NYIAD Complete Course in Interior Design: Follow-Up and FAQs

A few years ago I started taking an online interior design course called The Complete Course in Interior Design, through the New York Institute of Art and Design (NYIAD). It was a great program and I made it through all of the learning units, but for a variety of personal reasons I haven’t finished the final project (that’s another post, for another day!). Overall though, the course was a great intro to design and I feel like I learned a lot.

Because there aren’t too many reviews out there for this NYIAD course, I receive a lot of emails from people who find my review and want further information. So today I’m going to go ahead and answer the most frequently asked questions I get about the course, and hopefully this will be helpful to anyone who’s interested in learning more!


Q: Should I take this NYIAD course/do you need a 4 year degree to become a designer/will this course get you a design job?

A: Ok, so this is the biggest type of question I’ve received, and also one that doesn’t have an easy answer. The issue of whether or not you need a degree to be a successful designer and if so, which degree is best, is a hotly debated topic and if you ask five designers, you’ll get five different answers. I could write a whole post on the topic, but for now I’ll just share MY opinion and experiences.

Do you NEED a four year degree in interior design to be a successful designer? No. The reason I can say this is because there are tons of successful designers out there with either no degree in design, or a degree in a semi-related or unrelated field. Nate Berkus does not have an interior design degree. Neither does Erin Gates. Lauren Liess took the NYIAD program (which is a non-degree program). I’m sure there are tons more designers out there with the same history. So that puts that question to rest.

However – we don’t know the other circumstances of these designers. Maybe they grew up with a family that was in design or architecture (Erin Gates). Or maybe they didn’t! The point is, it’s not a NECESSITY. However, it might vastly help. I know that if you want to work in commercial design or for a big firm, a degree is basically a necessity. If you want to start your own business and you’re talented and hard-working, can it be done sans degree? Of course! Might it be a lot easier if you have a degree? I would think so!

Now let me tell you what I experienced-and keep in mind this was one experience with one group of people. I secured a design internship while taking the course. My experience was that the people I was working with did not seem to take the NYIAD program particularly seriously. There was an attitude where programs at Parsons and NYSID were clearly taken more seriously than what I was doing…I assume probably because they didn’t even know what my program was (despite my describing it), and because of the fact that it’s not a degree program.

Again, this was a very specific situation with a group of designers. The average layperson who might become your client may not know or care about the difference between a certification from NYIAD and a degree from NYSID. That said, the NYIAD course is not the same education as a four year degree from a school. That brings me to the second frequently asked question:

Q: What doesn’t this NYIA interior design course teach?

A: During my internship I discovered that the biggest hole in the course is the lack of Autocad and Sketchup education. These are computer drafting programs you’ll need as a designer or even to pitch yourself as a design intern. So while I still think the course is a great intro, keep in one that you’ll want to learn those programs concurrently, either through another program or on your own (and there might be other computer programs you need that I’m not even aware of). Basics of construction is another missing piece – how to read blueprints, etc. I’m sure there are some other things missing from the NYIAD program versus a four year program but those were the big things I noticed.

Q: How long does it take to complete this NYIA interior design course?

A: You’re given 18 months to complete the course. For someone working full-time, I’d say that’s accurate. If you really want to bang it out and devote a lot of time to it, you could finish it in a year. It depends on you and how fast you want to finish! My feeling is it’s not a CRAZY amount of coursework, so you could probably finish in 6 months or a year if you wanted to! It’s getting through Powerpoint type slides, which have pretty big fonts…not slogging through chapters and chapters of textbooks.

Q: Do you have to be good at drawing?

A: Nope! There is drafting but not drawing – they give you furniture cutouts to use on your floor plans.

Q: Is working with clients, what to charge, etc a big part of the NYIA interior design course?

A: Yes! That’s a very big part. They’re training you in a real life kind of way, as if you’re going to stick your shingle out tomorrow. I found the “how to charge” section pretty confusing so you might want to consult real designers on that but they talk a lot about how to start and run your business, so it’s very real-life and action-oriented.

Q: Does the school help you secure a design internship?

A: As far as I know, they do not.

Q: What do you plan to do with the NYIA interior design course?

A: At the moment I’m not sure what I plan to do about anything (that’s a whole nother post though!) but my sense is that after you finish the course you could pursue an internship in design and then try to parlay that into a paying job. Are you going to be as competitive a candidate as the person with a four-year degree? Perhaps not, but if you’re hard-working, and talented, educate yourself in drafting programs, and hit it off with the designer – perhaps you will be! Personally I think you could also, with this course, have the background and know-how to start taking on small design jobs for individual clients on your own. Some people do that with no formal training so you’d be ahead of the game in that arena! You can also apply for a certification afterwards, called the Residential Interior Design Qualification Certification – here are some facts on that.

Q: Are the supplies yours to keep?

A: Yup!

Q: Are there hidden fees?

A: Not that I encountered.

Q: Do you have to finish each unit before moving onto the next?

A: You don’t have to – you could read the entire course at once if you want. You do have to finish each assignment before moving onto the next though.

Q: Do the grades go towards anything?

A: No – however, you do need to get a decent enough grade before they let you move on to the next assignment (which is good and makes sense). They’ll make you redo it and mail it back until you pass (like with a B or an A).

Q: Is there interaction with other students?

A: There is a student forum within the course site but I can’t speak to it much as I didn’t really utilize it.

Q: Are there accommodations for overseas students?

A: As far as I know, yes – I would email the school to clarify.

Q: Is hand-drafting a requirement?

A: Yes.

Q: How much sketching and creating a real room layout do you do in the NYIA interior design course?

A: Sketching rooms, little to none. Creating layouts, a lot. That forms the basis of all of the projects.

I hope this helps to answer any further questions that anyone might have about the NYIAD Complete Course in Interior Design!

PS: Found this NIYA interior design review useful? Click here now for more interior design features!!

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Leave a Comment

  1. Spencer wrote:

    Hello ! Thanks for posting this it was very helpful ! I am considering taking this course . It does seem like a good option to get your foot in the door of interior design , especially if you can’t afford a 4 year degree .

    Can you view the coursework on an iPhone or ipad ? Or do you have to use a desktop / laptop

    Published 6.14.19 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      I would assume you can do it on an Ipad or phone!

      Published 6.15.19 · Reply
  2. Nisa Seal wrote:

    Thank you so much for this review! Did you take the Autocad program NYIAD offers? I was thinking of doing both.

    Published 7.3.19 · Reply
  3. Meryem wrote:

    What documents we need to submit to join this school?

    Published 7.24.19 · Reply
  4. Mackenzie wrote:

    Hi was wondering what kind of supplies they sent you! I am starting in about a month and really found this helpful thank you so much(:

    Published 8.1.19 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      They sent us paint supplies like brushes and little palettes, as well as graph paper, a pad of questionnaires to interview clients, a T-square, other items for drawing out floor plans, and books! Plenty of supplies to get us through the course. Hope you enjoy it!

      Published 8.12.19 · Reply
  5. Bridget B wrote:

    thank you for this valuable info! how many hours a week/how many days a week did you dedicate to the course?

    Published 8.3.19 · Reply
  6. Cherry wrote:

    I really enjoyed reading your review and faqs about this program. I have no experience in interior design but i really love decorating so i was thinking of pursuing a career in that. I live in canada, can i still take this course or is it only for US residents ?

    (I published this comment as a reply to someone else’s comment by accident)

    Published 9.16.19 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      I think it’s for anyone, not just US residents! I would contact the school just to be sure 🙂

      Published 9.22.19 · Reply
  7. kassidey wrote:

    I’m super late to this blog, but I am currently trying to transfer colleges and I think I want to major in interior design.. But I am looking into programs rather than college degrees because of time, necessity, fear of not pursuing it and loans in the long run. I was wondering where you are with your career now and if you found that this course could be successful in launching a career in design or if you think a certification program is not enough

    Published 3.1.20 · Reply
  8. Mr. C wrote:

    Thank You for taking the time to explain the online course at NYIAD! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do and what is best for me at my current age and stage of life. I’m hoping to do home staging. Knowing in advance that I needed to have a certificate to pursue this dream. And the course details match what I believed to be true for my skills set. I’m not looking to be a designer but once I’ve completed the course. Who knows anything is possible.

    Thanks Again! Your article really helped me.
    Kindest Regards
    Mr. C

    Published 5.28.20 · Reply
  9. Aura wrote:

    Hi! Great post. I’m currently taking this course and so far enjoying it, BUT…I’m not sure I got ALL the supplies / course materials I’m supposed to get. Can you please give a complete list of materials they sent you?
    Thank you so much for your time! 🙂

    Published 8.18.20 · Reply
  10. Carol M wrote:

    Thank you so much for this information. I have been toying with the idea of taking an interior design course for some time now. One quick question: Once you’ve completed the course are you able to have access to furniture/fabrics, etc., that are only available to designers or do you need to get further credentials for that? Thank you.

    Published 9.24.20 · Reply
    • York Avenue wrote:

      As far as I know, interior designers get trade accounts when they have a business going, or I guess can prove they’re starting a business? I think it varies (like I don’t think there are official rules, necessarily), so I think this could definitely help! I would reach out to some companies you like and ask them if this credential would work for them in giving you a trade account.

      Published 9.26.20 · Reply
  11. Lizzie wrote:


    Dis you request the printed materials or use the digital version? This course requires a lot of reading or you can use easily an ipad for the course lessons?

    Published 10.8.20 · Reply
  12. Neha Shastri wrote:

    Hello ! Thanks for posting this it was very helpful. I really appreciate you taking all the effort and time to this blog. I am considering taking this course but i have few questions-1) It seems like they are not giving you any credits or grading after completing each unit so, on what basis you should move to the next unit or so?
    2) Will there be exams after each unit?
    3)Will there be group discussions, designer/student interaction?
    4) Will all the videos available to students at once ?
    5) Will they provide you complete material for whole course at once?

    Thank you

    Published 4.21.21 · Reply