Interior design department to start new 3-year certificate program

Alexandra Radovic , Editor-in-chief

AACC’s interior design major this fall will become the college’s first program to offer three years of classes instead of two. 

Although interior design students cannot earn a four-year degree at AACC, they can take junior-level credits before transferring to a four-year school. 

The new 3+1 program will allow them to complete freshman-, sophomore- and junior-level interior design courses that will transfer to four-year schools. This way, they will need to finish one year’s worth of credits at a university to complete a bachelor’s degree in interior design instead of the two they would have needed if they took a traditional, two-year program here.  

Morgan State University in Baltimore this fall became the only four-year school in Maryland to offer a bachelor’s degree in interior design after AACC and Montgomery College proposed their own four-year applied bachelor’s degrees in that field last spring. 

Students who finish all three years of classes will earn an associate degree plus a new, post-associate certificate, according to Dr. Lance Bowen, dean of science and technology. 

“You don’t have a really good shot of getting a job with just an associate degree,” Bowen said. 

The state approved AACC’s 3+1 program in May, and it will activate once Michael Ryan, chair of the Department of Architecture and Interior Design, completes a contract—called an articulation agreement—that will ensure the AACC credits will transfer from AACC to Morgan State. 

Although Dr. Mike Gavin, AACC’s vice president for learning, called junior-level classes at AACC a “huge step in the right direction,” he said four-year schools have expressed “significant resistance” to the idea of full bachelor’s degrees at community colleges. 

“A lot of the decision the state has to make is if there would be competition,” architecture professor Rob Lowe said. “Would we be competing [with four-year schools] or serving a different community?” 

Bowen said the intent of the degree is “not to compete with other universities … but really to help complement the workforce needs.” 

“Certainly the four-year universities were nervous,” Bowen said about AACC’s proposal for a bachelor’s degree. 

“It kind of made the state and the universities [say], ‘Look, you know, [AACC] can serve a very important niche market here and meet workforce demands.” 

According to Gavin, the state has said AACC is first in line for approval of an applied bachelor’s degree in interior design if it decides in December to allow community colleges to offer them.  

Some students who already graduated and are returning to AACC this fall for continuing education said they support the idea of community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees. 

“If we had a bachelor’s in interior design, it could get the ball rolling for bachelor’s degrees in other fields,” Jennifer Fisher, who graduated in 2015 and is now a third-year medical coding student, said. 

“Tuition is a big factor as to why people choose AACC, said AACC graduate Alex Esfan, who took classes here over the summer. [If he could get a bachelor’s degree here,] “Why would I go to a four-year school and spend more money?”