Interior Design Schools

The Nation's Best Interior Design Schools 2017

Students attending interior design school will learn technical skills, formal concepts, and theory while building an aesthetic vision for design solutions that are technically sophisticated, aesthetically appealing, and pragmatically satisfying. Interior Design programs prepare students to work in a wide range of environments, both commercial and residential, with classes that typically include the history of furniture and interiors, space planning, and residential and contract interior design. On this page, we provide a list of top Interior Design schools that have a strong reputation for high-quality curriculum, world-class faculty, and high rates of student success.

Search through hundreds of schools that offer the Interior Design programs you are looking for, simply select the program from the drop down below:

  • School Name

    15 schools ranked

  • Embracing a forward-looking approach to artistic academia, SCAD is a student-centered institution determined to provide educational excellence within the context of a positive learning environment. Students learn to create art, as well as live creatively artistic lives.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 11,861
  • Pratt Institute utilizes the city of New York as a literal classroom by engaging students in real life experiences including public critiques and internships with top design companies like Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and more.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 4,784
  • With 92% of undergraduates and 95% of graduate students employed within 6 months of graduation; NYSID is one of the nation’s most revered schools of interior design. Innovative curricula and strategic collaboration characterize their vision.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 538
  • Nestled amidst the picturesque New England seaboard, Rhode Island School of Design has long been one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious colleges offering rigorous art programs at both an undergraduate and graduate level.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 2,481
  • Unique in its educational approach, Parsons prioritizes humanity and culture; ever-seeking a connection to global urban centers with project-based learning. Founded in 1896, Parsons confers both undergraduate and graduate degrees at 5

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 10,344

What is Interior Design?

Interior design refers to the overall architecture of private homes and public buildings. It incorporates both the layout and construction of interior spaces and typically includes a mix of technical and aesthetic elements. The slope of a ceiling, the size of a window and placement of walls are all good examples of the technical aspects of interior design. Style elements, such as carpet color, flooring choices, and light fixture patterns represent the aesthetic side of interior design.

Interior designers typically contract with private homeowners, building managers, or building owners to plan for upcoming work. Clients may elicit their services during the initial construction of a home or building, or when planning to remodel their space. Working as an interior designer requires excellent communication skills and an appreciation of the wide range of aesthetic preferences of clients.

It has only been in recent years that people of average means requested the services of interior designers. The thought of maximizing indoor space was not something that anyone thought about except those with money to spare. But, things have changed, and now most building project managers and many homeowners consider interior space planning an integral part of the process, regardless of the eventual size of the project.

Search through hundreds of schools that offer the Interior Design programs you are looking for, simply select the program from the drop down below:

What Are Interior Design Schools?

A formal education in interior design is not necessary to become an interior designer. However, most employers require a designer to have a formal education and some experience, either through an internship or apprenticeship. So, the first step in an interior design career is to complete all educational requirements and gain entry-level experience. Several educational paths exist for people who are interested in pursuing a career as an interior designer. What they all have in common is that they teach students how to make indoor spaces beautiful for their clients, while also ensuring safety and functionality. Some of the specific skills that students learn in an interior design school program include:

  • Determining interior space requirements
  • Reading blueprints
  • Selecting decorative items per their client’s specifications, including color schemes, lighting fixtures, and building materials
  • Drawing, sketching, and illustration

The typical curriculum covered by Interior Design programs will include:

  • Interior design graphics
  • Interior lighting design
  • Residential interior design
  • Space planning
  • History of interiors and furniture
  • Contract interior design
  • Interior design professional practice

Some skills used in this profession cannot necessarily be taught. Before investing in an educational program, students should have artistic ability and a sense of creativity. In addition to the strong communication skills mentioned above, interior designers must also possess the ability to solve complex problems and have strong attention to detail.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) accredits approximately 180 professional degree programs. These include bachelor degree and master degree programs only. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredits approximately 320 schools with programs in any type of art and design. This includes independent institutes offering art and design programs along with traditional colleges and universities.

Search through hundreds of schools that offer the Interior Design programs you are looking for, simply select the program from the drop down below:

What Type of Interior Design Degree Do You Need?

According to the BLS, most people working in the interior design industry have earned a bachelor’s degree of some kind, with a majority having an academic focus on interior design or a closely related area. Many employers require individuals to have at least a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, and some require further education at the master’s degree level to advance to higher levels of management. Keep in mind, all students seeking higher education at the graduate level must earn their bachelor’s level credits from an accredited college. Credits earned from schools without regional accreditation may not be transferrable to other institutions. A good place to confirm the accreditation of an Interior Design program is on the CIDA website. Interior design schools that earn accreditation from CIDA must meet rigorous eligibility requirements. Some of these include:

  • Recognized by the United States Department of Education
  • Offers at least 30 credit hours of college-level general education courses
  • The school collects and publishes up-to-date information about student achievement
  • The school follows interior design standards generally accepted in the U.S.
  • Students are required to submit a portfolio of increasingly challenging work prior to graduation

Community colleges offer associate degrees, which students can typically complete with two years of full-time study. Interior design degrees are not as common at this level, but they do exist. Some four-year institutions offer associate degrees as well. Students who pursue a general education at a community college have the option transferring to a traditional college or university to earn a bachelor degree.

Associate degree programs instruct students on the fundamentals of interior design techniques while bachelor degree programs teach more specific skills. Both prepare interior design students to sit for the licensing exam required by their state, although licensure requirements do vary. That said, those who have an associate degree generally need to have at least two years of work experience before they can take the exam. While some states allow both licensed and unlicensed interior designers to complete work, only those who have successfully passed the exam can legally call themselves an interior designer.

Technical colleges and online schools are additional options available to people interested in pursuing a career in interior design. Some schools offer a 100 percent online program while others offer a hybrid of online and in-person classes. A technical college may offer a certificate in a specific type of interior design, but not a degree. Online schools confer associate, bachelor, and master degrees just like brick-and-mortar schools do.

Search through hundreds of schools that offer the Interior Design programs you are looking for, simply select the program from the drop down below:

What Can You Do with a Degree in Interior Design?

According to the BLS, interior designers across all disciplines complete similar duties. An example of some of their most important duties include:

  • Search for new projects and bid on them
  • Interview clients to determine their specifications
  • Sketch intial design plans
  • Select materials to complete a project
  • Submit a design proposal, and cost estimates to a client
  • Order supplies, complete a project, and ensure client satisfaction

Specific classifications of interior designers include those who work in healthcare, a corporate environment, kitchen and bath designers, and those who plan and design spaces to make them more accessible to people with physical handicaps. Sustainable designers, which describes people who primarily use environmentally-friendly materials such as bamboo and cork, are becoming increasingly popular also. Approximately 25 percent of interior designers are self-employed.

Search through hundreds of schools that offer the Interior Design programs you are looking for, simply select the program from the drop down below:

Is a Degree Required to Become an Interior Designer?

Generally speaking, designers in any field will attract higher wages and project fees when they can demonstrate special certification, higher education, and experience to potential employers and clients. Designers with NCIDQ Certification from the Council for Interior Design Qualification are recognized as having the specialized knowledge needed to for the daily practice of interior design. To sit for the NCIDQ exam, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate experience in the field.

Search through hundreds of schools that offer the Interior Design programs you are looking for, simply select the program from the drop down below: