Online Colleges with Interior Decorating Programs: How to Choose

Those who wish to learn about interior decorating while working or attending a complementary educational program may be interested in online enrollment. Online college programs for interior decorating are primarily offered at the certificate level, although undergraduate and graduate degree programs in interior design are also available.

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Online degree programs in interior decorating vary greatly by program level, internship and placement opportunities and exam preparation. Therefore, students can learn more here about these considerations and some of the available programs.

How to Select an Online Interior Decorating School

Certificate programs are the most common level of education for interior decorating. They can be taken independently or as a complement to a bachelor's degree program in art or architecture. They're also appropriate for those who work in related positions and who wish to further their academic understanding of interior decoration. These online programs are available at select colleges and universities. Students should then weigh the program level and internships with exam preparation.

Program Level

Those who wish to enter interior decorating only need a certificate to get started, but a few online degree programs are also available at the undergraduate and graduate level. These programs are usually called 'interior design' rather than 'interior decorating' because they explore advanced topics such as blueprint reading and building models.

Internships and Career Placement Opportunities

The next step to choosing an interior design school is looking at what kind of practical experience is built into the curriculum. Some colleges require distance-learning students to complete an approved internship in their local area, while others simply incorporate practical experience via projects and assignments.

Internships allow interior decorating students to work with established companies, which can in turn lead to later job opportunities with that same company. Those who wish to run their own business or freelance can benefit from the experience by making industry connections. College career centers are designed to also help graduates locate full-time job openings but may also help with internship placement.

Exam Preparation

Interior decorators often take advantage of certification and continuing education opportunities to update their skills, keep abreast of new design trends and demonstrate professional aptitude. The most widely recognized courses and certification in this field are offered through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). Individuals interested in NCIDQ certification should seek online colleges that prepare enrollees to pass the requisite exams.

List of Online Interior Decorating Programs

Interior Decorator Certificate

An interior decorator certificate can traditionally be earned in one year or less. Students learn to discern and meet client needs. In an online program, students may be able to complete a sequence of courses in any order at their own pace, subject only to availability. Courses are theme-specific and include such topics as:

  • Principles of color
  • Building plans
  • Fabrics
  • Decorating with furniture

Associate of Arts in Interior Design

This program offers much of the same course content as a certificate for interior decorating, but also requires students to complete general education classes. An associate's degree can be earned in approximately two years. To enroll online, applicants may need to provide proof of high school graduation or passing the GED. General education classes include those in:

  • Science
  • Math
  • English
  • Social sciences

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design

A 4-year baccalaureate degree program for interior design expands upon the general education units necessary to earn an associate's degree and also incorporates electives. In addition to core design principles, students learn business, communication and computer-aided drafting skills. Completing a portfolio or final project is commonly necessary to graduate. Coursework includes:

  • Codes and regulations
  • Design fundamentals
  • Environmental systems
  • History, theory and criticism of design

Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design

An online graduate degree program in interior design is an advanced option for those interested in leadership business roles or teaching others how to succeed in the field at a college or university. A final project or thesis is required. A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) may be achieved in 2-3 years. Classes touch upon upper-level subjects such as:

  • Spatial awareness
  • Eco-conscious and conceptual design
  • Materials and modeling
  • Sacred geometry

Schools With Online Programs in Interior Decorating

Penn Foster College provides an online associate's degree program in interior design that provides 45 credits towards the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam's education requirement. The program is broken up into four semesters and students must take a total of four proctored exams.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers an online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design program with a unique focus on sustainable design. The program consists of core classes, electives, foundations courses and some liberal arts requirements. Core courses include an internship experience, portfolio reviews and a senior design project.

Ball State University has online Master of Arts or Master of Science in Family and Consumer Science programs with options in interior design. Students with a design background can take a fast-track option to complete the program in two years. Students without this design experience have 47 hours of additional on-campus course requirements.

When considering an online undergraduate or graduate degree program in interior decorating, students should consider the program level they wish to pursue, any internship requirements and how well the program prepares them for certification. Online programs are available at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.

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