Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Architecture & Design


Read more about this programme on the school's website

Programme Description

The MFA program focuses on advanced techniques and the theory of interior architecture and design. The curriculum—designed and taught by industry professionals—focuses on research, concept and design development, traditional and digital media, innovative ideas, and global issues.

The interior design program leading to the Master of Fine Arts [MFA] in Interior Architecture & Design is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation,, 206 Grandville Avenue, 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 Master of Fine Arts [MFA] in Interior Architecture & Design granted by Academy of Art 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:

Course Description

Semester 1

  • IAD 601: Fundamentals of Design Documentation
    Major / 3 Units
  • IAD 603: Sketching & Perspective for Interior Environments
    Major Elective / 3 Units
  • IAD 608: Digital Imaging
    Major Elective / 3 Units

Semester 2

  • IAD 600: Studio 1
    Major / 3 Units
  • IAD 602: Building Systems and Codes
    Major / 3 Units / Recommended for summer
  • IAD 610: Studio 2
    Major / 3 Units / Recommended for summer
  • IAD 611: BIM - Building Information Modeling
    Major / 3 Units
  • IAD 612: Material Use
    Major / 3 Units

Semester 3

  • IAD 604: Lighting Design
    Major / 3 Units
  • IAD 613: Studio 3
    Major / 3 Units
  • IAD 625: Survey of Sustainable Design
    Major / 3 Units

Semester 4

  • GLA 637: Theory & Movements in Traditional Interior Architecture
    Graduate Liberal Arts / 3 Units
  • GLA 638: Theory & Movements in Contemporary Interior Architecture
    Graduate Liberal Arts / 3 Units / Recommended for summer
  • IAD 640: Light & Color Perception
    Major / 3 Units
  • IAD 810: Programming
    Directed Studies / 3 Units
  • IAD 812: Schematic Design and Space Planning
    Directed Studies / 3 Units / Recommended for summer

Semester 5

  • GLA 634: Professional Practice for Interior Designers
    Graduate Liberal Arts / 3 Units
  • IAD 830: Design Development to Documentation
    Directed Studies / 3 Units
  • IAD 834: Materiality: FF & E, Finishes and Lighting
    Directed Studies / 3 Units

Semester 6

  • IAD 838: Thesis Visualization
    Directed Studies / 3 Units
  • IAD 850: Thesis Implementation
    Directed Studies / 3 Units

Unit Requirements

Degree Requirements

MFA Interior Architecture & Design Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of the Final Thesis Project
  • Minimum grade of C in all required 63 units
  • A minimum of thirty semester credits of college-level liberal arts and sciences (general education) must be completed
    (NOTE: this will include credits earned from the student’s bachelor degree)
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and the following Academic Study requirements:
    • 1 Art Historical Awareness & Aesthetic course
    • 1 Cross-Cultural Understanding course
Academy of Art University / Academy of Art University

Programme Learning Outcomes

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:

Human & Global Centered Design

  • Apply concepts of environmental psychology in the creation of interior environments addressing the interplay of humans and their physical environments enriching the quality of life

Design Process & Conceptual Thinking

  • Produce a problem statement for the development of a thesis project contributing to the needs of a community or specialty area of design
  • Research user needs to inform the programming document
  • Produce schematic design solutions that meet programmatic requirements and conceptual intent culminating in the creation of volumetric spaces
  • Create refined and holistic design solutions culminating in a design development presentation
  • Produce construction documentation of interior buildings and FF & E specifications, based on the holistic design solutions

Furnishings & Materiality

  • Apply furnishings, fixtures, & equipment, and interior construction materiality that enhance the aesthetic and ecological qualities of the design while providing for the programmatic requirements and conceptual design intent

Fundamentals of Design

  • Apply aesthetics responsive to the programmatic requirements and design intent through the elements and principles of two- and three-dimensional design, including colour principles and theories, across all platforms in design solutions and visual communications
  • Demonstrate an understanding of movements and traditions in interior design, architecture, furnishings, and the visual arts and consider their relationship in design solutions

Integrated Design

  • Demonstrate an understanding of major construction types and construction systems, through design decisions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the laws, codes, and federal regulations impacting life safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency through the application of these professional standards to design solutions

Oral, Visual, & Written Literacy

  • Communicate and defend design solutions in oral and written presentations that support the project requirements and design intent, and exhibit a logical sequencing and hierarchy of information
  • Demonstrate use of a wide range of visual media with professional craftsmanship to communicate ideas and solutions, including freehand & digital drawing and drafting, three-dimensional models, rendered presentations, and ideation sketching
  • Produce a formal research document implementing IRB requirements and APA style methodologies in the final thesis project

Professional Practice & Collaboration

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the professional practice, business and contract procedures, and business ethics
  • Collaborate with other disciplines on processes and solutions to produce a creative interior environment
  • Produce a portfolio, including the incorporation of a thesis project, and identity system to qualify for a design position in interior architecture and design

Academy of Art University Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Academy of Art University will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Produce a body of work suitable for seeking professional opportunities in their chosen field of art and design.
  2. Solve creative problems within their field of art and design, including research and synthesis of technical, aesthetic, and conceptual knowledge.
  3. Communicate their ideas professionally and connect with their intended audience using visual, oral, and written presentation skills relevant to their field.
  4. Execute technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on an understanding of art and design principles.
  5. Evaluate work in their field, including their own work, using professional terminology.
  6. Recognize the influence of major cultural and aesthetic trends, both historical and contemporary, on art and design products.
  7. Learn the professional skills and behaviors necessary to compete in the global marketplace for art and design.
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

For nearly 90 years, artists and designers have called Academy of Art University their home. Founded in San Francisco and family owned since 1929, it is the largest private art and design university i ... Read More

For nearly 90 years, artists and designers have called Academy of Art University their home. Founded in San Francisco and family owned since 1929, it is the largest private art and design university in the nation. Read Less
San Francisco