Student sketching

Interior Design*

* Students are not being admitted to this program beginning fall 2015; however, students can pursue a MFA in Interior Architecture & Design.

When Master of Arts in Interior Design program students aren't busy with classes and internships, they take full advantage of all that the Washington, D.C., design community has to offer. The faculty of practicing professionals and student organizations like the Association of Graduate Art Students and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) keep students active and engaged.

The Corcoran School is an immensely creative environment and students learn from working together. Students in the Interior Design program have the opportunity to work with graduate students in the Exhibition Design, New Media Photojournalism, Art and the Book, and Arts Education programs on multidisciplinary projects, including DesignCorps.

In addition, Interior Design students have had the opportunity to work with the Danish Embassy for their annual Creative Christmas event and with architecture and design manufacturers and national trade organizations on design projects.


Students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design program are encouraged to enter their work in competitions. Departmental awards are given for excellent work in different areas of focus. Some examples include:

  • Re-imagining the Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope Leighey House
  • Interface Design competition to develop a new floor tile design based on the principles of biomimicry
  • Departmental Thesis Prize
  • Alumni Thesis Award for Sustainability
  • NeoCon essay competition sponsored by our ASID chapter for a trip to NeoCon in Chicago

Community Outreach

Students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design program feel strongly about giving back to the community and know the powerful impact that design can have. They have participated in events such as the United States Green Building Council's Green Apple Day of Service; Georgetown Jingle, benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Programs at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital; Cosmo Couture, benefitting My Sister's Place; Modern Classics 2012, in collaboration with Arts for the Aging and benefiting the Baltimore Design School, a public middle school; and in OpenIDEO.


The Master of Arts in Interior Design program connects students to the Washington, D.C. design community through events, speakers, studio tours, trips to trade shows and more. Recently, Corcoran students have participated in:

  • Biomimicry Summit, sponsored by the United States Green Building Council student group;
  • An annual Sustainable Materials Expo, sponsored by United States Green Building Council and American Society of Interior Designers student groups;
  • Visiting Voices Speaker Series, bringing professionals in to lecture about design including guests from Gensler, OPX, DBI Architects, ForrestPerkins, SKB Architects, and designers like Keith Fritz.


The Department of Interior Design has an ever-growing group of alumni who stay connected to the Corcoran School and are a valuable asset to our students. The Corcoran ID alumni group works with the Department of Interior Design in:

  • Organizing study groups for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate, LEED Accredited Professional and NCIDQ exams
  • Developing a newsletter to help keep each other connected
  • Sharing job openings at their firms
  • Planning regular networking and career development meetings

Contact GW's Alumni Office for information about how to connect with students and alumni groups.

Admission Requirements

For detailed information regarding admissions requirements such as application deadlines and required documentation, visit the GW Program Finder.


The following curriculum is for legacy students, defined as those students who began taking classes at the Corcoran prior to the fall 2015 semester. Students enrolled beginning in fall 2015, should contact Nadia Volchanksy Nieves about other program options.

Students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design Program have the opportunity to learn from their instructors within intimate class sizes that range from eight to 15 students. The studios are centered on a collaborative work environment and all students participate in active critiques, discussions and design charettes.

The Corcoran School's Master of Arts in Interior Design Program can be completed in two years—five semesters—if attended full-time.

The MA in Interior Design program accepts applications from students with backgrounds in interior design or architecture as well as those with unrelated degrees. A portfolio is required for those with interior design or architecture backgrounds; however, a portfolio is optional for those with unrelated degrees.


Art History and Academic Studies Requirements

  • CAH 3030 History of Architecture and Interior Design
  • Principles and Theory of Interior Design
  • Interior Design Professional Practice
  • Two Art History Electives 

Total: 60 Credits*

*Applicants whose undergraduate degrees are unrelated to interior design or who need additional instruction in certain areas may be required to complete additional coursework. Any prerequisites, including participation in our summer Design Bootcamp, will be determined at the time of admission.

Sample Program of Study

First year

 Studio I Studio II Studio III
 Materials, Finishes and Methods Construction and Detailing Advanced AutoCAD / Revit
 Lighting Design Revit Selected Topics Studio
 History of Architecture and Interior Design  Contemporary Culture and Design  Principles and Theory of Interior Design 

Second year

 Studio IV Thesis Studio
 Pro-Thesis ID Professional Practice
 Graduate Art History Elective Graduate Art History Elective
 Graduate Studio or Academic Elective  Graduate Studio or Academic Elective 


The Master of Arts in Interior Design Program culminates in a year-long, research- and project-based thesis.

Through their course of study, students are exposed to all aspects of interior design and the process of preparing to select, design, document and research their specified topic. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue theses that are "outside-the-box," socially and environmentally responsible and that are atypical design solutions or projects.

The thesis program allows students to explore topics they are passionate about within the context of the built environment. Examples of topics dealt with in recent years include healthy environments for sustainable living and learning, adaptive reuse, cultural identity in the built environment and experimentation in design and fabrication methods.

Several thesis projects have been recognized for their outstanding achievements and students have been invited to present their work at events such as the American Institute of Architects' National Conference and the Interior Design Educators Council's National Conference. As part of the Corcoran's annual NEXT exhibition, thesis students in the Master of Arts in Interior Design Program present their work to a panel of critics, designers and faculty.

Interior Design Faculty

Nadia Volchansky Nieves Interior Architecture and Design Program Head

Nadia Volchansky Nieves

Corcoran Interior Architecture and Design Program Head, Assistant Professor