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Interior Architecture Overview
A solid interior design education yields practitioners who protect and enhance the health, safety, and well-being of humankind. Our programs are also aligned with current issues such as global awareness, community engagement, and sustainable design. The outcome is graduates who are technically savvy and broad-thinking designers. This is what sets us apart.
—KYRA TUCKER, chair and program director, interior architecture
Most interior architecture students learn about Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Interior Architecture students in Chatham's Fallingwater Studio Residency program experience it.
Explore the Interior Architecture Degree:
- Grow your practice through field experiences at inspiring destinations, including a week-long residency at Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater.
- In 2010, Chatham University’s interior architecture program received the Leadership award from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Pennsylvania West Chapter in recognition of its commitment to and accomplishments in sustainability.
- Because our program is CIDA-accredited, upon graduation our students are able to sit for the IDFX exam, which is the first section of the NCIDQ exam. For more information, visit this website.
- It is possible to complete the BIA in three years by adhering to a demanding course load. While this path may not fit the needs of all students, those who are interested are invited to discuss this option with the program director.
Program Outcomes & Accreditation
Chatham’s Interior Architecture Program leading to the Bachelor in Interior Architecture is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).
To learn more about CIDA visit: www.accredit-id.org
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 BIA granted by Chatham University meets the educational requirement for eligibility to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification Examination (NCIDQ Exam).
To learn more about NCIDQ Exam eligibility visit: https://www.cidq.org/eligibility-requirements
Chatham University, Bachelor of Interior Architecture, Student Achievement Data
The Bachelor of Interior Architecture (BIA) is a professional interior design program that prepares students for practice in an interior design or architecture firm. A holistic design approach is stressed throughout the four-year program. It typically takes a full-time student taking approximately 15 credits per semester four years to complete the degree program.
CIDA requires all interior design programs to provide “information to the public regarding student achievement, including aggregate data addressing attribution and retention, graduation rates, job placement rates and acceptance to graduate programs.” Chatham University collects and updates this information annually using institutional records and an alumni survey administered 6 months after graduation. 14 of 16 alumni responded to the survey.
Job Placement Rates: 88% (14 of 16) of students who graduated in 2020 are employed in interior design or a related profession.
Graduation Rates: Of the students who graduated in 2020, 88% (14 of 16) graduated in 4 years.
Acceptance into Graduate Programs: 25% of students who graduated in 2020 (4 of 16) applied for graduate school, and 100% were accepted.
Student Attrition and Retention: 83% of students admitted in the fall of 2019 returned in the fall of 2020, putting attrition at 17%.
The philosophy of the Interior Architecture program at Chatham University is fundamentally founded in responsibility for the outcome of design and global public service. The Interior Architecture program believes in evidence-based design and ethnography, an approach to analyzing user needs by studying the user, their practices, and artifacts in the context of their existing interior environment.
With a curriculum that balances spontaneity and creativity with the critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary to meet practical concerns, our graduates are prepared to excel in the profession of interior design. Our students must be able to solve design challenges, communicate, and present their solutions with authority, a strong design vocabulary, and professional communication skills.
We believe it is our responsibility to train engaged stewards of the environment, globally conscious interior design professionals with consideration for the responsibility and outcomes of design and the needs of all user groups.
The Mission of the Interior Architecture Program at Chatham University is to prepare students excellence in the profession of Interior Design, to be engaged stewards of the environment, and to provide lasting contributions to a global society. Central to this mission is a holistic, evidence-based program that integrates knowledge and appreciation of architectural and design theory with ethical, responsible, and entrepreneurial practice.
- To accept a sustainable approach to interior design and make "green design" a minimal standard and not a trend.
- To transform students into critical thinking professionals who see inquiry as the norm.
- To prepare students to identify, research, and solve design challenges with a logical methodology while promoting creative solutions and applied spontaneity.
- To provide pathways and opportunities for applied research.
- To produce professionals able to present their ideas with authority by drawing on their education, a strong design vocabulary and professional communication skills.
- To train globally-conscious interior design professionals with consideration for the responsibility and outcomes of design and the needs of all user groups.
- To prepare students to be proficient in the most current cutting-edge technology while instilling readiness in adapting to emerging techniques, processes and systems.
This course explores color theories, psychology of color and light, typology, and compositional layout relative to interior design presentation, communication and development. Through a variety of media, techniques, and applications of visual composition, skills are applied to architectural interiors and exterior context.
Environment and Behavior
This course introduces students to significant theories concerning the interaction of people and interior architecture. Emphasis is placed on shared human needs and differences based on age, culture, gender, and occupation.
Green & Sustainable Design
Global issues of energy use, resource depletion, and indoor air quality have promoted design professionals to re-evaluate design and construction processes. This course provides students with the knowledge of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system to promote environmentally responsible design.
If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.
The Importance of Accreditation
Employers look for students to graduate from accredited programs, as a testament to the breadth and depth of their education. Studying at an accredited program gives you the greatest choice of types of employers for whom you can work.
Intimate Campus Culture
Why study at a small school in the heart of a major city? Simple: you get the benefits of a closely-knit community with all the resources of an urban environment, just a hop, skip and a jump away (and with free public transportation using your Chatham ID).
Work with Industry Professionals
At Chatham, interior architecture professors are practitioners, with industry connections that they can put to work for their students. Our faculty are also researchers in the industry, writing textbooks and working with professional organizations.
Chatham Eastside, where our interior architecture program’s classroom, studio, and exhibition spaces reside, is recognized as a LEED Silver renovation project that manifests sustainable design practices, use of recycled materials, and energy-efficient lighting to create a green academic and social space in an urban setting.
Students in the program have interned at companies and organizations including, Anthropologie; City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, Zoning Division; Davin Interiors, Franklin Interiors; Green Building Alliance; LGA Partners (formerly Lami Grubb Architects, LP); Perkins Eastman; RM Creative (formerly Radlet McCarthy Polletta); Stantec (formerly Burt Hill); Strada; Weisshouse; among many others.
In the Real World
Students in the program have gone on to work at companies and organizations including, Department of Veterans Affairs; Ethan Allen; Forms + Surfaces; Insidesource; LGA Partners, MAYA Design (now a part of BCG Platinion); Perkins Eastman; RM Creative; Schoolhouse Electric; Stantec; Starwood Hotels; Workscape, Inc.; and more.
The interior design program leading to the Bachelor of Interior Architecture 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 Bachelor of Interior Architecture granted by Chatham 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 this website.
Integrated Degree Program
Qualified students from the interior architecture program can be admitted early to Chatham's Master of Science in Interior Architecture (MSIA) program, saving money and speeding time towards graduation with two degrees.Integrated Degree Program Info : Checkerboard 8 - Integrated Degree Program
Recent Grad 101: Laura Conner
Laura Conner ‘20 didn’t head to college for interior architecture straight out of high school. Instead, she earned a business degree, lived abroad, became a mom, and built up some life experience before heading to Chatham to earn her Bachelor’s in Interior Architecture.
Alumna Profile: Abigail Gambino-Walker '16
"I am currently employed as a high-end residential interior designer here in Pittsburgh, and I graduated from Chatham’s BIA program. Over the course of a few years, I have worked on numerous scale renovations, new build constructions, and showhouses for Traditional Home Magazine across the United States. I am proud to have won first and second place in three international interior design competitions."
“We Don’t Pick Out Pillows: the Science of Design”
In New York City, land is so sought after that development is expanding to one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country—Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal. That’s why chemistry students at the CUNY College of Technology are examining its water composition. Through a National Science Foundation-funded initiative, Chatham undergraduates have come on board to widen their perspective.