Interior design schools online

If you spend your nights glued to HGTV and have a stack of home design magazines on your end table, you might be interested in earning an interior design degree. Interior designers take spaces of every size and transform them to suit a client's vision and needs. However, their work isn't only about making beautiful living spaces; they also implement practical solutions to make a home or building functional. Awkward rooms and dated finishes are no match for a properly trained interior designer.

For most designers, that proper training includes getting a post-secondary degree. Although you could try to use your natural ability and knowledge gained through magazines and books to launch a career as a decorator, this profession goes beyond simply matching colors and selecting patterns, and a degree in interior design will help build a strong foundation of the knowledge and skills required to be successful.

Interior design degrees to consider

Interior designers must know how to analyze spaces, determine their best use and then implement a strategic plan. According to the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), interior design is more than a creative process — it is also a technical one. Earning a degree is the best way to learn about design fundamentals, as well as how to use software and other necessary tools.

Q&A with an interior design pro

Lauren Colson, an interior designer and owner of LMC Interior Design in Atlanta, shares her insight into the profession and design degrees.

1. What's the best part about being an interior designer?

The best part of being an interior designer is I am able to use my creative brain to help make people's homes and lives easier, more functional, and more beautiful at the same time. There's no bigger compliment at the end of a project than a client saying they've loved and used their homes in ways they never have before..

2. What was the most important thing you learned while earning your interior design degree?

The most important thing I learned was flexibility; every project, client, and day is different and it's so important to be able to roll with the punches.

3. What did you like most about your degree program?

I enjoyed my degree program because it allowed me the chance to explore so many of the different fields within interior design and how they each require a very unique skill set. We tackled projects in commercial design, residential design, institutional design, and then lots of different niches within those categories. It really helped me determine that residential was my calling while still equipping me for any specific project that may come my way.

4. What advice would you give to others considering an interior design degree?

When considering an interior design degree, I would strongly recommend first considering what you want to do with your degree. Every program has a strong point, be it in CAD work or renderings, a strong business perspective, or even a great internship program. Just make sure the program is hands-on and has a great blend of opportunities so you are well-rounded and ready to take on the design world when you're done!

A degree in interior design is also required for anyone wishing to be certified by the NCIDQ. The following are the three levels of interior design degrees most commonly available.

Associate degree

Associate degrees in interior design can be a good choice for someone who wants to enter the workforce quickly. While associate degrees are traditionally earned in about two years for full-time students, some accelerated programs in interior design may be completed in as little as a year (though it also depends on whether students are attending full or part time). Course topics may include construction methods, drawing, computer drafting and the history of design.

Bachelor's degree

Those hoping to gain more extensive experience may want to pursue a bachelor's degree in interior design. Generally running four years, these programs may delve further into topics such as 3-D design, space planning and specialty designs. Students may graduate with a portfolio of work to show potential employers, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes a bachelor's degree may be the required level of education for many interior design positions.

Master's degree

Graduate degrees in the field are most commonly named either a master's degree in interior design or a master's degree in interior architecture. Depending on the school, admission to one of these degree programs may require a bachelor's degree in interior design, or may be open to those with an undergraduate degree in any field.

Online degrees

For students seeking the most flexibility with their education, online degrees in interior design are available from some institutions, such as the Art Institutes and career-oriented schools like Penn Foster. These programs typically cover the same subjects as traditional campus-based degrees, such as computer-aided drafting. Depending on what type of certification you're interested in (see below), be sure to check which accrediting body is connected with schools that interest you.

Interior design school accreditation

When it comes time to research interior design schools in your area, special attention should be paid to an institution's accreditation.

Colleges and universities can be accredited by a number of different organizations, most notably regional accrediting bodies. However, for the field of interior design, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation is the main accrediting body, and at least one state — Kentucky — requires interior designers have a degree from a CIDA-accredited school in order to be state certified. Other states may make similar requirements as they consider legislation to regulate the practice of interior design.

However, while CIDA approval can be considered the gold standard of accreditation for interior design schools, it is not required for NCIDQ certification. Any interior design degree earned from a school approved by a nationally recognized accrediting body will make you eligible to sit for the NCIDQ exam.

Starting your career as an interior designer

After earning your degree, the next step to starting your career is to consider certification and licensure.

Currently, 28 states plus Puerto Rico have licensure or certification requirements for their interior designers. Education requirements vary by state, though most require individuals to have NCIDQ certification, which is only available to those with a minimum of an associate degree in interior degree. You can contact your state's licensing board for further information, or check the compilation of state requirements on the American Society of Interior Designers' website.

Even in states where licensure is not required, students may want to consider voluntary certification. The NCIDQ certification is the main credential available to interior designers and has both education and experience requirements. Once those requirements have been satisfied, an individual can sit for the NCIDQ exam.

California (which is home to some of the highest-paying cities for interior designers) maintains a separate certification program, administered by the California Council for Interior Design Certification, for designers working in that state. Other certifications in specialty fields such as kitchen and bath may also be available from professional groups.

Once licensed and certified, interior designers may need to meet continuing education requirements to maintain their credentials. Designers may find it helpful to join professional organizations such as the following:

  • The American Society of Interior Designers
  • The International Interior Design Association
  • The Interior Design Society

These groups can help professional designers stay abreast of developments in the field and potential changes to state licensure and professional requirements.


"Selecting a School or Program, American Society of Interior Designers,"

"NCIDQ Examination, National Council on Interior Design Qualification,"

Interior Designers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,

State Licensing Regulations, American Society of Interior Designers,

"How to Become a Certified Interior Designer," California Council for Interior Design Certification,

Explore Schools Offering Interior Design Programs
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
Interior Design (BFA)
Good for Working Adults
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
Show more [+]
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
DEC Interior Design
  • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
  • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
  • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
  • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
  • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design (Online)
  • Located in Hollywood, CA, offering degrees in film, music production, business, animation and more.
  • Scholarship, financial aid and military benefits are available for students who qualify.
  • Programs taught by award-winning industry professionals in real-world working environments.
  • Features industry-standard facilities including recording studios, soundstages, green screen, movie theatres and more.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
Media Design, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
Graphic Design
Platt College , Alhambra
Good for Working Adults
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
ABCO Technology , Los Angeles
  • An accredited computer training academy preparing students to enter the IT industry as Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Web Apps Developer, Website Designers, Programmers, Database Administrators since 2000.
  • Holds A+ certification from CompTIA.
  • Located in Los Angeles, approximately 10 minutes away from LAX.
  • Flexible class schedules offered during day times, evenings and weekends.
  • Helping students start a career in technology within 3 - 9 months.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Military friendly school.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid