Top 10 Interior Design Schools In The US

Sep 26, 2021

Formal education is not ideal, and most interior design firms need designers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree will provide you a substantial body of courses relating to the technical, aesthetic, and business abilities needed to be an excellent interior designer.

If you want to become an interior designer, you'll need to know about the best interior design schools you can attend in the US. Whether you want to work on residential or commercial design, the programs mentioned below will prepare you well for your future career as an interior designer. But before we get to the rankings list, let's quickly go through what makes interior design programs unique.

Why Interior Design Program?

At interior design schools, you can learn a unique set of skills and have life-changing experiences. The programs offered by the school focuses on the creative aspects of design. A good program also instills strong business, technical, technological, and management skills in its students

If you get into a top interior design school, you'll discover the following:

  • How to face Clients, such as researching clients' goals and project requirements
  • How to develop 2D and 3D space plans
  • How to accurately pick colors, textures, materials, and decor
  • How to guarantee that space plans meet all public health, safety, and welfare requirements
  • How to plan project budgets and schedules
  • How to prepare construction documents
  • How to collaborate with other professionals, such as architects and civil engineers
  • How to supervise, direct, and control projects

Some of these programs offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA), while others offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or even a Bachelor of Science (BS). For graduate programs, they can offer a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Science (MS), or Master of Professional Studies (MPS). We’ll discuss the difference between these degrees at the end of this article.

How I Ranked These Interior Design Schools?

To develop a substantial list of the top 10 interior design schools, I formed a standard ranking list from interior design industry experts, i.e., DesignSchoolsHub and Design Intelligence). 

The list I’ve created is through surveying design professionals and asking which schools best prepare students for a career in interior design.

The schools listed will give you a top-notch interior design education, regardless of the order, it appears in.

Top 10 Interior Design Schools in the US

These are the elite interior design schools. They're the most competitive of all interior design programs, so be careful when putting together your applications—you don't only want to apply to schools with meager admissions rates!

You can get more information about admissions statistics and requirements for any of these schools by just clicking on their names.

1. New York School of Interior Design — New York, NY

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MFA, MPS
  • Online Degree Program: Yes, for MPS only
  • Tuition: $1,125 per credit (16-17 credits per full-time semester)

The New York School of Interior Design is a top-ranked grad school for interior design, which means the best faculty, networking, and post-grad opportunities. This is the only school list that specializes solely in interior design education. Graduates of this institution have excellent career prospects: 98% of students find jobs within six months of getting their degrees.

2. Parsons School of Design (The New School) — New York, NY

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MFA
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: $25,230 per full-time semester

The Parsons School of Design has a well-developed network in commerce and industry. If you wish to pursue commercial design, this school might be an excellent option for those who want to pursue commercial design.

Parsons offers more than 35 undergraduate and graduate programs, offering top-notch grad programs.

This school asserts that they focus on collaborative work, so here you have the opportunity to complete group projects, you can also collaborate with students who belong to different degree programs. Interior designers have to interact with many types of professionals to complete their job. This type of collaboration will be essential to prepare you for a career in design.

3. Pratt Institute — New York, NY

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MFA
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: Around $52,000 per year for full-time students

If you want to get a job directly after graduation, then you'll surely want to check out the Pratt Institute. In 2015, 100% of graduates found employment within just seven months after graduation. Isn’t that great?

The interior design program is an architecturally adapted program with an emphasis on spatial design and surface embellishment. All aspects of space—proportion, scale, configuration, light source, materials, materials, and color—are studied about their effect on the human spirit. 

In the MFA program, you'll learn about topics such as sustainable practice, environmental quality, aesthetics, and changing technologies.

4. Rhode Island School of Design — Providence, RI

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MA
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: $53,820 per year for full-time students (both undergrad and graduate)

One of the most prominent arts and design schools in the US, RISD

 has one of the highest concentrations of artists in the country. The interior design major is called "interior studies" or "interior architecture" at RISD.

At this school, the student has the option of three specializations through advanced design studios, focusing on design for the theater, exhibition design, or retail design. RISD is well-known for teaching students practical instruction and coursework.

5. Savannah College of Art and Design — Savannah, GA

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MA, MFA
  • Online Degree Program: Yes, BFA, MA, and MFA
  • Tuition: $37,575 per year for undergrad students, $38,475 for graduate students

SCAD is one of the highly ranked schools(#1 by Design Intelligence, #1 by Design Schools Hub) for all its art and design programs) assuring you'll have access to other artistic and creative resources on campus.

The main campus is established in Savannah, GA, but SCAD also has interior design programs based in Hong Kong, Atlanta, and Lacoste (France). SCAD offers more significant opportunities to get internships in metropolitan areas and a chance to study abroad in top cities!

 The SCAD Collaborative Learning Center, or CLC, partners with top corporations brands and generate design-based ideas and solutions for experiences, products, media, and technology.

6. Cornell University — Ithaca, NY

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BS
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MA, MS
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: $39,244 per year for full-time in-state students; $58,586 per year for full-time out-of-state students

Cornell is the only Ivy League school that provides an interior design program. Cornell’s Design and Environment Analysis program, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, gives students hands-on experiences in experimentation and innovation, focusing on the impact of design on the environment.

The curriculum is designed to focus on three fields: Design Strategy, Health and well-being, and Sustainable Futures. When we asked Cornell Graduate and Ivy Designer Lucie Macelova Ayres about the most remarkable thing she learned from Cornell, she shared, “Project Management – the BEST!”

 7. Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BS
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MS
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: $17,956 per full-time academic quarter

Drexel's offers an interior design program with a combination of interior design with the study of art and art history. Students learn the behavioral aspects of interior design in addition to aesthetic elements.

Take a portion of Art and Art History and general education, combine them to create a core interior design course that gives you an outstanding education at the forefront of design. Drexel’s Westphal College offers an exciting range of degree options; 19 in the undergraduate program alone. Westphal encourages a sense of experimentation and expansion of visual horizons.

8. Fashion Institute of Technology — New York, NY

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: None
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: $3,535 per semester for in-state students; $10,696 for out-of-state students

FIT is famous for its fashion design programs, and it also provides a robust interior design program. It's the most extensive program of its kind in NYC, with around 400 students. 

If you become a FIT student, you'll have the opportunity to work with top professionals in the area, such as architects and interior and graphic designers.  FIT‘s program has been preparing students for more than 50 years. Their severe, multidisciplinary program combines the academic study of the history and theory of interior design with practical, hands-on projects.

9. Syracuse University — Syracuse, NY

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA, BID (Bachelor of Industrial Design)
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: MFA
  • Online Degree Program: No
  • Tuition: $52,210 per year

Syracuse offers a program called Environmental and Interior Design, which is a bit broader than most other programs on this list. The courses emphasize self-discovery in visual art and design; risk-taking, and critical thought.

At Syracuse, interior design students take studio courses in fine arts and crafts to improve their main course of study. You can opt for this if you want to focus on design and, want parts of a more standard liberal arts experience.

10. University of Cincinnati — Cincinnati, OH

Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BS

Graduate Degrees Offered: None

Online Degree Program: No

Tuition: $5,830 per academic term

The interior design program at UC's School of Architecture and Interior Design features people’s physical, psychological, and social needs at work and leisure.

According to Design Intelligence, the Interior Design program is number four in the nation for 2017-2018 and is consistently in the top 10 every year. Coursework is hands-on in the studio, as well as specialized in classes, such as Furniture / Millwork, Design Science, Communication Skills, Business, and Lighting.

Let’s Check out  The Best Online Interior Design Bachelor Program Due To Covid-19

Online programs are rising across the board due to the ongoing pandemic, and interior design is no exception. Online master's in interior design is common nowadays. Luckily, we've found another high-quality school to add to our list if you're interested in getting an online bachelor’s in Interior Design.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design— Denver, CO

  • Undergraduate Degrees Offered: BFA
  • Graduate Degrees Offered: None
  • Online Degree Program: BFA
  • Tuition: $518 per credit hour for online classes, $660 per credit hour for in-person classes

RMCAD's interior design BFA program can be completed entirely online. Your teachers will all be practicing interior designers who would be able to share their real-world experience. In your online classes, you'll learn how to use tools such as CAD, hand drafting, and material sourcing.

How To Pick The Right Interior Design Program for You

Compare to other programs, and there isn't a wide variety of interior design programs to choose from, you still have to go through a lot of information to pick a school that's right for you. Positively, with this final list, you can get started on the right track.

Let’s go through five key factors. 

1: The CIDA Must accredit the School

First, you'll want to check that the Council accredits the interior design school you wish to attend for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). This organization should approve any program that claims to prepare you for a career in interior design.

All the schools on my list above are accredited. If you're not sure whether a particular school is accredited, contact its admissions office and ask.

2: Pick a School That Offers the Degree You Want

Most interior design courses offer a BA or BFA and a BS.

If you select a BA program, you will likely get more of a traditional liberal arts degree, indicating that the program aims to educate well-rounded artists and scholars.

BS degrees are strictly focused on their subject matter than BAs, so you'll take fewer general education courses.

Finally, BFAs are professional degrees; you'll have programs relating to general education, but the program’s primary focus will be helping you sharpen and focus your artistic talent and voice.

3: Choose, Whether You Prefer a Flexible or Focused Program

Some of the programs above provide students to explore their artistic and design interests and boast dozens of degree options and specializations. In contrast, others are more focused and better fitting for students, so it is essential to know what interests they want to pursue.

Allocate some time exploring and researching the programs' to get a better feel for whether they're good fits for you

4: Portfolio Requirements You Can Meet

Choosing any design or arts program, you'll have to submit a portfolio as part of the application process for any of the schools listed above. Some of these portfolio requirements might seem fair, while others might be tough to meet. Examine each program's portfolio requirements well ahead of any application deadlines.

5: Choose Location According To Your Preference

Explore if you might have an advantage if you're living in one specific area? Also, don’t just apply to school in your area if you hate or are unclear about it.

Examine these five factors, and you’ll be easily able to choose an interior design program that's right for you. The better the fit, the more successful you're likely to be in school and your career!

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