MASTER OF FINE ARTS
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
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 Erin Speck.
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.
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.
COSTS & FUNDING
The Student Accounts Office provides up to date cost information on our program.
The program has a number of support packages that it offers to select students, and students are automatically considered as part of the application process. You may also find fellowships through the Office of Fellowships & Assistantships. The Office of Student Financial Assistance also has more information on aid opportunities.
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.
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.
CLASS OF 2017 STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT DATA
100% of 2017 MFA graduates were working in the interior design (or design related) industry within six months.
Firms employing 2017 MFA graduates include:
- Smith Group, Washington, D.C.
- ADG (Akseizer Design Group), Alexandria, VA
- Streetsense, Bethesda, MD
- M Design Studio, Alexandria, VA
- Ashli Mizell, Inc., Philadelphia, PA
- P3 Design Collective, Mclean, VA
- Clodagh Design, New York, NY
- Scavolini S.p.A, Washington, D.C.
- R. McGhee & Associates, PLLC, Washington, D.C.
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).
500 17th Street, NW, Room 215
Catherine Anderson, starting January 2019
MFA in Interior Architecture Open House
Date: Thursday, January 24, 2019
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Location: Corcoran Flagg Building (500 17th Street NW)
Join Professor Stephanie Travis, Interior Architecture Program Head, and Professor Catherine Anderson, Graduate Advisor for Interior Architecture for our Graduate Open House! Find out more about our studio-based curriculum and learn about the variety of courses offered from Sketching to History to Lighting and Acoustics. We will describe what gives our program a sense of community and lead a tour of our facilities in the newly renovated Corcoran Flagg Building. We will also touch upon opportunities in the field and talk about what some of our current alumni are designing.
MFA in Interior Architecture Information Session (CCAS)
Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Time: 7:00-8:00 p.m. EST
Join Professor Catherine Anderson as she discusses the Master of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture. In this graduate degree program, as part of this intellectual environment, the curriculum focuses on all aspects of the profession, from sustainability and materials to graphic and communication and lighting. Learn about the admission requirements, courses required to complete this degree, and career outcomes. We look forward to speaking with you about this dynamic and exciting program.