Breaking Down the Curriculum – What to Expect at Interior Design School

Interior design constantly changes and requires technical expertise and a strong creative sense. Interior design schools play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of designers by fostering an environment that encourages and nurtures creativity.

You’re considering a degree in interior design because you appreciate layout and aesthetics. But getting the most out of your education starts long before you step foot in a school building.

Get out into the world, read magazines, and explore styles you wouldn’t naturally gravitate toward. This will help you develop a broad skill set that can be narrowed down when you take elective courses.

Project-Based Learning

Rather than relying solely on textbooks, the interior design curriculum combines hands-on projects with art and design history and theory. Students learn to conceptualize and develop interior designs through various methods, such as hand and digital drawings, physical models, collages, and renderings.

As part of the program, students work alongside peers from various majors—including the Architecture, Fine Arts, Product Design, and Lighting Design programs—to foster cross-disciplinary learning and collaborative design. They participate in professional internships and are exposed to real-world problems that require conceptual thinking and technical skills.

Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

A strong foundation of drafting, design, and computer-aided design (CAD) skills is essential to becoming an interior designer. Students will learn to use CAD programs to create floor plans, 3D renderings, furniture layouts, and more at the best schools for interior design. They will also explore various design styles and how to combine them to create unique designs for each project they work on.

For those who want to go beyond a bachelor’s degree, a master’s program can help build on these skills and prepare them for a leadership role or to start their design firm. Some master’s programs will focus on one aspect of interior design, which can be helpful for those who know where their passion lies.

A top-ranked program will give you access to world-renowned museums, showrooms, and other resources while providing a curriculum that promotes creativity and career focus. Faculty members are industry insiders who foster a global perspective and support student learning through research, collaboration, and innovation.

Business of Design

A lot goes into the business of being an interior designer. You have to take client meetings, create budgets, and meet with contractors to determine the cost of materials and labor. Knowing how to use specialized design software programs to test and visualize your ideas is also important.

Depending on the type of degree program, you may learn these skills through courses or coursework outside of class. For example, if you are interested in furniture design, you can take electives focusing on that topic or take a furniture design studio course. Similarly, you can learn the history of art or architecture through general education classes, and traditional media arts courses are often offered.

In addition to gaining practical skills, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of contemporary issues, including sustainability, healthful materials, and analog and digital drawing and rendering techniques. 


Interior designers must have a deep level of creativity to develop and test designs that work for their clients. This is why a strong foundation in art and drawing is so vital to the success of students in this field.

Taking various courses that cover the full spectrum of the field is also crucial. This includes learning about architectural history and theory, drafting skills, fabric, furniture, lighting, window and wall treatments, and professional business practices for interior designers.

To be an interior designer, you must be passionate about the field and have the drive to keep growing as a person and a student. Maintaining your education throughout the year will assist you in staying on top of the constantly evolving field of design. You can do this by reading books, signing up for webinars, and attending events. You can also build your design knowledge base by subscribing to podcasts and visiting museums and showrooms in your area.


Students will have opportunities to engage with the full spectrum of forces and scales that shape interior design, to explore object and material exploration, theory, sustainability, emerging technology, and independent, self-directed topics. They can collaborate with their classmates and students in other prestigious schools to create projects that bridge disciplines and encourage creative thinking.

Good communication skills are essential for interior designers, especially when working with clients. They’ll need to be able to explain their vision and listen to client feedback to ensure everyone is on the same page. They’ll also need to be able to convey their ideas clearly in sketches, so students need to practice beforehand.

A bachelor’s degree is typical for an entry-level interior designer, but some may pursue a graduate program. This will help them gain the experience and expertise they need to become a successful leader in their field. This includes gaining industry-standard credentials.

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