Do you love designing and decorating your home? Are you an expert in feng shui? Guess what? You can make a career out of that. Interior designers are responsible for the functionality, aesthetics, and furnishings of indoor spaces. They can work with individual clients for residential spaces, or with architects and construction managers on large-scale projects like hospitals or college campuses.
Interior design is way more involved than just picking out the right couch to go with the oak floors. We’ve selected the 5 Best Online Master’s in Interior Design in the country. Take a look!
What kind of online master’s in interior design should you get?
It’s uncommon for schools to offer specializations, and while you can tailor elective selection and internship choices to your professional goals in these programs, you generally won’t be picking a specialization. A few schools do offer concentration options, however, including gerontology and merchandising.
Gerontology design looks at the ways in which designed spaces can and should change as people age. Older bodies need additional accommodations in designed environments, such as homes and offices, and gerontology-centered design programs look at ways in which this can be accomplished.
A merchandising specialization will look more closely at how interior design operates as a business. Students learn about retail merchandising and accounting, as well as learn business leadership skills like public speaking.
How much money can you make with an online master’s in interior design?
Interior design professionals made just over $53,000 per year in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this includes both those who only held a bachelor’s degree and those who work in related jobs such as wholesale trade and furniture sales. Master’s degree holders may have a higher median salary.
Interior design jobs haven’t grown as rapidly as many other professions, however. While most fields are expected to add about 7% as many jobs as they had in 2016 by 2026, interior design will likely only grow 4% in the same period. Less than 3,000 new jobs are projected to open in the field by 2026.
What can you do with an online master’s in interior design?
Interior designers pursue their careers in diverse environments. They may work in offices, travel to design sites, or in sales environments.
- Offices – Many interior designers work in office settings, using common office technology like computers and drafting software to support their work. Some choose to make their homes their offices.
- Design Sites – As part of their work, interior designers will often travel to a customer’s chosen site, such as a home, office, or mixed-use building. This may happen on evenings or weekends.
- Sales – Some interior designers work in sales capacities, helping customers find the home fixtures that will complement their spaces and assisting in placement.
What are the requirements for an online master’s in interior design?
- Undergraduate degree – Schools will often require an undergraduate degree. Completion and GPA will be verified with transcripts from any undergraduate institutions attended.
- Statement of purpose – A statement of one’s goals regarding the master’s program is typical for interior design programs.
- Letters of recommendation – Schools will usually expect students to submit at least two letters of recommendation from professors or employers.
- Portfolio and resume – Schools targeting those with interior design experience will require examples of prior work. Some schools also require a resume, to get a sense of the student’s professional background.
- Application fee – Schools will sometimes charge an application fee, but not all schools do so.
What are the best online master’s in interior design degrees?
The schools below offer some of the best online programs in interior design. Each school’s affordability, return on investment, academic quality, cost, and student satisfaction goes into the rankings. These schools often see high ratios of salary to degree program cost, with students reporting satisfaction with the education they received and graduating at solid rates. Schools which make the grade for these rankings also have a reputation for academic quality and good student-to-faculty ratios. All data used comes from either U.S. News & World Report or Payscale.com.
See our rankings methodology page.
Ball State University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $13,369
Ball State University has everything you need to start an online Master’s in Interior Design. It’s affordable, reputable, and offered in a flexible format. Ball State University is a public research university based in Muncie, Indiana. The school is intentional about its building design, and all of its new renovations are LEED certified.
The online Master’s Degree in Interior Design at Ball State University is 100 percent online. The curriculum gives you access to all of the top industry tools. In your classes you’ll cover proxemics and space programming, but also relevant digital trends like animation techniques. Some highlight coursework includes:
- Visual Culture in the Build Environment
- Environmental Psychology
- Design Analysis
- Inclusive Design
This program is delivered in two separate tracks. The Fast Track lets you finish a 33-credit-hour program in just two years. The Three-Year Program is intended for students with no background in design. You’ll take a full year of undergraduate classes on campus before starting the online master’s program.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
College Choice Score: 96.44
Average Net Price: $16,462
The oldest and largest university in the state, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a public institution with over 25,000 students. The online and distance education branch offers 25 different master’s programs. Architecture Hall, home to this particular program, is the oldest building on campus.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, you’ll get both breadth and depth through the MS in Architecture with a specialization in Interior Design. This 36-credit-hour program is offered totally online. Your classes will help you narrow down your specific focus within interior design. Here are some examples:
- Design and Gerontology
- Design Pedagogy and Teaching
- Healthcare Design
- Digital Design
In addition to these more concrete classes, the curriculum also emphasizes research as a useful tool in the field of interior design. As such, you’ll cover classes like Design Research, and Evolving Issues in Interior Design. Your degree will be completed with a written exam.
Savannah College of Art and Design
College Choice Score: 96.42
Average Net Price: $40,856
Savannah College of Art and Design is a private fine arts university that maintains two campuses in the United States – Savannah and Atlanta – as well as in Hong Kong and France. It also provides online options. SCAD is divided into eight academic schools, which include design, communication arts, fashion, digital media, and more.
In total, you’ll take 45 credit hours to complete your MA in Interior Design at SCAD. The curriculum takes you through the complete spectrum of design—theory, research, materials, psychology, application, and more. Some specific classes in this degree include:
- Contemporary Issues in Interior Design
- Applied Interior Lighting
- Emerging Interior Materials
- Interior Design Theory and Criticism
It is 100 percent possible for you to complete this degree online. However, there are some courses that require you to be on campus to complete. If you’re interested in a hybrid program, you can attend mostly online, but attend classes in either Savannah or Atlanta as needed.
The New School’s Parsons School of Design
College Choice Score: 95.94
Average Net Price: $45,504
In the heart of the “Big Apple” you’ll find The New School’s Parsons School of Design (or simply Parsons). This private design institution is nationally known for its prestige and reputation in the art world. It keeps a small student body of around 4,200 students.
This program zooms way out to offer an MS in Strategic Design and Management. With this degree, you’ll be leading creative teams in the business world. You’ll take 36 credits to finish this program, and have the option of attending online, in person, or through a blended format. Here’s a sampling of some courses you might take:
- Managing Creative Projects and Teams
- Design Innovation and Leadership
- Integrative Studio
- New Design Firms
One hugely unique feature of this program is the Global Executive option, which gives you a chance to travel the world and study design abroad. You’ll spend 18 months in Paris, New York, and Shanghai with a group of 25 other students. This, of course, can not be completed online, but would be a fantastic addition to your degree.
College Choice Score: 93.80
Average Net Price: $19,650
A private university based in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau University delivers a wide range of liberal arts degrees both in person and online. It was founded in 1878 as a school for women, and the Women’s College at Brenau still operates to this day. The graduate program is open to both men and women and delivers a number of online options.
Brenau University offers an MFA in Interior Design that brings together a number of skills – everything from design to teaching to research. The curriculum lets you specialize in either Human Environment or Design Environment. You also have a number of classes in pedagogy. Some core design classes include:
- Health Care and Institutional Design
- Historic Preservation and Environmental Issues
- Interior Design Classroom Preparation
- Building Information Modeling
Part of your training in this program is preparing to teach at the college level. You’ll play the part of both the student and the teacher. Halfway through, you’ll get the chance to develop an undergraduate interior design course. During the end of your degree, you’ll complete a thesis project as well as a final design.