Why This Matters


    Jobs in the interior design industry will continue to grow at an average pace through 2028. Retrofitting existing buildings to meet new environmental and accessibility standards will contribute to this employment.


    Twenty-three percent of interior designers are self-employed, either owning their own firms or working on a freelance basis. Master’s programs may include courses on business management to prepare you for this path.


    Senior-level interior designers, who have more education and experience, make an average annual salary of $69,084, compared to $53,370 annually for bachelor’s-level interior designers.

Our Research

While there are a number of educational paths into interior design, this list focuses on master’s degrees in interior design. Students can choose from different types of degrees, including Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Arts (MA).

To ensure flexibility, we concentrated on programs delivered online. Some programs have minimal on-campus requirements, while others can be completed through a mixture of online and on-campus classes.

We only included regionally accredited schools as a guarantee that the programs meet the highest standards of quality in secondary education. Most of the degrees have programmatic accreditation through the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), which is another important measure of quality.

Our team reviewed the programs for their coursework, cost, reputation, flexibility, and faculty, and then we gave them an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 81 hours to write this article
  • 129 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 255 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Online Master’s in Interior Design Programs

Best Online Master's in Interior Design Degree Programs
Intelligent Pick
Academy of Art University
Best Faculty
Ball State University
Best Public University
Stephen F. Austin State University
Best Value
Brenau University
Most Affordable
UCLA Extension
Best Design Theory Emphasis
Chatham University
Nationally Recognized
Savannah College of Art and Design
Best For-Profit University
Atlantic International University
Best Low-Residency Program
Boston Architectural College

What You Should Know About This Degree

Interior design is generally a bachelor’s-level entry field, although an associate’s degree may qualify individuals for some entry-level positions. Professionals in this industry can work their way up to senior positions through experience or by obtaining additional training in a master’s program. A master’s degree is also beneficial for individuals seeking to change careers and enter interior design from another field.

When considering whether to pursue a master’s in interior design, reflect on your career goals and professional experience to help you determine whether additional education or more hands-on experience will help you achieve your goals.

Oversight of professional interior designers happens at the state level, and each state regulates interior designers differently. In some states, you must have a license in order to bill yourself as an “interior designer,” while in others, both licensed and unlicensed interior designers can use the title.

To become licensed, interior designers must typically be certified through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). The NCIDQ sets educational and professional experience eligibility requirements and administers the three-part certification exam.

Programs that have CIDA accreditation are designed to meet the NCIDQ’s educational requirements. Therefore, attending a CIDA-accredited program can make the certification process easier. This is something to consider when researching programs and deciding which type of program to attend.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Interior Design programs:

  • Are there any on-campus requirements? Even if a program is advertised as online, students may still be expected to visit campus occasionally for orientations, seminars, or certain classes. Look carefully at the program’s curriculum, or talk to a program representative, to make sure you’re aware of any in-person commitments for the program.
  • What type of degree do I want? Each type of interior design master’s degree (MA, MFA, MS) has a slightly different pedagogical approach and graduation requirements. For example, an MFA is a terminal degree, and usually includes a teaching component, while an MS is more research-focused, and typically requires a thesis. It’s beneficial to choose a type of degree that aligns with your interests and professional goals.

You should also review the program’s admissions requirements and deadlines at this point. This information is typically available on the school’s website, or you can contact the school’s admissions department directly.

Financing your master’s degree is another important consideration. Explore your options for financial aid, including loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer.