Online Colleges for Interior Design

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Methodology:

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following four criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
  1. Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
  4. Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below
We ranked 1,813 colleges and universities in the United States on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified: 1.Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject: 25%
2.Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level: 12.5%
3.Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment: 12.5%
4.Average in-state tuition for undergraduates: 12.5%
5.Graduation rate: 7.5%
6.Retention rate: 10%
7.The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Guaranteed, Other): 4%
        a.Payment: 1%
        b.Prepaid: 1%
        c .Guaranteed: 1%
        d.Other: 1%
8.Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers): 2%
        a.Academic/Career: 1%
        b.Placement for Completers: 1%
9.Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military): 4%
        a.Dual: 1%
        b.Life: 1%
        c.AP: 1%
        d.Military: 1%
10.Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid: 5%
11.Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students: 5%
All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

Sources:

  1. Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design Online, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, https://www.rmcad.edu/program/online/interior-design-school-online/
  2. Interior Design, San Joaquin Delta College, https://www.deltacollege.edu/div/finearts/InteriorDesign.html
  3. Online Interior Architecture & Design Degree Programs, Academy of Art University, https://www.academyart.edu/academics/interior-architecture/online
  4. Interior Design A.S. Degree, Penn Foster College, Accessed March 2018, https://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/home-and-garden/interior-design-associate-degree
  5. Interior Design, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division, Accessed March 2018, https://www.artinstitutes.edu/online/academics/interior-design
  6. MS in Architecture: Specialization in Interior Design, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Accessed March 2018, https://architecture.unl.edu/degree-programs/interior-design/ms-architecture-specialization-interior-design
  7. M.A. in Interior Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Accessed March 2018, https://www.scad.edu/academics/programs/interior-design/degrees/ma
  8. Doctor of Interior Design (PhD), Atlantic International University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.aiu.edu/Doctor-of-Interior-Design.html
  9. Interior Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed March 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/interior-designers.htm#tab-1
  10. What Are the Education Requirements of a Visual Merchandising Career?, Learn.org, Accessed March 2018, https://learn.org/articles/What_are_the_Education_Requirements_for_a_Career_in_Visual_Merchandising.html
  11. Industrial Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed March 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/industrial-designers.htm#tab-1
  12. Postsecondary Architecture Teachers, OwlGuru.com, Accessed March 2018, http://www.owlguru.com/career/architecture-teachers-postsecondary/
  13. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2018, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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From private homes to elegant public spaces, from palatial hotels to your favorite stores, many of the most striking and memorable building interiors are put together by professional interior designers. An interior designer plans and organizes practical yet aesthetically-pleasing interiors that serve an intended purpose, from boosting production to selling merchandise to creating a comfortable lifestyle.

Interior designers can find many intriguing opportunities for their careers, but it's difficult to get started in the field without first earning a degree. Online degree programs can be an especially convenient way to meet this requirement, as they can help cut down on commuting costs and work around your schedule.

Featured Online Colleges for Interior Design

Online degree programs for interior design are not exactly widespread, but they certainly do exist. On this list, we are featuring a few of the accredited online colleges that offer degree programs in online or hybrid format for this intricate subject.

1

Academy of Art University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$21,252
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
58%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
81
School Type
4-year

The School of Interior Architecture & Design at the for-profit Academy of Art University offers numerous degree programs for those who want to make a career of interior design, including an online Associate of Arts, an online Bachelor of Fine Arts and two online master's programs: the Master of Arts and the Master of Fine Arts. If you've already earned a bachelor's degree in another subject, you can also consider the academy's Second Degree program -- an accelerated program that can be completed in half the units and does not require liberal arts classes or art electives.

Accreditation:

  • Council of Interior Design Accreditation (BFA and MFA), National Association of Art and Design (MA), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (institutional)

Location:

79 New Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94105
2

San Joaquin Delta College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$1,104
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
44%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
51
School Type
2-year

Students seeking entry-level work in interior design can opt to pursue the hybrid online/ on-campus associate degree or certificate offered by San Joaquin Delta College. Both programs accept students through an open admissions policy, and graduates of either program should benefit from having an impressive portfolio of work to show to possible clients.

In addition to general education courses, students of the Associate in Arts in interior design program can learn about textiles, the history of interior design, family and consumer sciences, residential design, architectural drafting and more. Meanwhile, those who opt for the certificate in interior design are likely to focus instead on how to work from blueprints, design residential and commercial spaces, forecast trends in fashion and design, and more.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges/Western Association of Schools and Colleges (institutional)

Location:

5151 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95207
3

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$17,170
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
100%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
17
School Type
4-year

The online interior design bachelor's degree program at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design allows students to earn their four-year degree entirely online. Coursework in the program is structured around lighting design, space planning, manual drafting and computer aided design (CAD), environmental and human behavior, construction documents and contracts, and interior materials and systems. Students can also choose to pursue the sustainable design specialization, which helps them create spaces that are more friendly to the environment.

RMCAD takes education seriously, which is why online students get just as much support as those who attend on-campus. Online students are even invited to attend pertinent interior design events to explore new ideas and boost their networking potential.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (institutional), Council for Interior Design Accreditation (Program)

Location:

1600 Pierce Street
Lakewood, CO 80214

Degree Overview: Interior Design

The creation of a living or working space takes more than just color, light and materials; that's why interior design degree programs are so important. Let's take a look at what kinds of things student may learn by completing these degree programs.

Online Interior Design Courses

Undergraduate interior design studies are likely to guide you through the entry-level fundamentals, such as color theory, CAD (computer-aided drawing) software, building systems, safety codes, textiles, lighting, construction, marketing and both residential and commercial design. Though these courses are common for both associate and bachelor's degree programs, you may find that a bachelor's program can include additional courses on the topics of sustainability, barrier-free design, the psychology of design, and much more. Some programs may even offer specializations in the design of certain interiors, including office spaces, kitchens or bathrooms.

Master's degree programs in interior design can help graduate students to examine topics and skills from their undergraduate program in more depth. For example, while a bachelor's student might study lighting as a design element, a master's student might learn about the physiological or psychological impact that light can have on the people working or living in a space. Graduate programs may offer in-depth courses in architectural studies, research methods, contemporary issues, environmental psychology, emerging materials, and the history of design from various perspectives. Often, these programs help students integrate their skills into professional practice through hands-on experience in field work or internships.

Finally, Ph.D. programs in Interior Design often aim to prepare graduates for high-level consultation, academic, or leadership positions through flexible coursework that helps them meet their individual professional goals. These programs may include courses on big-impact topics, like housing and neighborhood design, facility management, and accessibility, in the hope of equipping graduates with research skills they can use to make key contributions in their field.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

During their degree programs, interior design students should focus on developing the technical, creative and interpersonal skills necessary to design aesthetically-pleasing spaces that meet safety, accessibility and sustainability requirements. These skills include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Design skills: Design skills aren't just about proportion, color, textiles, furnishings and lighting, although that is certainly part of it. Being able to design also includes being able to draft and render your design idea, as well as having knowledge of materials, building and safety codes, and sustainable practices.
  • Problem Solving: Is a desired material out of stock? Are colors that looked complementary in the catalog not matching up as anticipated? Does building code require a redesign of the anticipated floorplan? These problems and more can arise to plague the interior designer, who must be able to decide upon quick, effective solutions so the designing can continue.
  • Materials Knowledge: Select products and materials that are aesthetically appropriate for design solutions while also meeting standards of use, maintenance, sustainability and compliance.
  • Building Systems: Produce solutions that correlate with building, environmental and property management systems, while also adhering to standards of use, maintenance and sustainability.
  • Professionalism: It is vital for interior designers to maintain a standard of professionalism that meets the needs of clients and protects public health, safety and welfare in an ethical and legal manner. As many interior designers are self-employed, that professionalism can be the difference between struggling to bring in more business versus growing a loyal customer base.

Interior Designer Career Outlook

Interior Designer
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$58,210
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
6,600
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
4.9
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree
The job of the interior designer is to transform residential or commercial areas into functional, safe and stylish spaces that people can enjoy. They must properly determine space requirements and read blueprints, and then bring together the colors, lighting, materials and other design elements that can aesthetically complement and logistically fit into the space. Often, designers will use CAD (computer-aided design) and BIM (building information modeling) software to create visualizations of their designs.

Though the majority of interior designers are self-employed, a bachelor's degree in the field is typically needed in order to be hired by a client.

Merchandiser
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$30,940
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
13,700
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3.8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent
Merchandising is a specialized offshoot of interior design that focuses on retail displays. The goal of a merchandiser is to engage the customer and motivate them to make a purchase via the strategic arrangement of the store layout, window displays, lighting, and atmospheric elements like scent and music. Merchandisers must be able to understand customer preferences and continuously update displays as stock varies and seasons change.

Some employers may be willing to train on the job, while others may prefer an associate degree or certificate for an entry-level position.

Industrial Designer
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$70,540
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
3,900
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree
Part engineer and part artist, industrial designers create products that combine practicality, aesthetics, production cost effectiveness, and usability. Relying on art and design skills, a working knowledge of human psychology, and the continuous testing and re-testing of prototypes, industrial designers create a wide range of functional and stylish products: from furniture and toys, to computer interfaces and cars.

Entry-level employment in this field almost always requires earning a bachelor's degree in Industrial Design, Engineering, Architecture, or a similar program. Prospective employees should also curate an electronic portfolio that features their best design projects.

Architecture Professor
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$91,000
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
800
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
10.6
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Doctoral or professional degree
As their title implies, architecture professors expand the minds of undergraduate and graduate students by teaching architecture and related architectural design courses. When not lecturing at the head of the classroom, grading assignments, or supervising student internships and research, professors of architecture often engage with developments in their field by reading up on and conducting their own research, and attending professional conferences.

Employers at four-year colleges and universities typically look for candidates who hold a Ph.D. in architecture or a related field, though a master's degree may meet the requirement for a postsecondary position at a community college.

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