What to expect from an Interior Architecture degree

What is Interior Architecture?

Part of the built environment, Interior Architecture examines, encourages and challenges designers to rethink the way spaces become environments both past and present, as users physically and emotionally interact with them. Interior Architects show elements of emotional communication and intelligence, as Interior Architecture deals with both existing spaces and the way we use them.

Why study Interior Architecture?

Studying Interior Architecture as a university student is an amazing opportunity to connect curiosity about the world we live in, and creative impact we can have on a scale ranging from very small to global and beyond. Branching out from Architecture itself, Interior Architecture can take inspiration from design throughout history and bring them into our intimate and emotional interior internal worlds. This is particularly strengthened as students relocate to new cities or countries as part of their university experience, shifting the sense of the familiar and belonging that Interior Architecture strives to balance with innovation and consideration.

The finer details…

How long is an Interior Architecture degree?

A Bachelor’s undergraduate degree in Interior Architecture typically takes 3-4 years in most global universities, while a Master’s programme will be an additional 1-2 years. Depending on what level you’re planning to study, having a university accepted qualification before starting will make your application process smoother. Part time study is not widely available to students for this subject however there are enrichment opportunities to take part in Erasmus schemes.

If you choose to travel while studying Interior Architecture, your university will count this as a ‘Sandwich year’ – making an undergraduate course 4 years long.

interior architecture photoshop image with drawing and graphic layers

Is Interior Architecture easier than Architecture?

Interior Architecture and Architecture degree subjects have common modules and foundations in the same field however they are not the same. Typically Interior Architecture employs more creative and tangible skills at its forefront, however both begin with an emphasis on hand-drawing and verbal ability to communicate ideas and concepts.

Depending on the university, Architecture degrees emphasise technical detailing and construction capability more than Interior Architecture courses, which tends to consider more elements that impact the Interior such as product and environmental design. It is common for students to swap between Architecture-related subjects in their first and second year as their strengths, skills and understanding develops organically.

How much do Interior Architects earn?

Junior Interior Architects

With 2-4 years experience Junior IA’s can negotiate a salary between £20,000-£24,000 a year

Mid-weight Interior Architects

With 4-6 years experience mid IA’s can expect to earn a salary between £30,000-£40,000 a year

Senior Interior Architects

With 6+ years experience Senior IA’s can get paid between £45,000-£60,000+ a year

Is Interior Architecture a hard degree?

Interior Architecture is a challenging degree however as it is less commoditized as other design disciplines, it gives students a real opportunity to make an original mark in the subject area. While providing specific direction to the artistically minded, after graduating it is a unique conversation starter and rewards students with a diverse range of skills applicable to a wide ranging industries within Design, Communication and more.

Interior Architecture students graduate with an elevated understanding of their individual and a societal response to the built environment, along with highly employable traits including time management, analytical thinking and research skill.

However with high demands on time both and commitment in and outside classes resulting in at least one sleepless night, if you’re hoping for an easier time at university Architecture probably isn’t the subject for you!

interior architecture performance tensegrity sculpture by daisy burns-o'keefe, kiera fitzsimons and sarah payne university of the west of england 2019

What careers can you go into?

As previously mentioned, an Interior Architecture degree major puts graduates and students in a diverse and flexible yet small talent pool ripe for fresh thinking. As part of the small University of the West of England Interior Architecture class of 2020, my classmates have gone on to begin careers as:

  • Lighting Designers
  • Account Managers
  • Design Studio Managers
  • Kitchen Designers
  • Assistant Design Managers
  • Listing Support Officers


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