17 Interior Design Schools Worth Applying To (2024)

Skip to main content

Find anything you save across the site in your account


Find anything you save across the site in your account


Interested in becoming an interior designer? Consult AD PRO’s list of the top interior design schools to consider for 2024

By Meaghan O'Neill, Kelsey Mulvey, and Anna Elise Anderson

17 Interior Design Schools Worth Applying To (3)

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a top-ranked school for interior design, offering BFA, MA, and MFA programs.Photo: Courtesy of SCAD

These days, there are many paths toward becoming an interior decorator or building a fulfilling career in interior design. But attending one of the top interior design schools remains a solid route for acquiring the skills required of most creative careers. Over the past several years, an increasing number of US states have begun requiring a licensure for design professionals—some combination of classroom education, professional experience, and passing a standardized exam—thus making design classes and degree programs more appealing investments.

17 Interior Design Schools Worth Applying To (4)

Register Now: Building and Protecting a Profitable Business Workshop

Join AD’s Amy Astley as she sits down with business consultant Seth Kaplowitz and AD100 designer Ken Fulk to answer common business conundrums—from contract questions to client disputes

If you decide attending an interior design university is for you, you’ll want to start by doing some research. Certain interior design colleges on this list are recognized by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), meaning they’ve met the highest standards for interior design education. (This designation is intended to help ensure that students learn whatever the industry considers to be fundamental.)

Become a Member

Get the essentials to grow a sustainable business at our member-only event.

A formal education from an interior design university has benefits beyond licensure too. The best schools for aspiring interior design professionals are those that offer guidance on how to navigate the spectrum of challenges that come with working in the industry, from developing a professional network to handling the myriad tasks involved in running a creative business. Many schools also have structured programs for study abroad, internships, and co-op opportunities. Regardless of an aspiring designer’s exact career path, the programs featured below are well equipped with everything a student might need to succeed in the interior design industry. Here are 17 programs to know.

Editor’s note: The costs mentioned for each interior design school are an estimate of the tuition and do not include room and board. Costs will vary from student to student. The job-placement statistics shown here feature the most recently available data for each program or for the university, if program-specific data was not available.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design appears consistently on any list ranking top-tier interior design colleges, earning the highest placement on DesignIntelligence’s list of best interior design schools seven times since 2008. The prestigious Red Dot Rankings have named SCAD as the number one university in the US and the number two university in the Americas and Europe six years in a row. The school has been named the number one art and design university in the US by Art & Object the past two years in a row, topping a list of schools that included CalArts, RISD, and Yale.

The program at SCAD encourages collaborative projects, innovation, critical thinking, clear and effective communication, and a core of professional ethics. SCAD’s offerings extend beyond its classrooms as well: Each year, SCAD hosts a three-day event called SCADstyle, gathering together industry-renowned designers, architects, and editors. Its collaborative design studio, SCADpro, helps students earn real-world experience. Career prep also plays a vital role in the program’s offerings: résumé and portfolio development, mock interviews, and self-promotion are all built into the curriculum. With satellite campuses in Atlanta, Georgia, and Lacoste, France, SCAD offers students access to education on a global level.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: Savannah
  • Degrees offered: BFA, MA, MFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes. High-level internships are encouraged in Atlanta and Savannah.
  • Cost: BFA: $40,095/year. MA/MFA: $41,085/year
  • Job placement: 99% of graduates reported being employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduating, according to a 2023 study.
  • Notable alumni: Christian Sottile, Maruja Fuentes, Jessica Ma

Parsons, The New School

Luba Fayngersh / 500px

The New School, Parsons School of Design

In 1906, Parsons developed and launched the first-ever interior design curriculum in the US. Part of The New School in New York City, the program has long framed interior design as an “intellectually rigorous creative force in everyday life,” offering students a research-based and comprehensive foundation for building a career in interior design. The program’s curriculum draws from a range of academic fields, encouraging interdisciplinary learning and exploring the city’s vibrant resources.

As part of Parsons’s School of Constructed Environments, interior design students work closely with faculty, peers, and outside professionals to design spaces with a focus on sustainability, equity, diversity, innovation, and well-being. Coursework and specific areas of study range from materiality, art history, and design theory, to hand drawing, renderings, and three-dimensional modeling. The interior design MFA program offers students hands-on access to cutting-edge industry innovations, from exploring bio-based materials to working with virtual and augmented realities.

While Parsons offers a four-year BFA as well as graduate programs for concentrated fields, its two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) interior design degree is a great option for those with prior college education. Whichever degree program fits, students leave Parsons well-prepared to pursue work in interior, lighting, set, event, and exhibition design, as well as in historic preservation.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: New York City
  • Degrees offered: BFA, MFA, AAS
  • CIDA accredited: No
  • Local opportunities: Many. Parsons offers easy access to New York City’s abundant people and resources, as well as connections through its valuable alumni network.
  • Cost: AAS/BFA: $27,794/semester. MFA: $28,504/semester.
  • Job placement: 83% of Parsons School of Design graduates reported being employed or pursuing further education upon graduation, as did 87% of MFA graduates, according to a 2021 report.
  • Notable alumni: Victoria Hagan, Jamie Drake, Mario Buatta, Albert Hadley, Angelo Donghia, Bob Williams

Cornell University


Cornell University

At Cornell, interior design is taught through the University’s Design and Environmental Analysis program (D+EA), which is part of the College of Human Ecology’s department of human centered design. Boasting a holistic and scholarly approach to design, Cornell’s is one of few design programs of its caliber that offers a substantive, flexible curriculum that is also STEM-certified. The (D+EA) degree requires students to complete foundational courses before they can focus on electives in support of their individual goals. Student specializations fall under one of three primary research themes: design innovation and strategy, sustainable futures, or health and well-being. Throughout the department of human centered design, tools and processes common to other fields (including the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences) are incorporated into the curriculum. Alongside their chosen area of expertise, students can also choose to pursue a minor, complete an honors thesis, or plan off-campus study.

Should you already have an undergraduate degree in interior design, you can apply for Cornell’s graduate or doctorate programs. The D+EA program hires faculty from a wide spectrum of disciplines, emphasizing innovation and offering multidisciplinary training in everything from interior design to environmental psychology, ergonomics, and workplace strategies.

  • Program: Design and Environmental Analysis
  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Degrees offered: BS, MA, MS, PhD
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Some. Many students participate in off-campus study or summer internships, typically in New York City, Washington, DC, or abroad.
  • Cost: $20,800/semester. Because the College of Human Ecology is a state contract college within the university, New York State residents are eligible for the in-state fee.
  • Job placement: 85% of students in the 2022 graduating class were employed by the end of August 2022.
  • Notable alumni: Art Gensler, Richard Meier

Many faculty members at the New York School of Interior Design are practicing designers at firms such as Gensler, HOK, and Perkins+Will.

Photo: Courtesy of the New York School of Interior Design

New York School of Interior Design

With a comprehensive range of interior design programs and a focus on the liberal arts, the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) produces critical thinkers who approach design through social, cultural, and historical lenses. Students at this interior design university learn the ins and outs of presentation, as well as business, legal, and administrative necessities, gaining effective communication skills and technical proficiency along the way. NYSID’s curriculum satisfies educational requirements for membership in various industry associations and prepares students for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification examination.

Another reason NYSID is consistently ranked one of the best interior design schools is its diverse spectrum of program options: The Bachelor of Fine Arts and Associate in Applied Science degrees offer students flexibility in earning their interior design degree, while the school’s one-year Basic Interior Design Certificate Program offers a more time-efficient way to learn the fundamentals. Many of NYSID’s interior design programs can be taken full-time, part-time, or online—a convenience that makes this an appealing school for young professionals looking to pivot careers. With required internships, study-abroad programs, and over 100 faculty members who are active, practicing designers in their fields (with firms that include Gensler, HOK, and Perkins+Will), a NYSID education is a solid way to prepare graduates to enter the real world of interior design.

  • Location: New York City
  • Degrees offered: AAS, BFA, MFA, MPS
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Many. NYSID’s extensive network of connections means internships and professional networking is easy to access.
  • Cost: MFA: $20,700/semester. AAS, BFA, and non-matriculated undergraduate courses: $1,220/credit. MPS: $1,380/credit.
  • Job placement: 95% of BFA graduates and 98% of MFA graduates found employment upon graduating; 93% of BFA grads and 96% of MFA grads who found employment were hired in roles related to their disciplines.
  • Notable alumni: Rose Tarlow, Penny Drue Baird

Syracuse University

Madhur Srivastava

Syracuse University

At Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, students of environmental and interior design explore art, design, and architecture in a studio environment that mimics professional settings. First established in 1922, Syracuse’s interior design program has managed to keep ahead of the academic curve by focusing on innovative technology, transdisciplinary practices, and providing a global philosophical context for forward-thinking design.

Named one of the most admired interior design schools and ranked eigth in the nation for environmental and interior design programs by DesignIntelligence, Syracuse’s environmental and interior design program (EDI) encourages students to become creative problem-solvers, challenge the status quo, and understand the various impacts of their design decisions, embracing sustainable design concerns with an acute awareness of social responsibility. The program’s focus on cross-disciplinary philosophies and environmental design, in addition to encouraging a broad liberal arts education, makes it a uniquely balanced option.

In addition to the EDI program, Syracuse’s interior design department teaches visualization and communications skills alongside in-depth technical methods. Students are encouraged to study abroad in their junior year through Syracuse’s Design in London offering, or pursue internships in Syracuse, New York City, and elsewhere.

  • Program: Environmental and Interior Design
  • Location: Syracuse, New York
  • Degree offered: BFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes, though students are encouraged to look for opportunities beyond the Syracuse area.
  • Cost: $30,655/semester for full-time undergraduates
  • Job placement: 92% of Syracuse graduates who entered the workforce earned jobs related to their career goals.
  • Notable alumni: Thom Filicia, Ian Schrager, Sol Le Witt, Eva Groos

Drexel University


Drexel University

Drexel’s interior design degree, a part of the University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, blends design theory with real-life experience and intense, collaborative professional development. With a mix of general education requirements encouraged in tandem with art, art history, and core interior design courses, students leave Drexel prepared to take on complex design problems and work in modern day, cutting-edge design studios. Driven by interest in human experience, materials, and forms, teachers and students here explore sustainability and forward-thinking design, as well as a responsible approach to the creative design process. By their final year, students in Drexel’s interior design program are well-equipped to tackle the celebrated senior project—a three-quarter capstone that allows undergraduates to hone their skills and expand their expertise in a specific area of interest.

Experiential learning is paramount here, fulfilled through a professional co-op program that provides students with hands-on experience working at a real design firm. Drexel also emphasizes sustainable practices as an inherent facet of contemporary design: Students can choose to pursue a minor in Sustainability in the Built Environment, as well as opportunities to study abroad in Prague, London, or Denmark.

  • Program: Interior Design (undergraduate); Interior Architecture and Design (graduate)
  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Degrees offered: BS, MS; Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design also offers pre-college courses for aspiring designers.
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes. Undergraduate students must complete a six-month professional co-op work experience, and internships are encouraged.
  • Cost: BS: $19,431 plus $790/term. MS: $1,155, plus $140–$280 fee/credit hour.
  • Job placement: 88% of Drexel’s undergraduate interior design class of 2021 reported attending graduate school or finding employment in design-related fields. 100% of Drexel’s 2021 graduate class of interior architecture and design reported attending graduate school or finding employment in design-related fields.
  • Notable alumni: Douglas Ellington, Maxfield Parrish

Fashion Institute of Technology

Education Images/Getty Images

Fashion Institute of Technology

One of the best and most celebrated schools for interior design, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) has a great track record for turning out successful and creative professionals that blend entrepreneurship with artistry. FIT’s interior design program helps students learn about human-centered, evidence-based design through a selection of core classes, multidisciplinary studies, and hands-on projects. Helping students gain proficiency in the latest technology, business, and presentation skills—as well as a solid foundation in the liberal arts—are integral to the curriculum. FIT’s interior design program is the largest of its kind in New York City, built around introducing students to the most important fundamentals of design history, design theory, and career-related business practices. Students develop a thorough understanding of lighting, computer modeling, and materials. Recent FIT graduates have found interior design positions and design consulting roles across a broad spectrum of industries, ranging from manufacturing and furniture production to design showrooms and retail.

Though the Fashion Institute of Technology’s interior design program is led by top talent, BFA-seeking undergrads get even more real-world experience through the two-semester capstone, where students are asked to create a design project to be evaluated by a jury of professionals. Each student is paired with a faculty member and industry mentor during this process to support the evolution of their ideas. (According to FIT, the final result often plays a critical role in most graduates’ professional portfolios.) Alternatively, the Fashion Institute of Technology also offers a two-year AAS program designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the industry.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: New York City
  • Degrees offered: AAS, BFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Many! Students have ample opportunity to work and network with high-profile designers and architects at top firms such as Gensler and Rockwell Group.
  • Cost: AAS: $2,645/semester for NY residents, $7,935/semester for out-of-state residents. BFA: $3,585/semester for NY residents, $10,846/semester for out-of-state residents.
  • Job placement: 73% of AAS graduates continued their studies via a bachelor’s degree program at FIT, while 78% of BFA graduates reported finding employment—with over half of them employed in a job related to their degree program, according to recent alumni survey responses.
  • Notable alumni: Kathryn Gustafson, Cathy Hobbs, Jhane Barnes, Calvin Klein


Grow your business in 2024 with the AD PRO Directory

University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

With a curriculum focused on problem-solving, formal design skills, industry history, and technical expertise, the School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati grounds its students in a rigorous academic landscape while preparing them for the ever-changing requirements of professional life. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design as well as the CIDA, this five-year program is linked to the university’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning program, beginning with pursuit of a common curriculum for the first three semesters. After that, students are asked to work on an array of industrials, ranging from residential and commercial, to cultural and health institutions like schools, museums, and places of worship. Based in bustling Cincinnati, the university’s interior design program offers a comprehensive curriculum of critical thinking and book learning paired with real-world experiences that include co-op programs, portfolio reviews, and professional, thorough engagement with all aspects of design, interior to exterior.

  • Program: School of Architecture and Interior Design
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Degree offered: BS
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Some. Cincinnati offers a variety of cultural resources and work opportunities. Required co-ops are arranged with firms all over the world.
  • Cost: At the uptown campus, fees are $6,785/semester for Ohio residents and $14,452/semester for out-of-state students.
  • Job placement: 78% employment for graduates of the School of Architecture and Interior Design.
  • Notable alumni: Michael Graves, Eva Maddox, Christopher Wynn

RISD’s highly ranked interior architecture program asks students to specialize in theater, exhibition, or retail design.

Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Rhode Island School of Design

Lovingly referred to as RISD (“rizz-dee”), the Rhode Island School of Design has long been celebrated for its dedication to arts education. The school’s unique interior architecture program is consistently named one of the best interior design schools in the country, focused on finding innovative approaches to the reuse and transformation of existing buildings. Undergraduate and graduate students from around the world study design principles, how to communicate ideas through drawings, and the nuances of navigating a collaborative work environment in the school’s close-knit, intimate setting.

This particular interior design degree offers a unique perspective on the field, encouraging dialogue about architecture’s big questions and supporting a deeper understanding of design. Unlike other interior design programs, the curriculum focuses less on the application of materials and more on the holistic design of buildings. RISD’s interior architecture program offers a BFA as well as three advanced degrees: a one-year + Master of Arts (MA), a two-year + Master of Design (MDes) in adaptive reuse, and a two-year + MDes in exhibition and narrative environments. The four-year program begins freshman year with a series of core classes that all RISD students are required to take. Sophom*ore year is filled with introductory courses that cover basic principles, general concepts, and industry vocabulary. Students then move on to explore working in the field, through studio sessions and by exploring a variety of technical, theoretical, and historical class options.

Adaptive reuse and transformation of existing buildings remain fundamental pillars of this particular interior design college: The faculty create coursework that examines the intersection of architecture, conservation, and design. Areas of focus for studios include domestic, retail, and theater/production design, as well as tackling issues relating to preservation and conservation.

  • Program: Interior Architecture
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Degree offered: BFA, MA, MDes
  • CIDA accredited: No
  • Local opportunities: Some. The school’s easy access to New York City and Boston, along with the thriving arts scene in Providence, make internship opportunities easy to pursue.
  • Cost: $29,345/semester
  • Job placement: For the class of 2021, 77% of surveyed alumni reported being professionally engaged in career opportunities directly related to their studies as of December 2022.
  • Notable alumni: Nader Tehrani, Michael Maltzan, Andrea Valentini

Kansas State University

Bloomberg/Getty Images

Kansas State University

K-State’s undergraduate interior design program explores intersections between human ecological theory, design theory, and interior design practice. After spending the first two years of the program exploring fundamental design principles and practices, students spend junior and senior year applying the knowledge they’ve gained to a variety of design projects, working with real-life variables—like building codes and legal regulations—as they experience the industry firsthand. With an emphasis on promoting well-being, pursuing sustainability, and using evidence-based strategies, K-State’s design program helps students acquire skills in lighting, acoustics, sustainability, resiliency, color, environmental comfort, and other areas. Its professional mentorship program and study abroad programs in South Korea, Italy, France, and Great Britain offer unique opportunities for students to round out their education with a global perspective on their own roles in the design world. Many Kansas State University interior design students receive jobs, internships, and other opportunities at top companies, including Knoll, HOK, and Gensler.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: Manhattan, Kansas
  • Degree offered: BS
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Some. The school’s annual Design Expo unites students and professionals from firms around the country, leading to summer and academic internships as well as postgraduate employment.
  • Cost: $11,876/year for Kansas residents; $28,348/year for out-of-state residents
  • Job placement: 94% employment post-graduation for interior design graduates
  • Notable alumni: Jo Staffelbach Heinz, Amy Higgins, Audrey Koehn

Auburn University

Buyenlarge / Getty Images

Auburn University

The highly competitive interior design program at Auburn University is part of the school’s department of consumer and design sciences, with an undergraduate degree and several interdisciplinary graduate course offerings. Undergraduates enrolled in Auburn’s CIDA-accredited Bachelor of Science in interior design receive a well-rounded general education from the liberal arts university, in addition to a rigorous design foundation. At the end of the first academic term, interested students are evaluated, and the top 36 are admitted into the prestigious design program. The program’s curriculum covers nine semesters, with weekly, labor-intensive design studio sessions and required completion of a professional internship. All interior design majors complete at least one full-time internship lasting 10 weeks or more, typically during the summer after junior year, though many students complete multiple internships before graduating.

The comprehensive, four-year interior design program allows students to broaden the scope of their design curriculum with electives in finance, healthy equity, and women’s studies, among other subjects. They can also earn the LEED Green Associate credentials through classwork, and many have participated in study abroad programs around the world through the school’s sister programs. Advanced class offerings at the Masters and PhD levels include opportunities for specialization and options for pursuing a range of career paths through the consumer and design sciences department.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: Auburn, Alabama
  • Degree offered: BS
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Some local internships.
  • Cost: $6,088/semester for Alabama residents; $16,480/semester for out-of-state residents. (Students of the interior design and pre-interior design programs may be charged additional professional fees.)
  • Job placement: According to a survey of all 36 graduates from the Interior Design class of 2021 (who entered the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic), 90% reported successful employment. Across the whole school, roughly 70% of graduates reported finding a first job that directly related to their major.
  • Notable alumni: Samuel Mockbee, Paul Rudolph, Ashley Gilbreath

Virginia Tech

Tim Pennington / Getty Images

Virginia Tech

At Virginia Tech’s School of Design, a mix of theory, research, and practical knowledge are blended with tradition to teach students how to create livable, functional spaces and improve their environments. With equal emphasis on creative skills, history, technology, ethics, innovation, and best practices, the program honors the industry’s past, present, and future. Students at Virginia Tech are taught to consider human health, safety, and well-being in design. Students also learn the ins and outs of complying with various codes and regulations along the way. In addition to history and theory, attendees take courses that fall under the umbrella of professional practice, which include business procedures, building systems, lighting design, construction documents, and computer applications. The rigorous curriculum also offers courses dedicated to helping students unpack important conceptual frameworks like geometry and the mathematics of design.

As part of the School of Architecture and Design, interior design students at Virginia Tech regularly collaborate with peers and faculty through the Digital Mentorship Collaborative and student-run design journal, Studio Collective. Opportunities to study abroad while earning credit toward an interior design degree include a two-week summer course in Italy and a semester-long residency in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, where students can apply for the Steger Center for International Scholarship. Most VA Tech students also choose to enroll in field study in interior design to acquire work experience before graduation.

The balanced curriculum at VA Tech provides students with the right combination of skills and experience required to successfully contribute to the work of a design firm—as an intern and as a hired graduate. The school also strongly encourages service: to the student body, local design community, and the larger geographical region.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Degree offered: BS
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Some. Students frequently study and intern abroad in Europe or secure internships in other US cities.
  • Cost: $33,310/term for out-of-state residents; $12,698/term for Virginia residents. (Architecture and design students are required to pay an additional $1,500 fee per term.)
  • Job placement: 93% of 2022 Interior Design graduates reported finding employment.
  • Notable alumni: Martin Felsen, Charles W. Steger

Pratt Institute

Photo: Courtesy of Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute

With one of the first interior design programs developed in the United States, the Pratt School of Design is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious as well. This Brooklyn-based interior design school is a hub and home for artists and makers, with a range of architecture-oriented programs that emphasize spatial design, texture, and surface embellishment. As part of the School of Design, there’s a strong focus on the human side of things: Nearly every course emphasizes using empathy in design, and developing sensitivity to a structure’s human occupants takes priority.

Once BFA students complete their first-year foundation courses, they begin studio classes that focus on collaboration in a competitive setting during sophom*ore year. In junior year, students are invited to study abroad at the Danish International School during the spring semester: The Copenhagen-based program features extensive study tours throughout Scandinavia. With a firm commitment to social and environmental responsibility and professional ethics, Pratt’s interior design program rigorously prepares students for entry into the modern workforce, introducing them to advanced and group study, networking in professional associations, and preparing to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.

The interior design graduate program at Pratt earned second place in a recent DesignIntelligence (DI) survey ranking “America’s top-ranked architecture and design schools,” while the undergrad interior design program earned the second spot on the same survey for its fourth consecutive year. Both programs landed in the top three of all 12 key focus areas, holding leading positions in engineering fundamentals, interdisciplinary studies, and sustainable built environments/adaptive design/resilient design.

The MFA in interior design addresses the full spectrum of forces and scales of the built environment, exploring larger architectural contexts as well as objects, material forces, and their historical, social, and cultural implications. Whether working toward a BFA or MFA—both of which require completion of a thesis by graduation—students leave Pratt with a clear, profound understanding of the intersections between human behavior and practical design.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: Brooklyn, New York
  • Degree offered: BFA, MFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes, plenty. Pratt’s location in New York allows students ample opportunities to network with high-level professional firms and showrooms.
  • Cost: BFA: $57,659/annually plus $1,860 per credit in excess of 18 credits. MFA: $61,740/year for the two-year program; $49,392 for the three-year program.
  • Job placement: Among the BFA graduating class of 2021, 86% of students who graduated between July 2020 and June 2021 were employed within 1 year.
  • Notable alumni: Annabelle Selldorf, Peter Zumthor, Michelle Marshall

Florida State University

Denis Tangney Jr / Getty Images

Florida State University

FSU’s department of interior architecture and design has been one of the top interior design colleges for more than four decades. The program was ranked third in CollegeRank’s 2022 list of best colleges for interior design. Part of Florida State’s College of Fine Arts, this program takes a human-centered approach to interior design, teaching students how to build functional and sustainable environments that have a positive and equitable impact on the world around them. The program consists of sequential learning, providing education in all aspects of interior design for residential, health care, hospitality, commercial, and low-income housing projects. Though some students may want to opt into the school’s optional study abroad program in London, those who stay stateside will receive a comprehensive understanding of the industry without leaving campus. For example, the department’s Studio D maker lab and material and testing lab provide a close-up look into the processes of designing furniture and custom textiles, respectively.

FSU’s curriculum also places a strong emphasis on acquiring real-world experience: All FSU interior design students complete at least one internship before graduation. Additionally, the four-year program equips graduates to sit for the NCIDQ exam and helps them become legally licensed interior designers in the state of Florida.

Alumni of the graduate program have gone on to have careers at Gensler, HOK, Corgan, Nelson Worldwide, and SOM. In addition to MA and MFA programs, FSU offers a first professional degree for students who did not study interior design, interior architecture, or architecture during their undergrad years.

  • Program: Department of Interior Architecture and Design
  • Location: Tallahassee, Florida
  • Degrees offered: BS, BA, MS, MA, MFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes. Required internships are arranged with local interior design and architectural firms in Florida and throughout the US.
  • Cost: BA/BFA: $5,616/term for Florida residents; $18,746/term for out-of-state residents. MS/MA/MFA: $9,580/term for Florida residents; $22,220/term for out-of-state residents.
  • Job placement: On average, 89% of graduates of FSU’s undergrad program are employed within nine months of graduation. For the graduate program, more than 85% of alumni have secured design industry employment or graduate school acceptance for an additional degree within nine months of graduating.
  • Notable alumni: Grant Gribble, Lisa Kinch Waxman

Thomas Jefferson University

John Greim/Getty Images

Thomas Jefferson University

The robust interior design program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia offers a creative, research-driven education laced with interdisciplinary study covering the intersections of topics like human behavior, sustainable design, construction detailing, building systems, and more. Grounded in the belief that interior designers serve as mediators between the human experience and the built environment, this program blends social awareness with artistic inspiration.

At its core, Thomas Jefferson University works hard to give students a comprehensive and diverse understanding of the industry, through a mix of studio experience and intensive, varied coursework. Not only does this interior design school offer classes that incorporate hand drawing, model-building, and digital practice, each course includes an in-depth look at commercial, residential, institutional, and other building types. Students may choose to pursue a secondary specialization in business, construction management, textile design, historic preservation, or photography as well.

Collaborative projects incorporate real-world design processes, while optional study-abroad programs in Copenhagen and Rome offer students a well-rounded college experience. At the end of the four-year interior design program, students are required to complete a capstone project, combining their knowledge of history, theory, technology, innovation, and human behavior into a single physical space.

Students with design, non-design, and architecture backgrounds may pursue an MS in interior architecture or sustainable design at Thomas Jefferson University. The school also offers two accelerated pathway programs into the MSIA program, the BArch/MSIA and the BSArchStudies/MSIA.

  • Program: Interior Design
  • Location: Philadelphia
  • Degree offered: BS, MS
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes, many. Internships, professional organizations, and industry partnerships are readily accessible.
  • Cost: BS: $44,400/term. MS: $1,441/credit.
  • Job placement: 97% of students who graduated Thomas Jefferson University in 2021 are employed, enrolled in a graduate program, or completing military service.
  • Notable alumni: Ghislaine Viñas, Kim Wannop

The School of Visual Arts

School of Visual Arts

One of the “most hired-from interior design schools,” according to DesignIntelligence, the School of Visuals Arts (SVA) has built an interior design program around laying the foundation for a long, successful career in the field. From day one, students are immersed in a design-firm atmosphere, complete with top-of-the-line technology and their own studio workspaces. The four-year undergraduate interior design program instills a deep understanding of residential, commercial, and institutional spaces, allowing students to hone their focus in more specific fields of study, including as furniture, lighting, and product design.

In addition to its comprehensive curriculum, which combines cutting-edge technology with age-old drawing and drafting practices, SVA boasts a 1:2 teacher-to-student ratio. The program encourages students with opportunities to present work before an assortment of internationally acclaimed designers. Architects and editors are invited to join the conversation, offering major networking potential for students in the right place at the right time. With course offerings like Rhino and Digital Fabrication Concepts, Advanced Computer Rendering Techniques, and Furniture Design, students can customize the program to meet modern, individual needs. SVA’s interior design degree also meets all the requirements to sit for the NCIDQ exam—yet another way for design students to bolster their resumes and prepare for the future.

  • Program: Interior Design: Built Environments
  • Location: New York City
  • Degree offered: BFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Local opportunities: Yes. SVA’s administration and faculty assist with finding summer and part-time internships in NYC and elsewhere.
  • Cost: $24,570/semester for full-time students plus a $1,150 annual fee the first 2 years.
  • Job placement: In 2023, 7 of the 11 graduates (64%) are fully employed in design professions while 4 are in graduate school.
  • Notable alumni: Genevieve Gorder

The George Washington University

UCG/Getty Images

George Washington University

George Washington University’s interior architecture degree provides both undergraduate and graduate students ample opportunity to study, learn, and create work in a supportive environment, complete with all the amenities of a major research university. Part of the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, the school’s CIDA-accredited interior design program seeks to educate up-and-coming talent on every aspect of the industry: Undergrad students at GW are prepared for a successful career in a broad range of interior or architectural design positions, while the studio-based, graduate-level interior architecture (IA) MFA program (a rigorous, two-year curriculum designed for students wanting an advanced degree with no undergraduate degree in the field) offers a carefully sequenced series of courses building on theoretical, technical, and creative challenges inspired by real-world design issues. Through opportunities for interdisciplinary study, MA and MFA candidates collaborate with other departments at the university to develop adaptive reuse projects positioned within historic contexts in the nation’s capital.

Once students complete the required core classes, they’ll dive right into a curriculum that encourages them to challenge convention and explore three-dimensional environments through dynamic concepts, innovative materials, and modern methods and technologies. The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design is spearheaded by a faculty of top-notch design professionals from all around the world, offering students a global perspective through instruction as well as opportunities to join study abroad programs in Berlin, Rome, London, Paris, or Copenhagen.

Undergraduates who receive their BFA in interior architecture are invited, if they choose, to apply and stay at GW for an additional consecutive year to earn their Master of Arts in interior architecture and receive 10% off through the Grad2Grad Program. Graduates of GW’s programs have gone on to receive job offers at top design firms and blockbuster businesses, supported by a firm foundation of conceptual thinking and design processes.

  • Program: Interior Architecture
  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Degrees offered: BFA, MA, MFA
  • CIDA accredited: Yes
  • Cost: BFA: $64,700/term. MA/MFA: $35,100/term.
  • Job placement: 85% of BFA interior design students and 92% MFA recipients who graduated in 2021 are employed in an industry-related position.
  • Notable alumni: Lauren Waters, Brittany Watson Jepsen

Explore More Exclusive Features From AD PRO

  • Sign Up for the Building and Protecting a Profitable Business Workshop

  • Outdoor Forecast 2024: The Professional’s Guide to Today’s Backyards

  • This Old-School New York Decorating Trick That’s Back—With a Twist

  • The Kitchen’s “Ozempic” Moment, Outdoor Cooking Suites, and More Kitchen and Bath Trends to Watch in 2024

  • 83 Home Decor Stores to Shop Now and Always

  • The Best Lighting for Small Spaces, According to 7 Designers

  • How to Design a Home Gym That Your Client Will Actually Want to Spend Time In

  • Join the AD PRO Directory, our list of trusted design professionals.

Read More

StudioTwentySeven Lands in Tribeca, Patrick McGrath Stages Joseph Altuzarra for NYFW, and More News

Here's what you need to know

By Alia Akkam

Kips Bay Decorator Show House New York Reveals Designer Lineup, Design Fair Collectible Announces US Edition, and More News

Here’s what you need to know

By Alia Akkam

Design Within Reach Turned a San Francisco Warehouse Into a Certified-Cool Flagship—And AD PRO Directory Members Got a First Look Inside

On Wednesday, AD’s Mayer Rus welcomed Bay Area AD PRO Directory members for an exclusive tour of DWR’s new San Francisco flagship

By David Sokol

83 Home Decor Stores to Shop Now and Always

From decades-old destinations in New York City to up-and-coming shops in California, discover America’s best home stores that are open for business

By Benjamin Reynaert

17 Interior Design Schools Worth Applying To (2024)


What is the number one interior design program in the US? ›

Savannah College of Art and Design: SCAD, as it is more commonly known, consistently makes the top of every authoritative list of best interior design schools, including DesignIntelligence and Red Dot Design Rankings.

What is the ideal education for an interior designer? ›

The most common route is to complete a four-year bachelor's degree in interior design from an accredited school, followed by two years of work experience in the field under the supervision of a certified interior designer.

Am I suitable for interior design? ›

They should be able to visualize spaces, with a strong sense of proportion and visual awareness, and possess an understanding of how all the elements of a design plan fit together. Interior designers must be attentive to texture, color, lighting, materials and spacial relations.

What state is best for interior design? ›

Interior design is popular across the U.S., but some states are definitely more amenable to the profession. Some of the states in which home and interior design are most popular include California, Texas, and Florida, with designers enjoying high employment and thousands of jobs.

Is a certificate in interior design worth it? ›

A certificate program may be the right choice for an interior designer who wants to work on residential or small-scale projects. If you want to be an independent business owner who works with clients on home-design projects, earning a certificate may equip you with the design skills needed for this kind of work.

Who is the No 1 interior designer in the world? ›

1. Kelly Wearstler: Renowned for her bold and eclectic designs, Kelly Wearstler is a trailblazer in the world of interior design. Her work often features a mix of vibrant colors, unique textures, and luxurious elements, creating spaces that are both opulent and inviting.

How do I choose an interior design program? ›

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) suggests considering length of program, size of university, location, format of program (in person or online), program rankings, program flexibility, admission rate, tuition/expenses, alumni network, and accreditation.

Which college gives best placement for interior design? ›

  • Why go to an Interior Design college?
  • Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD), New Delhi.
  • National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.
  • CEPT University, Ahmedabad.
  • Pearl Academy, Mumbai.
  • Srishti Maanipal Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bangalore.
  • Symbiosis Institute of Design (SID), Pune.
Sep 29, 2023

What 4 characteristics should you have to become an interior designer? ›

to be creative and artistic. an understanding of colour, shape and form. to keep up to date with new design developments. to work to deadlines and budgets.

Does interior design require math? ›

For interior design, the knowledge of mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication is a must. You can use them to figure out the dimensions accurately, plan the space requirements, and determine the cost of materials.

How do I become an interior designer without a degree? ›

Here are seven steps you can take:
  1. Learn a designer's duties. ...
  2. Learn the required skills. ...
  3. Work for an expert. ...
  4. Start as a contractor. ...
  5. Build your portfolio. ...
  6. Build your network and remain up-to-date on industry trends. ...
  7. Register your name by your state.
Mar 10, 2023

Is it hard to get into interior design? ›

Interior designers, particularly those starting out, may find it difficult to get hired without existing work experience. The trouble is, of course, that it is impossible to gain experience without doing work. Many new interior designers start out by practicing their craft for free.

Is it easy or hard to get a job as an interior designer? ›

Getting hired without prior work experience

It can sometimes be challenging to get hired as an interior designer without previous experience in your job history, as clients or firms may want to see samples of your work and have proof that you know your stuff. But this isn't always the case.

Is interior design a hard career? ›

While many interior design concepts are difficult, by being enrolled in an accredited interior design degree program you can get help from your peers and professors as you work your way through the different areas of instruction that you will need to become a successful interior designer.

What do most interior designers major in? ›

The most popular major for someone interested in becoming an interior designer is interior design. Many universities offer four-year undergraduate programs in interior design, focusing on the foundations of interior design, design techniques and software programs like CAD.

What is the highest degree in interior design? ›

Doctorate Degree in Interior Design

Doctoral programs in interior design provide the highest form of education available. Individuals who pursue these programs typically want to work in research, postsecondary teaching, or advanced business roles.

Does San Jose State have interior design? ›

San Jose State University (SJSU)

San Jose State University offers a 132-unit BFA program in interior design that utilizes studio courses for hands-on training in conceptual design, space planning and urban design.

What is the number one school in TX for interior design? ›

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the finest schools in the United States for getting a degree in interior design.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Annamae Dooley

Last Updated:

Views: 6480

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Annamae Dooley

Birthday: 2001-07-26

Address: 9687 Tambra Meadow, Bradleyhaven, TN 53219

Phone: +9316045904039

Job: Future Coordinator

Hobby: Archery, Couponing, Poi, Kite flying, Knitting, Rappelling, Baseball

Introduction: My name is Annamae Dooley, I am a witty, quaint, lovely, clever, rich, sparkling, powerful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.