The courses for this degree, as with any degree, will vary by each college/university. This article will address some of the courses you are likely to see as you review the curricula of different bachelor’s programs in Interior Design. We will avoid the ones that require little explanation, such as the history of art or core programs, such as General Psychology.


In studio practice and extended projects, students develop a range of abilities to visualize and communicate three-dimensional information on the two-dimensional surface.

Light, Color, and Design Lab

The course immerses the student in the experience of light, sensitized to color and its attributes. Studies the elements, principles, and process of design. Through a series of cumulative and interwoven exercises, students explore how color and design are interlinked. Subsequently, they apply this understanding to projects in a wide range of media.

Design Process

Students gain an understanding of geometric order and the articulation of enclosures as defined by base, vertical, and overhead planes. They become familiar with the process of designing interior space, including concept development, programming, diagramming, and schematic planning.

Material and Methods of Construction

Students develop an understanding of the importance of interior construction methods, materials, finishes, and details. Students become familiar with the application of a wide variety of building materials through lectures, presentations, site visits, and the preparation of construction details.

Sustainable Design

In today’s world, the terms eco-friendly, environmentally correct, LEED (Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design) designed energy efficiency and sustainability are popular. Each describes innovative ways of building and designing for both residential and commercial spaces while being conscious of how materials and systems affect the world around us.

Environmental Technology

This studies environmentally, energy-conscious design concepts with the primary focus on climate and site analysis. The course may examine the standard evaluation methods for thermal performance in both design development and qualitative building evaluations. The coursework also covers heat loss/gain, thermal and solar envelope, HVAC system selection and layout. You will learn about the principles of water conservation, collection and supply, and the treatment and disposal of liquid and solid wastes.

Drawing and Graphics Studio

This class provides an introduction to freehand drawing and architectural drawing graphic conventions. Exercises include freehand and drafted drawings of building plans, sections, and elevations, and an introduction to three-dimensional representation.

Professional Practice

This course explores standard business procedures commonly associated with the practice of interior design. Students will study various types of design practices, financial management and compensation, ethical practices, professional development, legal liability, and issues related to licensing and certification. The management of a typical interior design project will be studied. This generally includes writing proposals and contracts, specifications, bidding procedures, budgets, construction schedules, contractor negotiations and collaboration, and project administration.

Visual Culture: Interiors

The course addresses the interior environment by studying the role history, economics, culture, materials, and technological developments, impact decisions made by designers on interior spaces. While comparing historical context with specific knowledge, this course will enable the student to be a more articulate designer by a comprehensive examination of the interiors.

3-D Modeling

Students will explore lighting, materiality, advanced form and spatial experience through realistic three-dimensional digital models. Advanced presentation techniques explore the use of various 3D modeling and workflow methods from AutoCAD and 3DS Max (3D modeling and animation solution). Students learn digital modeling, rendering, and presentation techniques. Coursework may include techniques for producing an advanced 2D/3D animation of an interior space.


Not in all programs, however it may involve the study of vectors, statics, kinematics, and classical dynamics, including Newton’s laws, torque, projectile motion, and circular motion.

Emergent Platforms

Course introduces students to digital drawing, modeling, and fabrication techniques, exploring the relationships between design, tools, and construction processes enabled through evolving digital platforms. Integral to the explorations will be an understanding of applicable materials-their effects, potentials, and constraints. Students will explore potential of digital technologies applied to various scales and applications across disciplines including furniture and objects as well as environmental constructs.

Interior Lighting

This course analyzes human needs and the perceptual responses of both general and special populations. It introduces the lighting design theory and principles and explores methods of creating mood and atmosphere with light. It develops vocabulary, documentation methods, and understanding of energy conservation, lighting standards, and safety.

Learning Outcomes

There are numerous outcomes to the study of interior design. Here is a short list of the purpose of an undergraduate degree:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of design and color in 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional representation
  • Discuss and write about the historical context of the visual arts
  • Communicate effectively in written form within the conventions of the discipline
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply human factors in context to residential and commercial design, including programming, environmental control systems, and ergonomics
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the business practices of interior design, including project management, ethics, communication, codes, and health, safety, and welfare
  • Apply the sophisticated use of color theory and cultural context