Interior Architecture Undergraduate Program

About the Program

Whether as intimate and familiar as a home or as dramatic and monumental as an international airport, our surroundings have a significant impact on the way we live. Interior designers recognize the importance of this impact. They create distinct, responsive, functional, and dynamic environments for living and working. These environments are shaped through the understanding and application of theories related to programming, ergonomics, anthropometrics, egress, building codes, green design as well as formal aspects of architecture and furniture. As an interior architecture major at Ohio University, you can learn how these elements combine to meet the physical, psychological, social, and intellectual needs of people in a variety of settings. Students who successfully complete the portfolio review process become part of the Interior Architecture Program. This program uses traditional drawing, model making, and computer-based design software in the development and planning of interior space. The Interior Architecture design studios foster a creative and productive workspace for all majors with 24/7 access.

Four Year Program

The Interior Architecture major is a four year program.  A traditional freshman student can easily complete the program in a four year time frame.  If a student comes to the program as a sophomore, junior, or older student, it will require four years of college work to graduate.  The only exception to this is if a student comes to us with a portfolio of work that is sufficient to place them directly into the next portfolio review, or to place them directly into the design studio curriculum.


Course descriptions and program requirements are available in the Ohio University Undergraduate Catalog.

Portfolio Review

The program conducts a yearly portfolio review, at the end of Freshman year through which eighteen (18) students are selected to advance in the program. The number of students selected is limited by accreditation standards, number of faculty, and physical facilities. To prepare for the portfolio review students are required to take five Foundations courses (see the undergraduate catalog for the listing of courses) and then assemble the visual work from each of those classes into a folio. The faculty of the program review the work, and based on that review, select eighteen students to be admitted into the the major. Students denied admission through the portfolio review must identify another major.

Working with their academic adviser, a student may incorporate some of the Interior Architecture courses into a program such as the Bachelor of Specialized Studies (B.S.S.) that is administered in University College. This option provides for a special course of study, when nothing similar exists elsewhere at Ohio University. Through this option a student can create a major by combining at least two academic areas into a course of study.

Transfer Students

It is imperative for students to speak with an interior architecture faculty member prior to, or at the time of transfer. A discussion regarding course selection must occur between the student and an interior architecture faculty member prior to registering for courses. Students who wish to transfer into the interior architecture major must submit a portfolio of work for review to the faculty. Students with previous design work will have their transcripts sent and reviewed for equivalencies in required coursework (see below). Admitted students must complete all major requirements.

Computer Requirement

Students who successfully complete the portfolio review process are required to provide and maintain a computer, meeting program specifications, for all studio courses. Currently the program uses software such as AutoCAD, 3D Modeling softwares, Adobe PhotoShop, and Adobe Illustrator. Computer specifications are sent to students along with their notice of admission following the portfolio review process. The specification may change with every entering group of students as technology advances.

Internship Requirement

The program requires that each student complete a professional internship, that is typically served with an interior design or design-related firm. The internship is completed after the Junior year.

Career Direction

For more than 30 years, Ohio University’s interior design program has been preparing graduates for successful careers in residential and non-residential design, as well as in related areas such as lighting, visual display, sales and showroom management.

Student Achievement Data

  • Job Placement: 83% of May 2013 graduates were employed in design related positions by May 2014.
  • Acceptance into Graduate Programs: 100% of the students that applied to graduate schools from the May 2013 graduating class were accepted.
  • Graduation Rates: 88% of the students from the class of 2013 graduated in 4 years.
  • Retention: 100% of students enrolled spring 2013 semester returned fall 2013.

CIDA Accreditation

College level Interior Design programs that meet the standards and guidelines set forth by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) are granted accreditation for up to a six year term.  The Ohio University Interior Architecture program (prior to 2001 called Interior Design) has been continuously accredited since the early 1990’s.  CIDA accreditation indicates that a program offers a broadly defined professional education for students.

Why is the program called Interior Architecture?

The profession of interior design as it is practiced today, both in the United States, and internationally, involves complex work that influences the health, welfare, and safety of users of the spaces.  For this reason and others, the name ‘interior architecture’ is, in our view, a more appropriate and contemporary description of our discipline.

  • Upon graduation our students are qualified through their professional degree, to pursue full professional status as interior designers.
  • In the state of Ohio, and throughout the United States, the term ‘interior architect’ is only legally allowed if one is a legal, registered, architect.
  • Our program does not claim to be preparing students to become architects.
  • As design educators we seek to engage and to understand the built environment at all scales, from the small and intimate scale of objects such as watches, pens, shoes, lamps, sinks, and tables, to the large and public experience of rooms, houses, and skyscrapers.  Large, small, inside, outside, architecture is the world of built, designed, and manufactured things.
  • The faculty and students in this program primarily explore the architecture of inside spaces. We understand architecture as the forms, materials, functions, and technologies used to bring these together in the creation of objects, spaces, and communities.
  • Interior architecture brings together in one curriculum the explorations and study of interiors (interior materials, finishes, furnishings, and industrial design) and architecture (concerned with the design and construction of buildings and the systems within them).
  • Students in this program learn about how spaces, and components within spaces, are designed, constructed, and used.
  • At the core of creating interior architecture is the activity of designing.  Designing is a purposeful, systematic, and creative activity.
  • The process of designing things is purposeful:  designers give form, color, texture, and scale, to products, interiors, and visual communications, and address the functional, psychological, and aesthetic needs of users.
  • Doing design is systematic:  it involves the analysis of problems and situations in the built environment, and the transformation of findings into appropriate and useful  proposals.
  • Design is also creative: designers must possess the knowledge, skill, and attitudes to create compelling visual and functional forms for spaces and components within them.
  • Design is not simply physical making.  A building, a chair, a lamp, a watch, is not ‘designed’ because it physically exists.  Design is an approach to making; to be considered ‘design’ there must be a central, core, aspect of the object that addresses ideas, issues, and characteristics of the time, of the place, of the culture in which the object will exist.

Interior Architecture Programs In The United States Include:

  • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Bachelor of Interior Architecture
  • University of Oregon (Bachelor of Interior Architecture)
  • Academy of Art, San Francisco, Bachelor of Interior Architecture & Design
  • Kansas State, Bachelor of Interior Architecture/Design
  • University of North Carolina-Greensboro,  Bachelor of Science
  • Auburn University, Bachelor of Interior Architecture
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bachelor of Interior Architecture

Definition of Interior Design (Nationally Defined in the USA by IDEC/NCIDQ)

Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive. Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements, and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals.

Interior design includes a scope of services performed by a professional design practitioner, qualified by means of education, experience and examination, to protect and enhance the health, life safety and welfare of the public. These services may include any or all of the following tasks:

  • Research and analysis of the client’s goals and requirements; and development of documents, drawings and diagrams that outline those needs
  • Formulation of preliminary space plans and two and three dimensional design concept studies and sketches that integrate the client’s program needs and are based on knowledge of the principles of interior design and theories of human behavior
  • Confirmation that preliminary space plans and design concepts are safe, functional, aesthetically appropriate, and meet all public health, safety and welfare requirements, including code, accessibility, environmental, and sustainability guidelines
  • Selection of colors, materials and finishes to appropriately convey the design concept and to meet socio-psychological, functional, maintenance, lifecycle performance, environmental, and safety requirements
  • Selection and specification of furniture, fixtures, equipment and millwork, including layout drawings and detailed product description; and provision of contract documentation to facilitate pricing, procurement and installation of furniture
  • Provision of project management services, including preparation of project budgets and schedules
  • Preparation of construction documents, consisting of plans, elevations, details and specifications, to illustrate non-structural and/or non-seismic partition layouts; power and communications locations; reflected ceiling plans and lighting designs; materials and finishes; and furniture layouts
  • Preparation of construction documents to adhere to regional building and fire codes, municipal codes, and any other jurisdictional statutes, regulations and guidelines applicable to the interior space
  • Coordination and collaboration with other allied design professionals who may be retained to provide consulting services, including but not limited to architects; structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, and various specialty consultants
  • Confirmation that construction documents for non-structural and/or non-seismic construction are signed and sealed by the responsible interior designer, as applicable to jurisdictional requirements for filing with code enforcement officials
  • Administration of contract documents, bids and negotiations as the client’s agent
  • Observation and reporting on the implementation of projects while in progress and upon completion, as a representative of and on behalf of the client; and conducting post-occupancy evaluation reports.

For more information about the National Practice of Interior Design see: NCIDQ-Exam

Program Contact

Vincent Caranchini, MFA, Area Chair,