How accreditation impacts you as a student…

How do I benefit from attending an accredited program?
Enrolling in a CIDA-accredited interior design program means you can be confident that the program meets standards recognized by the profession and fulfills educational requirements necessary for your entry into the profession upon graduation. An accredited program has voluntarily placed itself before the scrutiny of the profession – investing time, energy, and money – to ensure that the education you receive will not only serve you during your time at school, but also position you for future professional growth.

Hear what real people have to say about the value of CIDA:

Do I have to graduate from a CIDA-accredited program to sit for the NCIDQ exam?
No, graduating from an accredited program is not required to sit for the NCIDQ exam, although it is a very efficient way to demonstrate that you have fulfilled the educational requirements to sit for the exam. Visit NCIDQ to learn more about the various routes that qualify candidates to sit for the NCIDQ exam.

Do I have to graduate from a CIDA-accredited program to become licensed or registered in my state or province?
While avenues for demonstrating equivalency are typically provided, graduation from a CIDA-accredited program is a straightforward way to demonstrate educational competency in most states and provinces that regulate interior design. Regulations vary in specificity and stringency. Taking time now to learn more about regulation of interior design will serve you well in choosing an interior design program that provides the greatest degree of security and flexibility for the future. Contact information for state and provincial regulatory bodies can be found at here.

Does CIDA accredit Master’s degree programs?
Yes, CIDA accredits some Master’s degree programs. CIDA uses a single set of Professional Standards for program evaluation, which primarily addresses the educational content required for entry-level interior design practice. Thus, CIDA only accredits Master’s degree programs that deliver a professional-level education. These Master’s degree programs include the content that would be required for entry into the profession and meet all other CIDA eligibility requirements to seek accreditation.

Many Master’s degree programs deliver an advanced level of education beyond that required for entry-level practice. These programs are not eligible for CIDA accreditation because CIDA does not have standards for advanced, post-professional level education. Individuals who wish to become interior design educators in a college or university often pursue post-professional degrees, which typically focus on documenting and/or expanding the knowledge base of the profession through scholarly activities.

Does CIDA accredit online programs?
CIDA will accredit programs delivered via distance methodology if the program meets CIDA standards and eligibility requirements. Many accredited programs include courses that are delivered or supported through online learning environments. A complete list of programs that deliver all courses in the accredited programs via both distance and campus-based methods are listed here. Both methodologies are included in the scope of these programs’ accreditation status.

Will CIDA tell me which are the best interior design programs to attend?
CIDA does not rank programs. CIDA’s review of a program focuses on a program’s success relative to meeting Professional Standards. Programs achieve high academic quality in diverse settings and using a range of educational experiences. You can be assured that all accredited programs meet the expectations for you to become an interior designer.

Will CIDA tell me if a particular program has applied for accreditation?
CIDA does not disclose which programs have applied for accreditation. Having submitted an application for accreditation does not guarantee that an interior design program will meet CIDA standards and become accredited.

More about accreditation….

What exactly is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process that promotes and recognizes quality in higher education. Accrediting agencies, such as CIDA, develop quality (accreditation) standards for higher education at the institution or program level in consultation with an appropriate range of community stakeholders. These accreditation standards are then used to administer a process of institutional or programmatic self-study and external peer evaluation to determine whether expectations have been met. A variety of accrediting agencies administer this process for a range of institutions and professional disciplines. CIDA accreditation is focused on interior design programs that provide entry-level professional education.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a highly respected entity that provides oversight for accrediting bodies through a recognition process. CIDA is a CHEA-recognized accrediting body. The CHEA-recognized scope of accreditation for CIDA is professional-level interior design programs that culminate in a bachelor’s or master’s degree located in the United States and internationally.

It is important for the public to be aware of degree and accreditation mills, which offer degrees and quality assurance that may not be valid or usable. It is extremely important for students be able to identify a degree or accreditation mill in order to avoid wasting valuable time and money in their pursuit of higher education. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provides useful information accreditation and degree mills to the public on their website at http://chea.org/degreemills/default.htm.

What is involved in the accreditation process?
The accreditation process begins with a comprehensive program self-study, followed by a series of evaluations and reviews by a CIDA visiting team, other CIDA peer evaluators, and finally the CIDA Accreditation Commission. The Accreditation Commission makes the final decision to award or deny accreditation. All evaluators are interior design practitioners and educators.

The accreditation process is explained in more detail at https://accredit-id.org/faculty-programs/accreditation-process/

What do CIDA Professional Standards address?
Broadly, CIDA Professional Standards measure whether an interior design program has achieved the expectations for entry-level professional education. Standards describe student learning expectations (skills and knowledge) as well as expectations for educational experiences the program offers students, such as work experience, community involvement, exposure to diverse cultures, etc. CIDA Standards clearly describe the critical core outcomes of interior design education, while also encouraging educational innovation and a range of approaches to design education.

How long does accreditation take?
CIDA’s administrative process from the time a site visit is scheduled to the final accreditation decision is about one year. The time frame for the program’s self-study process leading up to a site visit varies. First-time applicant programs must submit an application for accreditation demonstrating that eligibility requirements are met and the program has begun the self-study process. Generally, these programs request a site visit within two years after the application is accepted. Programs seeking reaccreditation at the end of their current term do not need to submit an application but are likely engaged in self study well in advance of a site visit.

Are programs accredited forever?
No. The term of accreditation is six years. Then the program must be re-evaluated to make certain it continues to meet CIDA standards.

When is the accredited program list updated?
The accredited program list is updated twice a year following Accreditation Commission meetings. The Commission typically meets in February/March and July/August. A summary of accreditation decisions also is published following each meeting, and can be found under announcements on the CIDA website.

Is the government involved in this process?
Accreditation is a non-governmental form of self-regulation, which is peer based and voluntary. The United States has historically engaged in accreditation as the primary form of quality assurance for higher education. Other countries, such as Canada, have engaged in voluntary accreditation alongside governmental regulation. Some other countries rely solely on governmental regulation of higher education. More information on this topic can be found at http://www.chea.org/.