NCIDQ Certification is the industry's recognized indicator of proficiency in interior design principles and a designer's commitment to the profession.

To become a certified interior designer in the United States, you’ll need to take the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam. The NCIDQ is administered by the CIDQ, which stands for Council of Interior Design Qualification, and is currently the only nationally recognized competency exam for interior design. Obtaining your NCIDQ Certification recognizes your proficiency in interior design principles and your commitment to the profession.

The NCIDQ ensures the safety and well-being of the public by requiring that design professionals are held to the highest standards in the industry. The content of the exam represents the foundational knowledge you need to be able to branch out into a specialty design area afterwards. The NCIDQ exam consists of three sections: the Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), the Professional Exam (IDPX), and the Practicum Exam (PRAC). Each section focuses on public health, safety, and welfare.

The NCIDQ exam is administered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ)—the certifying organization for interior design professionals. 

The NCIDQ exam is divided into three sections: the Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), the Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX), and the Interior Design Practicum Exam (PRAC), which are all administered by computer and machine graded. All three exams are available to take throughout the entire months of April and October.

For more detailed information on the three NCIDQ exam sections, please visit the CIDQ website.

The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX) covers eight distinct areas that capture the core competencies of interior design: 

  • Programming and Site Analysis
  • Relationship between Human Behavior and the Designed Environment
  • Design Communication Techniques
  • Life Safety and Universal Design
  • Interior Building Materials and Finishes
  • Technical Specifications for Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment and Lighting
  • Construction Drawings, Schedules, and Specifications
  • Professional Development and Ethics

The Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) covers seven distinct areas that capture the core competencies of interior design: 

  • Project Assessment and Sustainability
  • Project Process, Roles, and Coordination
  • Professional Business Practices
  • Code Requirements, Laws, Standards, and Regulations
  • Integration with Building Systems and Construction
  • Integration of Furniture, Fixtures, & Equipment
  • Contract Administration

The Interior Design Practicum Exam (PRAC) covers four distinct areas that capture the core competencies of interior design: 

  • Programming, Planning, and Analysis
  • Code Requirements, Laws, Standards, and Regulations
  • Integration with Building Systems and Construction
  • Contract Documents

For more detailed information on topics for this divisional exam, please visit the CIDQ website.

The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX), and the Practicum (PRAC) are scored by computer. Scores are reported on a scale ranging from 200 (0 correct) to 800 (all correct), with the passing point anchored at 500. Results for each exam are processed within 6-8 weeks of the close of the window. Candidate who sat for the exam will receive an email notification once the score has been processed and is available to view in MyNCIDQ. CIDQ takes this time to guarantee that all scores are fair and accurate.

In collaboration with interior designer practitioners, educators, and testing professionals, CIDQ has set a passing point (or cut score) for each NCIDQ exam. Meeting the passing standard for all three exam sections and achieving NCIDQ certification demonstrates that a candidate is competent to practice in a way that protects the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The passing point does not change based on your location, the number of candidates taking the exam, or the performance of other candidates taking the exam.

Please look at this infographic by CIDQ for further information.

The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) administers the NCIDQ exam. CIDQ, which is comprised of regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada, takes seriously its responsibility to protect the public. Accordingly, CIDQ specific education and work experience requirements exist to be eligible to sit for the NCIDQ Examination.

You must have official education transcripts that include a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours of post-secondary interior design coursework that encompasses a certificate, degree, or diploma from an accredited institution to be eligible. Plus you must have experience, which is up to 1,760 hours of interior design work experience, earned prior to graduation.

Regardless, CIDQ also warns that meeting CIDQ's education and work experience requirements does not guarantee that a candidate will meet their jurisdiction's requirements to be a licensed/registered/certified interior designer. Individuals are reminded to check with their jurisdiction regarding those specific requirements.

PPI, a Kaplan Company, has decades of experience helping thousands of designers prepare for and pass their NCIDQ exam. We suggest you start by reading through our resource pages and explore our study options.

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