Interior Architecture, BFA

As an Interior Architecture student, you’ll develop a professional portfolio and a skill set beyond that of an interior designer. You’ll go beyond finishes, furniture and style to develop a deep working knowledge of human needs, materials, structures, planning, building systems and building codes. Our CIDA-accredited program (Council of Interior Design Accreditation—an important distinction in this field of study) will put you on a path towards licensed/titled status and professional success. Program graduates qualify to take the required National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam for licensure.

Our program integrates the worlds of manual and digital project work, and the conceptual with the practical. You’ll develop an understanding of the creative design process, including research and analysis. Your learning is focused in the design studio, where you’ll develop solutions to a variety of project types and gain an understanding of your eventual professional focus.     

What to Expect Your First Year

You’ll learn why, and how, to think more creatively and collaboratively in a hands-on way. You’ll participate in Columbia’s innovative and shared Foundations Program, which will provide you an opportunity to explore different areas and techniques, meet students in a wide variety of programs and prepare you for major-specific experiences. Through five-week, one-credit courses, you’ll hone your existing skills and learn new ones. You’ll choose three foundations skills courses each semester from more than a dozen offerings.

You’ll apply what you’re learning right away to develop solutions to problems presented in Making I and Making II, co-taught by faculty who are designers and artists. You’ll work in teams and learn to develop, present and document your work. Your classes will also include Introduction to Visual Culture, in which you’ll learn to see your own work through the eyes of an art historian across disciplines.

Additionally, you’ll jump right into your major with a Contemporary Practice, manual drafting and a digital media course to give you exposure to the program.

What to Expect Your Last Year

You’ll likely be interning with a design or architectural firm, and you’ll be fine-tuning your portfolio and potential career direction in the field.

You’ll also complete two six-credit studio courses during your senior year. In your final studio course during your last semester, you’ll apply all the skills, knowledge and experience you’ve learned in the program by selecting a client, a building and site—real clients, often—and develop a unique and full-fledged project proposal. We’ll encourage you to introduce socially conscious and socially redeemable elements into the project as a reminder that with your skills and education, you have the power to shape and change the world!

Student Achievement Data
Job Placement
84 percent of the students who graduated between May 2016 and December 2016 were employed within six months of graduation in interior design or a related field.
Acceptance to Graduate Programs
One student applied and was accepted into graduate school between May 2016 and December 2016.
Graduation Rates
51 percent of the students who completed the program in 2016 graduated in four years.
71 percent of the students enrolled in fall 2015 semester returned in fall 2016, with an attrition rate of 29 percent.
Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

As you study Interior Architecture at Columbia, you’ll benefit from our unique fabrication facility on campus, and you can enhance your education off-campus in one of the most iconic cities in the world for architecture and design. Chicago is home to the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Merchandise Mart and the Art Institute of Chicago, along with prominent professional organizations and lecture series. You’ll find inspiration and networking opportunities around every corner. You’ll also take part in the Fall Design Charrette, an intensive one-day project development opportunity, to prepare you to produce effective design solutions in a shortened period of time.

What are my internship options?

Internships are strongly encouraged and critically important to eventual professional success. During your fifth semester, you’ll take a course to prepare your portfolio for internships, and you’ll likely be interning with firms during your last three semesters in the program. Companies employing Columbia interns have consistently been pleased with our students’ approach to projects and the skills and abilities brought to bear in project development. Faculty connections lead to many internship opportunities, and listings are shared through the department’s social media; there are typically more internship opportunities than available interns.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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