Interior Architecture MFA
MASTER OF FINE ARTS
The only CIDA-accredited program in the nation’s capital, we create innovative design thinkers
Our mission is to educate future designers on all aspects of the discipline so that they contribute to and advance the field of interior design through professional projects and creative research.
Our four core goals are design excellence, creative scholarship, sense of community and identity, and outreach and engagement with Washington and beyond.
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.
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.
The interior design program leading to the MFA in Interior Architecture is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, www.accredit-id.org, 206 Cesar E. Chavez Ave SW, Suite 350, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
The CIDA-accredited program prepares students for entry-level interior design practice, for advanced study, and to apply for membership in professional interior design organizations. The MFA in Interior Architecture granted by The George Washington University meets the educational requirement for eligibility to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Examination (NCIDQ Exam). For more information about NCIDQ Exam eligibility visit: https://www.cidq.org/eligibility-requirements.
In addition, Design Intelligence ranked our program #17 in our size category for Interior Design Schools Most Hired From by Firms in 2018-19.
MORE TO EXPLORE
FLOURISHING CONVERSATIONS WITH STEPHANIE TRAVIS
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.
What is the difference between interior design, interior architecture and architecture? Learn more in our handout (PDF).
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.
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.
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 and 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.
Our students win many prestigious design competitions such as the Steelcase National NEXT Student Design Competition, where in 2021, we had three students in the top 10 entries from 900 entries and 65+ programs entered. We also had a student recognized as a Metropolis Future 100, which is one of the top 100 graduate students in architecture and design programs in the US and Canada sponsored by Metropolis Magazine.
JENNIFER HICKS: THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
IN THE PRESS
“The Steady Beat” by Hannah Shafer
The Corcoran hosts NEXT every year as a celebration of the art and scholarship of our graduating students. In 2021, Interior Architecture M.F.A. students like Hannah Shafer designed spaces that deliver architectural intellect and societal benefits. "The Steady Beat" is a recording studio and artist social club in Washington, D.C., that was designed with these limitations in mind—as space supportive of female excellence and collaboration.
CLASS OF 2019 STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT DATA
Job Placement: 75% of the 2019 MFA IA graduates were working in design related industries within six months and 83% within eight months.
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Retention/Attrition Rate: 92.3% retention / 7.7% attrition
Graduation Rate: 92.3% of the MFA cohort beginning the IA Program in the fall of 2017 graduated in the spring of 2019
Degrees Awarded in May 2019: MFA Interior Architecture: 12
Select Firms Employing MFA Graduatesb
- Robin Chell Design, Seattle, WA
- Perkins + Will Architecture and Planning, NYC
- M Design Studio, Alexandria, VA
- Smith Group Architecture and Planning, Washington, DC
- MOI, Washington, DC
- OTJ Architects, Washington, DC
- Hapstak Demetriou, Washington, DC
- KGD Architecture, Washington, DC
- LKK Design Co., Beijing, China
The interior design program leading to the BFA in Interior Architecture and the MFA in Interior Architecture is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, www.accredit-id.org, 206 Cesar E. Chavez Ave SW, Suite 350, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
The CIDA-accredited program prepares students for entry-level interior design practice, for advanced study, and to apply for membership in professional interior design organizations. The BFA in Interior Architecture and the MFA in Interior Architecture granted by The George Washington University meet the educational requirement for eligibility to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Examination (NCIDQ Exam). For more information about NCIDQ Exam eligibility visit: https://www.cidq.org/eligibility-requirements.
Hannah Gilbertson (MFA ‘20) was a semi-finalist in the 2019 Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition where she was given the challenge of designing the interior of a learning center/extension space (NEXT HUB) for the hypothetical "NEXT University."
Hannah’s concept for her submission was rooted in a student’s journey through academia. “I wanted the space to celebrate the act of learning; reflecting both the formal and structured phase of learning as well as the more informal, innovative phase that students experience as they make their way through school.”