East Tennessee State University Engineering Technology, Surveying & Digital Media

Interior Design


thinking • engaging • creating

We invite you to join a dedicated group of designers who are thinking globally, actively engaging in dynamic design processes, and creating imaginative solutions which promote the awareness and knowledge of the contributions of interior design to health, safety, and the welfare of people in a sustainable built environment.  Graduates aspire to be active lifelong problem solvers, seeking to adapt current knowledge and emerging trends to meet the demands of a future marketplace.

To prepare new professionals who seek to make a difference in their chosen communities we as faculty embrace these core goals & objectives:

  • Goal 1: Diverse Student Learning Opportunities

Objective 1:  Provide students with international, regional and local learning opportunities where students seek solutions that respect the diversity of the global community.

  • Goal 2: Design Realization

Objective 2:  Promote dynamic problem solving processes that incorporates both illustrative and “making” techniques which informs and modifies design solutions.

  • Goal 3: Cross Disciplinary Collaboration

Objective 3:  Facilitate connections across a wide variety of professions/majors to strengthen students understanding of integrated design processes.

  • Goal 4: Studio Focused Learning

Objective 4:  Create opportunities for direct engagement with faculty and practicing professionals in small studio focused learning communities.

Former Students

Our recent grads speak:

Danielle Brown

I just wanted to drop a HUGE thank you your way.  Words cannot express how grateful I am to have had you all and how thankful I am that I listened to your advice, no matter how hard it was to swallow. Tomorrow is my first day at A-Z Office Resources. I’m prepared for the challenge because I know I’ve been taught well, and that is the biggest comfort of all.  I couldn’t be happier with my first professional job, fresh out of college.

Danielle Brown (2012), Interior Designer, A-Z Office Resources



Zarah Brown

I firmly believe that our ETSU ID program is competitive and brings a personal approach to the classroom. The ETSU ID program is the best-kept secret in the region.

Zarah Cochran Brown (2007), Director of Interior Design, StudioFourDesign, Knoxville, TN.





For me Interior Design is about passion; a passion to help others enhance their quality of life. While at ETSU I saw-witnessed the passion that my professors had for Interior Design and I found it contagious. I’m so thankful for my education from ETSU. The challenges I faced while in school have molded me into the designer that I am today. Thank you ETSU Interior Design Department for the encouragement, knowledge, and passion that you have bestowed upon me.

Ashley Burton, Workspace Interiors, Inc.






“It wasn’t studying fire codes or the style of Le Corbusier, it was learning to be adaptable that was most important. Working in another country, I’ve realized that codes vary, trends change, and every client is different, but from my time studying, I learned how to adapt and gain more knowledge with every project. The professors in this program develop a strong base for their students to build upon everyday as professionals. I’m very thankful for their shaping me into an unceasing student of design.”

Monica Warwick (2013), Inredningsarkitekt, Gothenburg, Sweden


caryn Brahams

“My involvement in ETSU’s Interior Design program has undoubtedly been the most rewarding educational experience I could have hoped for.  The experienced faculty, collaborative environment, and diverse course material and technologies are just some of the qualities which shaped my abilities and enabled me to land my first career position months before I even graduated from the program.  The offerings beyond the classroom such as professional organizations and study abroad opportunities further encouraged me to unearth my passions. I value the knowledge and vision the program has instilled in me and would give it my highest recommendation.”


Caryn Brahams (2015), Interior Designer, Thomas Weems Architec

Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment.  These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive.  Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project.  Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements, and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.  The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals.

Interior design includes a scope of services performed by a professional design practitioner, qualified by means of education, experience and examination, to protect and enhance the health, life safety and welfare of the public.





Interior Design graduates are prepared for practice in the interior design profession regionally, nationally, and internationally by the enrichment of their professional and personal lives.  A four-year curriculum is organized around yearly conceptual frameworks.

  • Year 1: Design as Spatial Literacy. During the first year you will learn about the fundamentals of design and how multiple visual communication techniques can be used to illustrate design intent. Ergonomics, color theories, the elements/principles of design and anthropomorphic will be applied to a wide variety of projects.
  • Year 2: Design as Process. The importance of understanding human behavior and the design process to a successful design solution is the focus of the second year. Studios help students apply new computer skills, construction fundamentals, and interior materials. Your summer can be spent studying in Italy.
  • Year 3: Design as Profession. Third year courses focus on medical design and starting the transition into becoming a design professional. Evidenced based design and technical skills are balanced with professional practices to prepare students to succeed in their upcoming summer internships.
  • Year 4: Design as Social Responsibility. The fourth year focuses on using your newly acquired design knowledge to solve a social issue. Students work one-on-one with professionals to research, present design solutions, and prepare construction documents to a variety of interested parties.

To graduate from ETSU with a degree in Interior Design a student must complete a total of 120 hours. These hours contain:

63 hours in Core Design courses

INTD 1115 Studio 1: Architectural Drafting

An introduction and overview to the interior design profession including history, building systems, design fundamentals, design process, space planning, and interior finishes and materials.

INTD 1115 Architectural Drafting: Studio I

An introduction to hand drafting and to lettering standards including terminology, symbols, orthographic drawings, and schedules within a construction document.

INTD 1215 Visual Communication: Studio II

Prerequisites: INTD 1105, INTD 1115, DIGM 1100. An introduction to three dimensional sketching techniques that promote creative, visual, and volumetric thinking. Rapid visualization, illustrative sketching, rendering, perspectives, and paraline drawings are emphasized. Studio experience included.

INTD 2105 Historical Interiors I

Prerequisites: INTD 1105 and INTD 1115. A historical survey of interiors from antiquity through the 19th century; emphasizing the influence on today’s interiors and architecture.

INTD 2110 Design for Human Behavior

Prerequisites: INTD 1215. Exploration of the relationships between the designed environment and the behavior, feelings, and values of occupants. Introduction to proxemics, territoriality, way finding, and other environment/behavior theories.

INTD 2115 Computer Apps & Making: Studio III

Prerequisites: INTD 1215. Introduction to computer applications and basic woodworking techniques used to design and build small-scaled projects.

INTD 2205 Historical Interiors II

Prerequisites: INTD 2105. A historical survey of interiors from 19th century through present day emphasizing the influence on today’s interiors and architecture.

INTD 2210 Materials & Finishes

Prerequisites: INTD 2410, INTD 2115. Study of fibers, textiles and other finish materials and components of interior spaces such as paints, carpet, flooring, and wall treatments with application to residential and commercial interiors. Appropriate selection, installation, specification, and cost estimating are emphasized.

INTD 2215 Residential Design: Studio IV

Prerequisites: INTD 2110, INTD 2115 and ENTC 2410. Design studio experience in residential interiors. Emphasis on problem solving within the design process, building codes, universal and barrier-free design, and sustainable design.

INTD 3105 Interior Building Systems and&; Components

Prerequisites: INTD 2210 and INTD 2215. The study of interior building systems and components and their impact on the development of interior spaces. Emphasis on identifying, interpreting, drawing, and specifying interior building systems and components in contract documents that complete the building interior.

INTD 3115 Commercial Desgin I: Studio V

Prerequisites: INTD 2215. Applies 2D/3D software, building codes, and federal regulations to solve small to medium commercial design problems.

INTD 3205 Lighting

Prerequisites: INTD 3105 and INTD 3115. An examination of the technical and decorative aspects of lighting, including principles, terminology, design requirements, and equipment utilized in interior environments. Students explore human visual perception, methods of light generation, fixtures and control, selection and specification, energy issues, and visual communication of lighting designs.

INTD 3215 Commercial Design II: Studio VI

Prerequisites: INTD 3105 and INTD 3115. Apply evidenced-based design principles in solving issues of medium to large commercial spaces.

IINTD 4105 Professional Practices

A study of the professional business practices of interior design: contracts, ethics, responsibilities, liabilities, etc. Emphasis includes development of professional portfolio, resume, and multiple marketing tools to support career strategies.

INTD 4115 Mixed-use Desgin: Studio VII

Prerequisites: INTD 3215. Application of the design process based on social research to plan mixed-use environments for children, the elderly, physically challenged, or other special populations.

INTD 4205 INTD Internship

Prerequisites: INTD 3215 and permission of the instructor. Supervised, multifaceted experience in which creative and technical skills are applied within a project-based environment. Minimum of 240 contact hours.

INTD 4215 Senior Design Studio: Studio VIII

Prerequisites: INTD 4115 or by instructor’s approval. Specialized and in-depth senior studio concluding in a comprehensive, culminating project that applies knowledge and skills needed for entry into the interior design profession.

INTD 4225 Sustainable Design Seminar

Prerequisites: INTD 34115. Explores the philosophical and practical principles of sustainable design through the exploration of current environmental issues, creative methods, and professional practices.

19 hours in Allied Design courses

ENTC 2410 Construction Fundamentals

Introduction to construction materials and systems. Emphasis on interpreting building prints and the analysis of materials of construction. Lecture and lab.

ARTH 2010 Art History Survey I

A survey of architecture, painting, sculpture, and the minor arts in the Western world from prehistoric times to the end of the Middle Ages

MKTG 3215 Consumer Textiles

An analysis of textile products from fiber to finished fabric and an examination of new developments in legislation, textile and apparel economics, and current issues in the textile industry.

ARTH 2020 Art History Survey II

A survey of architecture, sculpture, and painting in the Western world from the Italian Renaissance to the present.

ENTC 4060 Project Scheduling

Prerequisites: Junior/ Senior standing or instructor approval. A detailed study in planning, organizing, and controlling projects. Computer software is used to schedule projects Emphasis is placed on time, resources, and capital considerations for the project. Lecture, team exercises, extensive laboratory, and presentations.

41 hours of General Education

ENGL 1010 Critical Reading and Expository Writing

Writing paragraphs and essays based on close readings of various texts, with an emphasis on clear, grammatically correct expository prose. Students must take this course during the first eligible semester at the university. Students must earn a grade of “C” or above to pass this course. These courses do no assign grades C-, D+, or D.

ENGL 1020 Critical Thinking and Argumentation

Prerequisites: ENGL 1010 or equivalent. Writing essays based on critical analyses of various literary texts. Emphasis on sound argumentative techniques. Requires documented research paper. Students must earn a grade of “C” or above to pass this course. These courses do no assign grades C-, D+, or D.

SPCH 2300 Public Speaking

The study and practice of preparing, delivering, and analyzing public speeches.

SPCH 2320 Argumentation and Debate

An introduction to oral argumentation and debate, including case construction techniques, case analysis and criticism, and research methods.

MATH 1530 Probability and Statistics – Noncalculus

Prerequisites: Two years of high school algebra. Descriptive statistics and its relevance, including probability, experimentation, measurement, sampling and surveys, informal statistical inference, and hypothesis testing are included.

Natural Sciences (8 Credits)

HIST 2010 The United States to 1877

A survey of the settlement and development of the colonies, the revolutionary period, the making of the Constitution, the diplomatic, economic, and political problems of the new government, the nature of economic sectionalism, Jacksonian democracy, territorial expansion, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

HIST 2020 The United States since 1877

Growth of the United States as an industrial and world power since Reconstruction.

Literature (3 Credits)

Humanities (3 Credits)

SRVL 1020 Introduction to Service-Learning in the Community

Caring capacity of the individual. Emphasis is placed on oral and writing intensives and on familiarizing the student with potential career choices. Requires a 30- hour individual service placement and a group project. (fall, spring, summer)

Social/Behavioral Sciences (3 Credits)

The program curriculum, structured to meet accreditation standards, then provides a broad-based design education where sustainability practices, creativity development, and varied learning environments are infused across the entire 4-year experience.  Regional travel study tours, international travel opportunities, and service learning experiences expose students to a wide range of career building and professional mentoring opportunities.

A typical four year class schedule.

Studio Rome


One of the most exciting upcoming events had its initial informational meeting the first week of school hearing about an amazing international study opportunity.  Studio Rome is where participants spend 10 weeks of the summer in the heart of the Rome, studying design and architecture, earning a whole semester’s worth of credits (13 credits).  Keep coming back to the website for further updates.


Rome Brochure


Future Students

Graduation Pathways

We are excited that you are considering studying Interior Design at ETSU.  To help you plan a smooth transition to ETSU directly from; a high school, a community college, transferring from other 4-yr institutions, or a returning student, we want you to be aware of a few important issues and suggest several graduation paths so that you can make the decision that best fits your situation.  You can familiar yourself with the current curriculum at this website.

 What is the fastest way to earn an interior design degree?


This is the quickest and simplest path to graduation.  You start on your interior classes your first semester and can graduate in 4 years.  Our small class sizes allows for extended interactions with interior design faculty where you build professional design skills from day one.  Being a full-time ETSU student means you graduate with the fewest hours, do not have transfer headaches, or missing graduation requirements.  You get to experience all the diverse benefits the university has to offer as you work towards an ETSU Bachelors of Science Degree in Interior Design.  The ETSU Interior Design program at Johnson City is NASAD accredited and working towards CIDA accreditation (Fall 2015 application).  If you are considering any of these pathways careful planning with ETSU interior faculty and advisors can ease your transition into ETSU.  See contact info below for more answers to your questions.

 How can the Tennessee Promise be leveraged to earn an interior design degree?

 Option 1

Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC):

PSCC is the only community college in the state of Tennessee where you can earn an associate’s degree in interior design.  During the first two years the program at PSCC concentrates on residential design and the skills needed to enter the workforce in that capacity. 

 After you first earn your AA degree at Pellissippi State you have of two pathways to continue your education and earn an ETSU Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design.  

  1. 1.     ETSU – Johnson City Campus:
    You can directly transfer to the ETSU campus in Johnson City to complete your last two years of study.  This option allows you to graduate from an NASAD accredited program, and more importantly a program seeking CIDA accreditation (Fall 2015 application)
  2. 2.     Stay at PSCC:
    You can continue at Pellissippi State to complete your last two years of study.  During the last two years you will take ETSU courses taught by faculty at the Pellissippi State.  In this option you are attending a program not seeking any type of accreditation.

Option 2

All other community colleges:

If you plan to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise to complete all your general education requirements and then transfer to ETSU for an interior design degree you need to be aware of the following so that you can plan accordingly:

  1. If you plan to complete all of your general study requirements at the community college level you will need to decide on a minor course of study (i.e. entrepreneurial studies, business, fine arts, etc.) after transferring to ETSU.  You must maintain a full course load each semester (12 credit hours) so that your repayments on any student loans will not start while you are in school.  This simply means you will graduate with more than the required 120 hours and it will take you 6 years to complete the ETSU Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design.  We suggest that you start at ETSU or transfer to ETSU after your first year of community college to lessen the chance of this happening. 
  2. Due to accreditation requirements it will take you 4+ years from your start date at ETSU to complete your interior design degree.  To fully cover those requirements it requires four complete years of study at ETSU no matter how many credits you transfer have completed at a community college.  ETSU teaches each interior design course only one time a year and you must take all the courses in order, therefore the semester you decide to transfer to ETSU can make a big difference in how fast you get to start on your interior design classes.

To help in your transition to ETSU we suggest you take the following courses bedsides general study courses if they are available at your selected institution; drafting/CAD, color theory, art history, Photoshop/Illustrator, construction fundamentals, or other construction related courses.  Taking these courses will not shorten your time at ETSU.  This knowledge will only give you an advantage going forward.

Careful planning with ETSU interior faculty and advisors can ease your transition into ETSU.  See contact info below for more answers to your questions.

If I am already enrolled in a 4 -year institution what are my options?

Interior design majors from other 4-yr. institutions:

 ETSU and the interior design faculty will evaluate your transcripts and a required portfolio to determine the best place to start in the curriculum.  Please note that we only teach each interior design course once a year.  This fact might impact the best timing for your transition into the program (spring or fall).  If you are all considering transferring to ETSU please start your process early so you know exactly your path for graduation.  Careful planning with ETSU interior faculty and advisors can ease your transition into ETSU.  See contact info below for more answers to your questions.

If you have not majored in interior design at your present institution:

Due to accreditation requirements it will take you an additional 4 years from your start date at ETSU to complete your interior design degree.  To fully cover those requirements it requires four complete years of study. 

If you complete all of your general study requirements at the community college level you will need to decide on a minor course of study (i.e. entrepreneurial studies, business, fine arts, etc.) while at ETSU.  You must maintain a full course load each semester so that your repayments on any student loans will not start while you are in school.  This simply means you will graduate with more than the required 120 hours and it will take you six years to complete the ETSU Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design.  Careful planning with ETSU interior faculty and advisors can ease your transition into ETSU.  See contact info below for more answers to your questions.

 Who can I talk with to find you more information about the program, visit the ETSU campus, or transferring into the ETSU Interior Design Program?

Careful planning with ETSU interior faculty and advisor can ease your transition into ETSU.  They will help in answering your questions about the program and help you decide on your best pathway to graduation.

Dean Isham, Interior Design Program Coordinator

Kristi Julian, Interior Design Faculty

Deborah Stephens, Advisor

Program website:  http://applieddesign.etsu.edu/interior-design

Graduation Pathways

Student Achievement Data

Retention/Attrition Rates: 96% of all interior design majors enrolled during the spring 2015 semester returned for the fall 2015 semester, putting attrition at 4%.

Graduation Rates: Since 2013 there is a 92% graduation rate once students reach the interior design upper division courses.

Acceptance to Graduate Programs: Before Fall 2015, no student has applied to graduate school.

 Job Rates Placement:

Class of 2012:
4 graduates – 0 applications to graduate school
75% (3 / 4 graduates found work in a design related field)

Class of 2013:
7 graduates – 0 applications to graduate school
57% (4 / 7 graduates found work in a design related field) *
71% (4 / 5 graduates found work in a design related field) **

Class of 2015:
4 graduates – 0 applications to graduate school
75% upon graduation
100%  @ 3 months past graduation (4 / 4 graduates found work in design related field)

*Percentage factoring in students who were not interested in pursuing a design career
**Percentage factoring in students who were interested in pursuing a design career


Post-graduation Employment since 2012:

Architecture Offices:                          2 graduates

Commercial: Office Systems:             1 graduate

Residential: Kitchen/Bath                   4 graduates

Residential: Generalist                        1 graduate

Construction: ID related                     2 graduates

Other: Design Related                        1 graduate

Cost Info

For in-state freshman, a typical semester would cost approximately $3,264.50 in tuition and Interior Design fees, while out-of-state students would pay approximately $10,383.50 in tuition and fees.  You can do your own estimate using ETSU’s Tuition Estimator.

College Scholarships and Financial Aid


  • For entering freshman, start with this checklist on the Admissions page: Checklist
  • For transfer students, start with this checklist on the Admissions page: Checklist