Design professions have experienced something of a renaissance in the last several years, and interior design is no exception. With a degree in interior design, you can learn what it takes to create comfortable, beautiful residential and commercial spaces for a wide range of clientele.
Most interior design degrees at the undergraduate level aim to provide a foundation of art and design fundamentals and impart the knowledge and skill necessary to apply that knowledge to real-world settings. Most interior design degree programs lead to a bachelor's degree when completed, but associate and master's degree programs are also available at certain schools.
If you're hoping to embark on an interior design career but don't have the space in your schedule to take on a traditional curriculum, look into online degrees in interior design. Online degrees for interior design students typically contain the same sort of courses as the campus-based variety and let you complete assignments or attend lectures from anywhere that has a solid internet connection.
Best Colleges for Interior Design Degree Programs
In order to find the best schools for interior design, we used numbers published by the National Council for Education Statistics (NCES) to put together data profiles on around 250 schools across the country. Check out our methodology by clicking the button below, and read on to find out if a school near you is one of the best colleges for interior design degree programs.
Interior design degree programs at Stevens - The Institute of Business and Arts are available for both associate- and bachelor's-level students and aim to teach concepts relevant to both residential and commercial design. Courses include architectural graphics, color theory, textiles and design methods for special-purpose environments like healthcare facilities.
Instructional expenses such as classroom technology and course development are important to the quality of your education, and Our No. 1 school reserves a larger percentage of its annual budget for those expenses than any other institution in our top ten. It also reported our list's second-highest percentage of interior design students in its 2015 graduating class.
The Design Institute of San Diego had the second-highest 2015 graduation rate among schools that made our top ten, and that wasn't the only bright spot among its graduation statistics. According to the NCES, 100 percent of students who graduated in 2015 earned an interior design degree, meaning you're likely to have plenty of classmates who share your passion.
The interior design degree program here features a broad exploration of the discipline, as well as some course availability in evenings and on weekends for on-campus students who need some scheduling flexibility. Undergraduate interior design students at DISD study drawing and composition, building systems, sustainable environments, human factors of design and more.
No other school in our top ten has a larger student body than Seminole State College of Florida, which awarded more than twice as many overall degrees as our next-largest school. This Gulf Coast school also reported the most affordable average cost of tuition and fees among schools on our list, charging students just $3,131 on average for the year in 2015.
Degree options here include a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in interior design and an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in interior design technology. The four-year plan features optional concentrations in architectural design, building construction, kitchen and bath and digital media. Technical certificate programs in residential staging and kitchen and bath design are also available.
The main Tucson, Arizona, campus of Southwest University of the Visual Arts began operations more than 30 years ago with just two students and has grown into an arts college that offers eight separate degree programs. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in interior design is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and consists of 125 credits of coursework.
The data on SUVA seem to show a commitment to its students that's translating into academic success. The student-faculty ratio at the Tucson campus was a comfortable 7:1 in 2015, which is likely to have had some influence on its list-leading graduation rate of nearly 85 percent.
Students at Bellevue College paid the second-lowest average tuition and fees cost in 2015 — $3,619 for the year, according to the NCES — and featured the second-highest proportion of instructional support spending among schools that made our top ten. It also featured distance education enrollment of over 36 percent, placing it ahead of all but three other schools on our list in that category.
The Bellevue, Washington, school offers an Associate of Arts (A.A.) and a B.A.A. in interior design. The B.A.A. functions as a two-year degree completion program, so Bellevue students looking to earn a four-year bachelor's degree must first complete the A.A. program and transfer to the B.A.A. for their upper division coursework.
Our No. 6 school offers fully online degrees for interior design students, and the numbers show that aspiring designers are taking advantage of the extra flexibility. The NCES reports that 100 percent of students enrolled at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design took at least some of their courses via distance education — more than double the second-highest percentage on our list.
The curriculum for RMCAD's Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in interior design melds concepts from the disciplines of architecture, environmental design, graphic design and industrial design to create a multi-dimensional instructional approach. Students can also choose to add a sustainable design specialization to both the campus-based and online interior design degrees.
Just three other schools on our list reported a higher percentage of interior design graduates in their 2015 graduating class than Sullivan University, formerly Sullivan College of Technology and Design, a small, for-profit institution in Louisville, Kentucky. On-campus flexibility was a standout category for Sullivan Tech, where students can take advantage of evening and weekend classes, career counseling and placement services for alumni.
Along with the aesthetic principles of interior design, the B.A. program at Sullivan University gives students a formal introduction to the often-overlooked technical aspects of the field. Accurate measuring, cost estimation, sales techniques and computer-aided design (CAD) are all part of the four-year study plan.
Coming in at No. 8 is one of the larger schools on our list, where the degree for aspiring interior designers takes an especially structural approach. The B.F.A. in interior architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point aims to instruct students on interior design and construction at the intersection of art and science, developing a mix of creative, technical, technological and critical thinking skills.
UW-Stevens Point ranked No. 3 for the affordability of its average tuition and fees cost in 2015, and the numbers also show that students had a tendency to stick around and see their degree plans through to the end. Just two other schools on our list posted better graduation rates than UW-Stevens Point in 2015.
Interior Design Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
Most firms that hire interior designers require at least a bachelor's degree, although some senior positions may be reserved for candidates with a master's or several years' experience in the field. Here's some detail about a few careers that make use of the skills gained from earning a degree in interior design.
Career Outlook for Interior Design Majors
It can be difficult to find your first interior design job out of college, but keeping your finger on the pulse of the career market can help you better target your education toward high-demand segments of the working world. Here's some info about employment projections for interior design graduates.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Designers, All Other||$68,610||8,450||4.7%|
|Set and Exhibit Designers||$61,020||10,590||4.7%|
|Commercial and Industrial Designers||$71,430||33,200||3.3%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Interior Design
While financial aid differs by institution, students may find the English department at their college or university has scholarship opportunities for new and returning students. Plus, there are national scholarship programs specifically for those studying English and related fields. These include ACES Scholarships, the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship and others.
Recipient must re-submit an application each year.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015