Interior design or decorator diploma and certificate programs can be taken completely online or in a hybrid format. Many take only a few months to complete. Individuals study the principles of design, furniture styles and interior lighting. Bachelor's degree programs in interior design are also available fully online, though some may require an internship. These programs can lead to interior design careers, as well as computer-aided drafting and design jobs. Students also usually work on developing a portfolio throughout the program.
Online master's degree programs in interior design or related fields are rare, but available. Though all coursework can be taken online, some programs require students to complete a local, on-site internship. These online graduate programs can ready people for management positions in design.
Due to the nature of the program, some computer-aided design software may be required in order for students to complete some courses. Students who want to apply to the certificate and bachelor's degree programs should have earned a high school diploma, while master's degree program applicants should already hold a bachelor's degree and be able to produce a portfolio of original designs.
Interior Design Certificate
Students in interior design certificate programs study various design styles as well as components of design, including lighting, treatments, furniture and floor plans. Students learn to assess clients' needs to meet their expectations within a specified budget. The only educational requirement for these certificate programs is a high school diploma or the equivalent. Individuals with a higher degree in another field may also complete the certificate program.
Information and Requirements
Certificate programs generally take less than a year to finish and can be completed entirely through distance learning. Students receive lessons, lectures and study aids in textbook, CD and DVD format through the mail. Using the Internet, students order new lessons, turn in assignments, take exams and interact with classmates online. Additionally, students have access to instructors via phone or email as well as an online library, which can be accessed anytime.
Common Interior Design Certificate Courses
Certificate programs don't have general education requirements. Students complete courses in different lesson sets, which cover all aspects of interior design, from business management to wall coverings.
Students study the color wheel and learn techniques for using color in a room. They study the properties of color and techniques for planning a color scheme.
Furniture in Design
This course familiarizes students with common furniture styles from the 17th-20th centuries. Students analyze room-traffic patterns so that furniture layout is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Feng Shui Interior Design
Students study the art of Feng Shui, which emphasizes the design of harmonious settings to make individuals feel in-tune with the environment. The course covers energy principles that are used to create beautiful and unique designs.
Bachelor's Degree - Interior Design
The bachelor's degree program in interior design teaches concepts in lighting, color and design. Students acquire experience using digital technology and imagination to create functional, welcoming and aesthetically pleasing designs. These programs are open to students who hold a high school diploma; some programs may also admit individuals with a bachelor's degree in another field.
Information and Requirements
Students generally complete an online interior design bachelor's degree in four or five years, though accelerated programs are available for those who have earned a degree previously. Students log into the school's online course management page, where they can interact with other students, complete assignments and watch video lectures, which detail such lessons as instructions for computer software programs.
In addition to a computer and Internet access, students need plug-ins and software programs, including Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Office Suites. Some courses may also require additional software programs, such as Photoshop and a computer-aided design program. Computer-aided design software allows students to digitally play with furniture, color and lighting to see how they will look in 3D.
Common Interior Design Bachelor's-Level Courses
In addition to general education courses, students complete major core classes and electives in interior design. Through these courses, students gain experience creating and implementing design plans.
In this class, students analyze a room to determine the best sources of light, including natural lighting, lamps, skylights and other options. They set up light fixtures and study how lighting affects a room's atmosphere.
Commercial Design Studio
Students examine problems in designing rooms for commercial locations. They study trends in commercial building design as well as brand creation and the incorporation of a brand into interior design.
Interior Architecture Details and Systems
This upper-level course examines the structures, including electrical and mechanical systems, walls and ceilings, which make up a room or building. Students study the properties of various building materials and proper installation methods for each, in reference to interior design detailing.
Master of Fine Arts - Interior Design
Through graduate programs in interior design, students learn to incorporate clients' needs into more complex design plans for rooms and homes. Students identify trends in the field and work to incorporate them into a cohesive style, ranging from historical to contemporary. Interior design master's degree students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit a portfolio of original designs for admission.
Information and Requirements
These programs generally take about two-and-a-half years to complete. To access course materials, students log into the school's course management site, which allows them to watch video lessons that build upon each other. Students can also interact with classmates and teachers through Web chat and email. Some software requirements for online master's programs include Adobe Reader, Quicktime, Photoshop and Microsoft Office Suites.
Common Graduate-Level Interior Design Courses
Students do not complete general education courses at this level, but rather, complete core courses and electives that match their interests. At the graduate level, students may learn advanced interior design skills, which include concepts from basic architectural design and graphic design.
Students study construction elements for renovating bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms. This course trains students to integrate elements that will conserve and beautify spaces by redoing ceilings, decorating with furniture and adding detail to walls and ceilings.
In this class, students learn to create digital images through graphic design principles. This allows students to add and modify color, furniture and lighting to model a design scheme.
This class provides students with the opportunity to hone their work and learn to present it. They study formats for showing their designs so they can demonstrate it for professors and potential employers.
A certificate program can lead to entry-level positions in interior design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for interior designers was $55,510 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The demand for their expertise was expected to increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024, also according to the BLS.
A bachelor's degree in interior design can lead to a career in space planning, interior design or computer-aided drafting and design. Graduates of an online bachelor's degree program generally have the opportunity to build a portfolio of original designs, which may allow them to do contract work or be self-employed. According to the BLS, the highest paying interior design positions in May 2015 were those related to real estate.
Students can study interior design in fully online or hybrid programs from the certificate through the graduate level, and find varying levels of employment. Diploma or certificate programs teach students about the history and application of design techniques, while advanced study focuses on how to work with clients and build a portfolio.