Interior design is a blossoming major that is growing in popularity as both residential and commercial clients look to improve their physical spaces.
Interior design currently counts as one of the best fields for creatives in terms of job stability and salary potential, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the median salary for these professionals at $51,500. Individuals interested in pursuing this profession should enroll in a program at a top school to ensure that they receive the best preparation for employment.
The following page provides a list of the best interior design schools in the nation. The list includes both on-campus and online programs. All of the programs on this list boast either national or regional accreditation, with many boasting interior design-specific accreditation. As such, you can rest assured that all of the schools on this list provide a degree that all employers recognize. To take the first step in your interior design career, read on to find the program that fits you the best.
What are the best schools for Interior Design?
Graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design will be prepared to work in a variety of fields. These include both commercial and residential settings, as self-employed independent contractors or as employees of larger organizations.
If you have a good eye for color and design and are willing to work hard to satisfy clients, a degree in Interior Design might be the right choice for you. Obtaining a degree in Interior Design is not only beneficial to your career, but in some cases is actually a necessity. Many states require certification and the completion of qualifying exams and coursework. Associate degrees are offered by many schools, but Bachelor’s degrees offer an even better leg up on the competition. It’s worth the time spent studying! The average interior designer makes around $50,000 a year as a starting average salary.
So stop reading, and get designing! The colleges listed below are the top fifty colleges for studying interior design and will help you get a jump start on lifelong career success.
See our rankings methodology page.
New York School of Interior Design
As a university that focuses exclusively on interior design, NYSID earns a deserved place among the best interior design schools in the U.S.A. The school’s BFA in interior design program blends the liberal arts with a professionally-focused interior design curriculum, requiring that students complete 132 credits, a process that usually takes eight semesters. Interesting program courses include kitchen and bath design, furniture design, and an architectural workshop. Students must also take an intensive course in either French or Italian. Students complete the program by creating and defending a thesis.
Savannah College of Art and Design
One of the best interior design schools in the South, SCAD offers a BFA in interior design program that requires students to earn 180 credits. As opposed to some peer programs, almost the entire curriculum focuses on art and design and includes studies in modern architecture, visual culture, drawing, and color theory. Students also complete six different interior design studio courses. The final two interior design studio courses serve as a capstone experience. Students can complete the BFA program at SCAD’s Savannah, Hong Kong, and Atlanta campuses.
George Washington University
GW’s BFA in interior architecture prides itself on its employment rate, placing 91% of its 2017 graduates in either design-related positions or graduate school. The program’s 120-credit curriculum includes relevant studies in graphic communications, sketching, modern architecture, and lighting and acoustics. All students must also complete a 120-hour internship in the field with a design agency. Students interested in earning the program’s prestigious Corcoran Scholarship must submit a portfolio of their previous work. Out of all top-ranked research universities, only three others apart from GW offer an undergraduate interior design program. As such, GW earns a place among the nation’s best interior design schools.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
One of the best interior design schools in the nation, Virginia Tech offers a pre-professional bachelor of science in interior design program that allows students plenty of studio time to learn about lighting, computer skills, historical interiors, and space planning in a hands-on way. The program’s curriculum includes studies in sustainable design and LEED, design appreciation, and interior design history. The program prides itself on placing graduates in professional settings such as corporations, architectural and design firms, and space planning organizations. The program currently only accepts students for the fall semester and maintains small cohorts each year, so admission is often competitive.
Parsons School of Design
One of the biggest names in the art world, Parsons also earns a place among the best colleges for interior design. The school’s BFA in interior design program requires students to complete 120 credits, an undertaking that requires the typical four years. Transfer credits may bring up to 60 credits with them. The curriculum includes coursework in foundational areas such as drawing, materiality and assembly, and design studios. The curriculum includes a capstone course in which students complete a final studio project synthesizing everything they learn in the program.
Cleveland Institute of Art
Known primarily for the numerous successful alumni artists it produces, CIA also maintains a place among the nation’s best interior design schools. CIA’s bachelor of science in interior architecture includes a more commercial focus than many programs, opting for coursework in commercial retail design in addition to studies in drawing, computer-aided design, and three-dimensional modeling. The program’s curriculum consists of 145 credits in total, requirements that usually take students four years to finish. In addition to design courses, students must complete art history and writing coursework.
Best known as a school with Ivy League bonafides, Cornell also operates one of the best colleges for interior design in the country. The school’s bachelor’s program in design and environmental analysis (DEA). The DEA curriculum requires students to complete a total of 124 credits, which usually take four years (or eight semesters). The curriculum includes coursework in visual literacy, history of design futures, design graphics, and environmental psychology. Students may complete de facto concentrations in design and interior environments, facility planning and management, or ergonomics and design.
Rhode Island School of Design
Maintaining a significant reputation in the art world, RISD also offers strength in design through its BFA in interior architecture program. The program’s 37 students come from around the world, learning from the department’s 25 faculty members. The interior architecture program, like all RISD bachelor’s programs, requires students to complete a foundation year of drawing, design, art history, and spacial dynamics courses. Students choose a specialization in either retail design, exhibition design, or theater design. The curriculum culminates in a final studio project that requires students to synthesize everything they learn up to that point.
College for Creative Studies
Based in Detroit, the College for Creative Studies focuses exclusively on arts programs, earning its place among the nation’s best interior design schools. The college’s BFA in interior design takes a holistic approach to the craft and focuses especially on postgraduate life. To that end, the program boasts 100% employment for its graduates. Past students in the program interned at BMW Designworks, ExhibitWorks, and Nike, among other places. The program also maintains relationships with several industry companies, allowing students to work hands-on in the field. In order to support that hands-on work, the program provides students with resources such as a three-dimensional printer, a design library, and state-of-the-art architectural software.
Based in New York City, Pratt draws aspiring artists from around the world to its Brooklyn Campus. Pratt is also one of the best interior design schools in the nation, providing a BFA in interior design that includes 126 credits and coursework in drawing, design, and art history. All students must also complete a professional portfolio and a thesis in order to graduate. Students in the program typically earn their degrees in eight semesters, or around four years. The program provides several resources to its students, including an electronic design library, an electronic design studio lab, and the school’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies.
Bay Path University maintains a unique position among the nation’s best interior design schools in that its bachelor of science in interior design program includes an overt business focus. Students hone in on residential and commercial interior design, preparing to enter the workforce. As such, the program’s curriculum blends foundational business coursework in accounting, management, and marketing with design studio and history courses. All students must also complete a business-related internship in order to graduate. Students in the program also benefit from the option of studying abroad through Bay Path’s program in Florence, Italy.
The Art Institute of California-San Diego
While other campuses in the Art Institute of California close in December 2018, The San Diego campus — one of the best interior design schools in the U.S.A. — continues to accept new students and offer a bachelor of science in interior design. The 180-quarter credit program allows students to graduate within eight quarters — or approximately 45 months — of full-time study. The program’s curriculum includes studies in lighting, space planning, textiles, computer-aided design, and residential design, among other topics. Students also learn about sustainable design and human factors in design.
University of Cincinnati
Among the best interior design schools, the University of Cincinnati maintains a place as one of the few large state universities. The school’s bachelor of science requires five years to complete, including 18 months of cooperative education in which students practice professionally with a design organization. The program graduates 92.6% of its graduates, and 92 percent of graduates find a full-time job in the field within three months of finishing the program. Given the intensity and quality of the program, the program maintains strict admissions requirements, and the average accepted student earns a GPA of 3.6 and ACT scores between 25 and 28.
Brenau University — one of the best interior design schools in the U.S.A. — offers its BFA in interior design program at campuses in Gainesville, Georgia and North Atlanta. Though the school does not offer the program online, the program includes the flexibility of an online offering, allowing students to choose between day, weekend, and evening classes. As such, students can keep up with full-time jobs or family obligations while earning their design degrees. The program boasts an 84.2% placement rate in the design field for its program graduates.
Kansas State University
One of the largest schools by population among the nation’s best interior design schools, Kansas State University leverages its state school resources to offer a robust bachelor of science degree in interior design that emphasizes human/environment interaction. The program’s four-year curriculum includes studies in topics such as lighting, sustainability, ethics, and color, and upon graduating, students may pursue professional certifications such as LEED Accredited Professional. Students may complete an internship for credit and must complete a research project in their final semester as a capstone experience.
Based in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Andrews University operates as the flagship university of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. The university also maintains a place as one of the country’s best interior design schools, offering a bachelor of interior design program that requires students to complete 132 credits. The program’s curriculum includes studies in foundational design areas such as environmental technology, materials and methods, color theory, and furniture design. Students complete numerous design studio courses and spend five weeks during a summer abroad focusing on design in that country. All applicants must submit evidence of an high school GPA of at least 2.5.
The Art Institute of California-Hollywood
Though other campuses in the Art Institute of California system plan to close in December, Hollywood continues to accept enrollments for its bachelor of science in interior and product design program. The program requires students to complete 180 quarter credits, a process intended to take eight quarters, or 45 months. The curriculum includes coursework in residential, commercial, and institutional design in addition to theory courses in textiles, lighting, and human factors. The program offers several open houses throughout the year for prospective students and maintains relationships with several Southern California businesses in order to secure internship and employment possibilities.
Florida State University
One of the largest and best interior design schools in the nation, Florida State offers a bachelor’s program in interior architecture and design that allows students to choose between a BA or a BS degree. The program’s major curriculum consists of 76 credits, including studies in furniture design, construction systems, sustainable design, and business programs. All students also complete five different interior design studio courses. The program culminates in an internship, and all students must also create a professional portfolio in order to graduate. All applicants to the program must submit evidence of a minimum high school GPA of 3.0.
One of the best interior design schools in the country, the Philadelphia-based Drexel University offers a bachelor of science program in interior design that focuses on sustainability, professional preparation, human experience, and exploring the uses of materials and form. The program focuses on hands-on learning through its studio courses, which allow students to engage in both individual and collaborative design work with peers and faculty members. The program enrolls approximately 20 students in each cohort and boasts an 89% placement rate in full-time jobs in the field or design graduate school.
Maryland Institute College of Art
Based in Baltimore, MICA opened as one of the first art schools in the country in the early 19th century. The school now holds a place as one of the best interior design schools in the U.S.A., offering a BS in architectural design program that requires students to complete 120 credits. The 69-credit core curriculum combines theoretical and historical courses such as world architecture and modern architecture and urbanism with hands-on laboratory, drawing, and design courses. All students must complete a thesis as a capstone experience. Students can choose to complete a 15-credit studio concentration that focuses on problem solving in architectural design.
Kent State University at Kent
Kent State University — one of the best colleges for interior design — offers a BA degree in interior design that focuses on how to best use design principles to meet human needs. Typically taking eight semesters to complete, the program’s curriculum consists of 126 credits and includes studies in three-dimensional modeling, furniture design, lighting for interior spaces, and marketing, among other areas. The program does not include a thesis or capstone requirement. In order to earn admission, applicants must submit evidence of certain minimum scores: a 2.75 high school GPA and a 1100 SAT score or a 22 ACT score.
As one of best colleges for interior design in the country, Endicott College offers a strong BFA in interior design program that requires the completion of 129 credits, a process that takes full-time students four years. The program opts for a particularly hands-on approach, as students complete internships during their freshman, sophomore, and senior years and a professional portfolio during their junior year. The program also requires students to complete a thesis as a capstone experience during their final two semesters. Other interesting courses in the curriculum include environmental psychology, construction materials, electronic materials, and multiple design studios.
Auburn University earns its spot among the best interior design schools in the U.S.A. through its BS degree in interior design. The program typically takes students nine semesters to complete and includes internship opportunities each summer thanks to Auburn’s connections in the industry. The program’s curriculum includes coursework in foundational areas such as sustainable, commercial, and residential interior design. The curriculum also includes multiple design studios and foundational business coursework in marketing and accounting. The program also strongly encourages all students to complete a professional portfolio course before graduating in order to help with the job search.
One of the nation’s largest and most reputable universities, Ohio State also earns a place among the nation’s best interior design schools through its BS program in interior design. The program strives to help students understand the importance of both environmental factors and human needs in the design process. The program’s four-year curriculum includes coursework in design research, design media, design history, and interior design technology. In their final semester, all students complete a professional practice experience in the field. Program graduates boast a 100% acceptance rate to graduate school and a 71% full-time job placement rate in the field.
One of the best interior design schools in the U.S.A., the University of Florida offers a bachelor’s in interior design program that focuses on evidence-based practices. Operating since 1973, the program’s students and faculty regularly publish research in lighting, design history, and design technology. UF’s Engage Design Lab provides designs solutions for clients, using virtual reality to help clients see their designs. The interior design program’s four-year curriculum includes studies in architectural interiors, the history of interiors, environmental technology, and computer-assisted three-dimensional design. The program boasted a 100% graduation rate in 2016 and 2017.