Are you an aesthetically-minded person looking to design and decorate interior spaces? If so, consider the 5 Best Online Master’s in Interior Design.

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 since the days of simply choosing matching curtains and chairs. Now, experts in this field are focusing on how spatial design can affect people’s moods and behavior, as well as researching 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 college campuses, public libraries, nursing homes, airports, and more.

What is an Interior Design degree?

Earning a master’s degree in interior design is a great way for creative people to advance into higher-paying professional work. There are also multiple focuses with this degree program, meaning you can cater it to your interests and talents. Most interior design degrees will show you how to integrate design into professional practice, as well as look at how design interacts with health and wellness, sustainability, senior living, and academic environments. You’ll also study how interior design relates to human behavior. With this degree, you’ll be eligible for the career of an interior designer specializing in an area of your choosing, such as residential, corporate, or healthcare design. Graduates also go on to teach courses in interior design or related fields at colleges and universities.

How much can you earn with an Interior Design degree?

Interior designers can make up to $53,370 per year, 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. Some students of interior design also go on to work in academics. Of course, your salary will also be based upon your experience, education, skill level, and the quality of your portfolio.

What is required for an Interior Design degree?

Requirements will vary depending upon what type of program you’re applying to. 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. These programs also all require an internship or a final design project for graduation. During the course of your studies, you’ll also develop your portfolio, making you a more lucrative potential employee.

What are the best Interior Design degrees?

OSR bases its rankings primarily on data from the National Center for Education statistics, with Payscale and U.S. News & World Report data supplementing. Below you will find statistics for each school on Online Program Quality, Student Satisfaction, Online Presence, Affordability, Earnings Potential, and Acceptance and Retention rates. These data are compared against all other schools and given a score scaled to 100.

View our full methodology for more information.

  1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    Tuition in State/Out of State: $24,544/$39,664
    Acceptance65
    Earnings Potential80
    Online Presence1
    Online Program Quality13
    Retention93
    Student Satisfaction76
    Reputation100
    Pros
    • 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
    Cons
    • Several specialized courses are only offered on-campus
    • Students must complete 3-6 credits of unrelated electives
    • Both independent field work and a thesis must be completed
    100%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, and 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.

  2. Ball State University

    Tuition in State/Out of State: $24,342/$40,510
    Acceptance71
    Earnings Potential74
    Online Presence1
    Online Program Quality13
    Retention91
    Student Satisfaction74
    Reputation98
    Pros
    • Students can choose either an online or hybrid environment
    • Offers a “socially responsible” curriculum
    • Online class sizes are small, averaging about eight students
    Cons
    • Students may be less prepared for jobs in large corporations
    • Requires 15-credit hours of electives, possibly on the topic of healthcare
    • A 3-6-credit hour creative project or thesis must be completed
    99%OSR Score

    Located in Muncie, Indiana, this unique program from Ball State will equip you to be a professional interior designer. Requiring 33-credit hours, students entering the Master of Arts or Science in Interior Design program can choose from courses like Visual Cultures in Built Environment, Environmental Psychology, and 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.

  3. Savannah College of Art and Design

    Tuition in State/Out of State: $52,952/$52,952
    Acceptance67
    Earnings Potential33
    Online Presence8
    Online Program Quality13
    Retention65
    Student Satisfaction74
    Reputation98
    Pros
    • Faculty consists of award-winning artists and designers
    • Students have free access to expensive graphic design tools
    • Offers collaborative learning projects with potential employers
    Cons
    • No speciality tracks are offered
    • The course list is highly limited for MS degrees
    • Often takes three years or more for students to graduate
    97%OSR Score

    Located in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Lacoste (France), Savannah, 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 Science or Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design program will take courses such as Environmental Psychology for Interior Design, Contemporary Issues in Interior Design, and 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.

  4. Brenau University

    Tuition in State/Out of State: $44,248/$44,248
    Acceptance87
    Earnings Potential54
    Online Presence1
    Online Program Quality13
    Retention83
    Student Satisfaction76
    Reputation98
    Pros
    • 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
    Cons
    • Students must develop and teach an undergraduate course
    • Graduates must complete a self-directed thesis
    • Less diversity: Almost 90 percent of students are women
    89%OSR Score

    This Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design based in Augusta, Gainesville, Jacksonville, North Atlanta, and South Atlanta is a terminal degree for students who are interested in aesthetics, technology, and human behavior. Students will 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, specialists in advanced areas of design practice, and researchers in design practice.

  5. Academy of Art University

    Tuition in State/Out of State: $40,750/$40,750
    Acceptance87
    Earnings Potential75
    Online Presence1
    Online Program Quality13
    Retention88
    Student Satisfaction72
    Reputation86
    Pros
    • 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
    Cons
    • 30-credit hours of general studies are required for MFA
    • All students must complete a final thesis project
    • Limited scholarships of $2,000
    84%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, understanding human social and spatial interaction, space planning, use of color and materials, and preparation of construction documents, while the MFA program delves into design development, traditional and digital media, 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.