2024 Best Online Interior Design Certificate Programs

By Megan Patiry
Updated on December 23, 2023
Ready to start your journey?
Explore the top online interior design certificate programs for designers. Develop your skills to pursue a rewarding career in the world of interior design.

If you’re passionate about interior architecture and designing interior spaces, then you may want to learn more about interior design certificate programs.

Best Online Interior Design Certificate Programs

Interior design certificate programs are designed for creative individuals who are interested in creating aesthetically pleasing, safe, and sustainable interior environments. You could also learn how to use design tools to bring rooms to life. With this certificate, interior design graduates may find a range of career opportunities in design. Professionals may also be able to advance their education and career.

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If you’re excited to learn the fundamentals of quality design, color, and architecture, then you might want to explore certificate programs in interior design.

Online Interior Design Certificate Programs

Woman taking Online Interior Design Certificate

Online interior design certificate programs aim to provide students with foundational industry knowledge in interior design while nurturing their innovative creativity.

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You can be exposed to a variety of topics involved in the world of interior design, including color theory, lighting design, and surface materials, such as textiles, rugs, and wood.

You may also learn about:

  • Using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Developing freehand drawing and drafting skills
  • Using Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Industry cost estimates, regulations, and best practices
  • The history of environmental arts
  • The fundamentals of architecture in residential and commercial buildings
  • Room evaluation
  • Color combinations
  • Composition

Some programs also include courses related to sustainable or “green” design, in which you can learn how to design eco-friendly environments with new materials and technologies.

Most interior design programs also have studio courses, which provide you with the opportunity to work hands-on with software to create designs from your drafts. Alongside creating designs, you can also learn presentation skills. Presentation and other communication skills are essential for working with clients.

An interior design certificate can help prepare graduates to work with architects, government agencies, or even textile companies to create beautiful, regulation-friendly interior environments.

Interior Design Careers & Salaries

Interior Design Careers & Salaries

Interior design professionals may possess design skills that allow them to pursue a variety of career opportunities.

In interior design roles, professionals may work closely with architects on both residential and commercial projects, where they help design interior rooms to the specifications of clients.

Interior designers can also work for architecture firms or interior design firms. Some even run their own business. Further, interior design professionals may even work for government agencies, where they focus on creating sustainable designs that integrate with the environment and are eco-friendly. They may even work with retail stores or with event agencies to design interiors to spec for large events.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some career paths in interior design and related fields.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Interior Designers $61,590
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers $60,320
Architectural and Civil Drafters $59,820
Graphic Designers $57,990
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators $57,560
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers $45,250
Craft Artists $38,150
Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers $35,380
Floral Designers $33,160
Retail Salespersons $30,600

Overall, interior design professionals have a variety of paths they may pursue, thanks to their design, drafting, and technical knowledge. Because interior design professionals learn how to use a variety of digital and freehand design tools, they may also find career opportunities elsewhere.

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To give an example, some find work as graphic designers, illustrators, or even drafters. The salary of interior designers can vary depending on their location, industry, and whether they are certified. Your level of education may also impact your earning potential. Some graduates use an interior design certificate as a stepping stone toward a bachelors degree.

Interior Design Certificate Curriculum & Courses

students taking Interior Design Certificate

While curriculums can vary in different interior design certification programs, many of the same core topics will be covered. In this certificate program, you may take courses like the ones below:

  • Color Basics: This course focuses on color theory, including mixing primary, secondary, and tertiary hues, and it also explores how to utilize them in design work.
  • Suitability: This course overviews the initial conceptual frameworks of a room or design, and it also covers how to develop a mood and develop an ideal finished model to work toward.
  • Sketching a Room: This course helps you learn how to properly create your first physical sketch of a room, which includes applying principles of measurements and planning.
  • Lighting Design: This course overviews various indoor lighting techniques and covers how to implement lighting theories and principles in designs.
  • AutoCAD: This course introduces you to designing plans, layouts, and rooms using computer-aided drafting software.
  • Digital Presentation: Photoshop and Illustrator: This course teaches you how to use digital design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator for presenting layouts, enhancing images, and more.
  • Fundamentals of Interior Architecture: This course introduces you to design psychology, vocabulary, principles of design, sustainable design, and the processes involved in commercial and residential interior design.
  • Surface Materials: This course overviews surface materials interior designers use, such as rugs, wood, wall coverings, textiles, plastics, and more.
  • Evaluating the Condition of a Room: This course overviews how to evaluate and document a room efficiently, noting aspects like documenting windows and doors in sketches as well as elements like HVAC units.
  • Planning for People: This course aims to prepare students for client interactions, including how to ask clients the right questions and conduct effective interviews.

This program may also include studio courses, where students apply principles of design to projects in a hands-on fashion.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Interior Design Certificate

While many interior design certificate programs online can have different admissions requirements, here are some common criteria:

  • High school transcripts or GED equivalent
  • Completed online application
  • SAT or ACT scores (not required by all schools)
  • Personal essay explaining your interests and skills

Many schools no longer require the submission of SAT or ACT scores for undergraduate or certificate program admissions, but it’s helpful to check the specific requirements of your college or university. Depending on the program you’re applying to, you may also be asked to submit letters of recommendation.

Certificate in Interior Design Programs Accreditation

University offering Certificate in Interior Design Programs

Determining whether your potential school is accredited is an important step to take before applying. Accreditation is a process that essentially ensures a standard of quality for universities and colleges. Regional accreditation is considered the most prestigious accreditation.

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Why is accreditation important? Whether or not your school is accredited can impact your future career opportunities, your future educational opportunities, and your ability to receive financial aid. You can visit the US Department of Education’s website to find out if your schools is accredited by a credible organization.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Interior Design Certificate Financial Aid

Many students pursuing an interior design online certificate seek financial assistance. Some resources to consider are scholarship and grants. These may be available for all types of programs and specific life situations, and they could be offered by your school as well as by outside organizations.

Another option to look into is government aid. Federal aid and state aid programs can provide aid to qualifying students in the form of loans. Your eligibility will vary based on your financial situation and state. To apply for federal aid and determine your eligibility, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Some certificate programs don’t meet the requirements for government aid, so it’s helpful to verify whether your program is eligible. Finally, many employers help their workers through employee education programs. If you’re currently working, you could speak to your employer to see if this is a possibility.

What Can You Do with an Interior Design Certificate?

Interior Designers discussing their project

Earning an interior design certificate may help you qualify for a variety of entry-level career opportunities. This certificate program could also help you develop the necessary skill sets for a bachelors program in interior design.

Graduates may be able to work alongside architects or other interior designers in order to gain enough experience to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. This examination allows graduates to become certified interior designers, where they may be able to advance their careers. Graduates may also be able to apply their design skills to graphic design, drafting, and more.

Some graduates continue their education by earning a bachelor’s degree in interior design or other related fields like graphic design or landscape architecture degree online.

What Degree Do You Need to Be an Interior Designer?

Interior Designers discussing in their office

Typically, the most common path to becoming an interior designer is to complete an associate or bachelors degree in interior design. Then, graduates may choose to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, which will allow them to become licensed interior designers.

While some states do not require interior designers to be licensed, many do, and it may also result in more career opportunities. Students who earn an interior design certificate may be able to sit for the NCIDQ exam as well, provided they also have a certain amount of on-the-job training.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Interior Design Certificate Online?

Woman getting Interior Design Certificate Online

Unlike an online Master of Architecture program, which may take years to complete, it can generally take between 6 months to 12 months to complete an interior designer certificate program online. How long your specific program is, though, depends on your school, as some require more courses than others.

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Your time to completion can also depend on whether or not you are enrolled full-time. If you are enrolled part-time, your courses may take longer to complete. Some schools offer students roughly 18 months to complete the undergraduate certificate program.

What’s the Difference Between an Interior Design Certification vs. Certificate?

While earning a certificate in interior design and earning an interior design certification sound similar, they are separate processes.

  • Interior Design Certificates: An interior design certificate indicates that a student has completed an interior design program and all of the required coursework from an academic institution.
  • Interior Design Certifications: An interior design certification highlights a professional’s proficiency in a certain area and indicates that they have passed an interior design examination from a professional or trade association.

A certificate program teaches you about interior design and helps you develop your design skills. An industry certification is awarded by industry organizations to demonstrate your proficiencies to clients.

Is an Interior Design Certificate Worth It?

Interior Designers & Craft Artist working together

Yes, an interior design certificate is worth it for many students. This certificate program can help you gain foundational knowledge specific to designing interior spaces. It can also help you develop design and technical skills that are applicable to a range of careers.

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In addition to interior design, the field of design also includes graphic design, floral design, industrial design, and fashion design. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects roughly 8,200 job openings for interior designers each year over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Interior Design Certificate Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer programs online or in a hybrid format.

Berkeley College

Berkeley College campus

Berkeley College offers an interior design certificate program online. The 4 required courses include Architectural Visualization, Sketching and Color Composition, CAD, and Materials, Textiles, and Finishes. The program may be completed during 2 semesters lasting 15 weeks each, and credits may be applied toward an AAS or BFA program.

Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Boston Architectural College

Boston Architectural College campus

Boston Architectural College offers a Principles of Interior Design Certificate program in a hybrid format. The 3 required courses include Color Theory for Interiors, Materials and Methods, and Interiors Lighting. An additional course, Interiors Studio, is not required but is open for registration as part of the certificate program.

The Boston Architectural College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

California State University – San Marcos

California State University San Marcos

California State University–San Marcos offers a course designed to help prepare for becoming a Certified Residential Interior Designer. The self-paced, open-enrollment course can usually be completed in 6 months. The production of a professional portfolio is a goal of the course. Completing the course may qualify for sitting for the Residential Interior Designer Education exam.

California State University – San Marcos is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Fairfield University

Fairfield University campus

Fairfield University offers a Residential or Professional Interior Design Certificate program online. Potential courses include Color Design, Lighting for Interiors, Drawing and Presentation, and more. The residential certificate may be completed in 24 months of part-time enrollment, and the professional certificate in 36 months. New terms often begin in either the fall or the spring.

Fairfield University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

New York School of Interior Design

New York School of Interior Design

The New York School of Interior Design offers a Basic Interior Design Certificate program online. Potential courses include Historical Styles, Basic Drafting, Color for Interiors, and more. Both part-time and full-time enrollment options are commonly available. The completion of 24 credits is required, and the program can often be completed in 1 year.

The New York School of Interior Design is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute campus

The Pratt Institute offers an Interior Design Foundation Digital Credential program online. There are 4 required courses, which include Advanced Interiors, Drawing and Visual Presentation, Interiors for the Beginner, and Spatial Design. In addition, 2 elective courses must be completed. The credential may be earned in just 3 terms.

Pratt is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Texas State University

Texas State University campus

Texas State University offers an online course to become a Certified Residential Interior Designer. The course aims to teach both the creative and business aspects of interior design, and aims to help prepare for the Residential Interior Designer Exam. The course commonly may be started any time and typically must be completed in 6 months.

Texas State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The New School

The New School campus

The New School offers an online program for a certificate in Interior Design. Required courses typically include Basic Interior Space Planning, Basic Drafting, Color Theory, and Drawing Interiors. Additional elective courses are commonly offered. The program requires the completion of 8 courses that are typically 6 to 9 weeks each. Video conferencing commonly enables collaboration with classmates.

The New School is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of California – Berkeley

University of California Berkeley campus

The University of California–Berkeley offers an online Certificate in Interior Design and Interior Architecture program. Potential courses include Design Principles and Elements, Design Communication, Color Theory and Application for Interiors, AutoCAD, and more. Completing the program may enable eligibility to take the IDEX California and the NCIDQ certification exams.

The University of California – Berkeley is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico campus

The University of New Mexico offers an online course to help prepare for becoming a Certified Residential Interior Designer. The course is typically offered as open-enrollment and is self-paced. It can usually be completed in 6 months. Building a portfolio and preparing for the Residential Interior Designer Education exam is a goal of the program. Instructional materials are typically included with the course.

The University of New Mexico is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Interior Design Certificate Online

student getting Interior Design Certificate Online

Earning your interior design certificate online is a convenient, flexible way to enter this creative field. This undergraduate certificate program can teach you the necessary tools and knowledge to start working in entry-level positions.

If you choose to further your education, this certificate may also count toward an associate or bachelor program in interior design. The design skills and tools you learn may also apply to related creative disciplines, such as graphic, fashion, or floral design.

If you’re interested in developing foundational skill sets in design and aesthetics, you could start exploring online certificate programs in interior design from accredited schools today.

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WRITTEN BY
Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern New Hampshire University, is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner with the Academy for Modern Applied Psychology, and is a published author. Her areas of research and interests include behavioral psychology, mental health, and publishing.