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Students who graduate with a master’s in interior design can find work with residential or commercial design firms, become design directors or project managers, or even start their own interior design companies. They can pursue careers as exhibition designers, production designers for theater/television/film, visual merchandisers, designers in the healthcare sector, or teachers of interior design. This degree can also be helpful for those working in architecture, graphic design, furniture design, and textile design.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for an interior designer is $62,510. And according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition for a graduate degree program is $12,596 at public universities and $28,017 at private universities. Students who study full-time can typically complete a master’s in interior design program within two years.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Interior Design Program

Choose your area of study

This degree may be offered as a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Arts (MA). Furthermore, some programs allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field, such as architecture, retail exhibits, lighting, or furniture design. If you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, look for programs that closely match these career goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in interior design program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for interior design education.

You should also check the total cost of the program. And does the program offer several start dates throughout the year or begin at the same time as on-campus programs?

Finally, consider the location of the university. While many programs are available entirely online, others have a hybrid option where students can attend some courses on campus. This would give you opportunities to get better acquainted with your fellow students and instructors as well as get more involved in student clubs and organizations, mentorship programs, on-campus events, and other activities. Even if you plan to study online, the school’s location may be something to consider.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary by school and program.

Most universities require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related field from an accredited college or university. Students must submit their official transcripts with their application to confirm that they have the appropriate degree or coursework and meet minimum GPA requirements.

Other common requirements include your resume, one or more letters of recommendation, a personal statement explaining why you want to earn this degree, and a portfolio showing your previous work. GRE scores may also be required. Always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

When selecting a program, carefully consider the research you’ve done, and look at the components of each option. You may not find the “perfect” program, so decide which elements are most important to you. Then, make a list, in order of preference, of the programs you’d like to enroll in and apply to them all.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

You should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. Check what scholarships are offered by the university or other institutions, and research what federal and state loans and grants are available. Some students take advantage of work-study programs offered through the university or federal government, and if none are available and you have room in your schedule, you can work a part-time job to help pay for your degree. Those who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition reimbursement as well.

Be sure to speak to financial aid counselors at the schools you’re interested in for the most accurate and specific information about program cost.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Interior Design Programs

Best Online Master's in Interior Design Degree Programs

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Savannah College of Art and Design

Ball State University

Brenau University

Chatham University

UCLA Extension

The New School

Boston Architectural College

Goddard College

University of Wisconsin at Stout

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How We Rank Schools

While there are a number of educational paths into interior design, this list focuses on master’s in interior design programs. 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 for postsecondary education. Most of these options also 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. Then, we gave them an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Interior Design Program?

In an online program for a master’s degree in interior design, students develop both technical and creative skills to create environments that are comfortable, safe, and tailored to specific individual or business needs and preferences. You’ll learn about lighting, traffic flow, acoustics, spatial awareness, materials, and how to best serve the social and psychological needs of those who live or work in different spaces. The program may also offer business courses to assist those who wish to start their own design firms.

Many programs can be taken entirely online, with no on-campus classes required. Students receive course material via an online learning platform such as Moodle, Canvas, or Blackboard. The student portal provides access to the course syllabus, assignments, schedules, reading material, audio-video material, lectures, grades, and more. These platforms also have chats and message boards so students can communicate with fellow students and instructors.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in interior design degree program

  • Environmental psychology. This course explores how factors such as location, colors, textures, window and door placement, and the use of lighting and space affect people physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. Best practices and strategies are covered for tailoring interior designs to specific fields and facilitating collaboration and innovation.
  • Industry-specific skills. Industries such as education and healthcare have specific needs for interior design, and programs often offer courses that focus on these needs. For example, students may learn how to design exam rooms, waiting rooms, and various areas in hospitals to improve both the mood and productivity of patients and professionals.
  • Design principles and elements. This course teaches students the basic principles of design and serves as a foundation for most other courses in the program. It covers the tools, concepts, colors, textures, and materials needed to bring peace and harmony to a space.
  • History of interior design. Students learn how homes and business spaces have been designed and decorated throughout history. Various trends and movements are covered — both manufacturing and architectural — as well as important figures in the history of interior design. This gives students a deep well from which to draw when they start creating on their own.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Interior Design?

Career outlook

Graduates with an online master’s degree in interior design have diverse career paths to explore, spanning various industries and roles within the field. Here are some common career paths for individuals with advanced education in interior design:

  • Interior designer — Improve the appearance and functionality of indoor spaces by designing layouts and selecting items such as lighting fixtures, furniture pieces, and wall finishes.
    • Median annual salary: $62,510
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New job openings projected: 9,000 annually
  • Archivist, curator, or museum worker — Help design and maintain historical collections and exhibits.
    • Median annual salary: $57,120
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 10%
    • New job openings projected: 5,000 annually
  • Top executive — Coordinate the work of a firm by establishing goals and overseeing activities.
    • Median annual salary: $103,840
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New job openings projected: 311,600 annually

Online Master’s Degree in Interior Design Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in interior design degree program?

Most universities require that applicants of this graduate program already have a bachelor’s degree in interior design, architecture, graphic design, or another related field. While admission to campus-based classes may be limited, this is often not the case for online students.

Most interior design programs require that applicants have a GPA of at least 3.0, and transcripts should be submitted along with your resume, letters of recommendation from former professors or mentors, a portfolio of your work, and a personal statement, if required. Those with a lower GPA may be admitted on a per-case basis. In any case, be sure to speak with an admissions counselor before applying.

How much does an online master’s in interior design degree cost?

The average annual tuition for a graduate degree is $20,513, and there may be additional technology fees for online students. Books and other university services could mean extra costs as well. The tuition is sometimes higher for out-of-state students, but this doesn’t always apply to online programs.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in interior design degree?

A master of science or arts in interior design, depending on the school, requires about 60 credits, and most full-time students take two years to complete it. An MFA requires students to focus on a specific discipline, which typically involves more coursework. This extra coursework can include research, essay writing, or hands-on application of things learned in the program. For this reason, an MFA can take up to three years to complete.

Is an online master's in interior design worth it?

Earning an online master’s degree in interior design offers numerous advantages. Having a master’s degree can enhance job prospects, improve your earning potential, and open doors to leadership roles within the interior design industry.

An online master’s program provides flexibility, allowing students to balance their studies with work or other commitments. Additionally, it offers access to a diverse range of experiences, such as internships and research projects, that can enrich students’ skill sets and portfolios.

For those aspiring to work remotely, an online degree demonstrates valuable skills such as self-motivation and time management, qualities highly regarded in the growing trend of remote work. Building a professional network through online programs also enhances opportunities for mentorship and job placements.

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