Interior Architecture; architectural rendering

Interior Architecture


The only CIDA-accredited program in the nation’s capital, we create innovative design thinkers


In the Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture (IA) program at the Corcoran School, we believe in fostering a community that encourages creativity and pushes the boundaries of design with an emphasis on conceptual thinking and the design process. Our studio-based curriculum, the core of our program, is where you’ll learn to design three-dimensional environments through the use of dynamic concepts, cutting-edge materials, and innovative methods and techniques.  

Our studio projects take advantage of our location in an arts + design school within a major research university in the nation’s capital. Through interdisciplinary studies we collaborate with diverse GW departments, work on adaptive reuse projects positioned within historic contexts in DC, and on projects that highlight the global vision of the university.  

Through our studio-based core curriculum, you’ll learn about habitable environments ranging from small interiors to larger, more complex commercial and institutional spaces. With projects focused on current design issues as well as lectures and critiques from distinguished professionals, the IA program is a carefully sequenced series of courses building on theoretical, technical and creative challenges and experiences.

The IA program is for students who excelled in undergraduate studies and received a Bachelor Degree in a subject other than interior design and architecture. This studio-based MFA is a terminal degree, providing opportunity for teaching at the college/university level, as it is equivalent to a PhD in another field.

The GW IA program is the only CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation) accredited program in Washington, D.C., and one of only nine interior programs located at universities that rank in the top 63 of US News and World Report's list of national research universities.





What you'll study


architectural rendering

Program of Study
The IA program is a rigorous full-time, five-semester 60-credit curriculum that takes two years to complete. Students begin the program in the fall semester only.


IA students are required to complete a 120-hour internship as part of the degree program. Students must be enrolled in the first semester of study before beginning the internship, and the internship must be complete before the end of the last semester in the program. The internship is a part of the MFA Practicum + Internship course and will count toward the final grade in that class. The internship must be pre-approved by the IA Graduate Advisor Catherine Anderson.

After completion of the 120 hours, students must work with their direct employer to complete the necessary paperwork and submit it to the instructor of the Practicum + Internship course (IA 6525) for final approval.

Additional Experience
MFA students also complete these engaging programs:

  • MFA Design Dialogue Series (all semesters)
  • MFA Pedagogy Workshops (Studio 2, 3 and 4)
  • MFA Mentorship to BFA students (2nd year)



Applicants to the IA program must follow the standard graduate application process but must meet these specific requirements as well:


  • Prospective students must not have an undergraduate degree in Interior Design or Architecture.
  • Prospective students must have undergraduate degree with 30 credit hours of liberal arts and science courses.*
  • A portfolio that shows creative work (i.e., photography, sketches, and fine art) is required; an interview may be requested. Please note that the inclusion of interior design projects within the portfolio is not required nor expected. The objective of the portfolio is to see your artistic and design-related pursuits.
  • The GRE exam is not required
  • Two recommendations on business letterhead

*Liberal arts and science courses include: English composition, oral communication, logic, literature, foreign language, history, fine arts history, philosophy, biology, botany, zoology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, anthropology, archeology, sociology, psychology, economics and humanities, and do not include professional studies (i.e., business courses) or studies that are considered interior design coursework. The program is accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.


Application Requirements


Female student standing with architectural drawings

the profession

model of office space



With 75,000+ jobs that generate $5 billion annually across design, media and other creative fields, D.C.'s creative sector is key to the city's economy. There is no shortage of need for interior designers in our city, or nationally, as interior spaces are constantly renovated and re-adapted, specifically in urban areas.

Incorporating conceptual and practical thinking with a design- and technical-based education, the IA experience prepares our students for meaningful, creative employment in the design field. Our program also brings in many professionals from leading architecture and interior design firms in D.C. for critiques, lectures and events such as our advisory board. Activities like these help our students make connections and find jobs.

Our graduates have gone on to successful careers across the US and internationally at reputable architecture and interior design firms such as SmithGroup, Gensler, OTJ Architects, Perkins + Will, RTKL, Studios Architecture, CORE architecture + design, HapstakDemetriou+, and more. Our graduates have also started their own firms, freelanced independently, and worked in creative fields that align with interiors such as exhibit design, art consulting, and academia.


Jennifer Hicks: the Student experience



IA professors are internationally recognized design experts and authors who bring diverse experiences and projects into the classroom. As a part of this intellectual environment, our faculty research focuses on aspects of the profession from pedagogy to sustainability to architectural and design history to lighting, publishing as well as speaking at national and international design conferences.

a darkened image of Scott Jones' sketches for his Poise Chair

Scott Jones’ work explores the playful expression and interaction of primary shapes, in modular, flexible furniture pieces.

See Scott's Work





Job Placement

100% of 2017 MFA graduates were working in the interior design (or design related) industry within six months.




Firms employing 2017 MFA graduates include:

Attrition/Retention: 65% retention (Calculated from the first fall semester 2015 until graduation in spring 2017).

Graduation: 65% of the cohort (calculated from the first fall semester of 2015 until graduation in spring 2017).



Flagg Building
500 17th Street, NW, Room 215
[email protected]

Program Administrator
Liz Meitner
[email protected]

Program Head
Stephanie Travis
[email protected]

Graduate Faculty Advisor
Catherine Anderson
[email protected]