Online Interior Design Degrees

Do you have a passion for design and impeccable people skills? A career in interior design may be the perfect fit for you. Due to their flexible nature, online interior design programs are an increasingly popular option for students looking to enter the field. Online interior design degrees are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs teach aesthetic and technical skills, and students pursuing an interior design degree online can expect to learn about design theory as well as common financial and administrative issues that interior designers encounter.

Online interior design programs introduce students to a dynamic workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of interior designers will increase 4% from 2014 to 2024 due to heightened demand for structures that are eco-friendly and easily accessible. Designers are needed to reformat buildings or create new ones that meet these new standards.

Aspiring professionals in this field will need a range of skills in order to be successful. Artistic ability is a must; designers need to be creative and imaginative as they create plans and select materials. Interpersonal skills are also imperative. Designers must work cooperatively with their peers and clients, which necessitates excellent communication and problem-solving skills. If this sounds like you, read on to learn more about the particulars of pursuing an an interior design degree online.

Meet our expert

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Janet Ramin Interior Design

“My advice is to pursue different avenues of design work in the beginning … so you can be better informed and you can make the right decision about where you want to stay.”

Online Interior Design Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $19,606 22.6% 2 years N/A N/A N/A
Bachelor's $24,617 11.88% 3+ years $41,905 $57,000 3.7%
Master's $31,155 7.92% 2 years N/A N/A N/A
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

An online bachelor’s in interior design opens the door to most careers in the field, and many professional organizations (such as the National Council for Interior Design Qualification) require that candidates seeking licensure earn at least a bachelor’s degree. Although a bachelor’s in interior design online is the entry-level requirement, you can enjoy higher earnings and promotions to senior positions if you have a graduate degree.

Choosing Your Interior Design Career

Average Interior Design Salaries


Interior Architect

Salary: $76,100
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% Bachelor's N/A

Whereas interior designers dedicate themselves to more aesthetic matters, interior architects work on the technical designs of buildings. Architects consult with clients, then draft plans to either create or redesign offices, homes, and factories. Common traits in this profession include a blend of communication and creative skills. Interior architects should also be familiar with computer drafting programs, such as building information modeling (BIM) and computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).

Art Director

Salary: $89,760
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
2% 74,600 Bachelor's N/A

Art directors are responsible for managing and leading other designers on artistic projects. These professionals create an overall design scheme, and then direct their subordinates as they complete layouts and artwork. Responsibilities are dependent on industry; art directors in publishing focus on page layout and cover art, while advertising directors coordinate campaigns to reach consumers. Art directors are required to be both artists and leaders, and as such they need a combination of artistic and managerial skills such as leadership, resourcefulness, and time management. Professionals who earn their bachelor’s in interior design degree online are set to pursue this line of work.

Interior Designer

Salary: $48,840
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
4% 58,900 Bachelor's N/A

Interior designers are tasked with making interior spaces function technically and aesthetically. They are involved with each step of the design process, from reading blueprints to ensuring client satisfaction after a project is completed. Typical job duties include sketching design plans, selecting furnishings and materials, and overseeing the installation of design elements. In addition to artistic creativity, these professionals should also have excellent problem-solving and interpersonal communication skills. Graduates who’ve earned an online bachelor’s in interior design are qualified for this position.

Online Interior Design Degree in Action

Janet Ramin Interior Design

Janet Ramin has been a residential designer for many years. Starting out in San Francisco where she graduated from the Academy of Art with a degree in interior design, she began her career working on commercial mixed-use projects in the Bay area. Before long, she switched her focus to specialize in residences. She currently lives in New York, where she serves as an interior design student advisor for the New York Institute of Art and Design and helps clients realize their dream homes.

What types of skills did you build upon in your interior design degree program?

We want our students to learn three types of skill sets -- the first is to develop good client communication. By asking the right questions, you learn what the client's needs are and what the scope of the job is. We also want the student to anticipate possible problems and communicate this to the client in a timely manner.

The second skill set is to learn how to evaluate a room. We want our students to assess a room professionally -- find its strengths and weaknesses. The third skill set is to develop the designer's eye. We teach the student not just a specific style – which can come and go with the times -- but how to choose furnishings in harmony with the room and with the client's lifestyle.

What was the job search like after you graduated. How did you end up where you are now?

The job search is always difficult for design graduates, but you can lessen the pain by pursuing internships before you graduate. I had a few internships and so my resume showed strength in experience and a wide skillset. I've always loved teaching and this complements my work as a residential designer.

Describe a bit about the differences between commercial and home interior design. Why did you decide to switch over?

Commercial design is team-oriented work, and usually, you end up working on very specific tasks. There are also many more considerations to deal with that limit your design because of building code restrictions. With residential design, the projects are obviously smaller so you end up working on a wider variety of design tasks, which ends up being more satisfying for many. I started out doing commercial design work but decided to move over to residential projects because the projects were shorter and you have more oversight over the whole design strategy. I also loved working with residential furnishings.

What advice would you give a student considering earning a degree/pursuing a career in interior design?

My advice is to pursue different avenues of design work in the beginning -- find a job as a design assistant, a stager, a showroom salesperson, or a remodeler with a contractor. You want to sample the different aspects of the industry so you can be better informed and you can make the right decision about where you want to stay. You also need to keep up on all things computer-technical related. Creating design work involves different software and you always want to be current.

Online Interior Design Degrees


An associate online interior design degree is a good first step for students interested in pursuing a career in the field. Students pursuing this type of online interior design degree can expect an introduction to the most fundamental design topics, including drawing techniques, residential and commercial design, and color usage. Those earning an interior design degree online also analyze the technical side of an interior designer's job, as students learn about the managerial, financial, administrative, and legal tasks that interior designers and other professionals in this field might encounter while on the job.

Sample Courses
Color theory, drawing for interiors, fundamentals of design, architectural lighting design
Common Majors
Interior design, interior architecture & design, arts & interior design
Potential Jobs
Architectural drafter, electrical drafter, mechanical drafter
Average Income
$53,470 for architectural drafters, $62,890 for electrical drafters, and $56,610 for mechanical drafters
Employment Prospects
From 2014-2024: architectural drafter: 3% decline; electrical drafter: 5% growth; mechanical drafter: 7% decline


Course topics in an online bachelor's in interior design program examine multiple core subjects including office design, drafting, material selection, architectural detailing, and history of design. Certain bachelor's in interior design online programs feature specializations that allow candidates to focus on a particular subject such as digital technology, historic preservation, or sustainable design. Students enrolled in these online interior design programs are usually required to complete an internship as well. These online interior design degrees are also useful for licensure, as most professional certifications in this field require students to have at least a bachelor's degree.

Sample Courses
Survey of Western art, modern architecture, composition and media, 3D form in space
Common Majors
Interior design, arts & interior design, interior architecture & design
Potential Jobs
Interior designer, architect, art director
Average Income
$55,510 for interior designers, $82,850 for architects and $101,990 for art directors
Employment Prospects
From 2014-2024: interior designer: 4% increase; architect: 7% increase; art director: 2% increase


Building off of skills and knowledge acquired during undergraduate study, online interior design degrees at the master's level specialize in advanced design concepts such as environmental design, contemporary issues, research methods, and architectural preservation. Curricula for these online interior design programs typically include internships and other opportunities to gain real-world experience. Students are further exposed to the practical side of interior design through coursework that mainly consists of attending seminars and studio sessions.

Sample Courses
Contemporary architecture, housing issues in modern society, material culture, live-work settings
Common Majors
Interior architecture & design, architecture (with interior design specialization), arts & interior design
Potential Jobs
Urban planner, postsecondary art teacher, craft artist
Average Income
$70,680 for urban planners, $76,610 for postsecondary art teachers, and $35,710 for craft artists
Employment Prospects
From 2014-2024: urban planner: 6% increase; postsecondary art teacher: 13% increase (for all postsecondary teachers); craft artist: 2% increase


The most advanced online interior design program available, doctorate programs prepare students for advanced leadership positions in the design field. These programs concentrate on professional applications and aim to provide students with the superior design and research skills that are necessary for translating artistic principles and techniques to the world of professional design. Most doctoral online interior design degree programs conclude with a dissertation, a comprehensive final project in which students demonstrate the extent of their practical and theoretical knowledge.

Sample Courses
Design communications, interior design systems & practices, facility management, philosophical foundations of design
Common Degrees
DBA and PhD
Potential Jobs
Architecture professor, interior designer, industrial designer
Average Income
$84,880 for architecture professors, $55,510 for interior designers, and $69,820 for industrial designers
Employment Prospects
From 2014-2024: architecture professors: 13% increase (for all postsecondary teachers); interior designers: 4% increase; industrial designers: 2% increase

Professional Requirements

National Council for Interior Design Qualification

The NCIDQ Exam must be passed for interior design professionals to be licensed in both the US and Canada. No design history is tested — the exam only covers skills and information that protect life safety, welfare, and public health. Two multiple choice sections and a drawing practicum are administered. Topics covered include construction standards, contract administration, codes, building systems, professional practice, project coordination, and design application. The drawing practicum provides exercises that cover space planning, lighting design, life safety, and other concepts that you’ll need to provide design solutions for. The multiple choice portions take a half-day each, and the practicum takes a full day to complete. The exam is practice-based, meaning practical, diverse experience in the field will inform your answers. You must pass the entirety of the exam within a 5-year window; if you don’t pass any sections, you’ll be required to retake them.

Is it required?


How long will it take?

2 days