Formal education is becoming increasingly significant in the interior design industry as more states mandate licensure for interior designers. This often entails a combination of classroom instruction, practical experience, and passing a standardized exam.
The Council for Interior Design Accreditation, or CIDA, has recognized some institutions on this list as meeting the highest requirements for interior design education.
This may help guarantee that students learn what the industry views as the fundamentals.
For those considering a major in interior design, it’s essential to think about which college best meets their academic and creative needs.
Many programs focus on art history, color theory, and design principles, while others take a more technical approach and emphasize computer-aided drafting (CAD) software, space planning concepts, or sustainability.
This article has compiled 20 colleges with interior design majors in 2023.
Table of contents
- Why Should Designers Attend Interior Design School?
- What are the Requirements?
- How Much Does Interior Design School Cost?
- What to Know Before Applying to Interior Design Schools
- What are the Best Colleges with Interior Design Majors?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should Designers Attend Interior Design School?
The education in aesthetics, technology, and business required to become a well-rounded interior designer is ensured by earning an interior design degree.
Formal education can boost your income potential while working as an interior designer.
According to the IIDA, interior designers reported earning a median yearly wage of $17,000 more than those without graduate degrees or further certification (NCIDQ, LEED, or C.I.D. certification).
What are the Requirements?
To apply for any interior design program, you must meet the following requirements:
1: Make Sure the CIDA accredits the School
First, ensure the interior design school in has Council for Interior Design Accreditation accreditation (CIDA). This body should approve any program that bills itself as preparing you for a profession in interior design.
All of the universities on our list above have CIDA accreditation, and their websites make this information abundantly evident. Ask the admissions office of the school in question if you need clarification on whether it has global accreditation.
2: Choose a School That Offers the Degree You Want
Most programs for interior design offer a BA or BFA; however, some also offer a BS.
If you enroll in a BA program, you’ll probably receive a more traditional degree in the liberal arts, indicating that the program aims to produce well-rounded artists and academics.
3: Decide Whether You Prefer a Flexible or Focused Program
With dozens of degree options and specializations, some of the programs mentioned above provide plenty of room for students to explore their interests in art and design.
In contrast, others are more narrowly focused and are better suited for students who are already sure of the claims they want to pursue.
To determine whether the programs are a suitable fit for you, spend some time browsing their websites.
4: Look for Portfolio Requirements You Can Meet
You must submit a portfolio as part of the application process for any of the colleges as mentioned above, as with any design or arts program.
While some of these portfolio requirements may seem reasonable, others may be challenging. Examine each program’s portfolio requirements well before any application deadlines.
5: Take Location Into Account
Are there any professions or specialties where you might be at an advantage because of where you live?
Consider your decision carefully before applying to a school in a subject you despise or are genuinely uncertain about.
You’ll be better equipped to select the interior design program that’s best for you once you consider these five aspects. You’re more likely to succeed in school and your profession; the better the fit!
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How Much Does Interior Design School Cost?
The price of an interior design school or institute might change depending on the program’s length, location, and whether you live in the state or are an out-of-state student.
The average tuition for interior design programs is $6,060 for in-state students and $19,790 for out-of-state students for the academic year, according to CollegeTuitionCompare.com; public institutions have the lowest rates.
A bachelor’s degree in interior design can cost between $8,000 and $60,000 per year, including additional costs like books, lodging, and other expenses. It is also the higher grade to obtain, the program with the most prolonged duration, and the program with the highest tuition rates.
What to Know Before Applying to Interior Design Schools
The following issues can help you reduce the number of potential universities on your list:
- Your decision will be heavily influenced by the location and method of your studies. If distance learning is more your style, focus only on interior design programs that provide online degrees or courses. While having your heart set on a particular spot will inevitably restrict your options.
- From one institution to the subsequent, interior design programs have a different module structure. Please pay close attention to the extras they offer and the credit and examination criteria. Long-term gain can come from developing other skills, such as how to promote your work for online interior design projects.
- Opportunities may lead to the career of your dreams. Examine the interior design schools on your shortlist more closely to see if they provide support courses or mentorship programs.
- Your main priority should be accreditation. Why? Many employers prefer interior designers with certificates from reputable institutes. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), a well-known and respected industry organization, is one to look for in the U.S.
- Which interior design program is perfect for you may also depend on the cost of the courses and the payment schedule. But bear in mind that many colleges also provide financial aid and scholarships.
What are the Best Colleges with Interior Design Majors?
Here are the top colleges with interior design majors:
1. Savannah College of Art and Design
On our list of the best colleges with interior design majors, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) scored highly for all its art and design programs (No. 1 by both Design Intelligence and Design Schools Hub).
SCAD’s primary campus is in Savannah, Georgia, but it also maintains campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, where it offers interior design courses.
These additional program sites mean more chances to get internships in big cities or opportunities to study abroad!
To create design-based concepts and solutions for experiences, products, media, and technology, the SCAD Collaborative Learning Center, or C.L.C., collaborates with leading companies, brands, and organizations.
2. Pratt Institute
This prestigious interior design university does business from its primary Brooklyn site (P.I. also has a Manhattan campus), where it has preserved its reputation for the program’s creative flexibility and practical rigor.
The undergraduate program has been ranked second in the nation by the expert survey Design Intelligence since 2008.
The interior design program is architecturally based and emphasizes surface ornamentation and spatial design.
All facets of space are investigated in connection to their impact on the human spirit, including scale, proportion, configuration, light source, textures, materials, and color.
The Pratt Institute boasts vital statistics, with 94% of alums obtaining employment within a year of graduation between July 2018 and June 2019. It is also one of the best colleges with an interior design major.
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3. Rhode Island School of Design
One of the more well-known and ranked design schools in the U.S. is the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which makes the third place on our list of the best colleges with interior design majors.
It was named No. 4 by Design Intelligence and No. 3 by Design Schools Hub among the top interior design universities.
The college offers undergraduate majors in “Interior Studies.” Through advanced design studios, the student at this level can choose between three specializations, or “pathways,” that concentrate on theater design, exhibition design, or retail design.
With one of the nation’s most significant percentages of artists, RISD is well known for its interior design department, particularly for its hands-on training and coursework.
4. New York School of Interior Design
A specialized interior design school called NYSID was established in 1916.
The institution’s emphasis on interior design has provided 600 undergraduate and graduate students with some of the most in-depth and innovative instruction available in the United States.
For 2016, the graduate programs at NYSID are ranked No. 4, and the undergraduate programs are ranked No. 5.
Within six months of their studies, 92% of undergraduate program graduates found jobs, and 94% of postgraduate program graduates did the same.
Students can use the school’s robust alums and professional network to improve their job prospects.
5. The University of Cincinnati in Ohio
The Interior Design program was rated No. 4 in the U.S. for 2017–2018 by Design Intelligence, and it consistently ranks in the top 10 programs year after year.
The University of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture and Interior Design offers a five-year program that emphasizes clients’ and customers’ physical, psychological, and social needs.
The program culminates in a capstone project that gives students real-world experience.
Within three months after graduating, 92% of students had found employment (71% with beginning earnings greater than $40,000 annually), demonstrating their aptitude for problem-solving, critical thinking, and the use of advanced technologies.
The coursework is practical in the studio and specializes in topics like Lighting, Furniture/Millwork, Communication Skills, Design Science, and Business.
6. Parsons New School for Design
The New School, which opened its doors in 1906, offers more than 25 courses, including a B.F.A. in interior design, a B.F.A. in Design and Technology, a B.S. in Urban Design, and an M.F.A. in Interior Design.
In addition to having exclusive contacts from one of the best and most prestigious interior design schools, students have access to the major businesses and showrooms in New York City.
The New School for Design, ranked No. 5 by Design Intelligence and Design Schools Hub, has established networks in business and industry.
As such, it may be an excellent choice for students who want to pursue commercial design.
Students can collaborate with people in various degree programs because the curriculum strongly emphasizes teamwork.
7. Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.)
For years, F.I.T.’s fashion, design, art, communications, and business programs have won praise and distinction on a global scale.
For more than 50 years, F.I.T.’s interior design department has been training students for success.
This demanding, multidisciplinary program integrates the academic study of interior design history and theory with real-world, hands-on projects.
The school has received rankings as high as No. 7 and No. 8 in Design School Hubs’ and Design Intelligence’s lists of the top interior design programs over time.
Research, experiential learning, academic flexibility, and industrial connections are deeply ingrained in its demanding curriculum.
8. Cornell University
The interior design degree at Cornell is the only one offered by an Ivy League institution, making it challenging and competitive.
Both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, their Human Centered Design program gives students practical experiences in research and innovation with an emphasis on the effects of design on the environment.
Design strategy, sustainable futures, and health and well-being are the three areas around which the program is organized.
The Nancy Cantor Warehouse, located in downtown Syracuse, is where Syracuse University’s interior design departments are headquartered.
The emphasis in visual art and design is on self-discovery, risk-taking, and critical analysis. The title of Syracuse’s program, which is a little broader than most other schools on this list, is “Environmental and Interior Design.”
Students studying interior design at Syracuse also take studio courses in fine arts and crafts to complement their primary line of study.
Students who wish to concentrate on design but also want to take part in some of the more traditional liberal arts coursework may find this program to be a practical choice.
10. Drexel University
In the interior design curriculum at Drexel, art and art history are studied alongside interior design.
Within the context of complex design projects, students investigate the behavioral, technological, environmental, and aesthetic elements of interior design.
Interior design courses form the foundation of an outstanding education at the cutting edge of design when combined with art, art history, and general education requirements.
With 19 degree options in the undergraduate program alone, Westphal College at Drexel is regarded as one of the top institutions for interior design.
Westphal encourages exploration and broadening one’s visual perspectives by building on a solid foundation of visual studies.
11. Academy of Art University
The Academy of Art University has a vast campus dispersed throughout San Francisco and offers a wide range of degrees.
This indicates that higher learning and a thriving student life go hand in hand with studying.
Prospective interior design students will attend the School of Interior Architecture and Design.
Teaching that is intellectual, theoretical, and practical is equally vital here.
Graduates can find success in a variety of professions, including as project designers and visualization professionals.
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12. Auburn University
All Auburn University, interior design grads have found employment in the last several years. Acceptance is, therefore, quite selective.
After acceptance, students must finish a pre-designed academic year before being evaluated. Only the finest students are accepted to complete the interior design certificate program in nine semesters.
A multidisciplinary education that emphasizes teamwork and communication is what students may anticipate.
This approach is undoubtedly valued and admired by hiring companies. And as a result, Auburn University is highly rated by DesignIntelligence.
13. Design Institute of San Diego
Small classes are available at this private Institute to guarantee that students get the most out of their education.
Its programs are designed to help students turn their passion for interior design into a lucrative career.
They also emphasized social responsibility and environmentally friendly design principles. You can look at prior students’ coursework to understand the required standard.
After completing their studies, graduates who find employment do so quickly. Within six months of graduating in 2018, 84% of students obtained a job in the interior design industry.
14. Kansas State University
The “intersections of human ecology theory, design theory, and interior design practice” are the focus of the K-State interior design curriculum.
The curriculum aids students in gaining proficiency in various areas, including lighting, acoustics, codes and regulations, resiliency, building technologies, and more, focusing on human well-being, sustainability, and evidence-based initiatives.
Graduates finish their education with a well-rounded perspective and an awareness of their position within the design spectrum, thanks to the school’s professional mentorship program and chances to study abroad in Guatemala, Great Britain, Korea, Italy, and France.
Although the K-State interior design program offers a thorough curriculum, networking possibilities are abundant thanks to the school’s mentor programs, student chapters of ASID, IID, and NEWH Hospitality Industry Network, as well as other organizations.
15. Virginia Tech
The top qualities of Virginia Tech’s interior design curriculum include theory, research, practical expertise, and a culture of making and iteration.
Students learn how to design environments that adhere to numerous norms and regulations while considering people’s health, safety, and welfare.
Virginia Tech’s courses honor the past, present, and future of the industry with programs ranging from Sustainable Design and Biophilia to History in Interior Design.
(Also, the curriculum offers specialized classes in comprehending logistics, such as construction paperwork.)
Through the Digital Mentorship Collaborative and Studio Collective, a student-run design magazine, Virginia Tech’s interior design students engage daily with teachers and peers as members of the School of Architecture and Design.
16. Florida State University
For more than 40 years, F.S.U.’s Department of Interior Architecture and Design has been one of the top institutions for interior design education.
The program came in third place on the College Ranks ranking of the best degrees for interior design in 2022.
This option, a part of the College of Fine Arts, teaches students how to create practical and sustainable habitats that positively impact the world around them.
The curriculum comprises sequential learning and offers instruction in all facets of interior design for low-income housing projects and residential, healthcare, hotel, and commercial projects.
The curriculum at F.S.U. also emphasizes practical experience, and all students complete at least one internship before they graduate.
17. Thomas Jefferson University
One of the best colleges with interior design majors with In-depth interdisciplinary courses on human behavior, sustainable design, construction detailing, building systems, and more are sprinkled throughout Thomas Jefferson.
University’s thriving interior design department in Philadelphia. Creative experimentation and problem-solving based on research are combined in studios and coursework. But at its core,
Thomas Jefferson University makes a concerted effort to give its students a comprehensive and varied view of the sector.
Its design courses integrate hand drawing, model building, and digital techniques and thoroughly examine commercial, residential, institutional, and other building types.
Additionally, students can pursue a secondary focus in photography, business, textile design, or construction management.
18. School of Visual Arts
The S.V.A. interior design program, which is also one of the best colleges with interior design majors, offers the groundwork for a long career ahead and is recognized by DesignIntelligence as one of the “Most Hired-From Interior Design Schools.”
Students will have access to their desks and a spotless computer lab from the first day of class, simulating the working environment of a design firm.
S.V.A. offers its students the chance to present their work to various internationally renowned designers in addition to a comprehensive curriculum that combines cutting-edge technology with time-honored drawing and drafting techniques.
Additionally, there is significant networking potential because editors and architects are frequently invited to join the discussion.
Students have another opportunity to strengthen their resumes with S.V.A.’s interior design degree, which satisfies all criteria for taking the NCIDQ exam.
19. Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s Design School moves quickly to better educate students about the workplace’s difficulties.
This design institution has established its reputation as one of the top interior design colleges in the nation.
Students can enroll in the two-year Master of Interior Design (M.I.A.) program after earning their undergraduate degree. However, you can apply for the three-year M.I.A. program if you have a degree in another subject.
Although there aren’t any online bachelor’s programs in interior design, a few quick courses are available.
Additionally, undergraduate tuition starts at $500 per credit, and graduate tuition starts at $650.
However, students are prepared and more likely to secure internships. After all, The Design School cultivates transformative thinkers in its students.
20. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
You can complete the whole interior design BFA program at RMCAD online, which will still prepare you for future success.
All your instructors will be working interior designers who can impart their practical knowledge.
You’ll learn how to use tools like CAD, hand drafting, and material sourcing as part of your coursework.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many master’s degree programs in interior design do not specify minimum G.P.A. requirements. However, many institutions demand that candidates have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 in any graduate-level coursework they intend to transfer.
In India, an interior designer with a few years of expertise makes an average pay of around 19 lakhs per year. The income of an interior designer in India with 4-6 years of experience might be approximately 24 lakhs per year. Established interior designers make between Rs. 43 and 45 lakhs annually.
Interior design is not one of the most challenging majors that degree-seeking students can choose because it is not a STEM or healthcare-related field. However, interior design can be complex because it falls under the umbrella of art and design.
After reading this list of the best colleges with interior design majors, you should know more about your options.
All the institutions on the list have highly regarded interior design programs, but you should also consider other determining variables like location and cost.
As was already established, earning potential and education are closely related in a profession like interior design. It’s crucial to consider other internal design certifications after you make a formal degree.