Best Online Masters in Interior Design Online

Are you an aesthetically-minded person? Do you want to design and decorate interior spaces? If so, consider getting a masters in interior design online.

From selecting beautiful furnishings for rooms in residential spaces to working on the feng shui of corporate offices or hospitals, interior design is an exciting career filled with creative challenges.

In fact, interior design has changed a lot since the days of simply choosing matching curtains and chairs. Now, experts in this field focus on how spatial design can affect people’s moods and behavior. Additionally, interior designers research how design impacts the environment and underserved communities.

Furthermore, due to an increasing need for interior designers for large-scale projects, you may find yourself creating trendy design schemes for very large clients, like:

  • Colleges and universities
  • Public libraries
  • Nursing homes
  • Airports

By getting your interior design masters degree online, you’ll position yourself to get lucrative jobs for big clients. After all, the detailed study you’ll undertake in your graduate program will give you the knowledge and skills to take on any interior design job.

What is an Interior Design Degree?

Earning a masters interior design online degree is a great way for creative people such as yourself to advance into higher-paying professional work. There are also multiple focuses with these degree programs, meaning graduate students can customize their studies to their specific interests and talents.

For example, if you like mid-century modern design, you might be able to focus your elective courses in your online masters interior design program on that specific niche.

Of course, an interior design degree isn’t just about learning the different styles of design. Instead, most interior design degrees show you how to integrate design into professional practice. Additionally, you’ll look at how design interacts with many factors, including:

  • Health and wellness
  • Sustainability
  • Industrial design
  • Senior living
  • Academic achievement
  • Focus and productivity

Interior design courses might also include design theory, the fundamentals of design and décor, and how interior design relates to human behavior. For instance, you’ll likely take online courses in color theory and learn how different colors are associated with different moods or activities. Painting a kitchen or dining room a warm color like yellow, orange, or red, for example, can induce feelings of hunger. But, painting a bedroom a warm color isn’t a good idea – instead, you would choose a color associated with relaxation and calm, like blue or green tones. 

These degrees are widely varied, though, so the specific coursework requirements you’ll need to fulfill will be different from one school to the next. But, you’ll find many common features, too. For example, most online masters degree in interior design are master’s of arts degrees (though master of science degrees are often available, too).

A typical interior design degree requires around 33-36 semester credit hours to graduate. If you attend school full-time, you can complete that many credits in about two years of study. Some schools might have longer programs (e.g., one that requires 42 or 45 credits, or as many as 90 credits) while others might offer accelerated options that you can complete in a year or year-and-a-half. Studying part-time would obviously extend the timeline needed to graduate.

When choosing a graduate degree program in interior design, it’s important to keep accreditation in mind. On the one hand, you want to attend a school that has institutional accreditation (either regional accreditation or national accreditation, though regional accreditation is preferred). Many financial aid packages are only available if you attend an accredited school. Likewise, accreditation helps ensure that your credits will transfer, should you decide to switch schools.

Additionally, it’s helpful to select a program that’s also accredited. The best interior design masters programs are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Accreditation from CIDA (and from regional or national accrediting agencies) is voluntary. However, undergoing accreditation allows schools and programs to demonstrate their commitment to designing and developing high-quality educational programs. Furthermore, accredited schools and programs are built to help you develop the needed knowledge and skills to succeed in school as well as in your future career.

Therefore, in an online interior design master’s degree, you’ll develop the skills you need for a career in the design industry. You can pursue generalist studies, or you specialize in an area of your choosing, such as residential, corporate, or healthcare design. And since you’ll be in a program for online learning, you’ll have the flexibility of studying on your own terms from the comfort of your own home.

Graduates of masters in interior design online programs don’t just become interior designers, though. You can also become a creative director, a consultant, or go on to teach courses in interior design or related fields at colleges and universities.

See Also: 20 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Psychology 2022

How Much Can You Earn With an Online Masters Degree in Design?

Interior designers make a median yearly salary of $60,340, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet, this median salary estimate is based on interior designers with only a bachelor’s degree in their field. Thus, depending on the program, your master’s degree will likely open up more career possibilities and attract larger clients, which might result in a higher salary.

The pay range for this career reflects the income potential of getting a master’s degree interior design degree. For example, the highest 10 percent of earners in interior design make nearly $100,000 per year.

Of course, your salary is based upon many different factors other than your level of education. Your experience in interior design, your knowledge and skill level, and the quality of your portfolio will influence your pay. Ultimately, this is a service-oriented career, so your on-the-job performance will have much to do with the money you make as well. If you provide your clients with top-notch service and help them realize their interior design goals, you’re likely to get good reviews and referrals for other work.

See Also: 10 Best Online Master’s in Art and Art History Programs 2021

What are the Admission Requirements for an Interior Design Degree?

Requirements for an interior design degree online vary depending on the type of program and the school. Generally speaking, though, to apply for an online master’s program, you’ll need an undergraduate degree in interior design, architecture, or a related design field. Furthermore, many colleges require applicants to submit a multi-page portfolio of personal design work. Some programs require proof of English language proficiency as well, while others cater to international students.

Once admitted to one of the best online schools for interior design, you’ll find that a common requirement is an internship or a final design project. These activities allow you to apply what you’ve learned in a classroom setting to a real-world scenario working with real clients under the supervision of an experienced interior designer.

You might be wondering how an internship works when you’re an online student, though. Rather than having you visit campus or work in an assigned location, interior design programs are very good about helping find internship placements that are in or near your hometown. This minimizes the need for you to travel while also giving you the all-important field experience you need to further develop your skills.

During the course of your studies, you’ll also develop your portfolio, which is essential for your job hunt after graduation. Employers will want to see what you can do beyond simply looking at your transcripts. Your portfolio will demonstrate what you’ve done to complete your interior design qualification.

See Also: How to Apply for an Online Degree – Finding the Perfect School for You

What are the Best Interior Design Degrees?

OSR uses six data points to rank the master’s degree in interior design programs listed below. There are three school-wide and three program-specific criteria.

For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program-specific, OSR checks the median debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.

Each of these six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other schools in the United States. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education.

A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page. See our rankings of the best interior design degrees below!

See Also: Best Online Interior Design Degrees

  1. Academy of Art University

    Academy of Art University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $23,568(in state) / $23,568(out of state)
    • Students are able to specialize their degree based on interest
    • Has regular on-campus networking opportunities with professionals
    • Offers art, art history, and graphic design courses

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.80%
    Programs offered online32

    Program Level

    Median Debt$107,297
    Programs in Department12
    Popularity at School71.70%
    OSR Score

    Based in San Francisco, the Academy of Art University offers a 36-credit-hour online Master of Arts in Interior Architecture and Design program and a 63-credit-hour Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture and Design program.

    The MA program focuses on design analysis, programming, and understanding human social and spatial interaction. Likewise, you’ll learn about space planning, use of color and materials, and preparation of construction documents. The MFA program delves into design development and traditional and digital media. You’ll also explore innovative ideas and global issues.

    Graduates of these programs go on to find a diverse range of professional employment in their field, depending on which program track they chose. All students must complete a final thesis project.

  2. Savannah College of Art and Design

    Savannah College of Art and Design

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $36,765(in state) / $36,765(out of state)
    • Faculty consists of award-winning artists and designers
    • Students have free access to expensive graphic design tools
    • Offers collaborative learning projects with potential employers

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.60%
    Admission Rate93%
    Programs offered online5

    Program Level

    Median Debt$61,220
    Programs in Department7
    Popularity at School55.40%
    OSR Score

    With locations in Atlanta, Savannah (Georgia), Lacoste (France), and online, this program at the Savannah College of Art and Design is an excellent choice for those interested in multiple areas of design. With a focus on environmental and social issues, students in this 45-credit hour Master of Arts or 90-credit hour Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design program will take courses such as:

    • Environmental Psychology for Interior Design
    • Contemporary Issues in Interior Design
    • Emerging Interior Materials

    Graduates not only continue on to become interior designers—they also find work as lighting designers, hospitality and retail designers, and health care facility designers. There is, however, no specialty tracks offered at this school.

  3. Brenau University

    Brenau University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $12,330(in state) / $12,330(out of state)
    • Has an emphasis on research and critical thinking skills
    • A diverse set of courses are all offered online
    • Curriculum especially prepares students for careers in academia

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.20%
    Admission Rate66%
    Programs offered online9

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School12.90%
    OSR Score

    This Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design is a terminal degree for students who are interested in aesthetics, technology, and human behavior. You’ll take courses focused on critical issues in design education and research, as well as develop techniques for applying evidence-based research to design.

    Graduates of this program continue on to become interior designers, higher education professors, and specialists in advanced areas of design practice. Additionally, this degree will help you pursue a career in design practice research.

    At Brenau University, you’ll get the chance to develop and teach an undergraduate course. You must also complete a self-directed thesis. These hands-on learning activities deepen your understanding of interior design and best practices.

  4. Ball State University

    Ball State

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,554(in state) / $21,172(out of state)
    • Students can choose either an online or hybrid environment
    • Offers a “socially responsible” curriculum
    • Online class sizes are small, averaging about eight students

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction73.20%
    Admission Rate62%
    Programs offered online6

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School5.20%
    OSR Score

    Located in Muncie, Indiana, this unique program from Ball State equips you to be a professional interior designer.

    Requiring 33-credit hours, students entering the Master of Arts or Master of Science in Interior Design program can choose from courses like:

    • Visual Cultures in Built Environment
    • Environmental Psychology,
    • Professional Design Practice

    With a focus on research, ethics, and theory, graduates often work as interior designers for environmental or community-based organizations, such as hospitals that serve diverse populations.

    Students are required to take 15-credit hours of electives. A three-to-six-credit hour creative project or thesis must be completed with this program as well.

  5. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $7,518(in state) / $22,425(out of state)
    • Students can choose between five specialized areas of interest  
    • Offers the option of a two or three year track
    • Curriculum geared towards research and statistics

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction72.40%
    Admission Rate64%
    Programs offered online1

    Program Level

    Median DebtNot Reported
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School3.40%
    OSR Score

    This well-respected and competitive 36-credit hour program based in Lincoln, Nebraska is run by the college’s School of Architecture.

    For the Master of Science in Architecture Specialization in Interior Design degree program, students must take courses such as:

    • History of Interiors and Designed Objects
    • Environmental Behavior
    • Architecture History & Theory

    Graduates continue on to work in both corporate and socially-minded interior design careers, often collaborating with architects, environmental engineers, and even experts in social behavior.

    You must do independent fieldwork as well as complete a thesis for this program. Several specialized courses for this program are only offered on-campus.