Online coursework in interior design is available mainly through degree programs offered at both for-profit and non-profit schools. Students who are interested in the field can choose a major in Interior Design, Interior Architecture or Fine Arts. Programs can lead to an associate's degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or a certificate. These programs are offered in a blended format, combining online courses with on-campus requirements. Students who are interested in earning an online certificate in another design-related field may also consider professional certification in graphic design, which can be completed entirely online.
The classes within these programs typically cover the planning, livability and aesthetics involved in interior design. They also focus on design theory, process and studio work. Design elements and principles, space planning and color theory are part of the program. Through assignments that require hands-on design work, interior design students build a professional portfolio of their projects. Graduates are prepared for interior designer certification.
Interior Design Programs and Courses
Interior Design Associate's Degree
Offered by a few colleges, this entry-level online program covers areas like residential and commercial design, drawing techniques, use of computer-aided design software, and legal, financial, ethical and other issues encountered by interior designers. Students will be expected to take some general education requirements. Coursework for the 2-year degree program includes:
- History of interior design
- Color theory
- History of furniture
- Architectural lighting design
- Professional practice
Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design
Generally offered as a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, this 4-year online program requires the completion of internships and an extensive portfolio. Along with interior design courses, students also study related topics in anthropology, psychology, sociology and biology in order to gain a well-rounded perspective for creating livable, functional spaces. Students take classes in areas such as:
- Holistic design
- Building codes and regulations
- Design research
- Office design
Master's Degree in Interior Architecture and Design
A few schools offer this advanced degree in design online; it is offered as both a Master of Science and a Master of Fine Arts degree. The curriculum focuses on advanced techniques in interior architecture and design. Students complete a thesis or a directed project. They have access to other students and professors through an online course delivery system and can complete work on their own time, although specific milestones must be completed on time. Coursework can include:
- Spatial design
- Sketching for design
- Lighting design
- Materials use
- Concept, theory and design process
Interior Design Certification
In order to become a certified interior designer through the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), prospective interior designers must complete a formal program in interior design with a minimum of 40 semester hours of interior-design-related coursework, submit proof of work experience with an interior design firm and pass the 3-part Interior Design Fundamentals Exam administered by the NCIDQ. An exception is made for those with a Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture, who do not need additional interior design education to take the exam.
Overall, there are lots of online courses and programs available in interior design, and they can prepare graduates for certification in the field. Students in undergraduate degree programs get a comprehensive overview of the design-related subjects as well as a general education, while online master's degree programs typically offer a greater degree of flexibility in both curriculum and scheduling.