Closeup, cropped photo of red and white, felt lanterns in the Dorothy O'Brien Innovation Lab.

AcademicsUndergraduate Majors

Interior Architecture, BS

Emphasizing the creative process, Interior Architecture balances innovation and business to help students bring their visions to life.

A Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Architecture integrates art, sustainability, and business, into a highly creative curriculum with Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive. Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project. Coursework includes sketching, rendering, computer drafting and design, 3D modeling, art and art history, business, and engineering.

Coursework & Careers

As an Interior Architecture major, you’ll learn how to blend art and social sciences (how people interact their environment, the history of design) with physical sciences (the effects of materials on the physical health, the comfort of inhabitants). School of Human Ecology students work with our experienced faculty on real-world projects, from the basics of a chair to full house remodels and commercial revamps.

Coursework includes sketching, rendering, computer drafting and design, 3D modeling, art and art history, history of interiors, business, and engineering. Real-world experience is attained through internships. Students will graduate prepared to sit for the prestigious NCIDQ exam and armed with an impressive and professional work portfolio. For coursework details, contact your academic advisor or reference the UW–Madison Undergraduate Guide.

Graduates of our Interior Architecture program have found employment at large, internationally recognized design companies, including Gansler, Flad Architects, Strang, Herman Miller, and Steelcase. Others have started their own design firms.

The undergraduate major in interior architecture is a four-year professional program accredited by the Council of Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design. The program has two phases, which develops students’ creativity in the design and planning of interior spaces by emphasizing the process and communication of design. Students learn to integrate the art of design with the social sciences concerning the interaction of people and their environment, the history of design, and the physical sciences relating to the effects of materials on the physical health and comfort of inhabitants. Insight into professional practice is enhanced through internship experiences.

Course content helps students develop communication skills such as sketching, rendering, computer-aided design, and three-dimensional modeling. Real world projects and design thinking experiences are emphasized in several of the studio courses. In addition, courses in art history, history of interiors, mechanical engineering, and art are required. Dedicated studios, a maker space, a resource library, lighting demonstration areas, and a computer laboratory provide physical support for the interior design curriculum. A portfolio is required before graduation.

Download Curriculum Checksheets

Year entering major:

2021-2022
2020-2021
2019-2020
2018-2019
2017-2018

View a map of where Interior Architecture graduates have worked recently.

Median National Salaries (U.S. Department of Labor)

$71640 Commercial Designer

$57060 Interior Designer

$53080 Graphic Design

Interior Architecture Mission, Vision & Data

Vision

To be an internationally recognized program for its innovative interdisciplinary research and broad based professional education in the field of interior architecture.

Mission

The Interior Architecture program combines research and design practice to improve people’s lives through human-centered design within the built environment. We prepare students to become independent thinkers by promoting critical reflection on alternative ways of living, to become effective problem-solvers in the field of interior architecture through professional training, to develop interdisciplinary aptitude through intellectual flourishing beyond the design realm, to become design leaders as stewards and visionaries of the public realm by fostering socially responsible and collaborative design thinking.

Council for Interior Design Accreditation

The interior architecture program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Architecture is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, accredit-id.org206 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 Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Architecture granted by the University of Wisconsin – Madison meets the educational requirement for eligibility to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Examination (NCIDQ Exam). See here for more information about NCIDQ Exam eligibility.

Data

2019-20 Graduates

It typically takes a full-time student taking approximately 15 credits per semester four years to complete the degree program. The following data was collected through a variety of outreach efforts. Out of 34 students, 28 students were able to be reached.

Student Attrition and Retention:
100% of students admitted in the fall of 2019 returned in the fall of 2020, putting attrition at 0%.

Graduation Rates:
For 2019-20 degree recipients, the average time-to-degree was 4.15 years (compared to the peer degree average of 4.09)

Acceptance into Graduate Programs:
10.7% of students who graduated in 2020 applied for graduate school.

Job Placement Rates:
 85.7% of students who graduated in 2020 are employed in interior design or a related profession.

2018-2019 Graduates

Attrition and Retention:
100% of students admitted in the fall of 2018 returned in the fall of 2019, putting attrition at 0%.

Graduation:
For 2018-19 degree recipients, the average time-to-degree was 4.19 years (compared to the peer degree average of 4.24)

Acceptance into Graduate Programs:
10% of students who graduated in 2019 applied for graduate school, and 100% were accepted.

Job Placement Rates:
90% of students who graduated in 2018 are employed in interior design or a related profession.

2017-18 Graduates

Attrition and Retention:
Thirty-seven students began fall of 2014 as Pre-Interior Architecture majors; Thirty-Two of these students applied and were accepted into phase two – Professional Track, beginning in fall of 2015. Attrition out of the IA program after the first year was 0%. One student dropped out of the school and one student transferred into the program.

Graduation:
Thirty-four students are expected to graduate with the Bachelor of Science in Interior Architecture (BSIA) in May of 2017 or before. Students have the option to study abroad spring of their junior year or strong of their senior year. This flexibility also allows for students to graduate early (December of senior year) if they choose not to travel or find our program after their freshman year. Three students have been offered jobs upon graduation.

Student Achievements:

  • Robert Schafer received 2nd Place in the US Department of Energy Race to Zero Competition.
  • Courtney Christensen won 1st in the Commercial Design Category for the Sherwin-Williams Student Design Challenge
  • Six students won IIDA awards for Best in Show, Best in Commercial Design, Best in Residential Design, and Best in Hospitality Design
  • Six Interior Architecture students received SoHE scholarship awards

2016-17 Graduates

Attrition and Retention:
Thirty-one students began fall of 2013 as Pre -Interior Architecture majors; Twenty-seven students of these students applied and were accepted into phase two – Professional Track, beginning in fall of 2014. Attrition out of the IA program after the first year was 0%.

Graduation:
Of the thirty-one students, six graduated in May and the remainder are expected to graduate with the Bachelor of Science in Design Studies (BSDS) in December of 2016 or spring of 2017. This cohort included a number of students who choose to study abroad or pursue a certificate in art or business during their junior year. Of the six students that graduated in May, five of them had jobs within three months of graduation.

Graduation Rate:
Of the twenty-seven students who started in 2013, six have graduated with a BS in Design Studies. The remainder are graduating within this academic year. The BS four-year graduation rate for those that started as freshmen is 100%. However, many of our students find us late and switch majors during their sophomore or junior years. For these students, time to graduation is five to six years.

Job Placement Rates:
As of August 2016, 60% of the six students from this cohort who graduated in May 2016 are employed in a design firm.

Student Achievements:

  • Four students won IIDA awards for Best in Show, Best in Commercial Design, Best in Residential Design, and Best in Hospitality Design
  • Five Interior Architecture students received SoHE scholarship awards

2015-16 Graduates

Attrition and Retention:
Thirty-seven students began fall of 2012 as Pre Interior Architecture majors; Thirty-one of these students applied and were accepted into phase two – Professional Track, beginning in fall of 2013. Attrition out of the IA program after the first year was 0%. One student dropped out of the school and one student transferred into the program.

Graduation:
Twelve students graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Design Studies (BSDS) degree in fall 2015. The remaining twenty-five graduated in spring of 2016.

Graduation Rate:
Of the thirty-one students, twelve began as freshmen in 2012 and graduated in four years. The remaining students changed majors after they freshman or sophomore years, resulting in a longer time to graduation rate. Two students have postponed graduating due to personal reasons.

Job Placement Rates:
Eighty percent (80%) of our graduates have found employment in the design industry within the three months of graduation.

Acceptance into Graduate Programs:
N/A—all of these graduates started in their profession and did not choose to go to graduate school.

Student Achievements:

  • Six students won a total of seven IIDA awards.
  • Eight Interior Architecture received SoHE scholarship awards.
  • One student won the Sherwin Williams student competition award.