People love to have choices. However, too many can paralyze the decision process. Psychology Today confirmed this in a 2014 study regarding choices in a grocery store. A grocery store presented customers with two different sampling stations: one with 24 flavors of jam and the other with only six options. The results of the study revealed that the availability of six options resulted in 30% of consumers purchasing at least one jar of jam, while the sampling station with 24 flavors had a conversion rate of only 3%. While the larger selection attracted more onlookers, the smaller selection actually generated more sales.

This study opined that matters become even more complicated when there are twenty options or more. The human cognitive ability cannot efficiently compare more than five options, so most of us will start looking at the first few options and then stop. Awareness that there may be a better option triggers the urge to find it. However, due to time constraints and human cognitive limitations, we fail to go further.

This article presents much fewer than 20 options, which should make your decision easier. However, the true intent is to provide examples of concentrations offered in a graduate degree in Interior Architecture. Some of these choices within architectural colleges overlap into interior design.

Sustainable Design

The curriculum might include subjects ranging from green building design to sustainable community planning to policy and advocacy. Coursework is highly customizable, examining everything from energy, water, air quality, and materials and resources to preservation, construction management, land use, and research methods.

Sustainable design concentrates on the means to improve a building’s energy efficiency, mainly by reducing the amount of energy needed for heating, lighting, running appliances, etc., and by providing renewable, non-carbon-based energy to the building. You study the labels, standards, and certifications that give credible information about a products’ origin and manufacturing process. This helps interior architects identify eco-friendly products.

Historic Preservation

Students gain the knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership skills necessary to promote and preserve historical buildings and cultural landscapes. This specialty is for professionals in the fields of design (interior and architecture), planning, real estate, and advocacy. This type of program addresses the technical, cultural, and policy dimensions of preservation.

A master’s degree in this specialty examines the building’s spaces (rooms and volumes), individual architectural features, and the various finishes and materials that make up the walls, floors, and ceilings. You need to learn that the new use does not require substantial alteration of distinctive spaces or removal of character-defining architectural features and/or finishes.

Healthcare Design

This is a field experiencing substantial growth due to the aging population in the nation. At the residential level, homes require alterations to accommodate the less-mobile elderly. Assisted living facilities are another client for interior architects and designers. In this vein, you will study health conditions and design. You explore different physical and psychological chronic health conditions in relation to specific designs of residential and institutional housing.

There are firms devoted to providing architectural and design services to clients in the healthcare industry. This involves working with hospitals, cancer clinics, emergency medicine, ambulatory care, and more. To prepare you for this field of work, you need a program that includes courses in behavioral science, health science, ethical and cultural issues in health care. Your graduate education should instill the perspective of taking a patient’s point of view.


Does the prospect of mixing management courses with interior architecture interest you? If so, you can earn a Master of Science in Management with an Interior Architecture concentration. Upon completing a program of this type, you will be able to:

  • Analyze, evaluate, and synthesize issues connected to interior design, for the purpose of improving the quality of life and increasing productivity
  • Analyze and evaluate designs to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public
  • Critique and evaluate emerging strategies, laws, and regulations pertaining to the field of interior architecture and design management

This degree provides professionals with management skills, as well as boosting their design knowledge and its application. The coursework of the two concentrations (management & interior architecture) will also introduce students to computer-related management issues, such as collaborative computer-supported design, and project management technique.

Adaptive Reuse

Adaptive reuse establishes an aesthetic, theoretical and technological framework for students to develop socially and environmentally responsible practices. The implementation of adaptive reuse is prevalent in architecture and interior architecture/design. The coursework provides a design education focused on altering existing structures through interior interventions and adaptive reuse. Consequently, you will be able to formulate an original design concept based on research and evaluate, develop, present and advocate coherent design propositions.

Adaptive reuse intersects with sustainable design and historic preservation. It is one of the most environmentally prudent forms of sustainable design-the reuse of existing structures. It involves the transformation of historic/older buildings into LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified projects. Dilapidated interiors become award-winning office space or multi-family dwellings. Reusing the existing structure is cost-effective and preserves the charm of older buildings in cities. For this reason, there are design and architectural firms that devote their practice to adaptive reuse.

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