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:

  • AAS, Interior Design
  • BFA, Interior Design
Locations:  Paramus

Programs offered:

  • Interior Design
Locations:  Vancouver

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
Adrian College Adrian MI 1081
Alexandria Technical College Alexandria MN 2192
Altoona Area Vocational Technical School Altoona PA 154
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
Iowa State University Ames IA 26845
University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst MA 24416
Anderson University Anderson SC 1398
Pacific Union College Angwin CA 1468
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale VA 37073
Fox Valley Technical College Appleton WI 6806
Marymount University Arlington VA 3422
Anne Arundel Community College Arnold MD 11761
Randolph Community College Asheboro NC 1951
Bauder College Atlanta GA 598
The Art Institute of Atlanta Atlanta GA 934
Baker College of Auburn Hills Auburn Hills MI 1910
Auburn University Main Campus Auburn University AL 21860
The University of Texas at Austin Austin TX 49996
Bellevue Community College Bellevue WA 11234
Endicott College Beverly MA 1697
Samford University Birmingham AL 4379
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington IN 37076
Appalachian State University Boone NC 13227
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville MS 2796
Suffolk University Boston MA 6908
Wentworth Institute of Technology Boston MA 3187
Bowling Green Technical College Bowling Green KY 854
South Dakota State University Brookings SD 8695
Newbury College - Brookline Brookline MA 2152
Pratt Institute - Main Brooklyn NY 4272
Harcum College Bryn Mawr PA 545
Villa Maria College Buffalo Buffalo NY 405
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale IL 22552
Cazenovia College Cazenovia NY 964
University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls IA 14106
University of Charleston Charleston WV 1096
Art Institute of Charlotte Charlotte NC 194
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte NC 14908
Columbia College Chicago Chicago IL 9056
Harrington College of Design Chicago IL 646
International Academy of Design and Technology Chicago IL 1739
The Illinois Institute of Art Chicago IL 1395
Antonelli College Cincinnati OH 350
College of Mount St. Joseph Cincinnati OH 2221
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus Cincinnati OH 27327
Cleveland Institute of Art Cleveland OH 553
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland OH 19518
Mississippi College Clinton MS 3423
Baker College of Clinton Township Clinton Township MI 2559
Pikes Peak Community College Colorado Springs CO 9997
Columbus College of Art and Design Columbus OH 1416
Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus OH 47952
Oregon State University Corvallis OR 16758
University of Minnesota - Crookston Crookston MN 2775
Western Carolina University Cullowhee NC 6699
Art Institute of Dallas Dallas TX 1463
El Centro College Dallas TX 4333
Wade College Dallas TX 228
Henry Ford Community College Dearborn MI 12742
Art Institute of Colorado Denver CO 2090
Drake University Des Moines IA 5126
Highline Community College Des Moines WA 6327
College for Creative Studies Detroit MI 1086
Wayne County Community College District Detroit MI 9008
Michigan State University East Lansing MI 43366
University of Central Oklahoma Edmond OK 14099
Butler County Community College El Dorado KS 7911
El Paso Community College El Paso TX 18001
Mercyhurst College Erie PA 3186
Ivy Tech Community College - Southwest Evansville IN 3448
North Dakota State University - Main Campus Fargo ND 9902
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff AZ 19964
Baker College of Flint Flint MI 3896
Colorado State University Fort Collins CO 26807
Omore College of Design Franklin TN 148
William Woods University Fulton MO 1479
University of Florida Gainesville FL 45114
Brenau University Gainesville GA 2266
Arcadia University Glenside PA 2736
David Wolcott Kendall Memorial School Grand Rapids MI 744
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro NC 13125
East Carolina University Greenville NC 18750
Centenary College Hackettstown NJ 1335
Mid Michigan Community College Harrison MI 2316
Art Institute of Las Vegas Henderson NV 154
High Point University High Point NC 2788
Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu HI 2620
Art Institute of Houston Houston TX 551
Houston Community College System Houston TX 40929
Cabell County Career Technology Center Huntington WV 582
Marshall University Huntington WV 15640
Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis IN 27525
Marian College Indianapolis IN 1271
Inver Hills Community College Inver Grove Heights MN 4304
Western Michigan University Kalamazoo MI 28657
Gateway Technical College Kenosha WI 5741
Kent State University - Kent Campus Kent OH 21924
Saint Louis Community College - Meramec Kirkwood MO 12518
Pellissippi State Technical Community College Knoxville TN 7859
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