2023-2024 Course Catalog

Master of Interior Architecture

The Master of Interior Architecture is a Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) accredited first professional interior design program consisting of 72 semester credits. This degree is for students with an undergraduate degree in a field other than interior design or architecture. The curriculum includes foundation courses in interior architecture a dynamic studio sequence, an internship, and a capstone studio. The Master of Interior Architecture prepares students for practice in an interior design or architecture firm. A holistic design approach is stressed throughout the two-year, five-semester 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. Specifically, the curriculum focuses on the design of residential and commercial spaces – how space is organized, developed three-dimensionally, finished with materials and color, lit, furnished, and designed to incorporate user needs and building codes. Admitted students will be required to purchase a laptop computer prior to matriculating into the program. Information on appropriate computer specifications is available on the MIA website. This review provides students with an opportunity to elicit feedback from faculty on their progress mid-way through the program. Students in the MIA program are invited to participate in the Fallingwater Maymester. Typically offered in the first Maymester of study, students have the unique opportunity to explore, study, and experience Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece via a 5-day, 4-night on site residency.

Admission Requirements


  • Have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.
    If a student has below a 3.0 GPA, please feel free to apply if you show extreme promise through other achievements. Additional Admissions documents may be requested.
  • Completed application for admission, including:

    1. Online application
    2. Admissions Essay
    3. Curriculum vita or resume
    4. Two letters of recommendation
    5. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

    Admissions Materials may be submitted to:
    Chatham University
    Office of Graduate Admission
    Woodland Road
    Pittsburgh, PA 15232

    For specific questions about the Program, please reach out to the Graduate Admissions Recruiter at 412-365-1825 or at graduate@chatham.edu.

    Integrated Degree Program

    Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site. All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure they are meeting all requirements according to their IDP course of study.

    International Applicants

    International Applicants must submit additional documentation to the Office of Admissions. A list of these documents can be found on the International Admission web page.

Learning Outcomes

Download the program outcomes [PDF]

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Effectively locate and gather information associated with both practice and research through a variety of information media
  • Evaluate the quality and accuracy of information they locate
  • Extract information from sources associated with practice and research
  • Evaluate the quality and accuracy of written information
  • Critically evaluate the executed works of designers
  • Make informed design decisions based on aesthetics, building technologies, human needs and the health, safety and the welfare of the public
  • Exhibit a variety of design ideas, approaches and concepts with originality
  • Transform conceptual design ideas into a detailed solution that takes into account existing building constraints, user needs, cost, building codes and standards, and a program of spaces
  • Engage in problem solving with respect to design projects of varying type, size and scope
  • Communicate clearly in writing, in short papers for supporting coursework, concept statements and building programs in the design studios, specifications and schedules for construction documents and contracts and business-related documents
  • Formulate a point of view and have the ability to articulate and defend it in written form
  • Express ideas clearly in oral presentations and critiques with classmates, other instructors and professionals from the design community
  • Formulate a point of view and have the ability to articulate and defend it orally
  • Demonstrate  a sustainable approach to interior design
  • Think critically and see inquiry as the norm
  • Identify, research, and solve design challenges with a logical methodology
  • Demonstrate creative solutions and applied spontaneity
  • Understand how to conduct and apply research findings
  • Demonstrate strong professional communication skills and be able to present their design ideas and solutions with confidence
  • Be globally-conscious interior designers


+Degree Requirements

23 courses (72 credits), including

IAR518 Building Codes

Students learn and apply relevant building codes as they relate to the health, safety, and life safety of the occupant. This course addresses energy laws, the principles of Universal design, and accessible code compliance. Pre-requisites: IAR520, IAR535

IAR519 Drafting and Model Making

Intended for interior architecture majors or potential majors. This course develops graphic literacy as a language and philosophy for observation, analysis, expression, and presentation of interior architecture. An understanding is developed of architectural scale, plans, elevations, and sections. Students will explore three-dimensional model making techniques.

IAR520 Architecture Studio II

This studio addresses problem identification and problem solving in the context of medium to large-scale projects of modest scope. Emphasis is placed on human factors, space planning, spatial experience, scale, basic elements of 2-D and 3-D design, concept development, space planning, scale, textiles, and color with respect to user needs.

Pre-requisites Complete any 1 of the following courses:
  • IAR510 Drafting Studio
  • IAR510 2D Visual Communications
  • Complete any 1 of the following courses:
  • IAR519 Drawing and Model Making
  • IAR519 Drafting and Model Making
  • Complete any 1 of the following courses:
  • IAR532 Color and Textiles
  • IAR532 Color and Textiles Studio I
  • 3
    IAR525 Interior Architecture Studio III

    The studio addresses problem identification and solutions in the context of medium to-large scale projects of complex scope. Emphasis is placed on programming human factors, universal design principles, space planning, spatial experience, scale, materials, furniture, fixtures, equipment, and color with respect to user needs.

    Pre-requisites Complete all 4 of the following courses:
  • IAR502 Theory of Interior Architecture
  • IAR515 Digital Visualization II
  • IAR520 Architecture Studio II
  • IAR535 Construction Methods
  • 3
    IAR530 Interior Materials

    This course is intended for majors or potential majors and addresses architectural materials and finishes. Students learn to select, specify, and apply architectural finishes. They create specifications, execute take-offs, and produce cost estimates for interior construction. Manufacturing processes, installation methods, maintenance requirements, code regulations, and testing standards are covered.

    IAR532 Color and Textiles Studio I

    The first part of this residential studio examines theories in color in relation to light and space. In the second part, key topics include the selection, specification and application of textiles based on their properties and performance criteria, sustainability, installation methods, maintenance requirements, and regulations and standards.

    IAR561 History of Interior Architecture

    This survey course examines world architecture from prehistoric times through the 19th century, including the built environment of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas. Emphasis is placed on the role of interior spaces, furnishings, and art within architecture.

    IAR562 20th & 21st Century Architecture

    This course is designed to relate the impact of architecture on both public and private spaces throughout the 20th century and provide a view towards the future of architecture in 21st century. The course will guide you through the major styles of architecture of the 20th century and investigate the socio-historic context of the works and determinants of that architecture. Emphasis will also be placed on the interior spaces, furnishings, and the arts and artists of the day.

    IAR610 Digital Visualization III

    This advanced course focuses on Building Information Modeling (BIM) that integrates and synchronizes three-dimensional building modeling for us in all phases of the design process. Students are instructed to Revit and Sketch-up. Graphic skills are also developed to help students communicate interior design schemes. Additional fees: Course Computing Fee

    IAR615 Construction Documents Studio

    Construction techniques are studied through the production of a set of construction documents. Issues addressed include the selection and assembly of materials, construction methods, detailing of interior finish systems and cabinetry, building codes, and accessibility. Additional Fees: Course Computing Fees

    Pre-requisites Complete all 2 of the following courses:
  • IAR525 Interior Architecture Studio III
  • IAR610 Digital Visualization III
  • Co-requisites
    • IAR620 Interior Architecture III
    IAR616 Portfolio

    This course will allow Interior Architecture students to solidify their professional portfolio for prospective internships and employment. Students will produce a physical and digital portfolio. Additional fees: Course Computing Fee.

    IAR620 Interior Architecture Studio IV

    This advanced studio addresses concept development, design development, and detailing of medium-to-large scale projects. Emphasis is placed on program analysis, user needs, universal design, space planning, three-dimensional spatial development, design language, composition, materials and assemblies, color, lighting, acoustics, environmental systems, building codes, and life safety. Additional Fees: Course Computing Fee.

    IAR630 Construction Systems and Methods

    This course provides an overview of architectural building systems, including exterior and interior construction methods and terminology as well as environmental control systems, including HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, power distribution, security, building codes, and data/voice telecommunication. Emphasis is placed on energy consumption and conservation, human comfort, and health and safety.

    IAR631 Design for Sustainability

    Students will broaden their understanding of the philosophies, principles, perspectives, values, and foundations of sustainability, exploring the environmental, cultural, social, economic, and political aspects in order to build a context in which sustainability can be effectively applied to a wide variety of built environment design projects at various scales.

    IAR635 Lighting and Acoustics Studio

    This course is an introduction to lighting and acoustics. Emphasis is placed on the psychology of lighting, visual comfort criteria, measurement and calculations, available technologies in lighting design, the selection of fixtures, and the application of computer aided lighting simulation tools. Principles of acoustics, acoustic properties of materials and building systems in relation to building structures, sound transmission between rooms, and design methods in room and building acoustics are also addressed. Pre- requisites: IAR 525, 515. Additional Fees: Course Computing Fee

    Pre-requisites Complete all 3 of the following courses:
  • IAR515 Digital Drawing
  • IAR502 Theory of Interior Architecture
  • IAR520 Interior Architecture I
  • 3
    IAR645 Professional Practice

    In this course, students are introduced to the specialized services provided by the professional interior designer. Emphasis is placed on office operations and personnel issues, marketing strategies, project management, contract documents, ethics, and the legal and financial aspects of professional practice.

    IAR650 Interior Architecture V: Capstone Studio

    This course stresses evidence-based design. Students create a program for a project influenced by their research in IAR655. The program and research findings serve as a foundation for the investigation of a design detailing. Additional fees: Course Computing Fee.

    Pre-requisites Complete any 1 of the following courses:
  • IAR615 Construction Documents Studio
  • IAR615 Construction Documents
  • 3
    IAR655 Immersive Design Research

    This graduate seminar is a review and analysis of published research in the disciplines of interior design and architecture. Students are introduced to various methods for gathering information and conducting research with emphasis placed on the selection and utilization of data collection strategies and tools, culminating in the development of a research proposal.

    IAR502 Theory of Interior Architecture

    This course cultivates the ability to use formal architectural ordering to develop creative abstract designs that translate into three-dimensional compositions of space and form. Architectural theories and manifestos are explored through process tools and applied utilizing design exercises including concept development, abstract ideation, physical embodiment, architectural composition and analytical review.

    IAR505 Design and Behavior

    The designed environment influences and is influenced by human activity patterns and behavior. This course is an introduction 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.

    IAR510 2D Visual Communications

    Intended for interior architecture majors or potential majors, this course develops graphic literacy as a language and philosophy for observation, analysis, expression, and presentation of interior architecture. An understanding of design thinking and visualization is developed. One-point, two0point, isometric, and axonometric drawing methods will be covered. Additional fee(s): applied art fee.

    IAR514 Digital Visualization I

    This course explores design principles related to color theory, typography, branding, web design, print design and layout relative to portfolio design, interior design presentation, communication and development. This course also explores basic human centered design and product design principles as a basis for portfolio and visual design. This course is designed to aid and mentor students in assembling a design portfolio of their academic and professional work. Students will learn graphic design techniques for both print and web, including basic tools in the Adobe Creative Suite.

    IAR515 Digital Visualization II

    Students learn the basic computer drafting and drawing skills associated with AutoCAD software. Projects include creating new work and working from existing files. An understanding of drawing layers, detailing, layout, and printing will be presented. Adobe Creative Suite and other rendering software are covered. Additional Fee: Course Computing fee.

    Pre-requisites Complete the following course:
  • IAR510 Drafting Studio
  • Complete the following course:
  • IAR510 2D Visual Communications
  • 3
    IAR641 Internship

    An internship experience provides students with a greater understanding of professional practice. With instructor approval, students work full-time in an office environment under the supervision of a practitioner.

    Pre-requisites Complete the following course:
  • XXX123 Permission of Instructor
  • 3
    OR an approved elective