Careers in interior design are increasingly popular and are particularly suited to creative types with a passion for design, a feel for space and an eye for colour. Learn more about the range of courses and qualifications on offer
As competition for work in the multi-faceted and ever-changing design industry increases, students and graduates must ensure that they have the right combination of qualifications and experience to stand out to potential employers.
To become a professional interior designer you'll need a relevant degree, foundation degree or HND. Industry employers prefer subjects such as architecture, fine art, furniture design, interior/spatial design, interior architecture, textile design and 3D design.
You can enter the profession without a degree but you'll need significant work experience. Qualifications at undergraduate and foundation level can help to set you apart from the competition and aid more rapid career progression.
There are a variety of courses on offer to help launch your interior design career, from undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications to online short courses.
Interior design degrees
The following undergraduate qualifications are recognised by the British Institute of Interior Design.
Birmingham City University (BCU) offers a three-year Interior Architecture and Design course, situated within the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. The programme teaches you how to plan and design creative interiors and transform spaces. During your first year you'll learn how to reorder and manipulate space and study history of modern architecture and design devices. In your second year you have the opportunity to undertake a work placement and work on live projects. In your final year you'll focus on an in-depth design project in an area of interest to you. The degree is assessed entirely through coursework with no practical or written exams. To gain a place you'll need BBC at A-level or 112 UCAS tariff points.
For entry onto the Interior Design BA at Falmouth University you'll need between 104 and 120 UCAS tariff points. The course is studio-based and taught by practising designers through a series of lectures, seminars, demonstrations, tutorials and field trips. During the first year you'll cover all aspects of interiors from the decorative through to commercial design, and learn how to draw and model interior space. Years two and three enable you to develop your own personal interests, conduct site visits and experience international field trips. The course culminates in a degree show of your work, supported by a dissertation.
The Interior Architecture and Design course at Leeds Beckett University nurtures your creativity through a variety of studio projects, which teach you to sculpt, manipulate, redesign and repurpose interior space in response to live briefs from external clients. Core modules in year one include design fundamentals, sculpting interior space, history and contextual studies and interiors reinvented - a design report. In year two you'll cover digital imaging, interior installation, history and contextual studies 2, and spaces reread parts one, two and three. In your final year you'll focus on your own major project. You'll need 120 UCAS tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent. At least one A-level must be in an art or design-related subject.
Masters in interior design
While a postgraduate qualification isn't necessary for entry to the profession, studying a Masters can enhance your industry knowledge, expand your list of contacts and aid career progression. Masters courses in interior design can also open doors for those from other art and design disciplines.
Manchester School of Art, part of Manchester Metropolitan University, offers a one-year full-time Interior Design MA made up of five units including design intention, design proposition, interior design major project, an optional module and professional platforms. As part of the programme you'll be encouraged to extend your experience in industry through practical projects, work experience and professional interactions with external partners, student groups and the creative industry. You'll need an undergraduate degree in a related subject for entry onto the course and may be required to submit a digital portfolio.
The postgraduate Interior Design programme at the London College of Contemporary Arts (LCCA) takes 18 months to complete and aims to equip you with advanced skills in design, narrative and representation. The course is split into three semesters; during the first you will cover the history of interior design, research methodologies and visual communication of interior spaces. In your second semester you'll learn about design and narratives, interior design for corporate brands and interior design for art and culture spaces. The final semester focuses solely on the production of a dissertation. To gain a place on the course you'll need a 2:2 honours degree in any subject.
The one-year Interior Design MA at The University of Edinburgh covers the study and design of interior spaces in relation to a range of public and private environments. You'll have the opportunity to explore the design potential of existing buildings and to find new uses for old ones. The programme combines practical studio work with theoretical studies and encourages you to focus on the aspects of interior design of most interest to you. To be accepted onto the course you'll need a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, and you must also submit a portfolio as part of your application.
Online and short courses
If you would like to fit your studies around work or personal commitments there are a range of short and online courses available.
The National Design Academy (NDA) offers flexible, online interior design courses at both undergraduate and Masters level. You choose your own start date and study at your own pace. The BA covers a variety of modules and provides students the opportunity to focus on a specific element of design such as hotel or exhibition. For undergraduate entry you'll either need an NDA Level 3 Diploma, an NVQ in a related subject, an A-level in a design subject or successful completion of an art foundation year at college or university. The NDA Masters in Interior Design is awarded by Staffordshire University and you'll need a related undergraduate degree or equivalent for a place on the programme. Taking approximately 18 months to complete, modules cover advanced research methods, innovative technology in interior design, trend forecasting in interior design, cultural contexts in interior design, interior design practice management and a final Masters project.
The British College of Interior Design offers an online Professional Interior Design course, lasting 12 to 24 weeks. You'll be taught by established interior designers and learn about design history and theory, design communication and research and the science of interior space. You'll find out how to analyse client needs, develop design concepts and manage the finishing of interior spaces. Upon completion of the course you will receive a Diploma of Professional Interior Design.
The Interior Design Diploma course, provided by the Interior Design Institute, typically takes 24 weeks to complete, although you can take up to a year if necessary. The programme covers 12 modules and interactive assignments designed to help you build your first professional portfolio. Units include the visual language of design, the history of style decoration and architecture, design styles, space planning, lighting, colour, interior finishes, decorative textiles and fabrics, furniture, art and accessories, working with clients, visual communication and setting up an interior design business.
University of the Arts, London and Arts University Bournemouth also offer interior design-related short courses including design trends for interiors in a day, interior decoration and styling, and interior design - an introduction.
Find out more
- Learn more about the role of an interior and spatial designer
- Discover what you can do with an interior design degree
- Gain an insight into the creative arts and design sector