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Interior Design


Interior design programs teach people to plan and design indoor spaces.

Interior design programs include topics such as:

Students learn to design residential, commercial, and institutional indoor spaces. They also study the historical and sociological developments in interior design.


Many community colleges offer associate degrees in interior design. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete.

Many colleges and universities also offer a bachelor's degree in interior design. A bachelor's degree usually takes four years of full-time study. Some schools offer a post-bachelor's certificate program that usually requires one year of full-time study after getting a bachelor's degree.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in interior design. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

You must also submit a portfolio of recent and original work. Portfolio requirements and guidelines vary from program to program. However, typically, your portfolio should contain drawings from three-dimensional sources.

You may be able to apply to an undergraduate program without a portfolio. Some schools allow you to apply to their college or university as an undecided major. Then, after completing certain prerequisite studio art courses, you can apply to enter the program.

Most colleges also require good scores on one of the following:

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General. You also need to submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.

There are two kinds of master's degree programs: "first-professional" and "post-professional." If a school offers a first-professional program, your bachelor's degree does not have to be in interior design or even visual arts-related.

If a school offers a postprofessional program, all applicants must already have a bachelor's degree in interior design. To such a school, you must submit a portfolio. It should contain the most polished design projects from your work as an undergraduate interior design student.

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Graduate Program Courses

Course work in master's degree programs varies, depending on whether the program is first- or postprofessional. As a first-professional graduate student, you have to complete a set of foundational art courses similar to many of the courses listed above. In addition, you would take advanced courses that explore in greater depth certain fundamental topics in interior design. These topics might include lighting, human factors, and marketing and contracts issues. As a postprofessional graduate student, your work is usually very individualized, depending on your interests and preferences.

In both first- and postprofessional programs, you complete a thesis and continue to add to and refine your professional portfolio. Because a thesis is research-oriented, you also take courses in statistics and research methodology.

Some programs include internship opportunities in their curriculum. This gives you the opportunity to experience the operations and procedures of a design business while applying your classroom skills. You also get the chance to make contacts within the field. As examples, you could help plan the kitchen and bath design plans for a residential home or help lay out the plans for the interior of a church.

Things to Know

Getting an associate degree in interior design typically prepares you to be a design assistant but not a professional interior designer.


East Side Area

Washington State University - Pullman

King-Snohomish Area

Bellevue College

Cornish College of the Arts

Highline College

Seattle Pacific University

Spokane Area

Spokane Falls Community College

Tacoma Area

Clover Park Technical College