Student presenting her work

Interior Architecture

Design three-dimensional spaces using dynamic concepts, cutting edge materials and innovative methods

"A New Dawn AYITI" in Marmont, Haiti "A New Dawn AYITI" is a collaboration of volunteer entities led by GW Interior Architecture & Design to design a sustainable, modular and replicable model for a healthcare facility in rural Haiti.

The only program in nation’s capital that is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, the MFA in Interior Architecture gives students access to urban resources, the top architecture and interior design firms in DC, and a studio-oriented curriculum that creates innovative, design thinkers.

Through the studio-based core curriculum of 60 required credits, students 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 their undergraduate studies and received a Bachelor Degree in a subject other than interior design and architecture. This studio-based MFA is a terminal degree, which allows for teaching at the college/university level, as it is equivalent to a PhD in another field. 


Distinguished Design Lecture

Student Achievement: 2017 MFA Interior Architecture Graduates

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


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


65% of the cohort beginning in the fall 2015 graduated in the spring 2017.


With a focus on conceptual thinking and the design process, students are exposed to many design methods and tools that encourage them to push the boundaries of creativity. The fa IA program is a rigorous, five-semester 60-credit curriculum that takes two years to complete, starting in the fall semester only.  

First Year


  • IA 6100 Studio 1 Graduate (6 credits, studio)
  • IA6125 Graphic Communications (3 credits, studio)
  • IA 6150 Sketching Architecture + Design (3 credits, studio)


  • IA 6200 Studio 2 Graduate (6 credits, studio)
  • IA 6225 Interior Materials + Color Theory (3 credits, lecture)
  • IA 6250 Digital Drafting + Modeling (3 credits, studio)

Summer (6-week accelerated)

  • IA 6300 Studio 3 Graduate (6 credits, studio)
  • IA 6325 Modern + Contemporary Architecture (3 credits, lecture)
  • IA 6350 Sustainability + the Built Environment (3 credits, lecture)

Optional Course

  • IA 6560 Selected Topics - reserved for IA short term summer study abroad (3 credits, lecture)

Second Year


  • IA 6400 Studio 4 Graduate (6 credits, studio)
  • IA 6425 Lighting + Acoustics (3 credits, lecture)
  • IA 6450 Research Seminar for Studio 5 (3 credits, lecture)


  • IA 6500 Studio 5 Graduate (6 credits, studio)
  • IA 6525 Practicum + Internship (3 credits, lecture)
  • IA 6550 Structures + Building Systems (3 credits, studio)

Course Descriptions PDF

All students are required to complete a 120-hour internship. Students must be enrolled in the first semester of IA before the internship begins, and it must be completed before the end of their final semester. 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 graduate advisor, Erin Speck.

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

MFA students also participate in three programs:

1. MFA Design Dialogue Series (all semesters)

2. MFA Pedagogy Workshops (Studio 2, 3 and 4)

3. MFA Mentorship to BFA students (2nd year)

Application Requirements

  1. Prospective students must not have an undergraduate degree in Interior Design or Architecture
  2. Prospective students must have undergraduate degree with 30 credit hours of liberal arts and science courses*
  3. A portfolio is required
  4. The GRE exam is optional, but highly recommended

*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 (e.g. business courses) or studies that are considered interior design coursework. The program is accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Read their complete definition of Liberal Arts and Sciences