MA Interior Design
The Master of Arts in Interior Design is a 60-credit degree program that offers students an opportunity to explore the theory and practice of design and the built environment. The program emphasizes critical thinking and a conscious consideration of the impact design has on people and the planet.
The program provides a strong foundation in the field by encouraging the exploration of design across multiple specialties in the industry. In addition to developing skills in the process of design thinking and sustainable strategies, students learn to see, document, and discuss design ideas both by hand and digitally from faculty who are experts in their areas of practice—professional architects; interior, textile, and graphic designers; and U.S. Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professionals.
Understanding the impact of the built environment on our world is essential to the practice of interior design and architecture. Sustainably focused design studios and courses in construction and detailing, lighting design, and material and methods teach students how to apply sustainable practices and considerations to their designs and client work. The Corcoran is a member of P.A.L.S—the Partnership for Academic Leadership on Sustainability, a collection of AICAD art and design schools committed to sustainability.
The Master of Arts in Interior Design Program is accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and it fulfills the education requirement that qualifies graduates to sit for the National Council of Interior Design Qualification professional licensing exam.
Students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design Program have the opportunity to learn from their instructors within intimate class sizes that range from 8 to15 students. The studios are centered on a collaborative work environment and all students participate in active critiques, discussions, and design charettes.
The Corcoran's Master of Arts in Interior Design Program can be completed in two years—five semesters—if attended full-time.
The Interior Design MA program accepts applications from students with backgrounds in Interior Design or Architecture as well as those with unrelated degrees. A portfolio is required for those with interior design or architecture backgrounds; however, a portfolio is optional for those with unrelated degrees.
- Interior Design Studios I-IV
- Digital Applications I-II
- Lighting Design
- Materials, Finishes, and Methods
- Construction and Detailing
- Selected Topics in Interior Design
- Interior Design Pro-Thesis
- Interior Design Thesis
- Electives (Total of 2)
Art history and academic studies requirements
- History of Architecture and Interior Design
- Contemporary Culture and Design
- Principles and Theory of Interior Design
- Interior Design Professional Practice
- Art History Electives (Total of 2)
Total: 60 Credits*
*Applicants whose undergraduate degrees are unrelated to interior design or who need additional instruction in certain areas may be required to complete additional coursework. Any prerequisites, including participation in our summer Design Bootcamp, will be determined at the time of admission.
Sample Program of Study
|Studio I||Studio II||Studio III|
|Materials, Finishes, and Methods||Construction and Detailing||Advanced AutoCAD / Revit|
|Lighting Design||Revit||Selected Topics Studio|
|History of Architecture and Interior Design||Contemporary Culture and Design||Principles and Theory of Interior Design|
|Studio IV||Thesis Studio|
|Pro-Thesis ID||Professional Practice|
|Graduate Art History Elective||Graduate Art History Elective|
|Graduate Studio or Academic Elective||Graduate Studio or Academic Elective|
The Master of Arts in Interior Design Program culminates in a year-long, research- and project-based thesis.
Through their course of study, students are exposed to all aspects of interior design and the process of preparing to select, design, document, and research their specified topic. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue theses that are "outside-the-box," socially and environmentally responsible, and that are atypical design solutions or projects.
The thesis program allows students to explore topics they are passionate about within the context of the built environment. Examples of topics dealt with in recent years include healthy environments for sustainable living and learning, adaptive reuse, cultural identity in the built environment, and experimentation in design and fabrication methods.
Several thesis projects have been recognized for their outstanding achievements, and students have been invited to present their work at events such as the American Institute of Architects' National Conference and the Interior Design Educators Council's National Conference. As part of the Corcoran's annual NEXT exhibition, thesis students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design Program present their work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art to a panel of critics, designers, and faculty.
Careers and Internships
Preparing students for successful careers in design is central to the Master of Arts in Interior Design program. To help them prepare, the program offers:
- active student groups for trade organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers, The United States Green Building Council and International Interior Design Association.
- coursework in how to prepare and present individual work for job and internship searches;
- annual portfolio reviews conducted by representatives of the area's leading design firms;
- LunchBytes, a short weekly lectures series for continued skill, career, and professional development;
- study groups for the United States Green Building Council's LEED Green Associate exam;
- and an extensive offering of programs from the Corcoran's Department of Career Services.
Graduates of the Master of Arts in Interior Design program will be well equipped to work alongside seasoned architects and interior designers in either large fast-paced firms or smaller boutique studios. The program's curriculum offers students an opportunity to explore the theory and practice of design across multiple specialties in the industry, providing a strong foundation from which graduates can choose a career path.
A faculty of practicing design professionals offers students a direct connection to the Washington, D.C., design community; local architects and designers regularly attend classroom studios to offer critiques as well as professional advice to students.
In addition to classes in both professional practice and portfolio development, students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design Program participate every spring in a college-wide portfolio review with leading architecture and design firms such as Gensler, Hickok Cole, and Perkins and Will, among others. This event gives students the opportunity to further refine their portfolios, resumes, and personal brands in preparation for interviews.
Master of Interior Design students have worked at
Students are strongly encouraged to complete at least one internship during their course of study at the Corcoran. Internships offer valuable learning opportunities beyond classroom instruction and can often be applied for course credit toward the degree. Area firms regularly contact the Corcoran's Department of Interior Design seeking talented students to intern at their offices and often these placements have turned into full-time jobs after graduation. Past and present internships placements include:
Interior Design Faculty
Heidi Nasstrom Evans
Director, First-Year Experience Program; Assistant Professor of Exhibition Design & Interior Design
Assistant Professor; Interior Design Director of Advising
Associate Chair of Interior Design
The Department of Interior Design is a diverse community and one of the largest programs at the Corcoran. When Master of Arts in Interior Design program students aren't busy with classes and internships, they take full advantage of all that the Washington, D.C., design community has to offer. The faculty of practicing professionals and student organizations keep students active and engaged.
The Corcoran is an immensely creative environment and students learn from working together. Students in the Interior Design program have the opportunity to work with graduate students in the Exhibition Design, New Media Photojournalism, Art and the Book, and Arts Education programs on multidisciplinary projects, including DesignCorps.
In addition, Interior Design students have had the opportunity to work with the Danish Embassy, architecture and design manufacturers, national trade organizations for design, and, of course, the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design program are encouraged to enter their work in competitions. Departmental awards are given for excellent work in different areas of focus. Some examples include:
- Re-imagining the Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope Leighey House
- Interface Design competition to develop a new floor tile design based on the principles of biomimicry
- Departmental Thesis Prize
- Alumni Thesis Award for Sustainability
- NeoCon essay competition sponsored by our ASID chapter for a trip to NeoCon in Chicago
Students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design program feel strongly about giving back to the community and know the powerful impact that design can have. They have participated in events such as the United States Green Building Council's Green Apple Day of Service; Georgetown Jingle, benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Programs at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital; Cosmo Couture, benefitting My Sister's Place; Modern Classics 2012, in collaboration with Arts for the Aging and benefiting the Baltimore Design School, a public middle school; and in OpenIDEO.
The Master of Arts in Interior Design Program connects students to the Washington, D.C., design community through events, speakers, studio tours, trips to trade shows, and more. Recently, Corcoran students have participated in:
- Biomimicry Summit, sponsored by United States Green Building Council student group;
- An annual Sustainable Materials Expo, sponsored by United States Green Building Council and American Society of Interior Designers student groups;
- Visiting Voices Speaker Series, bringing professionals in to lecture about design including guests from Gensler, OPX, DBI Architects, ForrestPerkins, and SKB Architects.
The Department of Interior Design has an ever-growing group of alumni who stay connected to the Corcoran and are a valuable asset to our students. The Corcoran ID alumni group works with the Interior Design department in:
- Organizing study groups for the LEED Green Associate, LEED Accredited Professional, and NCIDQ exams;
- Developing a newsletter to help keep each other connected;
- Sharing job openings at their firms;Planning regular networking and career development meetings