers can use the program to specialize or expand their skills. Most master’s programs in interior design require a written thesis or thesis project in a design area. Possible specializations within the program include architectural framework, bath and kitchen design, healthcare design, or sustainable design.
Doctor of Philosophy programs in interior design are usually aimed at preparing professionals for interior design education at the university level, or for high-level government or research positions. Students learn how to conduct interior design research and study peer-reviewed literature.
Undergraduate online interior design programs usually require the standards admissions requirements of a high school diploma or GED, letters of recommendation, SAT/ACT scores, and a personal statement. Some programs require a portfolio of creative work. Graduate programs typically require an accredited undergraduate degree, GRE scores, a resume, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and a portfolio of creative or design work.
Differences Between Traditional and Online Interior Design Degrees
Like all art and creative programs, hands-on abilities are vital to the interior design degree. Online interior design programs approach these hands-on requirements in a number of ways. Some online programs use video tutorials to work step-by-step through artistic or technical skills; students upload their work or a video or their skills to demonstrate mastery. Other programs require on-site work, where students participate in design labs.
The online certificate, associate, and bachelor’s degrees in interior design featured on Guide to Online Schools have an average tuition of $18,000 a year.
Programmatic accreditation is a sign of a great program, and it may be required to earn an interior design license in your state. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits a variety of design programs, including interior design; the Council for Interior Design Accreditation focuses specifically on interior design programs. Students looking to specialize in kitchen and bath design can look for accreditation through the National Kitchen and Bath Association (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Consider your own career aspirations, as well as your state requirements for design licensure, before selecting an online program. In many states, students have to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam, before they can use the title of “interior designer.” The online programs you are considering should state if they are designed to prepare graduates to sit for this exam or not. In states that require licensure, professionals may still provide interior design services, but they cannot call themselves licensed interior designers.