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
Patricia Stevens College Saint Louis MO 122
Interior Designers Institute Newport Beach CA 134
Omore College of Design Franklin TN 148
Art Institute of Las Vegas Henderson NV 154
Altoona Area Vocational Technical School Altoona PA 154
Virginia Marti College of Art and Design Lakewood OH 181
Pennsylvania College of Art and Design Lancaster PA 191
Art Institute of Charlotte Charlotte NC 194
Wade College Dallas TX 228
Southern College Orlando FL 318
Watkins College of Art and Design Nashville TN 338
Antonelli College Cincinnati OH 350
Design Institute of San Diego San Diego CA 358
Villa Maria College Buffalo Buffalo NY 405
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design Lakewood CO 410
Davis College Toledo OH 434
Mcpherson College Mcpherson KS 463
Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts York PA 465
Harcum College Bryn Mawr PA 545
Art Institute of Houston Houston TX 551
Cleveland Institute of Art Cleveland OH 553
Moore College of Art and Design Philadelphia PA 573
Cabell County Career Technology Center Huntington WV 582
Bauder College Atlanta GA 598
Louisville Technical Institute Louisville KY 612
Harrington College of Design Chicago IL 646
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - San Francisco San Francisco CA 663
The Art Institute of Portland Portland OR 666
David Wolcott Kendall Memorial School Grand Rapids MI 744
Atlantic Union College South Lancaster MA 755
The Art Institutes International Minnesota Minneapolis MN 760
Latter Day Saints Business College Salt Lake City UT 824
D G Erwin Technical Center Tampa FL 853
Bowling Green Technical College Bowling Green KY 854
Illinois Institute of Art at Schaumburg Schaumburg IL 870
The Art Institute of Atlanta Atlanta GA 934
Marymount College of Fordham University Tarrytown NY 938
Ringling School of Art and Design Sarasota FL 958
Cazenovia College Cazenovia NY 964
Ai Miami International University of Art and Design Miami FL 997
Salem College Winston Salem NC 1027
Adrian College Adrian MI 1081
College for Creative Studies Detroit MI 1086
University of Charleston Charleston WV 1096
Becker College Worcester MA 1166
Mount Ida College Newton MA 1196
Baker College of Port Huron Port Huron MI 1230
Mount Mary College Milwaukee WI 1246
Ursuline College Pepper Pike OH 1252
Marian College Indianapolis IN 1271
Halifax Community College Weldon NC 1308
International Academy of Design and Technology Tampa FL 1325
Centenary College Hackettstown NJ 1335
The Illinois Institute of Art Chicago IL 1395
Anderson University Anderson SC 1398
Converse College Spartanburg SC 1412
Columbus College of Art and Design Columbus OH 1416
Art Institute of Dallas Dallas TX 1463
Pacific Union College Angwin CA 1468
Carteret Community College Morehead City NC 1470
William Woods University Fulton MO 1479
Brooks College Long Beach CA 1618
Endicott College Beverly MA 1697
International Academy of Design and Technology Chicago IL 1739
Ivy Tech Community College - Kokomo Kokomo IN 1812
Baker College of Owosso Owosso MI 1905
Baker College of Auburn Hills Auburn Hills MI 1910
Randolph Community College Asheboro NC 1951
Berkeley College West Paterson NJ 1994
Art Institute of Colorado Denver CO 2090
Newbury College - Brookline Brookline MA 2152
Alexandria Technical College Alexandria MN 2192
College of Mount St. Joseph Cincinnati OH 2221
Western Piedmont Community College Morganton NC 2248
Brenau University Gainesville GA 2266
Mid Michigan Community College Harrison MI 2316
Art Institute Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA 2497
New York Institute of Technology - Manhattan Campus New York NY 2501
Baker College of Clinton Township Clinton Township MI 2559
Art Institute of Seattle Seattle WA 2561
Meredith College Raleigh NC 2595
Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu HI 2620
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 2648
New England Institute of Technology Warwick RI 2712
Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon MI 2727
Arcadia University Glenside PA 2736
Hesser College Manchester NH 2766
University of Minnesota - Crookston Crookston MN 2775
High Point University High Point NC 2788
Northeast Mississippi Community College Booneville MS 2796
Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis MO 3055
Dakota County Technical College Rosemount MN 3086
Mercyhurst College Erie PA 3186
Wentworth Institute of Technology Boston MA 3187
Marymount University Arlington VA 3422
Mississippi College Clinton MS 3423
Ivy Tech Community College - Southwest Evansville IN 3448
Ivy Tech Community College - Northcentral South Bend IN 3475
Santa Fe Community College Santa Fe NM 3606
University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio TX 3702
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