Graduate Interior Design FAQs
FAQ’s: PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS
Have you received my application materials?
Pratt has an Office of Admissions that actually collects all the application material together. They verify attendance at other schools, determine equivalents for international degrees, and much more. When everything is complete and double-checked, the application is sent to the Interior Design Office for review by our faculty. We generally don’t know anything about the status of your application until the Office of Admissions sends it to us. This is the link to check on the status of your application:
How and when will I find out if I’ve been accepted?
We send letters to accepted students both by snail-mail and via email. If your application is successful, a package will arrive from the Office of Admissions with important info such as passwords to access the Pratt system. Those will be sent to whichever address you listed on your application. We generally send out the first letters in the beginning of April. Please keep in mind that it can take weeks to obtain transcripts, so that there is almost always a time-lag of at least that long between beginning the process and its receipt in the Interior Design Office.
Are the GRE’s required?
The GRE’s are not necessary; however, if you have a strong score, go ahead and submit them. It never hurts.
What are you looking for in an applicant?
We have a very diverse student body, and everyone brings with them a rich set of experiences and skill sets, shared through working together and through the discourse inspired by studio. We do not have a preconceived notion of the ideal student with a narrowly defined set of talents or skills.
I have an associates degree in interior design; can I apply to the graduate program?
An associate’s degree would not fulfill the requirements to apply to our two year program, but would be a good head start for our three year program. In addition, you must have a bachelor’s degree (or international equivalent) to apply to the master’s program.
What are the department’s requirements?
Requirements can be found here: www.pratt.edu/admissions/applying/applying_graduate/grad_application_requirement/grad_departmental_requirements/
I am coming from a non-design background, should I submit a portfolio of my independent design or art work?
You are always welcome to submit a portfolio with your application if you like; it is not, however, required for an application to the three year program. It almost never hurts an application.
I am coming from a non-design background; what should I include in a portfolio?
We are looking for you to show us your strengths, whatever those might be: a portfolio should highlight a student’s best work. It absolutely does not have to be interior design, if you are coming from a non-design background. If it could be made clear what the your some of your particular interests are, so much the better.
- DO label work clearly
- DO check for legibility of images reduced for posting on slideRoom (the site we use for online portfolios)
- DO attribute your contributions to group work
- DO distinguish between professional and school work.
APPLICATION: TOEFL/ IELTS SCORES
What is the required score for Graduate Interior Design?
Can I send a score in after the application deadline?
You may, but without the minimum score your application would be considered incomplete. The department MAY review your completed application once your new score has arrived, but only if we have room left in the upcoming class.
APPLICATION: VISITING THE CAMPUS AND/OR THE DEPARTMENT
Can I come see the Pratt campus?
It is possible to visit the campus on most days; however, many of the buildings are not open to the general public. More information: www.pratt.edu/admissions/visiting_pratt/visit_grad/
Attending a campus tour affords additional access to the visitor; tours run Mondays and Fridays at 10, 12, and 2 PM and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10 and 2 PM. www.pratt.edu/admissions/visiting_pratt/visitor_information/
Could I meet with a faculty member to get more information about the program?
The department generally cannot meet with prospective students as part of their application process. However, if you would like to make an appointment to see the Interior Design Department Facilities and examples of student work, please contact Aston Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org / 718-636-3630 / 800-331-0834, Ext. 3630). Aston is the Assistant to the Chair. If there is an office staff member available to conduct the tour at that time, we’d be happy to try to oblige you.
To meet with Interior Design Faculty as part of your application process, attending a Graduate Information Session is your best bet. www.pratt.edu/admissions/visiting_pratt/visit_grad/info_session_grad/
I have some professional experience in Interior Design. What are the benefits of going to graduate school for interior design?
It would take a great deal of time to talk about all the benefits of our program. Here's just a few thoughts:
As a professional-
your ability to thrive long-term in the design world will be greatly enhanced. Having this degree lets both potential employers and potential clients know that you have had a rigorous education in both the technical and creative aspects of the field.
As a designer-
Our studio sequence is the core of our program, where students and faculty explore both specific problem-solving strategies and the broad concerns of Interior Design. We are concerned with flows of people and things, interaction with context, ecologies of images in media and other modes of representation, and ever evolving in its relationship to emerging technologies. Studio is the place where you have the freedom and the support to develop your individual identity as a designer, to help you find and engage the issues and interests that will sustain you as a student and a practitioner.
You should talk to your colleagues at your place of work and other design firms and get their feedback too.
Is your program CIDA accredited?
The undergraduate program is accredited, the graduate program is not. The department is not currently seeking CIDA (Council of Interior Design Accreditation) accreditation for its graduate program. We may do so in the future, but we cannot speak to a specific deadline. Currently only a few states require an accredited graduate degree for licensure; when accreditation becomes more critical for the professional development of our graduates we shall pursue it.
Here are the New York State requirements: www.op.nysed.gov/interiorlic.htm
Having said that, our curriculum covers the material and content well beyond the minimums proscribed by CIDA standards. We have made changes to our graduate program in the last few years that has expanded and enriched its curriculum to encompass broader academic terrain, but our program remains oriented around the practice of design.
Note: CIDA accreditation should not be confused with standard academic accreditation. From Pratt’s website: Pratt Institute is a coeducational undergraduate and graduate institution chartered and empowered to confer academic degrees by the State of New York. The certificates and degrees conferred are registered by the New York State Department of Education.
Will I be eligible to take the NCIDQ exam with a graduate degree from your program?
The program well prepares our graduates for the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam, although the NCIDQ requires work experience as well as a degree in most cases. Please note that it is NCIDQ certification is the most commonly required for licensure. If you look at the requirements, you will see that an accredited interior design degree is not required. www.ncidq.org/exam/examreq.htm
I am interested in teaching; will this program prepare me for that career?
We emphasize placing one’s design work into a larger social, political and intellectual framework, an excellent underpinning for teaching. Further, as a graduate student, there are opportunities to teach short workshops (we call them “studio chats”) and participate in design reviews, also great experience. There are opportunities to take elective classes in design theory and history in the Interior Design Department, as well as in the departments of History of Art and Design, Architecture, Industrial Design, and beyond.
PROGRAM: TIME FRAME
Can I complete the program in fewer than the two (or three) years described on the website?
No. The curriculum is structured by the design studio sequence, all students are required to take studio, and they must be taken in order.
Will I need to learn to draw or use CADD before starting the program?
We require that incoming students take a basic hand-drafting class, to have the rudiments of 2-D and 3-D drafting under their belts before starting their first Design Studio.
Can I take that class at Pratt?
Pratt offers a summer class that is designed for our incoming graduate students, through our school of Continuing Education (“Drawing and Drafting” XID-109) The Pratt course also includes an introduction to some of the canonical works of design we’ll be referring to over and over.
Can I take that course in my home town?
Yes, so long as your class covers the following: introduction to various drawing media and equipment; freehand sketching, orthographic projection (plans, sections, elevations), line weights, line types, symbols, scale and dimensions, lettering, introduction to presentation and rendering techniques, an introduction to 3-D drawing (perspective and isometric projection).
I have design experience and have taken classes similar to the ones described as required. Will I have to repeat those classes?
Not necessarily. Once you have a successful application, you may petition to either waive or substitute classes. A waive means the required class and credits are eliminated. A substitution means while the requirement for a specific class is eliminated, those credits are still required; those credits become elective credits. Typically, qualifying year classes are waived; all other classes are substituted. With your elective credits, you will have opportunities to take classes in other Pratt departments: architecture, industrial design, film, fashion, history or electives we offer: furniture design, textiles, theory. This is one of the many advantages of attending Pratt.
We determine waives and substitutions with a portfolio review and/or an interview, depending on the course’s subject matter. A portfolio would be required for a studio course, a drawing or media course, etc. A transcript alone is not sufficient. Please keep in mind this process occurs only after your application is successful.
Besides the required class, what are some things I can do to prepare for graduate study, coming from a non-design background?
We recommend taking free-hand drawing courses (check out the offerings at the Art Student’s League, if you live in the NYC area). Immerse yourself in art and architectural history (especially 20 and 21c), through books and museums. Teaching yourself or taking a class in the Adobe software suite (especially Photoshop) is also helpful.
FAQ’s: INCOMING STUDENTS
I have been accepted to the program and plan to attend, what are the first steps?
A good place to start for initial questions: www.pratt.edu/admissions/applying/applying_graduate/accepted_students/
The Interior Design Department can answer your academic questions: about the program, specific classes, requirements, etc. We send out information about registration for fall classes in early May. You’ll be able to start the process immediately as soon as you receive it.
I’ve been accepted. When can I register for classes?
First steps: be able to access the Pratt online registration system:
All students who have paid a deposit should have received a letter in the mail with their Pratt email address and password. You cannot complete any part of the registration process without your email and password. All registration activities and important Pratt information will be sent to your Pratt email address ONLY during your graduate studies. If you need help determining your login name or password or have trouble accessing a particular system, check the help topics at faq.pratt.edu/onekey, or contact Pratt's Help Desk at email@example.com or 718.636.3765
The Interior Design Department will send out a registration package by the middle of May. You’ll be able to start the process immediately as soon as you receive it. For incoming students, we require an advisement session during Orientation Week. This consists of a short meeting with your academic advisor; at that time, we’ll review your registration (or complete it).
Is there a deadline to register for classes?
Because graduate students pay per credit (not per semester) if you register after the date that your semester tuition bill is due, your bill will have to be adjusted. Students with financial aid should check those requirements for a deadline. Similarly, international students should check with OIA (the Office of International Affairs—www.pratt.edu/student_life/office_of_international_affairs/); the conditions of one’s student visa might dictate
Beyond those conditions, you must register before you attend class. Signing up early is a good idea, as preferred sections (particular instances of a class) do fill up. Signing up as early as possible gives you access to more choices. You’ll be able to sign up or make changes to your academic plans until the first day of school with no penalty.
Can I take MORE than the recommended classes in a given semester?
We don’t recommend taking more than studio and (three) seminars, especially in your first semester.
When can I take electives?
You will have opportunities to select elective credits as part of your program, but a general rule is to take required classes first. This will avoid delays due to scheduling conflicts and ensure you have access to what you’ll need to know to thrive in studio.
I have been accepted to the three year program. My acceptance letter says that the Qualifying program consists of 20 credits, yet when I look at the recommended schedule it lists a total of 24 credits for the first year.
All students are required to take the History of Interior Design classes, so strictly speaking they are not strictly qualifying. A knowledge of art and design history is fundamental to a design education, so we suggest that you take these classes right away.
How much does it cost to attend Pratt?
Here’s a link to the Pratt website, with estimates for cost of attendance: www.pratt.edu/admissions/financing_your_education/financing_undergraduate/costs_and_budgeting/
For what sort of financial aid am I eligible?
The first place to check is the Office of Financial Aid: www.pratt.edu/admissions/financing_your_education/financing_undergraduate/financial_aid_options/
In our department, there is some scholarship funding for incoming students. These awards are offered in your acceptance letter. Beyond that, there are merit-based scholarships distributed at the end of every academic year. To be eligible, you must be in good academic standing. Some are distributed on the basis of GPA, some by excellence in the design studio; for the latter, one is generally nominated by one’s design faculty. We do offer graduate assistantships. You can apply for such a position in the beginning of your first semester.
The following organizations sponsor scholarships specifically for interior design students:
International Furnishings and Design Association IFDA
A non-profit with the mission “to foster educational and philanthropic activities to enhance the furnishings and design industries” www.ifdaef.org/scholarships.php
American Society of Interior Designers ASID
From their website: “ . . . the oldest, largest and leading professional organization for interior designers”
The ASID Foundation “supports endeavors that capture and disseminate knowledge, encourage innovation, and benefit the health, safety and welfare of the public through interior design research, scholarships and education.”
International Interior Design Association
New York Chapter: www.iidany.org/scholarship10.html
The IIDA Foundation “a not-for-profit (501c3), philanthropic organization whose primary mission is to advance Interior Design through education, research, and knowledge to benefit IIDA and the Interior Design profession.”
(All quoted text from organizations’ websites)
Can I work and attend school at the same time?
It is possible, but not recommended for the first semester, especially for three-year students.
I have a full time 9–5 job.
This program is full-time only, we do not offer a part-time program. Most of our classes run during the day, so it’s pretty tough to maintain a full-time job while pursuing a graduate degree here.
Does Pratt help place graduates?
Pratt does help place graduates, as well as help you establish ties to the design world through your contact with instructors (most of them are practitioners as well), lecturers, and jurors.
I am coming from a non-design background. Can I take classes ahead of time?
You COULD take a few classes ahead of time, but our Qualifying Year curriculum is designed so that the seminars and studio courses work together. Taking the Qualifying Year classes in order is what we would recommend. After that year, many of our students opt to take classes in the summer, especially to take advantage of our special programs (study in Denmark, Barcelona, or Chicago are some of the options).
Is there a required reading list?
This is highly recommended reading, it’s not required. Design has a language of its own, some familiarity with its terms is an enormous advantage. One way to think about it: this writing introduces some of the questions for which you will seek answers as designers, both in school and beyond. It’s not our expectation that that you would finish all the reading before the beginning of class (indeed, there’s a lot here), but it’s a good introduction to this department’s design philosophy.
Design theory and thinking
Preston, Julieanna, and Mark Taylor, editors. Intimus: Interior Design Theory Reader, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2006.
Essays of Particular Interest from Intimus
- Michel de Certeau, Spatial Stories
- Mark Kingwell, Tables, Chairs, And Other Machines For Thinking
- Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise Of Shadows
- Shirley Ardener, The Partition Of Space
- Jean Baudrillard, Structures Of Atmosphere
- Berger, John, Ways of Seeing, London: Penguin Books, 1972.
- Zumthor, Peter. Thinking Architecture. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhauser, 2006.
- Eiler Rasmussen, Experiencing Architecture Steen
- Design & social history
- Sparke, Penny, The Modern Interior. London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2008.
If you have never read design theory before, a suggestion: the language can be poetic, a bit ambiguous. Try a light reading first, almost simply skimming the text, then go back in deeper. All these books are available through the big online retailers, and most art and design bookstores.
Can I borrow these books from the Pratt Library?
You have to first register for fall classes, then get an ID in order to take materials out of the Library. To get your ID you’ll need a print-out of your schedule (available through the same pages on my.pratt.edu that you use to register) and your ID number. The office that issues ID’s is in the ARC building, room a109. Their summer hours are a bit erratic.