The undergraduate major in interior architecture is a four-year professional program accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Architecture. The program develops students' creativity in the design and planning of interior spaces by emphasizing the process and communication of design. Students learn to integrate the art of design with the social sciences concerning the interaction of people and their environment, the history of design, and the physical sciences relating to the effects of materials on the physical health and comfort of inhabitants. Insight into professional practice is enhanced through internship experiences.

Faculty maintain scholarly programs of study in design and research that form the basis of the graduate program and enrich the undergraduate program through course work, design review, and student mentoring.

Course content helps students develop verbal and visual communication skills with exposure to both residential and commercial interiors. In addition, courses in art history, history of interiors, engineering, and art are required. A final portfolio is required before graduation. Studio spaces for student use, a resource center containing catalogs and samples, plus a lighting demonstration area and computer laboratory provide physical support for the interior architecture curriculum.

Prospective UW–Madison Students

All prospective UW–Madison students must apply through the central Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Freshmen should declare their intention to pursue the interior architecture (IA) major when they apply for admission to UW–Madison. In addition, students may indicate interest in the IA major when registering for Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR).

Current UW–Madison Students

Phase I

Students interested in entering Phase I must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75. Students who meet this requirement should meet with an advisor to declare the major as early in their academic career as possible.

Transfer students may take longer to complete their degree than students entering the program as freshmen, as they too must complete both Phase I and Phase II, which contain specialized courses that must be taken sequentially.

Phase II

Advancement into Phase II is competitive and involves an application process that occurs each spring semester. Admission is based upon evaluation of a student’s performance in Phase I of the curriculum. This includes the Design Core: DS 120, DS 220, DS 130, Art 112, and M E 160 and a minimum of 12 general studies credits selected from the following: Math 112 or Math 114; Communication A; Literature; Econ 101 or AAE 215; Psych 202; Anthropology or Sociology; Physical Science; and Biological Science.

After completing Phase I of the program and upon acceptance into Phase II, all IA students must purchase a laptop computer based on minimum hardware specification and software licenses determined by the department and updated regularly. Students also have the option, but are not required, to purchase a laptop computer before completion of Phase I of the program.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Interior Architecture Requirements

A complete list of requirements is below. Students should follow the curriculum requirements in place at the time they entered the major. Curriculum checksheets from previous academic years are available online. This requirement list should be used in combination with a DARS report.

School of Human Ecology Requirements
Arts and Humanities
Choose one of the following:3
Dimensions of Material Culture
ART 112 Drawing I3
or ART 212 Drawing Methods & Concepts
Social Science9
Physical, Biological and Natural Science9
Human Ecology Breadth3
Select one Human Ecology course from CNSR SCI, CSCS, HDFS, or INTER-HE
Interior Architecture Major Requirements
Phase I: Design Core
DS 120 Design: Fundamentals I3
DS 220 Design: Fundamentals II3
DS 130 Introduction to Interior Architecture3
M E 160 Architectural Graphics3
Interior Architecture Studio Core
DS 222 Interior Design I4
DS 322 Interior Design II4
DS 622 Interior Design III4
DS 623 Interior Design IV4
DS 501 Special Topics (Select topic: Interior Design V)3
Content Area Courses
DS 221 Person and Environment Interactions3
DS 223 Interior Architectural Design3
DS 224 Interior Materials and Finishes3
DS 241 Visual Communication I3
DS 242 Visual Communication II3
DS 421 History of Architecture and Interiors I: Antiquity through 18th Century3
DS 422 History of Architecture & Interiors II: 19th and 20th Centuries3
DS 451 Color Theory and Technology3
DS 561 Textiles: Specifications and End Use Analysis3
DS 501 Special Topics (Select topic: Portfolio Preparation)2
DS 501 Special Topics (Select topic: Lighting, Thermal Comfort and Acoustics: POE)3
DS 624 Portfolio Preparation3
Professional Development
DS 252 Design Leadership Symposium1
INTER-HE 202 SoHE Career & Leadership Development1
DS 601 Internship3
Design Focus 16
Select 6 credits in consultation with your SoHE academic advisor.
Select electives to meet minimum total of 120 degree credits

Design Focus courses are intended to be an opportunity for students to develop more depth and uniqueness to their course of study. See Design Focus course list below. Please work with your SoHE academic advisor to seek approval for coursework taken outside of Design Studies.

Design Studies course list

DS 101 Introduction to Textile Design3
DS 227 Textile Design: Printing and Dyeing I3
DS 251 Textile Science3
DS/​ANTHRO/​ART HIST/​HISTORY/​LAND ARC  264 Dimensions of Material Culture4
DS 341 Design Thinking for Transformation3
DS 361 Design-Related International Experience1-6
DS 501 Special Topics (varies by semester)1-3
DS/​COMP SCI  579 Virtual Reality3
DS 633 Advanced Interior and Architectural Design Visualization3
DS/​LAND ARC  639 Culture and Built Environment3

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Interior architecture students will have grounding in the history and theory relevant to the built environment and human behavior.
  2. Interior architecture students will have intellectual skills for inquiry, creative thinking, and critical analysis.
  3. Interior architecture students will have professional skills that prepare them for applying what they have learned to create new knowledge and solve problems in a real world setting.
  4. Interior architecture students will be able to apply the design process to identify and explore complex problems and generate creative solutions that optimize the human experience within the interior environment. This includes the ability to apply research and the principles and theories of Design to their solutions.
  5. Interior architecture students will be able to apply their knowledge of building materials and systems, building construction, and industry specific codes, standards and guidelines in order to enhance the health, safety, welfare and performance of building occupants.

Student Academic Affairs & Career Development

The Student Academic Affairs & Career Development Office (SAA) fosters undergraduate students' personal, academic, and professional development. Through advising, academic planning, and career education we support students as they navigate the college experience—from exploring our majors as prospective students to becoming SoHE alumni. 

Academic Advising

Each SoHE student is assigned to an academic advisor in the Student Academic Affairs & Career Development Office. SoHE academic advisors support academic and personal success by partnering with current and prospective SoHE students as they identify and clarify their educational goals, develop meaningful academic plans, and pursue their own Wisconsin Experience. 

To explore academic advising resources or schedule an appointment with a SoHE academic advisor, visit Advising in SoHE

Career Development

Active engagement in the career development process is a vital component of a student’s personal growth in college and future success as a life-long learner, professional, and global citizen. SoHE career advisors help prepare students for life post-graduation through individual and group advising and integration of career readiness throughout our curriculum.

To explore career development resources or schedule an appointment with a SoHE career advisor, visit Internship and Career Preparation.

Professors Angus, Dong, Nelson, Rengel, Sarmadi; Associate Professors Hark, Kallenborn, Shin; Assistant Professors Fairbanks, Penick, Ponto, Thorleifsdottir; Faculty Associates Kurutz, Sager

For more information, visit the School of Human Ecology faculty and staff directory.