Interior Design Schools

Interior design schools are hubs of creativity, shaping future designers into experts in crafting functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces.
Interior Design Schools

Interior design is a vibrant and dynamic field that thrives on a blend of creativity, problem-solving, and a discerning eye for aesthetics. If you possess a passion for reshaping spaces and crafting exquisite environments, embarking on a journey toward an interior design degree can be a truly rewarding choice.

Interior design schools provide a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with the essential skills and knowledge needed to excel in this industry. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate or contemplating a career transition, enrolling in an interior design program can grant you access to a top-quality education and the firm grounding required to flourish in this fiercely competitive domain.

Why Pursue a Degree in Interior Design?

Deciding to pursue an interior design degree opens doors to a world of opportunities. Through formal education, you’ll acquire the technical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary to thrive in this field. Interior design goes beyond selecting furniture and colors; it involves grasping spatial planning, materials, lighting, and other vital design elements.

Attending an interior design school means learning from experienced professionals who can guide you through the industry’s complexities. Additionally, an interior design degree boosts your professional credibility and enhances your chances of landing well-paying job prospects.

Benefits of Attending an Interior Design Program

Attending an interior design program provides numerous benefits that can set you on the path to a dynamic and rewarding career. In today’s ever-evolving field, adaptability is key, and a formal interior design education equips you with the skills to thrive amidst changing trends and emerging technologies.

Interior design programs craft a comprehensive curriculum that encompasses a wide array of subjects, from essential design theory to the rich tapestry of art history. You’ll master critical tools like drafting and computer-aided design (CAD) and explore the essential principles of sustainable design and project management. This diverse range of study areas ensures that you graduate with a well-rounded skill set, poised to become a valuable asset to prospective employers.

Interior Design Degree Options

The dynamic field of interior design presents a multitude of educational pathways, encompassing diverse degree programs that cater to a wide array of career aspirations and backgrounds. From fundamental, undergraduate options like the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) to more specialized and advanced degrees such as the Master of Fine Arts (MFA), these offerings unlock unique routes to excel in the creative realm of interior design.

Interior design programs not only provide a comprehensive education but also offer hands-on, practical instruction that hone your skills for success in the world of design. Whether you are just starting your design journey or seeking to advance your expertise, an interior design degree can be your compass to navigate the exciting and dynamic world of interior design.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interior Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interior Design is a comprehensive four-year program designed to prepare students for careers in interior design. This degree provides a solid foundation in interior design, covering core principles like spatial planning, color theory, materials, and design history. A key part of BFA programs is hands-on studio projects where students tackle real-world design challenges, putting their knowledge into practice.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Design

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Design represents the pinnacle of interior design education. This advanced program emphasizes critical thinking, in-depth research, and intricate design concepts. Graduates gain a deep understanding of design theory, consumer and design sciences, research methodologies, and the interplay of psychology and culture in design.

With this expertise, MFA graduates are well-prepared for roles in design education, high-level design professions, and design consultancy. Graduate interior design programs are ideal for those seeking the highest level of expertise in interior design.

Certificate Programs and Short Courses

In addition to traditional degree programs, interior design schools offer basic interior design certificate programs and short-credit courses. These options cater to individuals seeking to boost their skills, delve into specific interior design niches, or gain entry-level knowledge without the commitment of a full-time degree program. Certificate programs are tailored to cover specific aspects of interior design, including sustainable design, kitchen and bath design, and computer-aided design (CAD). Many offer flexible scheduling, making them a perfect fit for working professionals or those with time constraints.

Online Interior Design Schools

In today’s digital age, online education has gained popularity, becoming a convenient option for individuals unable to attend traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Online interior design schools offer unmatched flexibility and accessibility, reaching students worldwide. These programs typically blend self-paced coursework, virtual design studios, and interactive discussions with experienced instructors.

Online interior design schools grant students access to cutting-edge design software, extensive virtual libraries, and thriving online communities, fostering a comprehensive online learning experience. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge that online programs might have fewer hands-on opportunities compared to their traditional counterparts. Prior to enrolling in an online interior design school, take time to assess the curriculum, ensuring that online courses align with your learning preferences and career objectives.

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Best Interior Design Schools in the U.S.

In the United States, there is an array of top interior design schools known for consistently nurturing highly skilled graduates. These institutions consistently secure top spots in our annual rankings due to their outstanding performance across several areas that define an exceptional educational experience.

What makes these schools stand out as leading interior design institutions is their steadfast commitment to upholding the rigorous standards of interior design accreditation established by the Council for Interior Design. This unwavering dedication ensures that they thoroughly prepare students for successful careers in the field, cementing their positions as top-tier institutions in the realm of design education.

1. Pratt Institute

200 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205


Pratt Institute, home to one of the nation’s premier interior design programs, offers an immersive educational experience. As a top interior design school, their CIDA-accredited BFA program molds students into forward-thinking interior design leaders. By seamlessly integrating elements such as material research, sustainable practices, and diverse global cultural perspectives into a rigorous curriculum, Pratt empowers graduates to innovate and engage critically with the built environment.

Graduate students aiming for advanced education can delve deeper into the realm of interior design through Pratt’s Interior Design MFA program. This comprehensive program empowers graduate students to explore a wide array of topics, including exhibition design, advanced lighting concepts, furniture design, design theory, sustainable practices, and emerging technologies, providing them with a holistic understanding of the field.

2. Savannah College of Art and Design

516 Drayton St, Savannah, GA 31401


Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a dynamic platform for aspiring interior designers. With a rich tradition of excellence spanning four decades, SCAD students master the art of crafting captivating and functional spaces. They receive extensive training, preparing them for diverse career paths, from residential to corporate and hospitality design.

Through SCADpro, the university’s internal consultancy, students engage in real-world projects with industry giants like Amazon and Disney. Savannah College of Art and Design is a renowned leader, consistently ranking among the best interior design colleges in Design Intelligence’s “Best Architecture and Design Schools,” reinforcing its commitment to interior design education.

3. Rhode Island School of Design

20 Washington Place, Providence, RI 02903-2784


At the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the Interior Studies: Adaptive Reuse BFA program is an intensive four-year interior architecture program. It comprises an intensive curriculum spanning 126 credit hours, which includes Interior Architecture, liberal arts electives, and design theory courses.

Students focus on various interior interventions, emphasizing social and environmental responsibility. Graduates are well-prepared for professional practice in the field or further advanced studies. Additionally, RISD offers advanced degrees specializing in adaptive reuse and exhibition and narrative environments.

4. New York School of Interior Design

170 East 70th Street New York, NY 10021

The New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) is a prestigious, nonprofit institution dedicated to shaping interior environments. NYSID’s core belief is that well-designed interiors enhance human well-being and have a profound impact on the functionality, aesthetics, health, safety, and sustainability of spaces. With a rich history, esteemed faculty, and a nurturing environment, NYSID empowers students to transform their interior design aspirations into reality.

5. Parsons School of Design

66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011


Parsons School of Design, a pioneer in modern American interior design since the early 1900s, continues to evolve this practice with a strong focus on social engagement. Their BFA Interior Design program offers a research-driven, design-intensive education. Graduates are equipped to create interiors that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also consider environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, and human well-being.

Parsons stands out with its emphasis on the broader impact of interior design, its integration of cutting-edge technologies, and a network of industry connections in New York City, a global design hub.

6. Fashion Institute of Technology

227 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) offers a CIDA-accredited BFA program in interior design. This curriculum focuses on human-centered and evidence-based design, with a strong emphasis on addressing contemporary social issues, ergonomics, and sustainability. Students delve into advanced built environment technologies and state-of-the-art computerized visualization and presentation methods. A distinctive feature is the two-semester capstone project, involving a senior thesis program and design project evaluated by industry professionals. This project pairs students with a faculty member and industry mentor, contributing significantly to their professional portfolio.

7. University of Cincinnati

2600 Clifton Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45220

The University of Cincinnati’s School of Architecture and Interior Design (SAID) is dedicated to preparing students for the nuanced practice of architecture and interior design. Their approach emphasizes the integration of ethical judgment, creative research, and technical proficiency to elevate both professions. SAID encourages students to explore innovative design concepts and hone their communication skills while fostering a sense of responsibility towards the environment and society. 

8. Syracuse University

900 South Crouse Ave., Syracuse, NY 13244

Syracuse University’s Environmental and Interior Design (EDI) program offers a dynamic, multidisciplinary approach to design education. Ranked among the “Most Admired Interior Design Schools,” by DesignIntelligence it fosters creative problem solvers prepared for global design challenges. The curriculum emphasizes sustainability, human-centered design, and strong communication skills. With connections to industry professionals and global experiences, students gain a well-rounded education in this competitive field. This program’s innovative, multidisciplinary approach prepares students to excel as interior design leaders.

9. New York Institute of Technology

1855 Broadway, New York, NY 10023


The New York Institute of Technology offers a top-ranked B.F.A. program in Interior Design that places a strong emphasis on technology and innovation. With a focus on 3-D visualization and contemporary issues like sustainability and new materials, students learn advanced skills and gain real-world experience through collaborations with industry partners. This program provides hands-on learning in dedicated studio spaces and the opportunity to connect with prestigious organizations. Expert faculty members, with industry experience, guide students toward excellence in the field.

10. Drexel University

3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104


Drexel University offers a CIDA-accredited Interior Design program that delves into the multifaceted aesthetic aspects of interior design within the framework of sustainable and intricate projects. Merging art, art history, and the standard liberal arts experience with core interior design courses, this program provides a distinctive, design-focused education.

Problem-solving studios, co-op experiences, and dedicated faculty instill students with the skills and creative thinking needed for leadership roles in the interior design industry. Graduates emerge as proficient designers, innovative problem solvers, professional leaders, and socially responsible citizens.

11. Cornell University

616 Thurston Ave., Ithaca, NY 14853

At Cornell University, undergraduates engage in a multidisciplinary approach to Human Centered Design. This entails combining design, art, biology, chemistry, engineering, and social science concepts through academic coursework, applied research, and field experience. The program emphasizes studio-based training for fostering creativity and innovation, research-based education centered on human-centric design, and lab-based research. Students graduate with a solid liberal arts foundation along with specialized training tailored to their chosen concentration.

12. School of Visual Arts

209 E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

At the School of Visual Arts (SVA), students are immersed in a dynamic learning environment that encourages exploration and innovation in interior design. They work with state-of-the-art technology and learn to blend contemporary tools with traditional design methods. SVA emphasizes the fusion of technology and artistic traditions. Graduates are equipped to excel in a range of design domains, from residential and commercial to healthcare, hospitality, and set design, making positive impacts on human behavior and well-being in diverse interior spaces.

13. Rochester Institute of Technology

One Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) encourages students to apply interior design solutions to real-world challenges. Notable projects, such as a Mobile Kitchen and collaborations with organizations like the Rochester Public Library, provide practical experience. Students have access to collaborative studio spaces and a well-equipped material resource center. RIT’s faculty, comprising professionals in the field, fosters a professional work environment. The BFA/M.Arch. program offers full-time students an accelerated pathway. RIT’s interior design program emphasizes architecture-centered, evidence-based solutions that are resilient, sustainable, and universally designed.

14.Thomas Jefferson University

1020 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Thomas Jefferson University’s Interior Design Program, accredited by CIDA, ranks as a top undergraduate program in the U.S. It cultivates independent, innovative, and socially aware designers who meet high professional standards. The interior design program emphasizes the global, cultural, social, aesthetic, technological, environmental, and ethical aspects of interior design. With interdisciplinary collaboration and study abroad opportunities, students gain a broad skill set. Located in Philadelphia, they benefit from internships, professional affiliations, and community partnerships, offering valuable real-world experience.

15. Auburn University

1161 W. Samford Avenue, Auburn, AL 36849

Auburn University’s Interior Design undergraduate degree program awards a CIDA-accredited Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, complemented by a comprehensive Auburn University general education. Completing the full degree program typically takes 9 semesters. Additionally, for those seeking further specialization and expanded career prospects, CADS provides Master’s and Ph.D. level graduate programs, with further details available through the CADS office.

Contributing Data Sources

Career Opportunities for Interior Design Graduates

Earning a degree from an accredited interior design school opens up a myriad of career opportunities for interior design students. Interior design graduates can pursue careers in various sectors, including residential design, commercial design, hospitality design, healthcare design, and sustainable design. They can work as interior designers, design consultants, space planners, project managers, or even start their own design firms.

Commercial Design

Commercial design is the branch of interior design that focuses on designing commercial spaces, such as offices and retail stores. Commercial designers are responsible for the overall look and feel of these spaces, which includes designing furniture layouts, choosing appropriate materials, selecting color schemes that suit the type of business, and reviewing construction documents to ensure that local building codes and zoning regulations are met.

Exhibition Design

Exhibition design is a branch of commercial interior design focused on creating engaging exhibition spaces. Exhibition designers work with businesses (and sometimes private individuals) to design spaces for hosting events, launching products, and promoting brands. This may include designing everything from floor plans, lighting schemes, signage systems, wayfinding strategies, furniture layouts, and displays.

Healthcare Design

Healthcare design is a branch of commercial interior design focused on designing healthcare spaces. Healthcare designers are responsible for the overall look and feel of these environments, which includes selecting appropriate materials, choosing color schemes that suit the type of business or service being offered, and creating furniture layouts to support patient care.

Institutional Design

Institutional design is an area of specialization focused on designing environments for public use, such as schools, government buildings, and transportation facilities. This type of design requires an understanding of human behavior and the factors that influence it, including how space is used, how it is organized, and how the design can positively or negatively affect the way people feel in the space.

Residential Design

Residential design is an area of specialization focused on designing residential spaces, such as single-family homes and condominiums. Residential designers work with homeowners and architects to design rooms and furniture layouts that are aesthetically pleasing, functional, and consistent with the homeowner’s personal style or preferences.

Interior Design Schools FAQ

What degree is best for interior designers?

A bachelor’s degree in interior design is typically considered the best choice for aspiring interior designers. It provides a comprehensive education for interior design students, covering design principles, technical skills, and industry knowledge. However, some professionals pursue related degrees, like a bachelor’s degree in architecture or fine arts, which can also lead to a successful career in interior design.

Is it worth getting a degree in interior design?

Yes, getting a degree in interior design is generally worth it. A degree from an interior design program equips you with the specific skills, knowledge, and professional network to excel in the field. Holding an interior design qualification enhances your job prospects, potentially leading to higher salaries and career opportunities. Moreover, a degree can be essential for becoming a certified interior designer in some states.

What is the difference between interior architecture and interior design?

Interior architecture and interior design are closely related fields but differ in focus. Interior architecture primarily deals with the structural aspects of interior spaces, such as layout, building systems, and safety codes. It often involves working on new construction or significant renovations.

Interior designers, on the other hand, focus on creating functional, aesthetically pleasing spaces through furniture, color, lighting, and décor. They often work within existing structures. Both roles can collaborate to create comprehensive interior solutions.

Do you have to be an artist to be an interior designer?

While artistic skills can be beneficial if you want to pursue commercial design, they aren’t a strict requirement for interior design practice. Interior designers should have a good eye for aesthetics, color, and space, but they also need to understand functionality, safety, and local building codes.

Creativity is essential, but it doesn’t have to manifest as traditional artistry. Problem-solving, spatial planning, and communication skills are equally important in this profession. Many successful interior designers have diverse backgrounds, from fine arts to engineering.

Does interior design require math?

Yes, interior design does require math, but not at an advanced level. Designers use basic math for various tasks like measuring spaces, calculating dimensions, and working with proportions. These skills are crucial for creating accurate floor plans, estimating material quantities, and ensuring that furniture and fixtures fit harmoniously within a space. While complex math isn’t typically needed, a solid grasp of fundamental mathematical concepts is essential for a successful interior design career.