7 Best Online Interior Designer Programs (Complete Guide)

If you look up from your computer screen, you will notice the surrounding space, all of which is the work of interior designers when building residential or commercial structures.

Designers create the spaces you eat, live, and shop in daily, so their inspiration is all around.

As homeowners and businesses seek more modern and unique spaces, interior designers are needed now more than ever.

As a result, many online interior design programs have become available for students with a creative eye, a love for interior spaces, and design-motivated goals.

Do you find yourself doodling a kitchen remodel in your spare time?

Do you develop online mood-based with a focus on home décor?

If so, starting a career in interior design may be a great option to meet your goals.

The first step is earning a degree, so reading the article about the best online interior design programs can get you started!

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Best Online Interior Design Training Programs

Between brick-and-mortar universities and online-only institutions, plenty of opportunities are available to earn an online interior design degree. These schools include:

Ball State University Ball State University 

Ball State University has a flexible, entirely online Master of Interior Design program that allows students to pursue a Master of Science or Master of Arts.

The program focuses on theory and research, so students take classes on accessibility, graphic communication skills, environmental psychology, and design theory to gain a foundation in the field.

Ball State is ideal for those seeking sustainable design since the school boasts a socially responsible curriculum highlighting universal and environmentally friendly design techniques.

Online classes average just eight students, which allows each student plenty of time with the instructor for a more personalized experience.

This is one of the primary reasons the Ball State program is so highly ranked.

Students must complete 33 credit hours of coursework, equating to an approximately two-year time commitment.

The resident cost per credit is $431, while the non-resident costs $646, and the Higher Learning Commission accredits the school.

Ball State’s overall graduation rate is 61%, with an admission rate of 87%.

Boston Architectural CollegeBoston Architectural College

The Boston Architectural College offers a highly ranked, post-professional Master of Science in Interior Architecture online degree created for interior designers.

The program comprises 30 credit hours, which takes approximately two years to complete, and focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of design research and strategies with two virtual weekend intensives and immersive online classes.

Distance learners are subjected to the same rigorous curriculum as on-campus learning and are instructed by leading interior architecture professionals.

The curriculum includes vital topics such as research methods and design strategies for interior spaces.

Students must complete two theses and a guided research project during the third semester with an on-site component to give learners hands-on experience in the field.

The graduate per credit hour costs $1,224, and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation accredits the school.

BAC has an admission rate of 100% but only a 39% graduation rate due to the intensiveness of the programs.

Brenau UniversityBrenau University

Located in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design online degree aimed at those with an interior design background or undergraduate degree looking to expand their skill set.

This program is an excellent option for those with academia as their career goal since students must teach an undergraduate-level interior design course, which is excellent preparation for college-level instruction.

Renau’s interior design curriculum covers multiple topics, including sustainable interior design, emerging design styles, and computer-aided technology.

Students interested in the program must hold an undergraduate degree in architecture, interior design, or another related field.

Most students in this program continue immediately after earning their bachelor’s degree to be more marketable to interior design firms after graduation.

The cost per credit is $785, and the required credits to graduate are 34, which takes around two years to complete.

The Council for Interior Design Accreditation accredits Brenau and has a 92% admission rate with a 44% graduation rate.

New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNew Jersey Institute of Technology

NJIT offers a leading online Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design program, a 120-credit hour requirement that takes around four years to complete.

The school is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, which is an important consideration when reviewing schools.

The coursework focuses on professional practice considerations, environmental and cultural contexts of built environments, structural and technical systems, and design history and theory.

Given that it’s an institute of technology, this program emphasizes using modern technologies like information technology and digital media in interior design products and practices.

Program graduates are immediately prepared to design non-residential and residential spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, sustainable, and functional.

The resident cost per credit hour is $126, and the non-resident cost $263.

Rhode Island School of DesignRhode Island School of Design

Known as RISD (Riz-dee), the Rhode Island School of Design is one of Earth’s best interior design schools.

Established in 1877 in Providence, RISD sits on 13 acres of design-focused land on the edge of College Hill due to the neighboring Brown University campus.

The two institutions share resources such as academic courses and social events.

The U.S. News and World Report ranks RISD as the best online interior design school in the U.S., above Yale University and the School of Art Institute of Chicago.

Their continuing education program offers an online interior design certificate and degree.

The program includes a comprehensive interior architecture program, where students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts or master’s degree.

One of the two master’s degree programs focuses on Adaptive Reuse and is for those professionally well-established. RISD also features a certificate of interior design program, which focuses on reuse in design and architectural practice.

The time commitment ranges from one to four years, depending on the program type.

Savannah College of Art and DesignSavannah College of Art and Design

The Savannah College of Art and Design, or SCAD, has undergraduate and graduate interior design offerings, consistently receiving high rankings, including seven from the “Best Architecture and Design Schools” from Design Intelligence.

The bachelor’s degree program is available entirely online and covers foundational topics in the field.

The master’s program can also be completed online and presents more advanced topics like emerging interior materials, contemporary issues in design, research methods, and environmental psychology for interior design.

One unique aspect of the school is SCADpro, an in-house creative consulting firm, allowing students access to hands-on opportunities similar to internships.

This offers an incredible experience when students graduate and enter the job market.

SCADpro partners with some professors and students to design, research, and provide innovative solutions for brands like Fox Sports, NASA, and HP.

The undergraduate cost per credit hour is $869, whereas the graduate rate is $890.

Students in the undergraduate program must complete 180 credit hours to graduate, and graduate students must finish 45 to earn a master’s degree.

SCAD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has an admission rate of 78% with a 65% graduation rate.

University of Nebraska at LincolnUniversity of Nebraska at Lincoln

As a public university based in Lincoln, Nebraska, it has several well-ranked online degrees, like the Master of Science in Architecture, which focuses on interior design.

The program is consistently ranked in the top five interior design programs by OnlineMasters.com and the top 10 by Value College.

Throughout the program, students learn to integrate design research into learning environments, aging in place, senior living, health and wellness, sustainability, and professional practice.

The 36-credit-hour program is entirely online, but local students could take some classes in person with the program director’s approval.

The degree takes approximately two years to complete, and students are encouraged to participate in fieldwork and internships to achieve hands-on experience.

The cost per credit for graduate Nebraska residents is $452, whereas the non-resident costs $1,267 per credit hour.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits Nebraska and has an overall graduation rate of 66%.

What Courses are in an Online Interior Design Degree Program?

While each program will vary based on the type – certificate, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree – standard essential interior design courses include the following:

  • Building Codes and Standards
  • Business Practices
  • Color Theory and Application
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Drawing and Composition
  • History of the Built Environment
  • Interior Lighting
  • Materials and Applications
  • Perspective and Rendering
  • Principles of Interior Design
  • Sustainable Building Design

Master’s degree programs tend to expand on these foundational courses by adding more focused classes like sustainable materials, using advanced software and technology, and modern interior design techniques.

Throughout each program, students will also refine communication, project management, time management, and organizational skills, which are critical for success in the interior design industry.

Can You Earn an Interior Design Certification Completely Online?

Yes, an interior design certification can be earned online at each level – certificate, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree.

Some schools require a limited-time in-person aspect for more visual learning.

Also, experts urge students to find an internship during the program to gain valuable hands-on experience with a professional interior designer, which cannot be completed online.

Flexibility is one of the primary benefits for those considering earning an interior design certification online.

Virtual classes are an excellent opportunity for those who work to advance their education.

Traditional classrooms require scheduled lectures, whereas online learning can be completed anytime.

Another significant advance is schools often reduce the tuition cost because of lower overhead, and students don’t have to pay for room and board.

Additionally, any online interior design program gives you more free time with friends and family, personalized education since it can be challenging to focus in class, and improved time management skills are required for success.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Interior Design Certification Online?

Completing an online interior design certification requires up to one year for a certificate, four years for a bachelor’s degree, and an extra two years for a master’s degree.

Many certificate degree programs are self-paced, allowing you to learn quickly so that they can be as short as six months or as long as one year.

Also, many schools place a one-year limit on self-paced learning.

Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are more structured with defined class lengths and semesters.

How Much Does an Online Interior Design Certification Cost?

Depending on the degree type you are seeking, the cost range for online tuition can be several thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A one-year certificate and required books and materials will cost a few thousand dollars for the program.

Due to the time commitment, a four-year bachelor’s degree will cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.

A master’s degree will be similar and tack on to the cost of the bachelor’s degree.

It’s important to note that the longer you attend school, the higher the price; your program will also be more comprehensive and prepare you better for entering the job market.

Cost should not be your only factor when choosing an online interior design program.

Determining your personal and career goals, available time commitment, and the flexibility you seek is crucial.

Furthermore, the student-to-teacher ratio determines the personalized attention you will receive, significantly improving the educational experience.

Finally, you must also consider the focus on design as a part of the curriculum.

Interior design programs must balance technology, design techniques, and business skills to ensure you’re well-rounded when graduating.

Speaking to a counselor at each school helps answer many of these questions so you can find the school that best fits your educational objectives.

Summary

You must complete a certificate or diploma program to become a skilled interior designer.

With technology, plenty of exceptional online interior design programs are available.

The best programs include the University of Nebraska, Ball State University, SCAD, NYU, Boston Architectural College, NJIT, and Brenau University, all with different time commitments and costs.

Schooling is suitable for some but not others, so finding a program that gives you the basics or provides advanced techniques may be enough for you to kickstart or continue your career as an interior designer.


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