Interior Design General

Interior designers are creative professionals who develop specifications for the practical and aesthetic interior features of built structures. They may work for individual clients in home residences, corporate clients in commercial construction, or institutions in specialized settings like hospitals, assisted living facilities, airports, and schools. A large number of interior designers are self-employed.

The job is not only about decoration, although this is one component. Designers are as likely to focus on elements like flame retardants and materials toxicity as color and style. To learn the science of structural planning and design functionality, professional interior designers typically earn at least an undergraduate education, although master and doctoral degrees are becoming more common in a competitive job market. Some of the best interior design schools are art schools with dedicated programs. A future interior designer may major in Interior Design or a related discipline like Facilities Management, Interior Architecture, or Textile Science.

Interior design is at once artistic and technical, and invariably has a business component. It is also a matter of regulation in many locations. This is true in about half the states. Four-year interior design programs should be accredited by the Council for Interior Accreditation (CIDA), National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), or a body approved by the Department of Education.

Degrees in Interior Design

Bachelor Degrees

While there are associate and certificate programs for interior designers, sub-baccalaureate degrees are less competitive on a resume. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends that interior designers earn at least a bachelor's degree in ID or a related field to gain access to entry-level employment. Those with bachelor degrees are eligible to apply for certification with the National Council for Interior Design (NCID) and a state license where applicable.

Bachelor curricula in interior design introduce the creative, technical, and business skills that budding designers need to begin building their client base and portfolio. While some programs focus on residential settings, others emphasize the commercial, large-scale applications of the discipline. It is common to minor or double-major in an area like architecture or materials science at this level.

Courses for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design might include:

  • Interior Materials I & II
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Architectural Graphics

What can you do with a bachelor's degree?

  • Interior Design Consultant
  • Visual Merchandise Manager
  • Interior Design Sales Professional

Master Degrees

Graduate degrees in interior design are relatively new to the discipline. Master students learn advanced problem-solving skills specific to interior environments, often in an area of specialization, such as gerontological design, hospitality, or branding.

Students also become well-versed in valuable portfolio management skills and can begin building their own professional portfolio. Note that an undergraduate portfolio is usually required for admission to a master's program, and a thesis and capstone portfolio presentation may be required for graduation.

Earning a master's degree in interior design gives job applicants a competitive edge over bachelor degree-holders. It also enables graduates to teach at some colleges and universities. College-educated individuals who want to switch to a career in interior design from another field often go straight to an ID master's. At many schools, it is possible for qualifying students to go to graduate school for interior design with a bachelor's degree in any field.

Not all interior designers study ID at the master's level, however. Some major in interior design as an undergraduate and then move on to a master's degree in a related area, like interior architecture or urban design to expand their marketable skills. Other designers, aware of the business dimension of the profession, go on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Studio courses for a Master of Interior Design may include:

  • Art Historical Awareness & Aesthetic Sensitivity
  • Institutional Interior Environments
  • Research & Design Theory

What jobs are available to master degree-holders?

  • Commercial Space Planner
  • Interior Design Instructor
  • Interior Concept Manager

Doctoral Work

While relatively few interior designers earn a doctorate in the profession, the Ph.D. in Interior Design has become more prevalent. Designers with a Ph.D. from one of the top interior design schools have the greatest educational edge over job market competitors.

Doctoral programs prep graduates for managerial positions and well-compensated careers in, for example, major commercial settings or as independent consultants. Those with an advanced ID degree can work in academia and help advance the science of interior design through research.

Doctoral programs require students to write and defend a research dissertation in a highly specialized area of study. Interior designers at this level often practice while finishing their degree.

A doctorate in Interior Design could include studies in:

  • Architecture & Design Research
  • Facility Management & Design
  • Neighborhood Design & Sustainability

A Ph.D. in Interior Design can lead to a career as a:

  • Healthcare Interior Design Manager
  • Professor of Interior Design
  • Senior Living Design Consultant

Featured Schools

Programs offered:

  • Interior Design (BS)
  • Residential Interiors (D)
  • Residential Planning (D)
  • And more...

We found 207 schools offering interior design degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 207 Interior Design General Colleges in the U.S.

Interior Design Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

1
Pratt Institute - Main
Brooklyn, NY  |  Total Enrollment: 4272

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's
2
California College of the Arts
Oakland, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 1180

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's
2
Ohio State University - Main Campus
Columbus, OH  |  Total Enrollment: 47952

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
4
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 2578

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's

Browse All 207 Colleges With Interior Design Programs


Title City State Enrollment
Abilene Christian University Abilene TX 4739
Academy of Art University San Francisco CA 5995
Adrian College Adrian MI 1081
Ai Miami International University of Art and Design Miami FL 997
Alexandria Technical College Alexandria MN 2192
Altoona Area Vocational Technical School Altoona PA 154
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
Anderson University Anderson SC 1398
Anne Arundel Community College Arnold MD 11761
Antonelli College Cincinnati OH 350
Appalachian State University Boone NC 13227
Arapahoe Community College Littleton CO 7436
Arcadia University Glenside PA 2736
Art Institute of Charlotte Charlotte NC 194
Art Institute of Colorado Denver CO 2090
Art Institute of Dallas Dallas TX 1463
Art Institute of Houston Houston TX 551
Art Institute of Las Vegas Henderson NV 154
Art Institute of Seattle Seattle WA 2561
Art Institute Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA 2497
Atlantic Union College South Lancaster MA 755
Auburn University Main Campus Auburn University AL 21860
Baker College of Auburn Hills Auburn Hills MI 1910
Baker College of Clinton Township Clinton Township MI 2559
Baker College of Flint Flint MI 3896
Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon MI 2727
Baker College of Owosso Owosso MI 1905
Baker College of Port Huron Port Huron MI 1230
Bauder College Atlanta GA 598
Baylor University Waco TX 13719
Becker College Worcester MA 1166
Bellevue Community College Bellevue WA 11234
Berkeley College West Paterson NJ 1994
Bowling Green Technical College Bowling Green KY 854
Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts York PA 465
Brenau University Gainesville GA 2266
Brigham Young University Provo UT 32554
Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg ID 8949
Brookdale Community College Lincroft NJ 11552
Brooks College Long Beach CA 1618
Butler County Community College El Dorado KS 7911
Cabell County Career Technology Center Huntington WV 582
California State University - Sacramento Sacramento CA 25714
Cape Fear Community College Wilmington NC 5470
Carteret Community College Morehead City NC 1470
Cazenovia College Cazenovia NY 964
Centenary College Hackettstown NJ 1335
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte NC 14908
Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu HI 2620
Cleveland Institute of Art Cleveland OH 553
Clover Park Technical College Lakewood WA 7921
College for Creative Studies Detroit MI 1086
College of Mount St. Joseph Cincinnati OH 2221
Colorado State University Fort Collins CO 26807
Columbia College Chicago Chicago IL 9056
Columbus College of Art and Design Columbus OH 1416
Concordia University - Wisconsin Mequon WI 4603
Converse College Spartanburg SC 1412
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland OH 19518
D G Erwin Technical Center Tampa FL 853
Dakota County Technical College Rosemount MN 3086
David Wolcott Kendall Memorial School Grand Rapids MI 744
Davis College Toledo OH 434
Design Institute of San Diego San Diego CA 358
Dixie State College of Utah Saint George UT 6350
Drake University Des Moines IA 5126
Drexel University Philadelphia PA 13128
East Carolina University Greenville NC 18750
Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti MI 23561
El Centro College Dallas TX 4333
El Paso Community College El Paso TX 18001
Endicott College Beverly MA 1697
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 2648
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - San Francisco San Francisco CA 663
Florida International University Miami FL 31945
Florida State University Tallahassee FL 33971
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton WI 6806
Gateway Technical College Kenosha WI 5741
George Washington University Washington DC 20527
Georgia Southern University Statesboro GA 14184
Gwinnett Technical College Lawrenceville GA 4814
Halifax Community College Weldon NC 1308
Harcum College Bryn Mawr PA 545
Harding University Searcy AR 4337
Harrington College of Design Chicago IL 646
Henry Ford Community College Dearborn MI 12742
Hesser College Manchester NH 2766
High Point University High Point NC 2788
Highline Community College Des Moines WA 6327
Houston Community College System Houston TX 40929
Howard University Washington DC 10010
Illinois Institute of Art at Schaumburg Schaumburg IL 870
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington IN 37076
Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis IN 27525
Interior Designers Institute Newport Beach CA 134
International Academy of Design and Technology Tampa FL 1325
International Academy of Design and Technology Chicago IL 1739
Inver Hills Community College Inver Grove Heights MN 4304
Iowa State University Ames IA 26845
Ivy Tech Community College - Kokomo Kokomo IN 1812
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