Fully online bachelor's degree programs in interior design are available, although they may require an in-person internship. A bachelor's degree is generally the minimum educational level required to work as an interior designer. Some states require licensing for those who call themselves interior designers; check for state-specific regulations when choosing an educational program.
Before enrolling in an online program, students may need to equip their computers with specialty software such as Adobe Creative Suite. They will also need access to specific hardware, such as a scanner and a digital camera.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Interior Design
Online interior design programs can help students develop skills in creativity and graphic communication. Students also can strengthen their critical-thinking, conceptualization and spatial visualization abilities. Online interior design programs, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, are primarily offered through private, for-profit institutions.
Almost all programs stress some combination of an internship or professional practice and portfolio development toward the final years of study. Students should have an interest in traditional drawing and drafting, as well as in color theory and construction materials. Related certificate, associate's and master's degree programs also are available online.
Program Information and Requirements
Online bachelor's degree programs in interior design generally take four years to complete. Most programs can be done fully online; however, students might need to complete an internship in person.
For an online interior design program, students need a broadband connection and a faster-than-average processor. Specialty software, such as Adobe Creative Suite, might be necessary for some classes. Some programs require additional hardware, such as a flatbed scanner or digital camera. Most schools offer books and software for online purchase.
Common Core Courses of Interior Design Programs
In addition to general education requirements, students might complete classes in both residential and commercial design principles. Most programs offer core and elective interior design courses similar to the following:
Students train in computer-aided design through a series of classes that build upon each other. Beginning with basic 3-D modeling, students progress through increasingly complicated renderings of interior environments.
Survey of Art, Architecture and Design
Programs tend to emphasize survey classes in architecture, design and art history, which provide students with a knowledge base for building their design aesthetic. Additionally, these classes afford students a point of reference for future clients' specific design requests.
In color theory classes, students are taught how the interaction of shadow, color and light delineates a space. They also explore how color and mood relate, as well as how to utilize color to enhance a room's function.
Materials classes train students in the fundamental building blocks of a space, including textiles, finishes, woods, stones and metals. Students learn how the function of a space typically determines the types of materials used within that space.
Students with a bachelor's degree in interior design might pursue careers with a design firm, an architectural firm or the design department of a corporation. Entry-level positions, such as design assistant or junior assistant, may be available to recent graduates.
As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the 51,050 interior designers employed nationally earned a median annual wage of $48,840 (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted that employment opportunities for these designers would grow by 4% between 2014 and 2024, job growth that's slower than the average for all occupations.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Some states mandate that interior designers be registered or licensed. This generally requires passage of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) Examination. Students must have a combination of six years of education and experience, including at least two years of formal education, to qualify for the exam. Interior designers who live in states that do not require registration or licensure can still take the NCIDQ exam to attain voluntary certification. Continuing education is generally required to maintain certification and/or licensure.
Interior designers who would like to progress to a master's program in the field can find options both on campus and online. Graduate certificate programs also are available.
Over the course of online bachelor's degree programs in interior design, students learn how to apply artistic concepts to the development and implementation of room layouts. Upon completion, graduates can seek entry-level employment or continue their online studies in the field at the graduate level.