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20 Best Colleges with Interior Design Majors

Best colleges with interior design majors: As more states require interior designers to hold a license, formal schooling is becoming more and more important in the business. This often requires a mix of in-class learning, real-world experience, and passing a standardized test.

Some of the institutions on this list have received recognition from the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) as having attained the highest standards for interior design education. This may make sure that students learn what the sector considers to be the foundations.

It’s crucial for anyone thinking about majoring in interior design to explore which colleges best suit their academic and artistic requirements.

While many schools emphasize art history, color theory, and design principles, others take a more technical approach and place an emphasis on computer-aided design (CAD) software, ideas for space planning, or sustainability.

Why Would Designers Benefit from Studying Interior Design?

Earning an interior design degree ensures that one has the education in aesthetics, technology, and business necessary to become a well-rounded interior designer. Your ability to earn more money as an interior designer may increase with formal education.

Interior designers reported making $17,000 more annually on average than those without graduate degrees or additional certifications (NCIDQ, LEED, or C.I.D. certification), according to the IIDA.

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What Conditions Must be Met?

Any interior design program requires the following qualifications before you can apply:

1: Ensure that the school has CIDA accreditation.

Prior to enrolling, confirm that the interior design school is CIDA-accredited. Any program that claims to be preparing you for a career in interior design should be approved by this authority.

The websites of every university on our list above make it clearly clear that they are all CIDA-accredited. If you require more information on the school’s global accreditation, contact the admissions office.

2: Pick a school that grants the degree you desire.

Most interior design programs offer a BA or BFA, however some also offer a BS.

If you enroll in a BA program, you’ll likely graduate with a more conventional liberal arts degree, signaling that the institution’s goal is to create well-rounded academics and artists.

3. Choose between a flexible and a focused program.

Some of the programs described above give students lots of opportunity to pursue their interests in art and design thanks to their numerous degree options and specializations. Others, on the other hand, are more narrowly focused and are more appropriate for students who are already certain about the assertions they wish to make.

Spend some time looking through the programs’ websites to see whether they are a good fit for you.

4. Seek out portfolio requirements that you can fulfill.

As with any design or arts program, you must submit a portfolio as part of the application process for any of the colleges indicated above.

Despite the fact that some of these portfolio requirements can appear acceptable, others might be difficult. Examine the portfolio requirements for each program well in advance of any application deadlines.

5. Take location into consideration.

Are there any occupations or fields of study where your location might provide you an advantage?

Before submitting an application to a program in a subject you loathe or are actually unsure of, thoroughly consider your choice.

After taking these five factors into account, you’ll be better able to choose the interior design program that’s right for you. The better the fit, the more likely you are to succeed in school and in your career!

How Much Does a School of Interior Design Cost?

Depending on the program’s length, location, and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student, the cost of an interior design school or institute may vary.

According to CollegeTuitionCompare.com, 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; public institutions have the lowest costs.

Between $8,000 to $60,000 a year, including other costs like books, lodging, and other expenses, can be spent on an interior design bachelor’s degree. Additionally, it is the program with the hardest grade to get, the longest term, and the most expensive tuition.

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What to Know Before Applying to Interior Design Schools

You can narrow down your list of suitable universities by addressing the challenges listed below:

  • The setting and format of your study will have a big impact on your choice. Focus only on interior design programs that offer online degrees or courses if distant learning is more your style. While having your mind made up about a certain place would definitely limit your possibilities.
  • The module structure of interior design programs varies from one institution to the next. Please take note of the extras they provide as well as the credit and examination requirements. Gaining additional abilities, such as learning how to market your work for online interior design tasks, might be beneficial in the long run.
  • Opportunities could help you pursue your dream job. Look into the assistance courses and mentorship programs offered by the interior design schools on your shortlist in more detail.
  • Accreditation should be your top priority. Why? Interior designers with credentials from renowned institutions are preferred by many employers. One to check for in the United States is the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), a reputable and well-known industry body.
  • The price of the courses and the payment plan may also affect which interior design school is best for you. But keep in mind that numerous institutions also provide scholarships and financial aid.

Best Colleges with Interior Design Majors

The best universities for interior design majors are listed below:

1. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which was ranked first by both Design Intelligence and Design Schools Hub, received top marks for all of its art and design programs on our list of the best universities for interior design majors.

SCAD’s main campus is in Savannah, Georgia, but it also has locations in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, where it provides courses in interior design.

More chances to find internships in significant cities or opportunities to study abroad thanks to these additional program sites!

The SCAD Collaborative Learning Center, or C.L.C., works with top businesses, brands, and organizations to develop design-based concepts and solutions for experiences, products, media, and technology.

2. Pratt Institute

This esteemed institution of higher learning for interior design operates out of its main Brooklyn location (P.I. also has a campus in Manhattan), where it has managed to maintain its standing for the program’s creative flexibility and practical rigor.

The expert study Design Intelligence has placed the undergraduate program second in the country every year since 2008. The emphasis of the architecturally based interior design program is on surface embellishment and spatial design.

Space’s scale, proportion, configuration, light source, textures, materials, and color are all examined in relation to their effects on the human spirit.

Between July 2018 and June 2019, 94% of Pratt Institute graduates found work within a year of graduation, according to impressive data. It is also among the top universities for interior design majors.

3. Rhode Island School of Design

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which ranks third on our list of the top universities offering interior design majors, is one of the more well-known and highly regarded design institutions in the United States.

Among the top universities for interior design, it was ranked No. 3 by Design Schools Hub and No. 4 by Design Intelligence.

Through advanced design studios, the student at this level can select from three specializations, or “pathways,” that focus on theater design, exhibition design, or retail design. The college offers undergraduate majors in “Interior Studies.”

The interior design department at RISD is well known for its practical instruction and coursework, as well as for having one of the highest percentages of artists in the country.

4. New York School of Interior Design

In 1916, the NYSID, a professional interior design institution, was founded.

600 undergraduate and graduate students at the university have benefited from some of the most thorough and cutting-edge education available in the country thanks to the college’s emphasis on interior design.

92% of graduates from undergraduate programs and 94% of those from postgraduate programs obtained jobs within six months of finishing their education.

Students can increase their job prospects by utilizing the school’s extensive alumni network and professional contacts.

5. The University of Cincinnati in Ohio

The Interior Design program consistently ranks in the top 10 programs year after year and was ranked No. 4 in the U.S. for 2017–2018 by Design Intelligence.

The School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati offers a five-year degree that places an emphasis on the physical, psychological, and social needs of clients and customers.

A capstone project that gives students practical experience serves as the program’s culmination.

92% of graduates got jobs within three months of graduation, 71% of whom had starting salaries above $40,000, proving their talent for problem-solving, critical thinking, and the application of cutting-edge technologies.

The training focuses on subjects including lighting, furniture/millwork, communication skills, design science, and business and is practice-based in the studio.

6. Parsons New School for Design

More than 25 courses are available at The New School, which first welcomed students in 1906. These include a B.F.A. in interior design, a B.F.A. in Design and Technology, a B.S. both an M.F.A. in Interior Design and an Urban Design degree.

Students not only get access to the main corporations and showrooms in New York City, but also have exclusive relationships with one of the greatest and most prominent interior design schools.

The New School for Design has created networks in business and industry and is ranked No. 5 by Design Intelligence and Design Schools Hub.

Therefore, it can be a great option for those who want to pursue a career in commercial design. Because the curriculum places a high value on teamwork, students can cooperate with those enrolled in diverse degree programs.

7. Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.)

The fashion, design, art, communications, and business programs of F.I.T. have received accolades and distinction on a global level for many years.

The interior design program at F.I.T. has been preparing students for success for more than 50 years.

This rigorous, multidisciplinary program combines classroom study of interior design theory and history with practical, hands-on projects. Over the years, Design School Hubs and Design Intelligence have ranked the school as high as No. 7 and No. 8 on their respective lists of the best interior design programs.

Its rigorous curriculum is permeated with research, experiential learning, academic flexibility, and industrial links.

8. Cornell University

The only Ivy League college to offer an interior design degree is Cornell, making it difficult and competitive.

Their Human Centered Design program provides students with hands-on learning opportunities in research and innovation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with a focus on the environmental impacts of design.

The three themes around which the program is structured are design strategy, sustainable futures, and health and well-being.

9. Syracuse University

The interior design departments of Syracuse University are based at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, which is in the heart of Syracuse.

Visual art and design place a strong emphasis on self-discovery, taking calculated risks, and critical thought. Environmental and Interior Design is the name of Syracuse’s program, which is a little more inclusive than most other colleges on this list.

Syracuse University offers studio courses in fine arts and crafts to students who major in interior design as a complement to their main course of study.

This program may be a sensible option for those who want to focus on design but also participate in some of the more conventional liberal arts coursework.

10. Drexel University

Drexel University’s interior design program includes both interior design and art and art history studies. Students research the behavioral, technological, environmental, and aesthetic aspects of interior design within the framework of complex design projects.

When paired with requirements for art, art history, and general education, interior design courses serve as the cornerstone of an extraordinary education at the cutting edge of design.

One of the best schools for interior design is Westphal College at Drexel, which offers 19-degree options for its undergraduate program alone. By building on a strong foundation of visual studies, Westphal fosters inquiry and expanding one’s visual perspectives.

11. Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University provides a wide range of degrees and has a sizable campus spread out around San Francisco.

This suggests that successful student life and higher education go hand in hand with studying. The School of Interior Architecture and Design will host prospective interior design students.

Here, intellectual, theoretical, and practical instruction are all equally important.

Graduates can succeed in a wide range of occupations, such as project designers and visualization specialists.

12. Auburn University

Auburn University

Since a few years ago, every Auburn University interior design graduate has found work. As a result, acceptance is very selective.

After acceptance, students must complete an academic year that has already been planned before being evaluated. The interior design certificate program is only open to the best students, who must complete it in nine semesters.

Students may look forward to a multidisciplinary education that promotes collaboration and communication.

Without a doubt, recruiting businesses value and love this strategy. And as a result, DesignIntelligence gives Auburn University a high rating.

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13. Design Institute of San Diego

This private Institute offers small classes to ensure that students get the most out of their education. Its courses are made to assist students in converting their love of interior design into a successful career.

In addition, they stressed ethical behavior and green design principles. To determine the required standard, you can review the coursework of previous students.

Graduates who find jobs do so shortly after completing their studies. In 2018, 84% of graduates found employment in the interior design sector within six months of graduation.

14. Kansas State University

The K-State interior design curriculum focuses on the “intersections of human ecology theory, design theory, and interior design practice”.

With a focus on human well-being, sustainability, and evidence-based activities, the curriculum helps students become proficient in a variety of fields, including lighting, acoustics, codes and regulations, resiliency, building technology, and more.

Thanks to the school’s professional mentoring program and opportunities to study abroad in Guatemala, Great Britain, Korea, Italy, and France, graduates end their studies with a well-rounded perspective and an understanding of their position within the design spectrum.

Despite having a comprehensive curriculum, the K-State interior design program offers a wealth of networking opportunities because of the school’s mentor programs, student chapters of ASID, IID, and NEWH Hospitality Industry Network, among other organizations.

15. Virginia Tech

Theory, research, practical competence, and a culture of production and iteration are among the best features of Virginia Tech’s interior design curriculum.

Students gain knowledge on how to create environments that follow a variety of standards and laws while taking into account the welfare, health, and safety of others.

With courses ranging from Sustainable Design and Biophilia to History in Interior Design, Virginia Tech honors the industry’s past, present, and future.

The curriculum also provides specialist training in understanding logistics, like building documentation.

As part of the School of Architecture and Design at Virginia Tech, interior design students interact daily with professors and their peers through the Digital Mentorship Collaborative and Studio Collective, a student-run design journal.

16. Florida State University

One of the leading universities for interior design education for more than 40 years has been Florida State University’s Department of Interior Architecture and Design.

On the College Ranks list of the top interior design degrees for 2022, the program was ranked third.

This option, which is a part of the College of Fine Arts, teaches students how to build useful habitats that have a positive impact on their environment.

The program includes teaching in all areas of interior design for low-income housing projects as well as for residential, hospital, hotel, and commercial projects. It is structured as sequential learning.

All students at F.S.U. complete at least one internship before they graduate, and the curriculum places a strong emphasis on real-world experience.

17. Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson is one of the best institutions for interior design students, offering in-depth multidisciplinary courses on topics like human behavior, sustainable design, construction detailing, building systems, and more.

Philadelphia’s prospering university’s interior design program. In studios and coursework, creative exploration and research-based problem solving are merged. But fundamentally,

Thomas Jefferson University works hard to provide its students with a thorough and broad understanding of the industry.

Its design classes fully investigate commercial, residential, institutional, and other building kinds while integrating hand drawing, model building, and digital approaches.

Students can also pursue a secondary specialization in construction management, business, textile design, or photography.

18. School of Visual Arts

The S.V.A. interior design program, one of the top universities for interior design majors, provides the foundation for a successful future profession and is acknowledged by DesignIntelligence as one of the “Most Hired-From Interior Design Schools.”

On the first day of class, students will have access to their desks and a pristine computer lab that replicates the office setting of a design firm.

In addition to a thorough curriculum that blends cutting-edge technology with time-honored sketching and drafting techniques, S.V.A. gives its students the opportunity to present their work to a variety of internationally recognized designers.

Because editors and architects are regularly invited to join the discussion, there is also a lot of networking potential.

With the interior design degree from S.V.A., students have still another chance to improve their resumes as it meets all requirements for taking the NCIDQ exam.

19. Arizona State University

The Design School at Arizona State University acts swiftly to better inform students about the challenges faced in the profession.

One of the finest universities for interior design in the country, according to this design institution’s reputation.

After receiving their bachelor degree, students can participate in the two-year Master of Interior Design (M.I.A.) program. However, if you hold a degree in another field, you are still eligible to enroll for the three-year M.I.A. program.

Although there aren’t any bachelor’s degree programs in interior design offered online, there are a few short courses.

Graduate tuition begins at $650, and undergraduate tuition begins at $500 per credit.

However, students are more prepared and have a higher chance of landing internships. After all, The Design School encourages its students to become transformative thinkers.

20. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

The RMCAD interior design BFA program can be completed entirely online and will still prepare you for success in the future.

Your professors will all be active interior designers who can share their real-world experience.

As part of your education, you’ll learn how to use tools like CAD, hand drafting, and material procurement.

colleges with interior design majors

How to Become an Interior Designer

Step 1: Obtain an Interior Design degree.

Even though it is not a requirement, the majority of interior design firms demand that designers have a bachelor’s degree or above. Although a degree in the relevant topic is desired, degrees from other fields are normally accepted as long as they are combined with interior design coursework, such as sketching and computer-aided design (CAD). There are also degrees at the associate, master’s, and doctorate levels.
Numerous prestigious schools and universities, as well as specialized art and design institutes, offer interior design programs.

Step 2: Achieve qualification with the National Council for Interior Design.

The licensing of interior designers is not mandated by all states. However, there are a number of laws that forbid unlicensed designers from working as interior designers. Others only allow licensed professionals to use the title “interior designer,” but they allow both licensed and unlicensed designers to practice design.
A state-approved exam, often the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, must be passed in order to obtain a license. Students must possess a mix of education and experience, often a bachelor’s degree plus two years of on-the-job training, in order to be eligible to take the NCIDQ exam.

Step 3: Participate in some free work

Without prior professional experience, it may be challenging for interior designers—especially those just starting out—to secure employment. Of course, the issue is that experience can only be acquired through labor. Many aspiring interior designers begin by learning their trade for nothing. Designers can volunteer their time to assist local non-profit services or organizations, as well as small businesses that cannot afford to hire a professional designer. They can also offer their services to friends and family. Even their own residences are open to new designers. The most crucial thing is to acquire the skills necessary when genuine paying employment appear.

Step 4: Build a Portfolio

Make sure to document all of your efforts with a professional portfolio by taking high-quality pictures. The most important tool for interior designers looking for clients is a top-notch, thorough portfolio. It will not only enable potential clients to see your greatest work, but it will also demonstrate your capacity for making a polished, well-organized first impression. Include some of your drawings and sketches along with the images, and don’t be hesitant to include examples from a variety of projects. There are also a lot of interior designers who keep online versions of their portfolios today.

Step 5: Search for Opportunities FOR continuing education

Designers can pursue a variety of professional qualifications in addition to attending conferences on interior design to stay current on trends and advancements. Specialization certifications are offered by a number of universities, including those in sustainable design, spatial theory, corporate interior design, and designing historic settings. In addition, other organizations offer numerous conferences, workshops, and summits throughout the year.

Skills in Interior Design

The most crucial talent interior designers can have is the capacity for effective communication and listening, in addition to having an innate sense of style and inventiveness when choosing design components for clients. Designers’ primary responsibility is to comprehend the needs of their clients and communicate those needs to the design teams, engineers, and other experts involved in the project.

Any environment should allow designers to envision how various elements will work together. The ability to freely exchange ideas is crucial because they might need to pitch several designs before selecting the best one. When maintaining projects inside the allotted budget and timetable, strong problem-solving abilities are extremely helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum GPA needed for interior design?

Many master's in interior design programs don't have minimal GPA requirements. Although many colleges require students to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in any graduate-level curriculum they seek to transfer, this requirement is not universal.

How much do interior designers make?

The average yearly salary for interior designers in the United States is $59,107, but earnings can vary from $15,000 to $132,000 in some cases. Salary varies depending on region, company, and experience.

Is interior design labor-intensive?

Since interior design is neither a STEM or healthcare-related career, it is not among the most difficult disciplines that degree-seeking students can select. However, because it falls under the category of art and design, interior design can be complicated.

Conclusion

After reading our ranking of the top universities offering interior design programs, you should have a better understanding of your possibilities. Although the interior design programs at all of the universities on the list are well rated, you should also take other determining factors like location and cost into account.

Earning potential and education are directly correlated in a job like interior design, as was already said. After earning a formal degree, it’s critical to take into account other internal design certifications.

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