Frequently Asked Questions
Please see our Student Handbook for further information.
What degrees are offered?
We offer two master's degrees:
- Master of Science in Interior Architecture & Design (MSIAD): This CIDA-accredited degree qualifies students to sit for the NCIDQ exam. It is a first professional degree that does not require any previous experience or education in design.
- Master of Science in Interior Architecture (MSIA): This accelerated, post-professional degree is intended for students with a background in interior design or architecture.
Which Interior Design Master’s Degree is right for me?
Choosing your master’s degree path in Interior Architecture & Design depends on your previous educational and professional experience. If your undergraduate degree is in a field outside of interior design or architecture, then the Master of Science in Interior Architecture & Design (MSIAD) is the best option for you. The undergraduate prerequisite coursework in visual studies and design will prepare you to take on the rigorous graduate interior design curriculum and will equip you with critical design thinking skills.
If you have already completed an undergraduate degree in an accredited interior design or architecture program and want to enhance your study of the built environment, engage in advanced research, or take your interior design career to the next level, the Master of Science in Interior Architecture (MSIA) is best for you. Applicants with degrees in related fields or professional interior design or architecture experience may be considered for the MSIA with thorough portfolio and transcript review.
What is the difference between Interior Architecture and Interior Design?
We use these terms synonymously. For us, both describe the shaping of interior space through the manipulation of form and the selection of materials and finishes. Students learn the specifics of space planning, construction detailing, lighting design, furniture selection, and material specification. In the professional context of our region, practitioners often find themselves working fluidly between architecture and decoration, in new and existing buildings, and our degree provides students with the skills to engage in this range of practice.
What does it mean to be CIDA accredited?
CIDA, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, is an organization that establishes and regulates the standards for interior design education, and is involved in the process of professional certification. If you wish to obtain certification in interior design—and some states require this for professional practice—the fastest route is by getting a degree from an accredited program.
Why study interior architecture at Drexel?
Besides being CIDA accredited and highly ranked, our program is uniquely positioned to cater to the skills and interests of our students. We offer a breadth and depth of education that cannot be matched, and our program scales to meet the needs of our students. Our program is competitive with those at the top art and design schools, but we also offer the resources of a large university, including graduate minors, ongoing research projects, graduate funding, study abroad options, and a vast network of employment and study opportunities. Small class sizes allow us to foster personal connections between students and with faculty, while our central location in a large and vibrant city further expands the resources, connections, and fun available to our students.
What is needed to apply?
The Master of Science in Interior Architecture & Design program is a first professional degree—no previous design experience or design degree is required—though we do require a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline. If you have an undergraduate degree, you can apply here.
The application requires a transcript and letters of recommendation. A portfolio is helpful, especially to waive prerequisite credits, but is not required. Please contact us if you wish to discuss your interest in our program or have questions about the application process.
The Master of Science in Interior Architecture requires a previous degree in architecture or interiors, as well as a portfolio, transcript, and letters of recommendation.
What makes a good application?
The main thing we look for is fit. We recognize and appreciate that our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. We want to understand your interest in interior design (Why do you want to study and be an interior designer?). We like to know about experiences you have in or related to interior design (these experiences may be professional, or just things you've done for yourself or others). We look for evidence of your work ethic (showing that you are diligent, able to solve problems, and willing to put in effort). We are happy to discuss your interests and experiences to help you make the best application possible.
What is expected for a portfolio?
To apply for the MSIAD degree, a portfolio is not required. A portfolio can help us determine which, if any, prerequisite credits can be waived based on your previous education and work. A portfolio can also help us understand your interest in interior design and is a useful supporting part of the application. Not having a portfolio does not hurt your application.
A portfolio can include any art and design work you have done, including but not limited to: sketching, drawing, painting, graphic design, photography and other two-dimensional work; sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, furniture and other three-dimensional work; interior decorating, renovation, material selection, and other space-making or interior design work. Portfolio work does not need to be professionally photographed and we understand that not all applicants have access to design presentation software. We are happy to review and discuss your portfolio during or before the application process.
To apply for the MSIA degree, a portfolio is required. Portfolio submissions for the MSIA degree should demonstrate competency in design and technical ability, including architectural drawing, space planning, material and furniture selection, and presentation. Submissions are recommended to include at least one complete design project, and a variety of work showing the particular skills and sensibility of the applicant.
Are there minimum requirements for admission?
Students should have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The GRE is not required. International students must submit English language scores. Applications that do not meet these requirements will be considered, but admission will be on a provisional basis. For application requirements see: http://drexel.edu/grad/programs/westphal/interior-architecture-and-design/
When is the application deadline?
We review applications on a rolling basis. For students with no background in design, classes start in mid-June with a summer preparatory coursework. To enroll for the summer, applications should be submitted by April 1 for US students or February 1 for international students. Applicants with a background in design can apply and be admitted for other terms.
What is the acceptance rate?
We accept students from a wide range of backgrounds, including those with no previous design education or experience. As such, we aim to foster an environment of collaboration, support, and encouragement, and our program scaffolds learning from the basic to the most complex. We have the luxury of a program that is not capped and the ability to expand if we have an unusually large class of admitted students. Our numbers vary from year to year, but we typically receive 40-60 applications, accept 30-40 students, and admit 15-25 students.
What is the cost of the degree?
As of 2022, tuition is approximately $1125 per credit.
For up-to-date information and details, please see Drexel Central.
Is financial aid available?
For detailed information please visit Drexel Central.
Our program offers Graduate Assistantships each term to select students, awarded by program faculty. A full assistantship covers tuition plus a small stipend and requires students to work 20 hours per week as faculty support or teaching assistant. A half assistantship covers 4.5 credits of tuition, and requires 10 hours per week of work. Assistantships are awarded after the second term in the program.
The University awards incoming graduate students who have an undergraduate GPA above 3.4 a Dean’s Scholarship, which reduces tuition by up to 25%. Students are required to be enrolled in at least 9 credits per term, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and matriculate within 5 years to receive the Dean’s Scholarship. Scholarships are awarded upon acceptance into the program. Student’s cannot receive both a Graduate Assistantship and a Dean’s Scholarship.
Outside scholarships are an excellent way to help reduce the need to work and/or borrow student loans while at Drexel. Most of these are posted online and faculty make an effort to notify students as these opportunities arise. One online resources is: https://www.raise.me/scholarship/majors/interior_design
Are there particular requirements or resources for international students?
Our program and our university are well-equipped to address the particular needs of international students. The office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) advises international students on immigration, cultural, financial, academic and personal concerns, and makes appropriate referrals when necessary. A student's affiliation with ISSS begins immediately after the admission process and continues well beyond graduation.
TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores are required for international applicants or applicants who earned a degree outside the U.S. (minimum scores: 70 TOEFL, 6.0 IELTS). Scores will be reviewed based on section scores and total scores.
Drexel offers a Graduate Bridge Program aimed at international students wishing to improve their language skills before starting the full-time academic program.
Is the program STEM designated?
Yes, both the MSIAD and the MSIA degrees are STEM designated. International students are able to work for one term of CPT employment while they are in school, and they are eligible to work for three years of OPT after graduation.
How long does it usually take a student to complete the program?
Students pursuing a Master of Science in Interior Architecture & Design typically complete the 10-term coursework in three years. As part of the application process, we prepare a Plan of Study that maps out the course schedule for you. There are 92 required graduate credits and 12 prerequisite credits that must be fulfilled.
The post-professional Master of Science in Interior Architecture, which does not require students to take design prerequisites, can be completed in two years, with a total of 45 required graduate credits.
When does the program start?
The MSIAD degree program typically starts in mid-June with a summer sequence that prepares the students for their journey to becoming designers. Candidates with strong portfolios and design experience can be granted credit and start further into the coursework, upon review of their transcript and portfolio submitted via the application process.
The MSIA degree program can be started during the fall, winter, or spring term.
What kinds of classes do students take?
Students take studio design classes that meet twice a week and are worth 4 credits; 3-credit courses that typically address particular topics or skills; and 2-credit seminars that meet once per week and usually involve research, theory or technical aspects related to the studio.
How does the program prepare students for careers?
Graduates of our program are highly desirable and typically find employment opportunities in their areas of interest. Graduates work locally and across the globe, in small firms and large offices, and in a range of specialty areas. To support student employment, we have a professional experience requirement as part of the degree, and our program exposes students to interior design practitioners through events, competitions, lectures, and studio critiques. Most students find part-time professional employment during their time in the program, which is facilitated by the course schedule and encouraged by the faculty. Our faculty and alumni maintain an excellent industry network that helps students gain employment and supports them throughout their careers, including job postings specifically for our graduates. Drexel University also has a host of career service resources.
What do students do after graduation?
Our graduates work in wide range of places, but they generally fall into a few categories: large international firms with Philadelphia or NYC offices (HOK, Gensler, HDR, NORR, Stantec, Nelson), mid-size companies with a strong regional presence (Ballinger, Meyer, FCA, Ewing Cole, Jacobs, Daroff), and small boutique offices that mostly work locally (Rohe, Eberlein, Coscia Moos, Floss Barber, Michael Gruber, Shophouse, and many others). Some graduates work for institutional facilities teams (UPenn, CHoP, Princeton) or in-house design teams (Anthropologie, URBN, law firms), while others go into event-planning, furniture design, or do set design for film or theater. Many work in Philadelphia and New York City, while others are in Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or working internationally.
What is the best way to see the program?
We love to show off our program and facilities! We are happy to meet in person or speak with you by phone or video chat to get to know you and introduce you to our program. Drexel also has regularly scheduled open houses during which you can tour the campus and meet with students and faculty. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.895.1738 to arrange a call or visit.