Graduate Programs

M.S. in Design and Merchandising

Interior Design Specialization

The Interior Design specialization of the MS in Design and Merchandising offers the opportunity for you to explore creativity, sustainability, and health and wellness within the context of Interior Design. Whether you are seeking greater depth and the research skills to engage in evidence-based design or planning to return to practice with terminal degree credentials enabling you to teach, our program can change your career.

Major areas of specialization for graduate study and research in Interior Design (ID) include:

Katharine Leigh
  • Commercial design
  • Creativity
  • Cultural/global design
  • Healthcare facilities design
  • Sense of place/sense of self
  • Sustainable design
  • Universal design

For questions about specialization please contact Dr. Laura Malinin at Please consider an on-campus visit!

Who may be interested?

  • Design practitioners who desire to add value to their undergraduate design credentials
  • Architects who desire to expand their skills in a related discipline
  • Designers and architects who wish to become research practitioners
  • Designers and architects who desire to teach in higher education

Opportunities after you complete your master’s degree include:

  • Teaching in higher education
  • Practicing as a research practitioner
  • Practicing in a specialty market segment such as commercial, residential, healthcare, lighting, graphic, and/or industrial design
  • Working in exhibition design or museum collections
  • Pursing a doctoral degree: Although the master’s degree is and remains the terminal degree for the interior design profession, the doctoral degree is now required by over 30% of interior design programs in institutions of higher education. Colorado State University’s School of Education is supportive of interior design graduate students pursuing their doctorate and works collaboratively with Interior Design faculty to create a smooth transition into a doctoral program.


Background (Undergraduate Level) Coursework

A bachelor’s degree in Interior Design or a related design discipline is required.

If you have completed a BA, BS, or B EnvD, and enter the graduate program in Design & Merchandising, you may qualify for certification by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). Qualifications for this certification include the completion of 60 total credits of interior design coursework. Thirty of the 60 required credits for certification can be transferred from a student’s undergraduate studio and design coursework. The remaining 30 credits needed can be completed as part of the M.S. program at Colorado State University. Please contact Dr. Leigh to talk about this process or for a preliminary review of credits prior to completing your application.

Graduate Study

Interior Design Checksheet

The interior design curriculum and the support of faculty with expertise and experience in diverse areas afford graduate students the opportunity to develop individualized programs of study that will assist them in meeting both professional and personal goals. ID graduate students have examined diverse topics for their thesis research, including:

  • Integrated Project Delivery and Interior Design Education
  • Creativity and Learning: Examination of Effective Teaching Strategies Focusing on Gen Y
  • Revealing the Value of Interior Design: The Relationship of Design Process to Factors of Healing Environments
  • Green Schools that Teach: The Role of Green Building in Whole-School Sustainability
  • Sustainable Change: Knowledge Absorption as a Factor of Absorptive Capacity Theory among Green Industry Consultants
  • Mind and Method: An Examination of the Cognitive Activities in the Design Process
  • A Small Vision: Impacts of Sustainable Downtown Development in Small Communities
  • Native American Past Building Construction Techniques and Modern Sustainability Standards
  • Sustainable Bathroom Design: Development of a Four-Week Teaching Unit
  • Blight in Commercial Retail Environments: An Analysis of Impact Attributes
  • Creative Problem Solving Training Evaluation: Applying the Workplace Creativity Literature
  • Exploring Personal Spaces of Youth Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome
  • The “Other” Voice of Interior Design: Investigating a Language of Social Responsibility and Ethical Perspective
  • Exploring the Structure of Organizational Creativity
  • Perceptions of Homelike in Residents of Assisted Living Facilities
  • Cognition and Connection in Learning Environments for Children with Autism
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