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Interior Architecture (M.S.)

Program Director: Lauren Baumbach


The M.S. in Interior Architecture program meets the needs of students who hold a non-design undergraduate degree and seek to obtain a comprehensive, professional-level education. It also offers up to one year of advanced standing for those already in the field who are interested in refining their knowledge and skills at the graduate level. So whether students are seeking an introduction or want to build on previous academic and/or work experience, this program prepares students to reach their full potential and to join both large and small firms specializing in many areas of practice including corporate, residential, health care, hospitality, retail and educational facilities.  

Program Learning Goals

Graduates of the M.S. in Interior Architecture will be able to:

  • Research, analyze and synthesize appropriate contextual information as a means of informing design.
  • Engage in working collaboratively and with a multi-disciplinary approach.
  • Acquire a broad understanding of the historical and theoretical body of knowledge of the profession.
  • Develop a global view and be able to explain that design decisions are influenced by variations of culture, construction technology, economics and environmental factors.
  • Explain and apply ethical and accepted standards of professional practice in the discipline.
  • Demonstrate ability to produce innovative designs in response to current cultural, socio-economic and technological conditions and forecasted trends.

Program Description

The M.S. in Interior Architecture program provides a balance between theory and application, and immerses students in the use of current technologies and sustainable practices. The curriculum ensures that students will be fully prepared to join the profession immediately upon graduation and assume roles in design, production, management or principal positions during their careers. In addition, it incorporates an international perspective and prepares graduates to contribute to projects across international boundaries and to work anywhere in the world. Graduates of the MSIA program will be qualified to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification exam after accruing the required work experience in the field. NCIDQ certification is recommended and recognized throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Areas of study include: foundation two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, advanced spatial/interior design, analogue and digital representation techniques, programming, sustainable design, construction methods and technologies, building systems and lighting, color theory, design detailing, materials, finishes, codes, barrier-free design, universal design, professional practice and ethics. An optional internship for credit provides students with practical work experience in an interior design or architecture firm under the supervision of an academic advisor and a professional mentor. The name interior architecture is a further reflection of the program's underlying educational philosophy and pedagogy, emphasizing the design of the entire interior environment encompassing all parts of the interior volume, and acknowledging the continuum between interiors and architecture. This is a pedagogical strength of the program and presents a considerable advantage to students.

A focus of the program is its holistic approach to the design of interior environments along with a complete knowledge of the interior building technologies and construction. Additionally, the teaching of sustainable and ecological design is integrated throughout the curriculum. The demand for interior design practitioners who possess a thorough understanding of ecological/sustainable design and who go on to acquire Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is high.

Curriculum Scope and Sequence

The program is designed as a 49- to 69-credit, 15- to 21-course curriculum that can be completed in two to three years depending on a student’s background and pending course requirements. Students with undergraduate degrees from allied fields may be able to complete the program in two years (49 credits/15 courses). Those with undergraduate degrees in unrelated fields, such as liberal arts and sciences, may need the full three-year, 69-credit/21-course sequence. All courses, except the optional study-away experience, will be offered in two 15-week semesters per year. The optional study-away experience is for six or seven weeks in the summer after Year 2. 

The audiences for this degree program are two distinct groups: 1) graduates from undergraduate programs in interior design or architecture, and allied fields such as landscape architecture, industrial design, architectural engineering, visual arts and other design related fields; and 2) graduates from undergraduate programs in unrelated fields such as liberal arts, business and the sciences who are seeking a career change. The program is designed as a 2 to 3 year program with 69 credits required over three years for students with unrelated bachelor’s degrees and 49 to 69 credits for those with related bachelor’s degrees.

Before matriculation, the Program Director reviews each applicant’s academic and work history to determine specific placement in the program. The student may then be admitted into the program for the full three-year sequence, or be required to take only select courses from the Year 1 curriculum, or be permitted to enter starting at Year 2. 

Course Sequence

Fall Semester
(Required for those with unrelated undergraduate degrees)
IARCP501: Design I for I.A.—4 credits
IARCP503: Graphic Representation—3 credits
IARCP505: History of Design I for I.A.—3 credits

Fall, Year 1 total: 10 credits

Spring Semester
(Required for those with unrelated undergraduate degrees)
IARCP502: Design II for I.A.—4 credits
IARCP504: Visual Communication I—3 credits
IARCP508: Presentation Techniques—3 credits

Spring, Year 1 total: 10 credits

YEAR 1 SUBTOTAL: 20 credits

Fall Semester
IARC601: Design III for I.A.— 4 credits
IARC603: History of Design II for I.A.—3 credits
IARC607: Technology I for I.A.—3 credits
IARC610: Textiles and Materials—3 credits

Fall, Year 2 total: 13 credits

Spring Semester
IARC602     Design IV for I.A.—4 credits
IARC604     Visual Communication II for I.A.— 3 credits
IARC608     Technology II for I.A.—3 credits
SDN601    Sustainable Design Methodologies—3 credits

Year 2, Spring total: 13 credits

YEAR 2 SUBTOTAL: 26 credits

Summer Term  
Study-Away from Campus
Elective* — 3 credits
Elective* — 3 credits

Fall Semester
IARC702: Design V for I.A.— 4 credits
IARC707: Technology III for I.A.— 3 credits
IARC708: Professional Practice and Ethics—3 credits
IARC709: Research and Programming— 3 credits

Year 3, Fall total: 13 credits

Spring Semester
IARC710: Master's Project—4 credits
Elective* — 3 credits
Elective*— 3 credits

Year 3, Spring total: 10 credits

YEAR 3 SUBTOTAL: 23 credits


*Electives can be taken during summer between Year 2 and Year 3 or during the last semester of the third year.