Earning a Master's in Interior Design Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Interior Design Online?

The ideal interior design student is a person with a keen fascination for and sensitivity to spatial design. Interior designers need to grasp how a space is activated, the tenets of the perfect interior, and where interiors can go wrong. Interior designers work independently or in firms, with architects, engineers, and urban planners, and in related fields like education and theater production to produce attractive, functional designs.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Interior Design Graduates

Master's in Interior Design Salary

Interior design is a specialized field with most job opportunities located in urban centers. The top paying locations for interior design cluster around New England and along the West Coast. As the following tables illustrate, interior designers earn a living wage from the outset of their careers, and their financial status improves over time.

Typically, interior designers work on-site, in close contact with clients and employees. This position provides natural networking connections, which can translate into new clients. The interconnected nature of the profession makes for a stable career.

Top Paying States for Interior Designers

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 670 $84,820
Rhode Island 290 $78,340
California 8,130 $68,290
New York 3,990 $66,500
Maryland 1,440 $65,940
United States 56,070 $58,210

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Pay by Experience Level for Interior Designers

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $41,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $51,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $57,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $64,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Interior Design Careers

An online master's degree in interior design qualifies you for many careers. Become an interior designer or design firm director to implement skills gained from your design degree in real world settings, such as domestic homes, office buildings, religious interiors, and shared community spaces. Additionally, you can teach interior design and related spatial subject matter as a postsecondary instructor, engaging new generations with interior design theory. This degree also opens doors into lighting design and art direction.

Interior Designer

Annual Median Salary: $51,500

Projected Growth Rate: 4%

Interior designers meet with clients to determine interior design needs and objectives, and pitch programs and renovations that meet client needs. They identify necessary plumbing and electrical changes, furnishings, and partitions, all while staying within the client's budget and professional plans. They also oversee site construction or alterations and meet with clients after completion to ensure satisfaction.

Interior Design Director

Annual Median Salary: $82,416

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Directors manage company or firm design strategies, train and supervise incoming designers, and inspect and certify the quality of their firm's production to ensure professional compliance.

Postsecondary Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $76,000

Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Encompassing academic professors, training instructors, and certification administrators, postsecondary teachers work with adult students and professionals. Become an interior design professor or certification board member to educate, inspire, and promote high standards within the field.

Lighting Designer

Annual Median Salary: $53,202

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

Interior design and architectural firms, as well as theaters and museums, use lighting designers to activate space through dynamic illumination. Work with designers, engineers, curators, and maintenance staff to create innovative spaces that meet client expectations. Consult with companies and restoration specialists to provide accurate information on the history and evolution of light and space.

Art Director

Annual Median Salary: $92,500

Projected Growth Rate: 5%

Art directors guide and manage artistic institutions and design firms by planning and implementing artistic concepts and liaising with clients. Manage employees, such as graphic designers, buyers, and photographers, and monitor project finances to meet client and firm objectives.

Sources: BLS / PayScale

What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Interior Design Program?

Though programs vary depending on a school's faculty and specialization, all interior design degrees provide historical, theoretical, and practical training. The following list details some of the coursework to expect during your master's program, including the evolving history of interior space, the methodologies that dictate stylistic evolution, and the fundamentals of research and implementation methods.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Interior Design

History of Interior Space

Review the history of domestic and professional interior spaces. Analyze spatial distribution, changes in furniture and accoutrements, and the effect of design elements from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, up through the domestic interiors of the European aristocracy and mercantile classes of the Napoleonic era.

Philosophies and Theories of the Built Environment

Relevant to students of interior design, architecture, and urban planning, this course surveys the history of constructed space. Discuss the impact and resulting behaviors caused by built environments, and the effects of urban and rural spaces across multiple cultures.

Color Theory

Investigate the rules and guidelines orienting the use and implementation of color in the built environment, including color harmonies, triadic/tetradic combinations, and split-complementary systems. Study the aesthetic appeal of color schemes, and the evolution of color across interior space.

Research Methods in Interior Design

Learn the tenets of quantitative and qualitative research methods underlying successful and insightful interior design. Combine lessons from history and built environment philosophy, together with recent innovations of spatial awareness, to construct productive and healthful interiors.

Interior Design Studio

Put your theoretical knowledge to use in this practical skills course. Resolve issues by designing solutions to problems of interior spaces through individual or group projects. Hone real-world skills and collaboratively workshop and compare interior improvements.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Interior Design Prepares For

  • NCIDQ Certification: The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) certifies this national exam for U.S. and Canadian residents. To sit for the exam, you must complete six years of interior design education and professional experience and belong to a local branch of the CIDQ.
  • State Certification: Depending on your location, regional and state certifications may be required before you can work professionally as an interior designer. For example, the California Certification for Interior Design certifies local interior designers to maintain state standards. Check your local state's certification requirements prior to beginning your career.