Interior Architecture

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Interior Architecture Overview

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. Students are encouraged to consider all factors that influence the design of interior spaces from human behavior, aesthetics, and building technology to the views from windows and doors that penetrate the surrounding architecture.

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

Fallingwater Residency 

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

Number of students who completed the program and graduated in each year listed:

2016-17: 4
2017-18: 11
2018-19: 10

Employment Information for BIA Graduates 2016-2017

# respondents: 4
# employed in a related field: 3

Position Title / Design Typology
  • Architectural Product Coordinator / Commercial Furniture Design Interior
  • Designer / Residential & Commercial Design Firm
  • Real Estate Agent / Real Estate
  • Project & Data Coordinator / Unrelated (Higher Education) 

enrolled/accepted to graduate school: 1

Employment Information for BIA Graduates 2017-2018

# respondents: 11
# employed in a related field: 11

Position Title / Design Typology

  • Architectural Junior Designer / Commercial and Hospitality Design Firm
  • Architectural Technician / Retail Design
  • Construction Interior Designer / Commercial Construction/Design Firm       
  • Interior Designer / Commercial and Residential Design Firm
  • Interior Designer / Healthcare Architecture and Design Firm
  • Interior Designer / Commercial Furniture Design
  • Interior Design Coordinator / Commercial Architecture and Design Firm
  • Kitchen and Bath Designer / Residential Retail Sales
  • Project Manager / Post-Production Studio
  • Project Designer / Residential Design/Build Firm
  • Visual Merchandiser / Retail Sales

enrolled/accepted to graduate school: 0

Employment Information for BIA Graduates 2018-2019

# respondents: 10
# employed in a related field: 9

Position Title / Design Typology

  • Construction Project Coordinator / Residential Construction Firm
  • Design Assistant / Residential Design
  • Design Consultant / Furniture - Retail
  • Design & Sales Consultant / Commercial Design/Real Estate Firm
  • Interior Design Consultant / Furniture – Commercial
  • Interior Designer – Commercial Design Firm
  • Interior Designer / Healthcare and Commercial Design Firm
  • Interior Designer / Hospitality and Commercial Design Firm
  • Junior Designer / Healthcare and Commercial Design Firm
  • Field Mentor / Unrelated (Youth Services)

enrolled/accepted or seeking/applying to graduate school: 2


  2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018
  % % % % % % %
One Year Retention Rate 60.0 50.0 66.7 100.0 100.0 87.5 68.2
    2009-2013 2010-2014 2011-2015 2012-2016 2013-2017 2014-2018
    % % % % % %
Four Year Graduation Rate   50.0 85.7 40.0 50.0 83.3 33.3
      2009-2014 2010-2015 2011-2016 2012-2017 2013-2018
      % % % % %
Five Year Graduation Rate     50.0 100.0 40.0 66.7 83.3
        2009-2015 2010-2016 2011-2017 2012-2018
        % % % %
Six Year Graduation Rate       50.0 100.0 40 66.7

Program Philosophy

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.

Program Mission

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.

Program Goals

  • 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.

View Full Curriculum

Our Faculty

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.

Full Faculty

State-of-the-Art Facilities

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.


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.

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.