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.
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:
What can you do with a bachelor's degree?
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:
What jobs are available to master degree-holders?
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:
A Ph.D. in Interior Design can lead to a career as a:
We found 207 schools offering interior design degree programs in the U.S.
|Auburn University Main Campus||Auburn University||AL||21860|
|The University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||AL||19277|
|Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff||AZ||19964|
|University of Arizona||Tucson||AZ||34488|
|Academy of Art University||San Francisco||CA||5995|
|Brooks College||Long Beach||CA||1618|
|California State University - Sacramento||Sacramento||CA||25714|
|Design Institute of San Diego||San Diego||CA||358|
|Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Los Angeles||Los Angeles||CA||2648|
|Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - San Francisco||San Francisco||CA||663|
|Interior Designers Institute||Newport Beach||CA||134|
|Pacific Union College||Angwin||CA||1468|
|Pasadena City College||Pasadena||CA||22948|
|San Diego Mesa College||San Diego||CA||21233|
|San Jose State University||San Jose||CA||26698|
|University of San Francisco||San Francisco||CA||7917|
|Arapahoe Community College||Littleton||CO||7436|
|Art Institute of Colorado||Denver||CO||2090|
|Colorado State University||Fort Collins||CO||26807|
|Pikes Peak Community College||Colorado Springs||CO||9997|
|Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||Lakewood||CO||410|
|George Washington University||Washington||DC||20527|
|Ai Miami International University of Art and Design||Miami||FL||997|
|D G Erwin Technical Center||Tampa||FL||853|
|Florida International University||Miami||FL||31945|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee||FL||33971|
|International Academy of Design and Technology||Tampa||FL||1325|
|Ringling School of Art and Design||Sarasota||FL||958|
|University of Florida||Gainesville||FL||45114|
|Georgia Southern University||Statesboro||GA||14184|
|Gwinnett Technical College||Lawrenceville||GA||4814|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah||GA||4923|
|The Art Institute of Atlanta||Atlanta||GA||934|
|Chaminade University of Honolulu||Honolulu||HI||2620|
|Drake University||Des Moines||IA||5126|
|Iowa State University||Ames||IA||26845|
|University of Northern Iowa||Cedar Falls||IA||14106|
|Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||ID||8949|
|Columbia College Chicago||Chicago||IL||9056|
|Harrington College of Design||Chicago||IL||646|
|Illinois Institute of Art at Schaumburg||Schaumburg||IL||870|
|International Academy of Design and Technology||Chicago||IL||1739|
|Southern Illinois University Carbondale||Carbondale||IL||22552|
|The Illinois Institute of Art||Chicago||IL||1395|
|Indiana University - Bloomington||Bloomington||IN||37076|
|Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis||Indianapolis||IN||27525|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Kokomo||Kokomo||IN||1812|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Northcentral||South Bend||IN||3475|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Southwest||Evansville||IN||3448|
|Butler County Community College||El Dorado||KS||7911|
|Kansas State University||Manhattan||KS||21929|
|Bowling Green Technical College||Bowling Green||KY||854|
|Louisville Technical Institute||Louisville||KY||612|
|University of Kentucky||Lexington||KY||23114|
|University of Louisville||Louisville||KY||19771|
|Atlantic Union College||South Lancaster||MA||755|
|Massachusetts Bay Community College||Wellesley Hills||MA||4458|
|Mount Ida College||Newton||MA||1196|
|Newbury College - Brookline||Brookline||MA||2152|
|University of Massachusetts - Amherst||Amherst||MA||24416|
|Wentworth Institute of Technology||Boston||MA||3187|
|Anne Arundel Community College||Arnold||MD||11761|
|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|
|College for Creative Studies||Detroit||MI||1086|
|David Wolcott Kendall Memorial School||Grand Rapids||MI||744|
|Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti||MI||23561|
|Henry Ford Community College||Dearborn||MI||12742|
|Lansing Community College||Lansing||MI||16011|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing||MI||43366|
|Mid Michigan Community College||Harrison||MI||2316|
|Wayne County Community College District||Detroit||MI||9008|
|Western Michigan University||Kalamazoo||MI||28657|
|Alexandria Technical College||Alexandria||MN||2192|
|Dakota County Technical College||Rosemount||MN||3086|
|Inver Hills Community College||Inver Grove Heights||MN||4304|
|The Art Institutes International Minnesota||Minneapolis||MN||760|
|University of Minnesota - Crookston||Crookston||MN||2775|
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minneapolis||MN||45481|
|Maryville University of Saint Louis||Saint Louis||MO||3055|
|Patricia Stevens College||Saint Louis||MO||122|
|Saint Louis Community College - Meramec||Kirkwood||MO||12518|