Interior Design Curriculum

Suggested Course Map

Download the Course Guide for a suggested sequence of courses. The course chart and the degree requirements listed below apply to students matriculating in fall 2018 and spring 2019.

See Advising Tools for prior academic year sequence charts.

Core Studio

Drawing 1
3 units
2D, 3D & 4D
9 units

Interior Design Major Studio Requirements

Interior Design Studio 1–4
12 units
Design Media 1–3
9 units
Materiality and Space 1–4
12 units
BT: Building Systems
3 units
BT: Lighting Design
3 units
Adv. Interdisciplinary Studio
3 units
Interior Design Advanced Studio
3 units
Professional Practice
3 units
zero units

Additional Studio Requirements

Interdisciplinary Studio
3 units
Diversity Studies Studio
3 units
Studio Electives
6 units

72 total units

Humanities & Sciences Requirements

Writing 1
3 units
Writing 2
3 units
Introduction to the Arts: Antiquity to Early Modern
3 units
Introduction to the Modern Arts
3 units
Foundation in Critical Studies
3 units
History of Interior Design 1
3 units
History/Theory of Interior Design 2
3 units
Literary & Performing Arts Studies (200 level)
3 units
Philosophy & Critical Theory (200 level)
3 units
Social Science/History (200 level)
3 units
Science/Math (200 level)
3 units
Visual Studies (200 level)
3 units
History/Theory Elective
3 units
Humanities & Science (300 level)
6 units
Diversity Studies Seminar
3 units

48 total units


This page offers quick answers to broader questions about doing internships. Review the internship guidelines page for specific answers to questions related to registering and completing an internship.

Why do an internship? 

  • Expand students' educational experience into the professional world of design
  • Increases their chances of securing a professional position in their chosen field
  • Contributes to a broad understanding of the values, skills, and commitments that are necessary for achieving success within the discipline of design

Through internships, students are exposed to the daily processes involved in a design-related industry.

Among them:

  • Design presentations
  • Product research, selection, specification, and coordination
  • Marketing proposals
  • Client relations / meetings
  • Collaborations with architects, designers, and other consultants
  • Project management
  • Construction drawings
  • Site visits

Interior Design students must log a minimum of 225 hours at an approved internship site. The internship counts for zero credits and is generally completed during the summer between junior and senior year. 

CCA supports Federal and California Labor Department requirements that all student interns be fairly compensated for their work.

International students must consult with CCA International Student Affairs & Programs (ISAP) regarding Curricular Practical Training (CPT) before starting an internship. (CPT is a type of work authorization that allows international students to gain practical experience in their field of study as “an integral part of the established curriculum.”)

Note: F-1 status and two semesters of academic experience are required.


The purpose of the Interior Design internship program is to provide junior and senior students with a grounded, real world experience in a professional design enf

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact the Internship Coordinator to set up a one-on-one in person consultation about your internship.

Why do an internship?
  • Expand students educational experience into the professional world of design.
  • Increases their  chances of securing a professional posItion in their chosen field.
  • Contributes to a broad understanding of the values, skills, and commitments that are necessary for achieving success within THE discipline of design.
How will an internship benefit me?

An internship expands your educational experience into the professional world of design, increases your chances of securing a professional position in your chosen field. It also contributes to a broad understanding of the values, skills, and commitment that CCA students bring to the discipline of design.

Through internships, students are exposed to the daily processes involved in a design-related industry. Among them: 

  • Design presentations
  • Product research, selection, specification, and coordination
  • Marketing proposals
  • Client relations/meetings
  • Collaborations with architects, designers, and other consultants
  • Project management
  • Construction drawings
  • Site visits
When should I do an internship?

Students should try to gain professional work experience early and often, beyond the requirement. The more students understand the role of the designer in the work environment, the more they can leverage their learning at CCA. This may mean doing internships beyond the one required for graduation.

What are the requirements?

After securing an intern position at an approved internship site, students must log a minimum of 225 hours at the site. The internship counts for zero credits and is generally completed during the summer between junior and senior year.

While compensation should be negotiated with the employer, we suggest that students be paid a minimum wage per local/state regulations. CCA supports Federal and California Labor Department requirements that all student interns be fairly compensated for their work.

If the student decides to take the licensure examination such as National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) in future, hours accumulated from an internship program could qualify for required hours as part of the Interior Design Experience Program (IDEP).

How do I get my internship site approved?

Students perform their own internship search using a variety of resources: industry websites and job boards, program suggestions, Career Development: CCA Works Job Board, Weekly Picks, and Career Expo, networking, and personal contacts.

Prior to starting work, students must obtain site approval from the program’s Internship Coordinator; early verification of the internship site is critical to obtaining credit for the internship, especially if the site is located outside of the United States.

To receive credit for internships located outside of the United States, obtaining site approval from the Internship Coordinator is required. International students must contact CCA ISAP for instructions and requirements related to employment in the United States and abroad.

For a site to be approved, it must provide interior design or design-related services.

Any site, payment arrangement, or type of experience that falls outside of the requirements listed above must be approved by an Internship Coordinator prior to the start of any work.

How do I start the internship process?

To initiate the internship process, students must start: first by meeting with their Academic Advisor, followed by their Internship Coordinator, early in the spring or fall semester, prior to starting their search.

How do I register for the internship requirement?

During Priority Registration, prior to starting the internship, students will register in WebAdvisor for the Interior Design Internship Placeholder (INTER-398-01)

During the Add/Drop period, students who have registered for the Internship Placeholder and who have a Learning Contract on file, will be registered by Student Records in the internship course (INTER 398-01), check your schedule during Add/Drop for these changes.

Registration in the Internship course INTER 398-02, is not available for online registration in WebAdvisor. Questions about this should be directed to the Internship Coordinator.

Students who have registered for the Internship Placeholder but do not have a Learning Agreement on file, will be dropped from the Placeholder and will not be registered for the internship requirement. Students, who wish to receive credit for an internship they have just completed but have not gone through the process correctly, must contact the Internship Coordinator as soon as possible. 

Important: A $200 late fee may be charged for adding the internship course after the Add/Drop deadline.

Required documentation pre-internship

After an internship offer is made, students work with their site supervisor to complete the Learning Agreement; negotiating the terms, learning objectives, and expectations of the internship.

To receive internship credit, the Learning Agreement must be submitted to the Internship Coordinator for site approval, before starting the internship.

International students, you must fill out the learning agreement and schedule a meeting with CCA's ISAP Office, before work authorization can be granted.

Requirements during and post-internship

Midpoint Check-In

A quick check-in by email or phone will be conducted by a CCA representative with both the student and the internship supervisor, to ensure the internship is going as expected.


Students will track their internship hours on the Internship Hours Log that they will turn into the Internship Coordinator after the internship is completed.

After the student submits the Internship Hours Log to the Internship Coordinator, the program will send the supervisor and student a digital evaluation form; submission of all these forms is required for successful completion of the internship course.

An email confirmation will be sent to the student’s CCA email address confirming the evaluation has been sent and also when the completed evaluation is received by CCA.

If the Employer Evaluation is not received, the student is responsible for following up with the employer to ensure its completion before the deadline.

Contact the Internship Coordinator with questions about the process.

Project section or additional requirements
  • Résumé
  • Cover Letter 
  • Sample of work: No more than three well-organized sheets, showcasing your drawing, modeling and rendering skills.

Contact the Internship Coordinator to set up a one-on-one in person consultation about your internship.

Tips for Success

First things first. Prepare your presentation: résumé, cover letter, and projects.

Work with Career Development to prepare for your internship. They can help with your résumé, portfolio, job search, and more! Don’t forget to search internship and job opportunities on CCA WorksWeekly Picks, and attend Career Expo to connect with employers.

Things to think about:
  • Networking! Get noticed (you might get only 15 seconds to make an impression).
  • Perfect is the enemy of the good!
  • A fully finished portfolio is not necessary to get an internship.
  • Show process work as well as final presentations.
  • Projects should be one- or two-page summaries for each.
  • Be clear, concise, and well-designed graphically.
How to contact the firms?

Research firms you believe to have a connection to your work. Firm websites are an excellent source of information about a firm’s mission, goals, project types, professional bios (alumni networks!), work on the boards, and positions available.

  • Contact the company first by phone and verify to whom your application materials should be personalized.
  • Send a PDF of a formal cover letter, résumé, and a few pages (no more than five) of images of your sample work. This can be sent via web link or email.
  • If you send work by email, be sure that your file is a PDF of maximum 5MB and references your name. (i.e., Susan Smith_Architectural Intern.PDF).
  • The body of your email should be consistent with your cover letter.
  • Your cover letter and sample work should distinguish you from your peers (there are many students from other institutions throughout the world looking for internships here in the Bay Area). Adhere to conventional, elegant graphic layout, but allow your words and images tell your story.
  • Follow firm guidelines for the submission of your application materials. Many firms have FTP sites that facilitate the application process. Be sure to learn if this system applies to the application process before you follow up with the firm.
Strategy: How to request a face-to-face meeting?

Don't ask for an internship! Instead, ask for a meeting to review your work. If you say you are looking for an internship, it puts the person on the other end of your communication in a tough situation.

Currently the company may not be looking for an intern. Or they may be looking for one, but the intern supervisor may not have time to meet with you. Or they may need someone but haven't officially set the internship hiring process in motion.

Often the person you talk to will say, "We are not looking for an intern right now," or something like that. You need to get your foot in the door, literally.

One strategy is to ask the person you are contacting if they can meet with you to review your portfolio or work you have done to date in college.

You want feedback from a professional. That's it. This sets up a good first meeting feeling and agenda. All the person is committing to is a meeting to discuss and give feedback on your work.

If you cannot get a meeting, do not push too hard. This may create a bad impression for future opportunities.

How to prepare for the meeting

You get the appointment! Do your homework. Learn as much about the company as you can:

  • Visit websites (company websites, local chapter AIA job boards, ArchinectSF BAYA Facebook page, and so on).
  • Read national and international press. Find information on local firms that have been published.
  • Talk to your professors, peers, and alumni to see what they know.
  • Talk to upperclassmen who have already done internships.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Practice your presentation at least three times with someone. Get comfortable with your material. Do not go in cold; it may be your only shot. Career Development can help you practice by doing mock interviews.
  • Plan ahead. Confirm the appointment a day in advance (call or email) and ask with whom you will be meeting (i.e., project manager, design principal, project architect, HR)
  • Dress casually, but presentably: clean, ironed shirt, pants, skirt, and so forth. Suits are not necessary. Ask your instructors if you have questions.
  • Be on time, or even a few minutes early. Do not be late. Give yourself time to stop sweating from the walk or bike ride you took to get there.
  • Be courteous, professional, and articulate in all of your interactions with any staff.
How to approach the meeting?

Show the person your work and engage them in discussion. If you have prepared in advance, you will have questions about the company.

  • Before beginning the conversation, clarify how much time you have for your conversation.
  • Be pleasant and as articulate as possible. Be clear when you explain your work.
  • Be accepting of criticism. Take notes!
  • Ask for a tour of the office.
  • During the conversation, if it seems appropriate, ask if they hire interns. In some cases, the person you are meeting will volunteer this information before you ask. If the situation is awkward, don't bring it up.
  • When you leave, say thank you.
How to follow-up after the meeting

Send a thank-you note via postal mail and let them know you will keep in touch.

Check in every month or so and ask about a follow-up meeting for an internship. Now, since they know you, the second meeting will be easy!

You get an ambiguous or no response. They keep saying, "Call me next week," "We are busy, but aren't ready to hire," "We are waiting for this job to come through," and the like. What this means . . .

They aren't ready to hire, so keep your options open and go on other interviews and meetings. Don't wait around for this one opportunity. Have as many irons in the fire as you can.

No one returns your phone calls or emails. This means they are busy, and the internship isn't the first thing on their to do list. Keep trying until you get in contact with someone, even if it means you have to call and/or email weekly.

If you begin to feel too uncomfortable, stop. You want to be persistent without harassing anyone.

You are rejected. No one likes it, but get used to this. It's impossible to please everyone, and people are entitled to their opinions. Part of the job of finding an internship is finding a place where you want to work. If one potential employer doesn't feel the fit, that is OK. Just accept it, thank them, and move on to your next choice. You will likely have many meetings and interviews before you get the one you want.

Keep in touch with them either way. You never know where it might lead.

You get the internship. Congratulations! Contact the Internship Coordinator and give them the Learning Contract in advance so they have time to research and give site approval before the internship begins.

International students will also give the CPT form to sign before turning into ISAP for authorization to work.

Engage Studio Partners

The ENGAGE at CCA initiative, coordinated by the Center for Art and Public Life, connects CCA coursework with local and extended communities and experts for project-based learning experiences and community outreach.

Activated across academic programs, ENGAGE at CCA serves as a hub to connect interested faculty and students to community partners and relevant outside experts.

Past ENGAGE Partners

Alemany Farm


Instructor: Rebecca Katkin

Collaborating with Alemany Farm, students in T.U.R.F. Studio will continue design exploration of an outdoor kitchen (see Spring 2012) as well as construct a front porch gathering space for the farm integrated into existing structures, and create a community cookbook that serves as educational outreach tool around seasonal foods.

View images and learn more about this project »

Alameda County Community Food Bank


Instructor: Amy Campos

Working with the Alameda County Community Food Bank CCA students address design issues raised by the operations and interaction of several different partners including Interior Design students at CCA, ACCFB staff, volunteers, and their partner agencies as well as the public they support.

The students developed design strategies for the renovation of food storage, collection and distribution of food, office and event storage, staff and volunteer kitchens, nutritional education facilities, and shopping facilities at the site of the ACCFB as well as identifying environmental graphic branding and way-finding opportunities throughout the facility.

Explore the BFA Interior Design Viewbook >>

bfa interior design viewbook

General Inquiries

Jared Elizares
Program Manager
Bachelor of Architecture
BFA in Interior Design

Postal Address
Interior Design Program
California College of the Arts
1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco CA 94107-2247

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