Master’s in Interior Design Career Guide
What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Interior Design Program?
When choosing an online program to obtain a master’s in interior
design, students can take advantage of convenient education options that
equal an on-campus experience with quality coursework to prepare for a
successful interior design career. Flexible attendance options allow
graduate students to hold a full-time work position while also meeting
degree requirements, and self-pacing programs make it easy to work ahead
in preparation for personal obligations. When searching for an online
degree program, it’s important to consider all options and find the
program that best meets your needs.
Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Interior Design
|CONCENTRATION||DESCRIPTION||POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR|
|Interior Designer||Prepares students to become professional interior designers, exploring concepts about usable space and the importance of balance and symmetry.||Interior designer in a personal office working as an independent consultant|
|Architecture||Focused on the theory of interior architecture and design as it relates to building. The program encourages them to explore the development of concepts and designs for creating permanent interior architectural structures.||Interior architect for a large design firm, as an independent contractor for personal clients or in an office environment for corporate clients|
Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Interior Design
There are several schools that offer online programs for a master’s
degree in interior design, and each provides a unique approach to the
required curriculum. Those pursuing a career in interior design must
decide if they prefer their education in the form of a Master’s in Fine
Arts Interior Design degree or a Master’s in Architecture and Interior
Design. These options each put emphasis on different focuses within
interior design and offer curriculum that reflects that focus.
Overall, your coursework can be affected by the degree you seek and
the program you choose to complete. Despite the variation, there are
several courses that are commonly found within most programs, including:
|Interior Design and Environmental Psychology||Gives students an understanding of the ways human beings react to and interact with a built environment, including the impact of cultural and social issues and demographic factors.|
|Theory of Interior Design||Explores the industry’s history and how interior design is likely to evolve over time and helps students become familiar with current best practices.|
|Principles of Organizational Ecology||Studies social organization history and ecology as influencing factors on design concepts and space construction.|
|Professional Practice in Interior Design||Teaches students the business practices used in interior design, covering topics such as billing and accounting, ethics and professional certification.|
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Interior Design?
Online programs for a master’s degree in interior design are
generally set up to take between two and three years to complete. In
most programs, 60 hours of advanced course credits are required for
graduation. The number of classes you choose to take each semester can
have an impact on the amount of time it takes to reach your degree, with
part-time students requiring more semesters for completion than
For some online programs, an accelerated learning option is available
that cuts the total program time to as low as one year. These programs
often require a full-time commitment, with students encouraged to focus
solely on program completion, and are often too intensive for students
who have other commitments such as work.
Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Interior Design Prepares For
|NCIDQ Certification||Although not every state requires certification, the certification examination offered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) is considered the gold standard of competence and professionalism in the industry. Obtaining a master’s degree in interior design greatly reduces the number of work hours required for exam eligibility.|
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Interior Design Degrees
When choosing an online school for your master’s in interior design
degree, it’s important to look for an accredited program. Accreditation
can be given through national organizations, such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), or regionally through organizations like the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities or Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Industry-specific accreditation may be given through the Council for Interior Design Education.
Programs that receive accreditation from one of these organizations
have met the educational standards dictated by the interior design
industry. Accreditation ensures a quality education and can be necessary
for credit transfers, should a student choose to take their education
further, and for professional certifications.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Interior Design Graduates
Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows interior designers have a
somewhat lower-than-average job outlook from now until 2026. This makes
obtaining a master’s degree critical for gaining a competitive advantage
over professional peers when seeking highly desirable positions.
Because obtaining a master’s degree in interior design helps prepare
students for the NCIDQ exam, those who hold a bachelor’s degree are
required to complete at least one extra full year of work experience
before they can be eligible to take the exam. For some states,
certification through the CIDQ through passage of the NCIDQ exam is a
requirement to work in interior design. In others, CIDQ certification
may still be a requirement for hiring companies.
Along with an increase in professional opportunity, completing an
online master’s in interior design program can also have a positive
impact on your salary potential. When you look at the charts below,
you’ll see positions open to those who hold an online master’s degree in
interior design offer significant financial benefit.
|Job Title||Salary Range|
|Senior Interior Designer||$48,615-$91,120|
|Project Manager, Interior Design||$39,090-$91,100|
|Design Director, Interior Design||$59,561-$147,387|
Whatever career path you choose, a master’s degree can help you negotiate a higher salary when applying for a position. The chart below shows the annual mean wage of various organization types for interior designers.
Something also to consider is your location as it can impact your earning potential. The following chart shows the top paying metropolitan areas for an interior designer and below that is a map of annual mean wages nationwide for interior designers.
Within the interior design industry, those who hold an online
master’s degree can pursue a variety of career focuses. Prospective
employers are often willing to negotiate better salary and benefit to
candidates who show the dedication to their field a graduate degree
|JOB TITLE||JOB DESCRIPTION||MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH RATE|
|Interior Designer||Interior designers are trained to enhance an interior space through the use of architectural design and decorative elements to maximize functionality, safety and aesthetics while following all proper inspection regulations and building codes.||$51,500 per year||4%|
|Set and Exhibit Designer||Set and exhibit designers apply their interior design background to conceptualize sets for the film, television and theater industries and aid in the design and implementation of special exhibits for organizations, such as zoos and aquariums.||$59,590 per year||10%|
Interior designers often work as independent contractors or
consultants, so networking can be beneficial to their careers.
Professional organizations are a great way for those with a master’s
degree in interior design to learn from colleagues with more experience,
see available job opportunities, engage in continuing education
opportunities and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news and
trends. Here are a few of the most respected professional organizations
for anyone with a master’s degree in interior design.
American Society of Interior Designers:
ASID offers members access to organizational research, business and
learning tools, industry news and continuing education courses. The
organization also hosts several industry events throughout the year
where members can network with others in their industry.
Interior Design Educators Council, Inc:
The IDEC was created to advance interior design research and education.
The organization hosts several conferences and events for networking,
offers multiple industry publications and allows members to help shape
International Interior Design Association:
The IIDA is a networking and educational organization that holds
multiple events for members, hosts a variety of relevant competitions
and offers job search tools.
Interior Design Society:
Members of IDS receive discounts on offered continuing education
credits, can connect with other members and industry partners, attend
national events and conferences and can participate in the
organization’s Designer of the Year Awards Program.
Designer Society of America:
The DSA is specific to residential interior designers and offers
members a free portfolio to showcase work, industry publications,
invitations to member events, continuing education opportunities and
members-only discounts on professionally relevant products and services.
Financing Your Online Master’s in Interior Design
Many students choose an online program to obtain their master’s
degree in interior design to take advantage of the savings that online
programs offer. However, some are still in need of financial assistance
to help cover the expense of graduate school. Filling out the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should always be the first
step to soliciting financial help to find out which federally funded
grants and loans you qualify for. If these do not cover your expenses,
or you find you don’t qualify, private loans and scholarships are
another avenue that can help. Look through the resources below to get
Deadline: April 17
Eligibility: Open to students who are accepted for, or enrolled in, admission for a graduate interior design program at an accredited university. Application includes a personal essay, portfolio and letter of recommendation.
Deadline: January 2020
Eligibility: Students must demonstrate a commitment to using traditional materials and classic design elements, submit a portfolio that reflects this commitment and complete other application requirements.
Deadline: May 15
Eligibility: Open to students enrolled in an accredited design program with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.9 and have taken no breaks between their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Deadline: March 31
Eligibility: Open to students who are currently enrolled in an interior design graduate program at an accredited college or university.
Deadline: March 31
Eligibility: Open to students who are currently enrolled, either full-time or part-time, in an accredited interior design graduate degree program and who demonstrate the desire to creatively utilize green/sustainable elements in their designs.