Interior Design bachelor of fine arts degree

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Design history, building structure and systems, space planning, and design process are used to create inspiring, purposeful interior environments.

Interior designers enhance the way people live, work, heal, prosper, and play. They are experts in space planning and have a deep understanding of the relationship between people and their physical surroundings. Earning an interior design degree gives you the knowledge in design history, building structure and systems, space planning, and design process needed to create purposeful, user-centered interior environments.

RIT’s comprehensive interior design major synthesizes design history, building structure and systems, space planning, and design process with a consciousness of global affairs to create unique, meaningful environments. Experienced, certified professionals promote relevant skills that allow students to address today’s design issues.

Our International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Campus Center facilitates networking and interaction with industry professionals. The world-renowned Vignelli Center for Design Studies serves as an invaluable resource for understanding the process and product of design by the world’s most acclaimed designers. Dedicated studio and lecture spaces provide students with the freedom to interact with peers and faculty one-on-one, fostering teamwork and collaboration.

We mentor students with a consciousness for global affairs and today’s design challenges so that they may contribute to the profession with a deep-rooted understanding of society, culture, and environment. By maximizing an array of academic and professional opportunities, our graduates are reshaping how we live in the world.  

Plan of study

The interior design major integrates major courses, studio and open electives, the liberal arts, and art/design history. Computer skills, design perspectives, career preparation, and exposure to the related areas of publishing, photography, engineering, and information technology are integrated into the curriculum.


The program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.


  • Interior Design

  • Architecture and Planning

  • Design

Typical Job Titles

Architectural Designer Interior Designer
Project Manager


outcome rate of graduates


median first-year salary of graduates

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Interior design, BFA degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Introduction to Interior Design
This course will acquaint students with the profession and history of interior design. Students will be introduced to design thinking and methods for exploring the ideation process including communication methods. Design problems will focus on volumetric and spatial explorations including the relationship of the human body to the built environment and material connections.
2D Design I
This course is a structured, cumulative introduction to the basic elements and principles of two-dimensional design. Organized to create a broad introductory experience, the course focuses on the development of both a visual and a verbal vocabulary as a means of exploring, developing and understanding two-dimensional compositions. Concepts are introduced through lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, assigned projects and critiques. The course addresses a wide variety of media, tools, techniques both traditional and technological, and theoretical concepts to facilitate skill development and experimentation with process. Visual comprehension, the ability to organize perceptions and horizontal thinking that crosses other disciplines and theories, are key foundational components to the development of problem solving skills. Accumulative aspects of the curriculum included the exploration of historical and cultural themes and concepts intertwined with aspects of personal interpretation and experience.
3D Design I
This course presents a progressive study over two-semesters in terminology, visual principles, exploration, concept generation, process, and techniques of three-dimensional design. Using hands-on problem solving, student will develop an informed understanding of the 3D form and space with an emphasis on the elements and principles of visual design and their function as the building blocks and guidelines for ordering a 3D composition. A heightened awareness of form and space will be developed through lecture, assigned projects, and critiques. Students will also develop a personal awareness of problem seeking and solving, experimentation, and critical analysis. **Note: May be taken as a one-semester offering**
Drawing I
This course is an introduction to the visualization of form, thought and expression through the drawing process. Concepts are introduced by lectures, discussions, demonstrations, research, and assigned projects. Designed to provide a broad introductory experience, students will experiment with a wide variety of media, tools, techniques and subjects to develop drawing expertise and problem solving skills related to design and composition. Course work will be assessed through critique, facilitating self-assessment, and the growth of both a visual and verbal vocabulary. The focus of the course is to provide awareness of the full range of ways in which drawing is used as a tool for both self-expression and communication.
Choose one of the following:
   3D Design II
This is the second-semester of a sequential course. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Students will build on their prior term experiences, which include the introduction to 3D principles, materials, and building processes. Students will develop the sophisticated skill of conceptualization. More advanced problems will be assigned and students will have the opportunity to explore a wide range of material and process possibilities for their resolution. A heightened awareness of idea development and design research will be explored. Inclusion of 21st century themes in the arts of social cultural and community.
   3D Design Workshop
This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about 3D compositions within a more open and experimental realm while still covering the core Foundation concepts. Different topics may be taken in the same semester. Topics may only be taken once. The focus is on composing three-dimensional form and its relationship to space. Material exposure will be determined by the topic’s instructor.
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic): History of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval
LAS Perspective 3 (global): History of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern
Design Drawing I
Fundamental concepts of architectural graphic communication conventions, ideation sketching and drafting skills are taught in this course. Skill development will be both manual and computer based and range from free-hand sketching and diagramming to formal three-dimensional computer modeling. Principles of orthographic projection, paraline drawings and perspective will be covered.
Year One
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
First Year Writing (WI)
Wellness Education*
Choose one of the following:
   LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry)
   LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles)
   LAS Perspective 7 (mathematical)
Second Year
Introduction to Interior Design II
This course will build upon theories and methodologies of design process for creating spatial relationships in the interior environment. It will also introduce students to the fundamental concepts of sustainability and the accessibility requirements of the Americans for Disability Act (ADA). The course will provide students opportunities to apply design elements and principles in two and three- dimensional explorations.
Design Drawing II
Graphic communication skills are further developed utilizing computer aided drafting tools to represent complex geometric forms and spatial conditions for the architectural interior. Common drawing conventions of plans, sections, and elevations and perspective are emphasized.
Digital Graphics
This course will introduce students to and provide basic skills in digital graphics and publishing. Layout of print and web based documents will be augmented with design and typographic principles, image acquisition, and fundamentals of bitmap and vector graphics.
Design Issues (WI)
The course will introduce students the principles and theories of interior design. Topics will include the elements and principles of design, accessibility, human factors, and sustainability. Students will be introduced to investigative processes for design including observational research, interviewing, literature reviews, reporting, and evidence based design.
Color and Lighting Theory
The course will introduce students to color and lighting. Students will apply principles of light and color to projects.
Hospitality Design
The course will introduce students to the interior specialty of hospitality design. Students will understand the principles, elements, and material applications relevant to commercial interiors of the service industry.
CAD Studio Electives†
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
Third Year
History of Architecture, Interiors, and Furniture I
A survey of the history of western architecture, interiors, and furniture. An overview of the components of style, construction, and material as represented by architecture, interior environments and furnishings from the Ancient World to the Industrial Revolution.
History of Architecture, Interiors, and Furniture II
A survey of the history of western architecture, interiors, and furniture. An overview of the components of style, construction, and material as represented by architecture, interior environments and furnishings from the Industrial Revolution to current day.
Office Design
The course will introduce students to office design and explore current trends in the contract industry. Students will engage in space planning for the commercial office interior and specify the systems and furnishings to outfit their proposals.
Materials and Specifications
The course will introduce students to materials and specifications for interior design. Students will learn how to select and specify appropriate materials, finishes and furnishings based on performance, codes, testing, sustainability, indoor air quality, health and safety.
Exhibition and Merchandising Design
The course will introduce students to strategies for designing exhibition and merchandising environments such as retail stores, galleries and museums, visitor centers, pop up stores and temporary spaces, theater and photoshoots sets, and theme or event spaces.
Building Systems
The course will introduce students to the components of building construction and environmental control systems. The building structure and envelope as the primary control system for function and human comfort.
CAD Studio Electives†
LAS Immersion 1 (WI), 2
Fourth Year
Multi-Story/Multi-Purpose Design
The course will introduce students to multi-story and multi-purpose design, building, zoning, proprietary and zoning codes, and ADA legislation.
Business Practices and Career Planning
This course is an introduction to professional practice for interior designers. Topics emphasize business practices, project management, legal and ethical responsibilities. Students prepare for job search and employment.
Contract Documents
This course will introduce students to contract documents relevant to the interior design profession. Students will complete an architectural drawing set and develop an understanding of requirements to communicate design solutions.
Special Projects
The course focuses on community service, social justice or theoretical projects that advanced design thinking for the global context.
Health Care Design
The course will introduce students to the specialization of health care design. Students will complete a comprehensive and complex design project based on a typical medical facility.
LAS Immersion 3
Free Electives
LAS Elective 
Total Semester Credit Hours

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

† CAD Studio elective courses are those designated with studio/lab hours listed in the course description.

Admission Requirements

Freshman Admission

For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.

Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations

• Studio art experience and a portfolio of original artwork are required for all programs in the schools of Art and Design. A portfolio must be submitted. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. 

Transfer Admission

Transfer course recommendations without associate degree

Courses in studio art, art history, and liberal arts. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information.

Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer

Related programs or studio art experience in desired disciplines. A portfolio of original artwork is required to determine admissions, studio art credit, and year level in the program. View Portfolio Requirements for more information. Summer courses can lead to third-year status in most programs.

Learn about admissions and financial aid 

Additional Info

Professional memberships

The School of Design maintains memberships in a variety of professional organizations, including Industrial Designers Society of America, ACM Siggraph, Society of Environmental Graphic Designers, American Institute of Architects, ICOGRADA, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and International Interior Design Association.