Interiors Graduate Program – University of Kentucky College of Design
SUBSTUDIO (Hannah Dewhirst and Ingrid A Schmidt)
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Interiors Graduate Program

Exploring the interdisciplinary territory of environmental design, students in the graduate program at the University of Kentucky School of Interiors address a vast array of issues impacting our region and the broader world. Students work closely with a diverse, internationally recognized faculty in design research and studios investigating the social, behavioral, and ecological parameters of design.

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Master of Arts in Interiors: Planning/Strategy/Design

The Master of Arts in Interiors prepares students for careers in environmental design, interior design, interior architecture, adaptive reuse, and exhibition design, as well as further study in Ph.D. programs focused on design of the built environment, design history and the humanities. Students hone visual communication, critical-thinking, research, and writing skills with special emphasis on the historical and theoretical discourse surrounding environmental design and interiority.

By combining making with design research and community advocacy, we provide a rich studio culture committed to environmental stewardship, speculation, and building. Guided by a humanistic approach, our faculty and students partner with community stakeholders and professional design organizations throughout the region to address real-world issues.

Based within a Research 1, land-grant university, the Interiors graduate program has access to state-of-the-art design fabrication facilities, world-class lectures, and many cross-disciplinary opportunities within the College of Design and the University.

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Graduate Course of Study

2-year degree plan

The two-year Master of Arts in Interiors degree represents a next-level option for applicants holding an undergraduate degree in spatially-oriented design disciplines including interior design, interior architecture, architecture, environmental design, exhibition design, and industrial design. Students combine coursework, independent study and research to develop a degree plan tailored to their individual interests. Each student works with a primary professor and an advising committee to approve appropriate coursework and develop a written or design project thesis.

3-year degree option

For applicants with undergraduate backgrounds unrelated to interior design or architecture while demonstrating a strong aptitude for graduate study in design, the School offers a Qualifying Program consisting of an additional 24 credits of required coursework.

Graduate Pathways

Community Engagement

The School of Interiors promotes the public interest through human-centered research, education and design practices focused on enhancing communities. Our partnerships have significantly contributed to the public discourse in design that catalyzes social justice and revitalization. We work with community stakeholders to enhance the built environment through reciprocal actions promoting sustainability, reuse, innovation and diversity.

Adaptive Reuse

Operating within the realm of existing conditions, designers foster connectivity among the environmental, economic, historical, and social dimensions of design in adaptive reuse projects. This strategy maximizes latent resources in current buildings, mobilizes materials reuse, and promotes sustainability. Students may choose to concurrently pursue a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation during their course of study.

Experiential and Exhibition Design

Experiential and exhibition designers engage information through the spatial application of visual storytelling. As a multidisciplinary process, designers holistically consider the interior, architecture, graphics, lighting, sound, acoustics, cinematography, and additional multimedia elements. Our students pursue interdisciplinary approaches to experiential and exhibition design through the spatialization of multilayered narratives and diverse topics.


Driven by emerging technologies and trends in well-being, healthcare designers emphasize patient-centered care and the integration of evidence-based approaches uniting the academy and the industry. Our faculty emphasize well-being by addressing the physical needs of people, as well as the cognitive and psychological aspects of environmental design. Students employ strategic decision-making in the healthcare design process.

Graduate Research

Interior-focused disciplines must advocate for spatial expertise, bridging territories and scales as their primary distinction. The faculty of the graduate Interiors program encourage students to pursue diverse research paths that respond to their professional practice and scholarship interests. As design often centers on understanding communities, our students collaborate with partners at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington and Central Kentucky, and throughout the Appalachian region.

Divergent and human-centered design processes lie at the core of design. Because the study of interiors includes connections to both intimate settings and increasingly complex conditions, the faculty encourage students to move beyond conventional approaches to imagine transformative opportunities for the built environment.

Students may pursue a broad range of specializations in design processes and scales from interior urbanism to topical studies in hospitality, healthcare, workplace, housing, exhibit, and experiential design; as well as preservation, sustainability, adaptive reuse, design history, theory, and community engagement. Students may choose to concurrently pursue various graduate certificate programs including preservation, universal design, and community leadership.

In either of two speculative platforms — a thesis or a design project — students examine design issues through theory, design-build activities, community-based work, and the Studio Appalachia research group. Students explore diverse spatial applications to engage a complex field of relations, actions, and collective design practices.

Graduate Faculty

Aanya ChughHannah DewhirstLindsey FayPatrick Lee LucasJennifer MeakinsJoe Rey-BarreauRebekah RadtkeIngrid ShmidtHelen Turner

Planning Strategy Design graphic

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Interiors Graduate Application Guidelines

Tier One Research University

Individualized Learning Experiences

Multidisciplinary Design Resources