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Interior Design Graduate Programs with Course Information

Both master's and doctoral programs are available for those looking to further their education in interior design. Explore the differences and similarities between these programs' coursework and the career outcomes for graduates.

Essential Information

Master's and doctoral degree programs for interior design provide individuals with the advanced knowledge and skills needed to influence the design of residential, commercial and public spaces. Students gain an understanding of human behavior, design theory and professional practices.

These graduate-level programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in interior design, architecture or a closely related field, along with an application and official transcripts. Potential students are also often asked to submit letters of recommendation.

Master's degree programs, which typically take 2-3 years to complete, give students advanced knowledge and practice in design theory and visual communication through studio work, seminars and classes. Doctoral programs focus on the development of leadership and research skills and usually require the completion of a dissertation.


Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design

Master's degree programs for interior design provide both theoretical and technical instruction in the processes and methods for the design of interior spaces. Students develop a broad understanding of contemporary interior design, including design research, problem-solving methods and the role of human factors in design. Most programs provide opportunities for students to master the use of computer hardware and design software used in professional practice. Graduate students are expected to develop proficiencies in design theory, space planning and visual communications. Studio work may append training from seminar and lecture-style coursework. Interior design curriculums typically include:

  • History of interior design
  • Lighting
  • Emerging materials
  • Human behavior and response
  • Textiles and finishes

Ph.D. in Interior Design

Doctoral programs in interior design prepare students for academic positions and advanced leadership roles. Designed for the professional development of experienced interior designers, a Doctor of Philosophy in Interior Design (Ph.D.) program equips students with the research skills to exhaustively examine the influences and processes of interior design. Doctoral programs provide students with opportunities to study and research key areas of designing, planning and furnishing both commercial and residential spaces. In addition to completing a dissertation, students are required to complete coursework in areas that may include:

  • Design methods
  • Interior design systems
  • Sustainable design
  • Research methods
  • Design analysis

Continuing Education Information

A master's degree in interior design is typically the highest level of formal education achieved by professional interior designers. Practicing professionals can choose to participate in continuing education courses offered through professional organizations, such as the American Society of Interior Designers. Many states have laws regulating the practice of interior design and require professionals to complete continuing education units as a condition of license renewal. Those interested in entering the academic world and educating future interior designers may choose to pursue a Ph.D. in Interior Design.

Popular Career Options

Interior design graduates are equipped to research, identify and create solutions pertaining to function, quality and safety of interior environments. Interior design professionals can pursue careers as:

  • Residential designers
  • Set designers
  • Design journalists
  • Retail display managers
  • Lighting designers
  • Space planners
  • Interior design consultants

Doctoral programs prepare individuals to apply artistic techniques, research and advanced knowledge of interior design practices to a variety of professional opportunities. Graduates with a Ph.D. in Interior Design may find employment as:

  • Facility and design managers
  • Academic professors
  • Consultants
  • Lead designers

Master's degree programs in interior design cover a variety of topics, from history of interior design to textiles, in order to prepare students for such careers as interior designers, consultants and retail display managers. Doctoral programs equip graduates with the advanced knowledge needed to pursue leadership or academic positions.


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