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.
|Latter Day Saints Business College||Salt Lake City||UT||824|
|Lansing Community College||Lansing||MI||16011|
|Kent State University - Kent Campus||Kent||OH||21924|
|Kansas State University||Manhattan||KS||21929|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Southwest||Evansville||IN||3448|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Northcentral||South Bend||IN||3475|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Kokomo||Kokomo||IN||1812|
|Iowa State University||Ames||IA||26845|
|Inver Hills Community College||Inver Grove Heights||MN||4304|
|International Academy of Design and Technology||Tampa||FL||1325|
|International Academy of Design and Technology||Chicago||IL||1739|
|Interior Designers Institute||Newport Beach||CA||134|
|Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis||Indianapolis||IN||27525|
|Indiana University - Bloomington||Bloomington||IN||37076|
|Illinois Institute of Art at Schaumburg||Schaumburg||IL||870|
|Houston Community College System||Houston||TX||40929|
|Highline Community College||Des Moines||WA||6327|
|High Point University||High Point||NC||2788|
|Henry Ford Community College||Dearborn||MI||12742|
|Harrington College of Design||Chicago||IL||646|
|Harcum College||Bryn Mawr||PA||545|
|Halifax Community College||Weldon||NC||1308|
|Gwinnett Technical College||Lawrenceville||GA||4814|
|Georgia Southern University||Statesboro||GA||14184|
|George Washington University||Washington||DC||20527|
|Gateway Technical College||Kenosha||WI||5741|
|Fox Valley Technical College||Appleton||WI||6806|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee||FL||33971|
|Florida International University||Miami||FL||31945|
|Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - San Francisco||San Francisco||CA||663|
|Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising - Los Angeles||Los Angeles||CA||2648|
|El Paso Community College||El Paso||TX||18001|
|El Centro College||Dallas||TX||4333|
|Eastern Michigan University||Ypsilanti||MI||23561|
|East Carolina University||Greenville||NC||18750|
|Drake University||Des Moines||IA||5126|
|Dixie State College of Utah||Saint George||UT||6350|
|Design Institute of San Diego||San Diego||CA||358|
|David Wolcott Kendall Memorial School||Grand Rapids||MI||744|
|Dakota County Technical College||Rosemount||MN||3086|
|D G Erwin Technical Center||Tampa||FL||853|
|Cuyahoga Community College District||Cleveland||OH||19518|
|Concordia University - Wisconsin||Mequon||WI||4603|
|Columbus College of Art and Design||Columbus||OH||1416|
|Columbia College Chicago||Chicago||IL||9056|
|Colorado State University||Fort Collins||CO||26807|
|College of Mount St. Joseph||Cincinnati||OH||2221|
|College for Creative Studies||Detroit||MI||1086|
|Clover Park Technical College||Lakewood||WA||7921|
|Cleveland Institute of Art||Cleveland||OH||553|
|Chaminade University of Honolulu||Honolulu||HI||2620|
|Central Piedmont Community College||Charlotte||NC||14908|
|Carteret Community College||Morehead City||NC||1470|
|Cape Fear Community College||Wilmington||NC||5470|
|California State University - Sacramento||Sacramento||CA||25714|
|Cabell County Career Technology Center||Huntington||WV||582|
|Butler County Community College||El Dorado||KS||7911|
|Brooks College||Long Beach||CA||1618|
|Brookdale Community College||Lincroft||NJ||11552|
|Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||ID||8949|
|Brigham Young University||Provo||UT||32554|
|Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts||York||PA||465|
|Bowling Green Technical College||Bowling Green||KY||854|
|Berkeley College||West Paterson||NJ||1994|
|Bellevue Community College||Bellevue||WA||11234|
|Baker College of Port Huron||Port Huron||MI||1230|
|Baker College of Owosso||Owosso||MI||1905|
|Baker College of Muskegon||Muskegon||MI||2727|
|Baker College of Flint||Flint||MI||3896|
|Baker College of Clinton Township||Clinton Township||MI||2559|
|Baker College of Auburn Hills||Auburn Hills||MI||1910|
|Auburn University Main Campus||Auburn University||AL||21860|
|Atlantic Union College||South Lancaster||MA||755|
|Art Institute Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||PA||2497|
|Art Institute of Seattle||Seattle||WA||2561|
|Art Institute of Las Vegas||Henderson||NV||154|
|Art Institute of Houston||Houston||TX||551|
|Art Institute of Dallas||Dallas||TX||1463|
|Art Institute of Colorado||Denver||CO||2090|
|Art Institute of Charlotte||Charlotte||NC||194|
|Arapahoe Community College||Littleton||CO||7436|
|Appalachian State University||Boone||NC||13227|
|Anne Arundel Community College||Arnold||MD||11761|