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affordable online interior design degreeInterior designers have a more diverse career than you may think. If you were to pursue a career as an interior designer, you could seek employment at a large corporation or a small startup, you could even find freelance opportunities. The rooms that you may go on to design are endless. Offices, airports, hospitals, schools, malls, restaurants, and more all use the skills and expertise of interior designers to make their spaces functional and beautiful.

There is also the residential aspect of the job, so you could work designing rooms for people who own homes, staging homes to sell, and more. It can be a gratifying career because you know that you’re the reason that the inside of businesses and homes are aesthetically pleasing and more comfortable for the people that utilize them.

What’s more, the median salary for this particular field is about $49,000 per year, but some salaries reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are as high as $91,360 per year. This career is growing at an average rate according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; however, the positions that are opening up are becoming increasingly competitive as better education opportunities open up in this particular field.

An interior design degree program covers everything you need to be effective at your job, which is making interior spaces visually and physically pleasing. Interior design is truly where the aesthetic meets the practical, so courses cover everything from elements of architecture, design, sustainable design, and more. You can expect to learn how to create and read blueprints, use CAD software, gain an in-depth understanding of building codes, improve your drawing skills, and more. A good interior design degree program is going to cover all of that and give you the options to explore electives that are tailored to your professional goals.

You should also take care to choose a program that will adequately prepare you for the exam administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. This exam is what leads to your licensure so that you can jump into your dream job.

Because of the creative nature of this degree program, it can be pretty hands-on sometimes. Because of that, online degree options in this field of study are relatively new. It may be hard to find a program, and it can be confusing to navigate which programs are going to provide you with the high-quality education that you not only need to keep yourself above the competition but that you deserve. In this ranking, we’re going to present to you fifteen of the best online interior design degree programs available today. We’ve ranked these programs according to the following:


In order to rank all of the online interior design programs featured here, we started by curating a list of all of these such programs that are currently offered in the United States by fully-accredited institutions of higher learning. Typically, we exclude those schools that are considered to be for-profit institutions. However, because of the small number of these programs available, we have decided to include for-profit institutions in this article.

Once the list of programs was put together, we ranked those programs based on the Freshman Retention and Graduation Rates. These two numbers were added together and the sum of these two rates was used as the final score for each school. Every school was ranked out of a possible 200 points and ranked according to the score that we determined. In the event that two schools obtained the same score, they were ranked alphabetically. The data that we used to rank these interior design degree programs, and all of the information we will present in this ranking came directly from the schools’ websites whenever possible. Additional information was gathered from:

Freshman Retention and Graduation Rates combined have always been a solid indicator of educational quality as well as student satisfaction, so we default to these criteria when putting together our rankings. Any financial information presented was current at the time of writing and presented as accurately as possible. Because the financial climate of higher education is consistently changing and due to the ample financial aid opportunities available to students, you should always contact a school directly in order to get the most accurate cost estimates.

It is important to note that we hold every institution to the same standards and none of these schools were given any preferential treatment. Using our methodology, anyone could draw the same conclusion that we came to here. Transparency is important to us because our goal is to help you get the best possible education for your financial needs and professional goals.

You may also want to visit our ranking of the best online colleges to find out where your favorite schools stand.

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  1. MERIT: 164
    View Profile Average Cost: $56,250

    The New York School of Interior Design is a private college located in New York, New York. It was founded in 1916. The college is relatively small, serving just over 500 students and offering a total of only seven degree programs. There is a certificate program, three undergraduate programs, and four graduate programs. NYSID is accredited by both the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation. It has been recognized by DesignIntelligence several times, and its programs have ranked among the top five of all interior design programs for the past five consecutive years. NYSID also has the distinction of having the only accredited graduate program ranked in the top five by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

    Even though the New York School of Interior Design has a very small selection of degree programs, they are very highly recognized, and there is something for everyone, regardless of what stage they are at in their interior design career. Classes are available entirely online. For the Basic Interior Design certificate and the Associate in Applied Science in Interior Design, you will learn at your own pace as these programs are asynchronous. The MPS in Sustainable Interior Environments program is synchronous, which means that you would take your classes in real-time through video conferencing. The majority of the classes are self-paced, and all of the distance education courses available don’t require any on-campus meetings. In the fall and spring semesters, classes last for a duration of 15 weeks. Over the summer, there are eight-week courses available. This is an incredible opportunity to earn a respected degree without having to bring your day to day life to a halt.

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  2. MERIT: 163
    View Profile Average Cost: $46,474

    Samford University is a private Christian university in Homewood, Alabama. When it opened in 1841, it was known as Howard College. Classes began the following year in 1842, and at that time, there were only nine students. Today, there are 5,509. Howard College was forced to close for a few years to operate as a military hospital during the Civil War, but it has been consistently open since 1865. It was granted its university status a century later in 1965 when the name became Samford University. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Students can select from 30 different degree programs and more than 160 undergraduate majors; degrees are offered from the bachelors level and up. The university is made up of several different academic divisions, which are the School of the Arts; the Howard College of Arts and Science; the Brock School of Business; the Beeson Divinity School; the Orlean Bullard Beeson School of Education; the Cumberland School of Law; the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing; the McWhorter School of Pharmacy; the School of Health Professions and; the School of Public Health.

    Samford University offers an online Master of Science in Design Studies. This is a 33-credit program that typically takes two years to complete. Students progress through the program in a cohort, and there are start dates every summer. At the beginning of the program, students will have to attend the campus for one weekend to participate in orientation. The program’s curriculum was designed to help students to pursue in-depth research related to their area of expertise. This online interior design degree may be a good option for those who would like to explore an academic career in design. If you choose to pursue this degree, you will learn about examining trends in architecture and design, how to apply research findings to design practice, using various research methodologies, analyze your results and develop a practical application for them, and more.

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  3. MERIT: 159
    View Profile Average Cost: $50,306

    Endicott College is a private college located in Beverly, Massachusetts. The school was originally founded in 1939 as Endicott Junior College, a two-year women’s college. Five years later, it began conferring associates degrees. It wasn’t long until Endicott was accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. In 1975, the name became Endicott College. The college continued to expand, becoming coeducational in 1994, and adding more academic opportunities for its students. There are more than 60 programs of study available, leading to degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. Endicott is made up of nine different colleges and schools, and it offers programs online, and at campuses around the world. There are additional educational centers in Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and the Czech Republic.

    Endicott College has a unique option for students with its Fifth Year programs. It allows those students with a bachelors degree to complete their masters in as little as one year. Full-time undergraduate students at Endicott may be eligible to complete their graduate program at the same time. The interior design distance-learning program at Endicott is one such program. It is a Master of Arts in Interior Architecture. If you complete the Bachelor of Science in Interior Design program at Endicott, you may be eligible for the Fifth Year option, getting you in the field faster. The masters program will prepare you to would in commercial, healthcare, institutional, or residential environments, and will prepare you for a career in sustainable design. You can flexibly gain all of the skills that you need to research, analyze, and design complex interior environments thanks to the rigorous curriculum and diverse elective options.

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  4. MERIT: 151
    View Profile Average Cost: $26,493

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    Colorado State University is a land-grant public research university in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is the flagship institution of the Colorado State University System, and it was founded in 1870 as a result of the Morrill Act. Classes at the Colorado Agricultural College began in 1879 and consisted of a mere five students. CSU has grown exponentially since then. Research, academics, and even the campus, all grew very rapidly. In 1935, the school became the Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, and then the Colorado State University in 1957 to reflect its new status as a university. CSU granted its first doctoral degree as early as 1951. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and houses eight different colleges. There are 65 undergraduate majors to choose from, as well as 96 graduate programs of study offered. CSU serves over 30,000 students.

    Colorado State University’s College of Health & Human Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture and Design that you can complete in a blended format. The university offers hundreds of courses online, including Introduction to Interior Design, Residential Interiors, Color, Foundations of Environmental Sustainability, and so much more. Because of the extensive online course options, you can complete part of this interior design degree online. There may be some classes that require you to attend campus, and you should talk with an advisor to learn more. The degree program is designed to cover cultural perspectives, building codes, space planning, sustainable design, and more. The program can typically be completed in four years of full-time study. CSU reports that 99% of the graduates of the program are employed or in graduate school within six months of earning their degree.

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  5. MERIT: 151
    View Profile Average Cost: $24,840

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a public land-grant research university located in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was founded in 1869, just two years after Nebraska became a state. It is the flagship institution of the University of Nebraska System. UNL is also the largest university within the system, serving a total of more than 25,000 students and spanning more than 45,000 acres across all of its campuses. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the university. Degrees are offered from the associates to the doctorate level through several colleges and schools that comprise UNL. These are The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; The College of Architecture; The College of Arts and Sciences; The College of Business; The College of Education; The College of Engineering; The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts; The College of Graduate Studies; The College of Journalism and Mass Communications and; The College of Law.

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a Master of Science in Architecture with a specialization in Interior Design. It is available entirely online. This is a 36-credit program that ranked among the top 10 of its kind in DesignIntelligence magazine. It can typically be completed in two years of full-time study. Classes are presented asynchronously, so you can sign in and complete your coursework whenever it works for you. There are no on-campus requirements as part of this program. The curriculum includes courses such as Contemporary Architecture, Advanced Lighting Design, Design Evaluation, and Research, Color in the Built Environment, and more. Faculty of this program are award winners with real-world design experience, allowing you to receive a cutting-edge education in interior design, with the added benefit of their perspective and expertise.

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  6. MERIT: 148
    View Profile Average Cost: $53,176

    Chatham University is a private university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was initially established as the Pennsylvania Female College in 1869. It underwent several name changes over the years; it became the Pennsylvania College for Women in 1980 and Chatham College in 1955. It operated as Chatham College until 2007, when it finally achieved its university status and became Chatham University. It remained a single-sex institution all the way up until 2015. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It offers bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees to about 2,270 students. These degrees are provided through three distinct colleges, which are the Chatham College; the College for Graduate Studies and; the College for Continuing and Professional Studies. The last college was opened in 2005 when the university first began offering online degree programs.

    Chatham University has a Master of Science in Interior Architecture that is available entirely online. However, you are able to take it in a blended format if you live close to the campus and are interested in doing so. This is a 30-credit program that you can take at a full-time or part-time pace based on your needs. The typical student can complete this program in one year when studying at a full-time pace. You may be able to complete the program sooner if you have specific knowledge that would allow you to take a Prior Learning Assessment instead of completing the corresponding course. This program was created to put a strong emphasis on design theory; it also allows students to develop a specialization by focusing on a particular type of building, customer group, or current issue in the field of design. You can also opt to gain supervised teaching experience if you’re interested in pursuing an academic career in interior design.

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  7. MERIT: 148
    View Profile Average Cost: $55,872

    The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private university that is headquartered in Savannah, Georgia. There are additional campuses in Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong and; Lacoste, France. The college was founded in 1978 with a goal of filling an education gap in the southeast and providing students with academic opportunities that they couldn’t get anywhere else in the region at the time. SCAD only offered eight programs of study when it first open and those offerings have expanded to encompass a total of more than 50 different programs of study. Degrees are awarded at the bachelors and masters level. There are currently 13,163 students enrolled at the college, which is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

    DesignIntelligence has repeatedly rated the interior design degree programs at the Savannah College of Art and Design as the best. The online interior design degree option at SCAD is a Master of Arts in Interior Design program. It consists of 45 credits and covers topics such as interior design theory and criticism, research methods for interior design, environmental psychology, and more. You will also have the option to take electives that tailor your knowledge to your desired area of expertise in your professional life. Electives that you can choose from include courses like Applied Interior Lighting, and Design Visualization, Communication, and Documentation, among many others. This is an asynchronous program that you would be able to complete at your own pace and according to your own schedule.

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  8. MERIT: 140
    View Profile Average Cost: $24,280

    Ball State University is a public research university in Muncie, Indiana. The university was founded in 1918, but it can trace its roots back to 1899 when the Eastern Indiana Normal School opened its doors. After closing, reopening, and steadily evolving to offer a broader range of academic opportunity, Ball State University came together and grew into the institution that it is today. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has a student body of nearly 23,000. Degrees are offered at all levels through eight distinct colleges. These are the College of Applied Sciences and Technology; the College of Architecture and Planning; the Miller College of Business; the College of Communication, Information, and Media; the College of Fine Arts; the College of Health; the College of Sciences and Humanities and; the Teachers College. Ball State offers a combined 320 undergraduate majors and minors as well as nearly 150 graduate-level programs of study.

    Ball State University offers both a Master of Science in Interior Design and a Master of Arts in Interior Design entirely online. Courses are presented asynchronously, which allows you to learn at your convenience. You will have access to an academic advisor, benefit from small classes, and the program’s endorsement by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Online students at Ball State pay a competitive tuition rate, encounter minimal fees, and have great options for financial aid through the university. If you have no prior design education, you will have to take an 80-credit hybrid program in order to complete this degree; however, if you do have an undergraduate degree in design, you are eligible for the fast track option. The fast track option is entirely online and consists of 33 credits. It is typically completed in two years.

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  9. MERIT: 123
    View Profile Average Cost: $19,786

    The University of Wisconsin-Stout is a public university in Menomonie, Wisconsin. It was established in 1891 and became part of the University of Wisconsin System in 1971. It has the distinction of being Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University because the degree programs offered are tailored towards professional careers in a variety of industries such as technology, applied art, and more. UW-Stout has more than 75 total programs of study, and it confers degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Three different colleges fall under UW-Stout which are the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences and; the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Management. Each of these colleges houses different schools as well.

    The Master of Fine Arts in Design offered at the University of Wisconsin-Stout is a hybrid program. That means that there are some on-campus components required in order to complete this program. The core curriculum is cross-disciplinary and covers different topics in design like graphics, games, studio art, and more; this portion of the program accounts for 30 out of the 60 required credits. The remaining thirty credits are open for you to select courses that align with your goals. You will complete your classes in a variety of formats, and the campus-based portions of the program will allow you unique opportunities for experiential learning and collaborative research with a dedicated and knowledgeable faculty. This program may not be as flexible as some of the other options, but it is one of the most diverse on this list, giving you plenty of space to explore your passions in the field of design. UW-Stout’s distance-learning initiatives were the first to be recognized for their excellence in the state of Wisconsin.

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  10. MERIT: 116
    View Profile Average Cost: $23,051

    Stephen F. Austin State University is a public university that’s in Nacogdoches, Texas. Like many other schools in America, it was founded as a teachers’ college. It first opened in 1921 and received its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges in just six years. SFA awards degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. Something unique about the university is that it is one of just four independent public institutions in the state of Texas. All of the other public institutions belong to one of the state’s six university systems. SFA has a student body that is coming up on 13,000 students. Those students are enrolled across several academic divisions of the university, which are the Nelson Rusche College of Business; the Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy; the James I. Perkins College of Education; the College of Fine Arts; the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture; the College of Liberal and Applied Arts; the College of Sciences and Mathematics and; the Richard and Lucille DeWitt School of Nursing.

    The interior design program at Stephen F. Austin State University is considered among the best in the state of Texas. It is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and prepares graduates of the program to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications exam. This program also takes into account additional licensing requirements and seeks to prepare students. Requirements for licensure may vary by state, though. This is an undergraduate major that can be completed in a hybrid format; there are some courses of this program that must be taken on campus. However, SFA offers an extensive amount of online classes. By working closely with an advisor, you could minimize your on-campus requirements through the strategic selection of electives. Some courses that are part of the core curriculum include Interior Lighting, Codes and Materials, Drawing, and more. You will also learn CAD in this degree program, and learn about photographic journalism. This is a comprehensive program and can serve as a great foundation to enter the professional world or go on to study at the graduate level.

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  11. MERIT: 114
    View Profile Average Cost: $44,878

    Brenau University is a private college that is headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia. There are several other locations throughout Georgia, and one campus in Jacksonville, Florida. The university was founded in 1878 as a private institution for women called the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary. Despite the name that is operated under, it has never been formally affiliated with any religious organization. In 1900, the school became Brenau College. Close to a century later, in 1992, the name became Brenau University to reflect the granting of its university status. Degrees are offered at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels, along with a variety of certificate levels. There are nearly 3,000 students enrolled. Brenau has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges since 1947.

    Online programs were first offered at Brenau University in 2002, and the distance education programs have been recognized among the top ten nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. For the aspiring interior designer, there is the Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design which is available online in its entirety. There are two concentrations available, in either Human Environment or Design Environment. The core curriculum of the program focuses on teaching students how to do effective research and conquer current issues in the field. This degree program is perfect for someone who was interested in pursuing an academic career in interior design. The Human Environment concentration covers health care, institutional design, and the psychology of aging. The Design Environment concentration explores topics like historic preservation, environmental science, and includes an interior design practicum. This is a 54-credit degree program that culminates in a portfolio presentation.

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  12. MERIT: 82
    View Profile Average Cost: $35,793

    The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is a private nonprofit educational institution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The school was founded in 1921 and spent the majority of its history operating as a for-profit institution; however, as of 2017, AIP is no longer a for-profit institution. When the school first opened, the academic focus was on art and illustration, but the climate has shifted now, and the majority of the programs are centered around different design disciplines as well as the culinary arts. Degrees are offered at the associates and bachelors level. AIP boasts an incredible student to faculty ratio of just nine to one but, there are only 431 students in attendance. The institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has an online division that operates almost autonomously from the brick and mortar school. There are close to 3,000 students enrolled online.

    The Art Institute of Pittsburgh offers an undergraduate major in interior design that prepares graduates to work in entry-level positions or pursue higher education at the graduate level. Classes are presented asynchronously, so you are able to work at your own pace whenever you would like. There are two areas of focus that you can choose from with this degree program, which is Interior Design, and Kitchen & Bath Design. The traditional interior design area of focus will result in you earning a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design and can be completed over the course of 15 quarters. You will learn about different types of design, Computer-Aided Drafting software, textiles, lighting, materials and specifications, and so much more. The Kitchen & Bath area of focus is an Associate of Science in Kitchen & Bath Design. Courses that are included in the curriculum include color theory, presentation skills, universal design, and structural requirements, among others.

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  13. MERIT: 78
    View Profile Average Cost: $38,688

    Boston Architectural College is a private college located in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts. The college was established as the Boston Architectural Club in 1889. The club grew over time, offering public expeditions, publishing catalogs, and more. A formal educational curriculum came together over a period of more than a decade. By 1911, the BAC had acquired a building and starting attracting students. It changed its name in 1944 to the Boston Architectural Center and then finally became the Boston Architectural College in 2006. The BAC is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Just under 700 students go to the college, which has a student to faculty ratio of only three to one. Degrees are awarded at the bachelors and masters levels.

    We have ranked the Boston Architectural College for its Master of Science in Interior Architecture. It is a 30-credit program that can be taken mostly at a distance. Students are required to take part in two weekend-long residencies in Boston to form strong connections with your colleagues and the program instructors. This program stands out because if you were to select this school, you’re enrolled somewhere that is entirely geared towards your passions. An institution like this expands your horizons because you can make stronger connections, potentially take more unique electives, and graduate with the name of such a long-standing design school on your resume. The BAC’s program features a curriculum that emphasizes the unique character and use of space, encouraging you to create environments that are highly responsive to the human experience.

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  14. MERIT: 58
    View Profile Average Cost: $21,360

    Baker College is a private college in Flint, Michigan. The college was founded in 1911. Today, Baker is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has a student body of 12,018. There are eight locations operated by the college throughout Michigan and more than 150 career-oriented programs of study offered within the system. The college confers degrees at all levels from the associate to doctorate with an array of certificates in between. Baker College stands out because of the way it goes above and beyond to make education accessible to all students, traditional or not. The college is part of the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers Transfer Agreement, which allows for up to 30 semester credits or the entirety of your general education credits to be transferred to four-year institutions in Michigan that are part of the agreement. It also has a right-to-try admissions policy and extensive financial aid opportunities.

    Baker College is continuously expanding their online offerings and to provide nontraditional students the same academic opportunities as those studying in a more traditional manner. The Bachelor of Science in Interior Design program was created to adhere to the standards set forth by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. You will encounter classroom learning, online learning, and real-world experience as you progress through the degree track. As you study, you will be able to develop your own distinct personal style and cultivate strong presentation skills while you learn all of the basic concepts of interior design. All of the online courses at Baker College are synchronous. What that means is that none of those classes are self-paced; instead, you would be responsible for logging in and participating in class in real time.

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  15. MERIT: 35
    View Profile Average Cost: $14,674

    Florida State College at Jacksonville is a public state college in Jacksonville, Florida. FSCJ is designated as a state college as opposed to a community college because it offers a more abundant selection of four-year degree programs than a typical community college would. It is a member of the Florida College System, and it is independently accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The college was founded in 1965 as a junior college but became a community college in 1986. It wasn’t until the Florida College System was created in 2009 that FSCJ became what Florida refers to as a state college. Degrees are offered at the associates and bachelors level, but the college is ineligible to confer graduate-level degrees. More than 21,000 students attend this school.

    Florida State College at Jacksonville has been featured here for two programs; one that is peripherally related to interior design but still covers a lot of the material you need to prepare yourself to expand your career. The program is a four-month online certificate program that leads to a Home Staging Specialist Technical Certificate. There are only four classes that are part of the program, and they are Principles of Interior Design, Materials and Sources, Fundamentals of Interior Design, and Selected Studies in Interior Design. Upon completion, you have the option to apply these credits towards an Associate of Science in Interior Design Technology. The Associate of Science in Interior Design Technology is also available entirely online. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam.

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