Interior Design Schools & Programs

Updated November 2, 2022

Interior design schools offer minimum coursework in interior design, including basic design theory, architectural and furniture history, computer aided design (CAD)

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Two interior design colleagues looking through books and at a tablet Credit: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images

What is Interior Design?

The interior design industry is a complex and competitive industry which includes careers in residential, business and environmental design. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 57,000 interior designers employed in the United States in 2018, making an average annual salary of $59,120. The BLS reports that interior designers are expected to have a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs, although some employers will accept associate degrees or specific interior design certification.

Interior designers are responsible for designing attractive and functional spaces inside a home or building. They must work within specific guidelines to determine what types of items, lighting and color schemes suit a given space. The role of a typical interior designer may include such tasks as:

  • Reviewing design plans
  • Interpreting client instructions and goals
  • Preparing a projected project timeline
  • Estimating project costs
  • Ordering items to create the commissioned space
  • Working within a specified design budget

Types of Interior Design Schools and Programs

Interior design schools introduce students to the fundamentals of design, architecture and color coordination so they can design and develop functional and attractive spaces. Many of today's successful interior designers work with advanced software programs and CAD to create working designs and blueprints for their designs. Most interior design schools train students in the latest technologies and software programs so that graduates are ready for employment immediately upon graduation.

  1. 1

    Vocational Schools

    Vocational or trade schools offering interior decorating programs introduce students to the fundamentals of space planning, computer aided design and color theory for both residential and commercial settings. According to Certified Interior Decorators International, most vocational schools offer only interior decorating certification rather than the more complex interior design certification or degree plans.

    Students learn how to work with contractors, understand complex building codes and design specialized environments for a wide range of industries. Students may complete a CID certification program at a vocational school in preparation for an entry-level career in the field without the need for a college degree. Coursework typically ranges from 24 credit hours to 60 credit hours.

  2. 2

    Art Schools

    Students develop strong artistic abilities and general business management skills at art schools offering interior design programs. Art schools may offer interior design certification or associate degree programs. Many art schools offer design programs with a strong focus on using computer aided design and drafting (CADD) software, traditional art and design theory. Art schools may offer both online and offline programs. Coursework varies between 24 credit hours and 60 hours for interior design certifications and associate degrees, while four-year programs at art schools typically range in credit hours from 120 to 200.

  3. 3

    Community Colleges

    Community colleges offer associate degree programs in interior design to prepare students for entry-level careers in the industry. Classes may include basic design theory, architectural and furniture history, computer aided design (CAD) and color theory and application. Students may also create studio projects where they solve design-related problems using knowledge and skills they have learned in their coursework.

    Some community colleges offer an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree or a Certificate of Completion (CCL) in interior design or interior merchandising. Associate programs typically take two years to complete with an average of 60 credit hours. Completing an associate program at a community college may help students transfer in to a university offering a bachelor's degree in interior design.

  4. 4

    Four-Year Schools

    Accredited four-year schools offering bachelor's degree programs in interior design strive to prepare students for work as an interior designer. A Bachelor of Arts in interior design or Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design degree program typically provides training in the principles of design, computer applications, space planning and problem solving. These programs should be accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). A portion of the program may involve hands-on training where students design a room or building according to specific guidelines and use advanced computer software programs. Some schools offer the opportunity to specialize specific areas of interior design, such as digital technology, historic preservation, sustainable design, retail floor design or corporate design. A bachelor's degree in interior design typically requires between 120 and 200 hours of coursework.

  5. 5

    Special Schools

    A few colleges and universities focus specifically on design. These colleges and universities are known for their high-quality interior design programs and specializations. In addition to offering standard coursework in interior design, these schools may host workshops and events with speakers, such as celebrity interior designers or successful interior designers, so that students can learn more about their future careers. Many schools have smaller class sizes so that students have direct access to their professors and can learn from mentors and other professionals. Specialized interior design schools often offer exclusive internships and apprenticeships with some of the top design firms across the nation.

Schools With the Best Interior Design Programs

An interior design school or program will allow students to enhance their creative skills while learning strategies to become an established professional in this field. To ensure that students enroll in a quality program, we have analyzed every on-campus and online interior design school and program in the country based on our methodology and compiled a ranked list of the best options for students. Learn more about the best interior design schools and programs below.

#1 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Converse College

  • Spartanburg, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Converse College is a private college offering premier bachelor's-level education to students worldwide. The Spartanburg, South Carolina-based school supports hybrid learning opportunities, with in-person and online programs. Students pursuing a BFA in interior design connect with supportive faculty, colleagues, and other staff through in-person and online learning environments.

Degree-seekers complete major-specific coursework as part of the program curriculum. Enrollees take general and advanced classes, gaining a well-rounded education.

Degree candidates work with an academic advisor and customize their degree to meet their academic and career goals. Throughout their studies, learners can work with career services to receive further guidance.

Learners can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. To date, 99% of all degree-seekers receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$18,890
Out-of-state
$18,890
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
1,455
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Marywood University

  • Scranton, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Marywood University supports flexible educational opportunities for undergraduate students. Degree-seekers can choose from in-person and remote programs. Students pursuing a bachelor of interior architecture gain access to a supportive learning community regardless of their location.

Degree candidates complete major-specific coursework and attend industry-relevant lectures. These classes equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance in their future career.

Degree-seekers can customize their studies to suit their personal and professional goals. Learners further benefit from access to institutional resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Students can meet with a financial aid counselor to explore funding opportunities. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$34,154
Out-of-state
$34,154
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
2,679
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Looking for a premier education to jumpstart your career? Consider one of the 51 bachelor’s degrees from Maryville University of Saint Louis. The college supports both in-person and remote bachelor's programs. Students enrolled in the bachelor's in interior design program benefit from a supportive learning community, top-ranked faculty, and motivated peers.

Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to the field. Students can customize their program by choosing electives and declaring minors and concentrations. Learners can also take advantage of career services and academic advising.

Eligible enrollees can apply scholarships, fellowships, and other funding to their educational expenses. The institution reports that 99% of all learners receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,070
Out-of-state
$26,070
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
10,013
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Auburn University

  • Auburn, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Auburn University supports a variety of undergraduate-level degrees. Located in Auburn, Alabama, the public institution offers competitive, flexible programs that enrollees can complete in person or online. To date, the public college supports 104 bachelor's programs, including a bachelor's in interior design.

Students near and far benefit from a supportive learning community. Degree-seekers build competency through rigorous coursework and industry-relevant lectures. Degree candidates can also pursue experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and research projects.

Students can declare minors and concentrations. Enrollees can further customize their studies in consultation with an academic advisor. Degree-seekers can connect with institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, to receive further guidance.

Students can meet with a financial aid counselor to explore funding options. Typically, students receive an average financial aid package of $8,028.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,816
Out-of-state
$29,448
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
30,460
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Taylor University

  • Upland, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking a flexible bachelor's degree can learn at their own pace at Taylor University. Located in Upland, Indiana, the private institution offers competitive, flexible programs that students can complete in person or online. Enrollees pursuing a bachelor of arts in interior architecture connect with supportive faculty, colleagues, and other staff through in-person and online learning environments.

Students follow a rigorous program curriculum. Participants take foundational classes, as well as advanced coursework, with the option to modify their schedule and choose electives.

By working with an academic advisor, degree candidates can declare minors and further customize their studies. Learners can access institutional resources, such as academic advising and career services.

The financial aid office can connect students with funding opportunities. Of all enrollees, 99% receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,050
Out-of-state
$35,050
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
2,173
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Interior Design Schools & Programs

New York School of Interior Design

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students looking to jumpstart their career should consider a bachelor's degree from New York School of Interior Design. One option includes a bachelor of fine arts in interior design. Degree candidates benefit from rigorous coursework, supportive faculty and peers, and a premier education.

Students gain skills and knowledge through their coursework, becoming better prepared for their future careers. Learners can modify their classes, choose electives, and customize their studies. Degree candidates can take advantage of institutional resources, including career services and academic advising.

Prospective applicants can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other financial aid. The college reports that 54% of all learners receive some form of aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,800
Out-of-state
$31,800
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
24%
Students Enrolled
588
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes National Association of Schools of Arts and Design

#7 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Purdue University-Main Campus

  • West Lafayette, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Purdue University-Main Campus, a public college in West Lafayette, Indiana, provides flexible study options for undergraduate students near and far.  Students pursuing a BFA in interior design benefit from a supportive learning community, top-ranked faculty, and motivated peers.

Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their studies. Enrollees can customize their degree by declaring a double major, minor, or concentration. Students can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout the course of their program.

Eligible learners can apply scholarships, fellowships, and other funding to their educational expenses. The institution reports that 65% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,208
Out-of-state
$28,010
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
45,500
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Samford University

  • Birmingham, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford University provides flexible educational opportunities for learners worldwide. Undergraduate students benefit from hybrid learning opportunities, with the option to study in person or online. The college campus and online learning environment enable learners to connect with peers, faculty, and staff during their studies.

Degree-seekers pursuing the BFA in interior design benefit from a supportive learning community. Students complete general and advanced classes, gaining a well-rounded education. Enrollees can modify their course load to suit career goals.

By working with an academic advisor, degree-seekers can modify their coursework, choose electives, and pursue concentrations and minors to suit their career goals. Learners further benefit from access to institutional resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Students can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other educational funding. To date, 100% of learners receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,000
Out-of-state
$32,000
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
5,692
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Mississippi College

  • Clinton, MS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Mississippi College is a private college offering hybrid education in Clinton. To date, the college offers 63 in-person bachelor's programs, seven of which are fully remote. Degree-seekers pursuing the bachelor of fine arts in interior design benefit from skilled faculty, rigorous coursework, and a supportive learning environment.

Enrollees gain skills and knowledge through classes, lectures, and experiential learning opportunities. Students can work with their academic advisor to customize their degree and study trajectory. Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their program, including career services and academic advising.

Interested applicants can work with the financial aid office to learn about scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,550
Out-of-state
$17,550
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
42%
Students Enrolled
4,733
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Andrews University

  • Berrien Springs, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its main campus in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Andrews University supports numerous hybrid degrees for undergraduate students. Of its 83 bachelor's programs, three are offered online. Enrollees connect with peers, faculty, and staff, either through campus learning environments or virtual classrooms.

Degree-seekers pursuing the bachelor of interior design complete foundational and advanced classes. Learners can customize their study by declaring a double major, minor, or concentration. Throughout their program, students can access resources such as career services, academic advising, and library services.

Degree candidates can explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid by working with the financial aid office. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,992
Out-of-state
$28,992
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
3,390
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Oklahoma Christian University

  • Edmond, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its main campus in Edmond, Oklahoma Christian University supports numerous hybrid degrees for undergraduate students. Learners can choose from in-person or online bachelor's programs. Enrollees pursuing a bachelor of fine arts in interior architecture connect with premier faculty and benefit from a supportive learning community.

Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework. Students can pursue internships and other experiential learning opportunities. By working with an academic advisor, enrollees can customize their coursework, select electives, and declare minors and concentrations. The college connects students with numerous resources, such as academic advising and career services, throughout the duration of their programs.

Interested applicants can explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid in consultation with the financial aid office. The college notes that 99% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$23,450
Out-of-state
$23,450
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
2,064
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#12 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Honolulu, HI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Chaminade University of Honolulu, a private college in Hawaii, provides flexible study options for undergraduate enrollees near and far. Learners can choose from in-person or online bachelor's programs. Students across modalities connect with peers and faculty through a supportive learning community.

Degree-seekers pursuing the BFA in environmental and interior design benefit from industry-specific lectures and foundational and advanced coursework. Learners can modify their classes, choose electives, and customize their studies. Degree candidates benefit from academic advising, career services, and other resources.

Students can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for funding and explore scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of aid. At the college, 99% of all enrollees receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,020
Out-of-state
$26,020
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
2,167
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#13 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Bay Path University

  • Longmeadow, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners seeking flexible study should consider Bay Path University. The Longmeadow, Massachusetts-based school supports hybrid learning opportunities, with in-person and online programs. To date, the private college supports 24 bachelor's programs, 18 of which are online.

The college connects students in the bachelor's in interior design program with peers, faculty, and staff across campus-based and remote learning communities. Degree-seekers benefit from a robust education, completing coursework that familiarizes them with the field. Participants take foundational classes as well as advanced coursework with the option to modify their schedule and choose electives.

Degree candidates seeking academic and career guidance can connect with campus resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Enrollees can explore a variety of funding opportunities to defray educational costs. Of all degree-seekers, 95% receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,081
Out-of-state
$35,081
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
3,324
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#14 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Endicott College

  • Beverly, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Endicott College supports a variety of undergraduate-level degrees. Located in Beverly, Massachusetts, the private institution offers competitive, flexible programs that students can complete in person or online. At present, the college provides 43 bachelor's programs, with five programs supporting remote study.

Whether in person or online, students pursuing the bachelor's in interior architecture join a supportive learning community, working alongside peers, faculty, and staff. Degree candidates follow a rigorous program curriculum. Learners engage foundational and advanced concepts throughout interactive study, gaining practical knowledge.

Degree-seekers can modify their coursework, choose electives, and declare minors and concentrations. Students seeking academic and career guidance can connect with campus resources, such as academic advising and career services.

To manage the costs of education, learners can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities through the financial aid office. Of all enrollees, 95% receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$33,304
Out-of-state
$33,304
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
4,741
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#15 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Suffolk University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Undergraduates seeking competitive study should consider one of Suffolk University's 80 bachelor's programs. The Boston, Massachusetts-based college supports both in-person and remote bachelor's degrees. Enrollees pursuing a BFA in interior design connect with premier faculty and benefit from a supportive learning community.

Degree candidates complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their subject field. Degree-seekers can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework, pick electives, and customize their learning to suit their academic and professional goals. The college connects enrollees with numerous resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Students can explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid in consultation with the financial aid office. At the college, 95% of all enrollees receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$39,814
Out-of-state
$39,814
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
7,169
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#16 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Iowa State University

  • Ames, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Iowa State University, a public college in Ames, provides flexible study options for undergraduate students near and far. The public college offers 104 bachelor's degrees, two of which are fully remote. Learners pursuing the bachelor of fine arts in interior design benefit from skilled faculty, rigorous coursework, and a supportive learning environment.

Degree candidates gain skills and knowledge through their coursework, becoming better prepared for their future careers. Students can modify their degree depending on their career goals, in consultation with an academic advisor. The college connects enrollees with numerous resources, such as academic advising and career services.

Students may be eligible for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid. Enrollees receive an average financial aid award of $5,887.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,042
Out-of-state
$23,230
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
33,372
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#17 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Brenau University

  • Gainesville, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Gainesville, Georgia, Brenau University provides flexible educational opportunities for learners worldwide. The private institution offers competitive, flexible programs that enrollees can complete in person or online. Learners can choose from one of 46 bachelor's degrees or opt for remote study across 15 programs. One option includes a BFA in interior design.

Degree candidates benefit from a supportive learning community. Enrollees follow a rigorous program curriculum. Learners engage foundational and advanced concepts throughout interactive study, gaining practical knowledge.

Students can modify their coursework, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Learners seeking academic and career guidance can connect with campus resources, such as academic advising and career services.

The college connects students with scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. At the college, 97% of all incoming students receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,370
Out-of-state
$29,370
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
2,817
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#18 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Concordia University-Wisconsin

  • Mequon, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Concordia University-Wisconsin is a private college offering hybrid education in Mequon, Wisconsin. The private institution features in-person and virtual programs, enabling students near and far to benefit from top-ranked classes, prominent faculty, and a supportive learning community. Enrollees across modalities connect with peers and faculty through a supportive learning community.

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts in interior architecture and design benefit from foundational and advanced coursework as well as industry-specific lectures. Degree-seekers can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework, pick electives, and customize their learning to suit their academic and professional goals. Enrollees can access institutional resources including career services and academic advising.

Students can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,060
Out-of-state
$30,060
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
64%
Students Enrolled
5,777
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#19 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Abilene Christian University

  • Abilene, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking a flexible education can explore Abilene Christian University's in-person and online degrees. The Texas-based school offers two online bachelor’s degrees, including a bachelor's in interior design/art and design.

Enrollees complete general and advanced coursework, gaining the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their field. Degree-seekers can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework, pick electives, and customize their learning to suit their academic and professional goals. Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their studies, including career services and academic advising.

Interested applicants can inquire with the financial aid office about funding opportunities. Eligible students may receive scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,250
Out-of-state
$36,250
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
61%
Students Enrolled
5,292
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#20 Interior Design Schools & Programs

Judson University

  • Elgin, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Judson University provides flexible study for bachelor's degree-seekers. Learners can choose from in-person and remote programs. The Elgin, Illinois, school offers 47 bachelor's programs, including nine fully online programs.

Students pursuing a bachelor's in interior design connect with a supportive learning community, whether in person or online. Degree candidates complete coursework as part of the program curriculum. Students complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education.

Enrollees work with an academic advisor and customize their degree to meet their academic and career goals. Students seeking further academic and career guidance can access numerous institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising.

To defray the costs of education, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,840
Out-of-state
$28,840
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
39%
Students Enrolled
1,233
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Must-Have List: Choosing an Interior Design Program

  • Scheduling Flexibility

    Look for interior design schools that offer flexibility with class schedules or the option to take some or all of your courses online. These programs can help you achieve your educational goals without compromising career or income.

  • Accreditation

    Interior design programs should be accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Some programs are also accredited by industry organizations such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

  • Apprenticeship Resources

    Some employers may prefer to work with interior design school graduates that have completed an apprenticeship program prior to graduation. Look for schools that offer some assistance in finding or recommending apprenticeship programs for new grads.

  • Internship Opportunities

    Some interior design schools have an internship component built into the program so that students can acquire valuable work experience before they graduate. You may be able to secure an internship working at an interior design firm, architectural firm or design company in your local area while attending school.

  • Studio Time

    Many interior design programs include studio hours offering hands-on practice with CAD software programs, design blueprints and project completion in individual or group settings. Studio hours give students a chance to apply a variety of skills while working on specific projects.

  • Job Placement

    Some schools, colleges and universities offer job placement assistance so that students can secure a job before graduation. Job placement can be valuable for new graduates entering the workforce and may open doors to other opportunities. Some schools work closely with local and regional interior design firms, architectural firms, independent designers and other design professionals to match up students with employers for entry-level jobs or specialized positions.

Interior Design Degrees and Certificates

According to the American Society of Interior Designers, at the minimum, most states require an associate degree or bachelor's degree in interior design. The ASID states that 26 states currently have licensing requirements before job seekers are allowed to call themselves an interior designer. Many of these states require interior designers pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam before becoming listed as an interior designer. The ASID recommends that students complete at minimum, a four-year program of study in interior design before entering the field.

Degrees and Certificates
Degree-Level Program Length Credit Hours
Certificate 3 to 18 months (typically completed in addition to a four-year degree program) 24 - 30
Associate 24 to 36 months 60
Bachelor's 48 to 60 months 120 - 200

Interior Design Toolbox/Checklist

According to the American Academy of Interior Designers, one of the best educational career moves an interior design school student can make is to complete an apprenticeship or internship before applying for a full-time career. The AAID states that employers look for students who have completed an accredited program and have a strong portfolio of past projects. Even though schools may offer studio or portfolio development courses, hands-on training with a design firm or other design professionals is usually an invaluable asset to the student. Here are some essentials for any interior design school student:

  • Skills

    Students completing an interior design program learn a variety of skills related to design, color theory, planning, communications and business management. Basic training programs usually cover concepts such as design theory, space planning and design software. Students develop strong artistic, technical, interpersonal and creative skills to design different types of spaces.

  • Essential Interior Design Software

    Students will benefit from proficiency in a variety of standard computer and design programs including: Adobe Suite (PhotoShop CS, Illustrator CS, Indesign CS, Acrobat 9 Pro and Premiere Pro CS), Autodesk (AutoCAD 64-bit, Revit and 3D StudioMax), AutoDesSys (bonzai3d SE and form7), Bentley (MicroStation V8i), Google SketchUp Pro, Material Connexion and Microsoft Office. Students will need access to a computer that can run these programs with ease.

  • Internships and Apprenticeships

    Completing an internship or apprenticeship program during school or immediately after graduation can provide students with invaluable work experience for their future careers. Internships can give students a chance to build work history, develop professional contacts and populate their resume with projects and references. Completing an apprenticeship program is proof of work in the field and can also give the apprentice access to industry professionals and mentors.

  • Certifications

    Students who already have a Bachelor of Arts degree in a related field may consider completing a certificate program to supplement their degree. Certification in interior design can introduce students to basic concepts and applications of interior design principles that they can use throughout their careers. Respected interior design certifications include:

    • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
    • Certified Interior Decorator (CID) from Certified Interior Decorators International.
    • NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certification from the Council for Interior Design Qualification.
  • Licensure

    Obtaining an interior design licenses is not required but can be an attractive addition to a graduate's resume. Students will need to pass the National Council for Interior Design (NCIDQ) exam on their own time to become a licensed interior designer.

Interior Design Industry Snapshot

Employment of interior designers is expected to grow 4.5% percent through 2026.

The American Society of Interior Designers projected that total industry sales would generate more than $10 billion in 2019. The BLS shows the highest concentration of interior designers are employed at specialized design firms, in small businesses serving a variety of clients or for specific industry segments, including architectural firms, engineering companies and other service industries.

Additional certifications are available for interior designers. To be certified, students must pass a test given by the National Council for Interior Design. Creative workshops can be a valuable addition to any interior design educational track as they give students a chance to exhibit designs and develop a strong design portfolio.

Specializations Within Interior Design

Interior designers work on enhancing the quality, function and aesthetics of a residential or commercial space. Designers often specialize in a specific area of design, such as the specializations listed below:

  • Residential Interior Designers

    The majority of interior designers work in the residential sector where they are responsible for designing and decorating living spaces. Residential designers may work closely with architects, builders and home decor specialists to create the ideal living environment for a client.
  • Corporate Interior Designers

    Corporate interior designers are responsible for creating practical, functional and efficient workspaces for a company or firm. They may work with a team of designers, architects, builders and engineers to create the ideal workspace for a variety of business industries. They may be responsible for choosing a theme and working with office floor layouts to create a productive work environment.
  • Retail Store Designers

    Many retailers work with interior designers to create attractive and inviting retail spaces. Interior designers may work closely with merchandising specialists, store managers, product buyers and other retail specialists to ensure the aesthetics of the space accommodate different store themes, merchandise and decor.
  • Stage and Set Designers

    Interior stage and set designers work on television sets and performance stages in order to create realistic-looking living spaces, rooms or other sets. Interior designers interested in working in the film, television and theatre industries may start as a set designer or decorator.
  • Kitchen and Bath Designers

    Kitchen and bath design specialists are typically responsible for working on kitchen and bath spaces to create attractive environments using the right types of fixtures, appliances, cabinetry, lighting, decor and electrical solutions to create inviting and functional bathrooms and kitchens.

Interview with an Interior Designer

Melissa Coufal

Melissa Coufal is a student at San Diego State University planning to complete her bachelor's degree in interior design in May 2015. She made the switch from real estate to interior design when she discovered her passion for designing interior spaces.

Q. What type of degree program are you completing this year?

I am earning my Bachelor's Degree form the School of Art, Design, and Art History at San Diego State University.

Q. What inspired you to pursue this program?

Prior to starting the program at SDSU, I was working as a real estate agent. What I enjoyed most about that career was being able to see the interiors of many homes and I would often think about the potential of a space or how I would design it differently. I started seeing interiors as a three-dimensional blank canvas that I could do anything with. In my decision to return to college, I knew that interior design was the right path for me.

Q. What do you like most about your program?

The program at SDSU is small, which allows for quality one-on-one time with the professors. It is a very rigorous program and having that accessibility to our instructors is important for success. As far as the content of the program, I love how the practice of interior design requires individuals to equally explore both the creative and analytical sides of the brain. The idea of starting with a concept that later develops into a space that people live and exist in fascinates me. I think of it as functional art.

Q. What has been your biggest challenge with the interior design program?

My biggest challenge has been making sure I stay inspired. Because of the copious amount of work that is required for every project, it was so easy to get caught up in the deadline to finish everything on time. I would get so stressed that I would sometimes lose sight of why I love design in the first place. As I progressed through the program and became more familiar with the process, I made sure to remember that I am designing for people to make their living and working experiences more enjoyable, and that staying inspired is what separates a good design from a bad one.

Q. Do you plan on taking additional courses, certification programs or earning another degree in this field?

I am interested in getting my LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainability and design are closely connected and I feel it's important as a future interior designer to be knowledgeable about environmentally responsible design solutions and to constantly re-evaluate the ways in which we interact with our built environment.

Q. What types of jobs or career paths are you exploring after graduation?

I would love to work in commercial design. I enjoy designing public spaces that bring community together. Working at a small architecture firm would be ideal because I feel I thrive better in an environment where I can have closer interactions and collaborations with co-workers.

After Interior Design School: What's Next

Students who have successfully completed an associate degree, bachelor's degree or advanced degree at an interior design school can explore apprenticeships for hands-on training, or enter the workforce as an interior designer or assistant interior designer.

Those who already have some work experience and an advanced degree may consider teaching positions at an educational institution or leadership positions at a design company. Continuing education courses in a particular field and specialization related to interior design, such as textile design, graphic design and furniture design, can help professionals stay competitive and advance in their careers.

Career Salary Potential
Job Title Annual Mean Salary Hourly Mean No. Employed Growth Minimum education
Interior Designer $59,120 $28.42 57,070 4.5% Postsecondary certification
Commercial and Industrial Designers $71,430 $34.34 33,200 4.3% Postsecondary certification

Interior Designer: Discuss wants and needs of clients, including budget. Prepare and present design ideas to clients. Research and locate specific materials, including furnishings, paint, tile and more for a project. Keep abreast of project and update client. Ensure finished product is acceptable to client.

Commercial and Industrial Designers: Consult with clients and conduct research to develop and design industrial spaces and workspaces to fully optimize space. Consider and work with space limitations and challenges. Research and suggest building materials and analyze costs. Prepare and present designs to client in a way that can be understood.

Advice from an Interior Designer

Know that this program is very demanding! Effective time management will be your best advocate for success. When choosing a program, look at the size of the classes because your professors will be your greatest resource. Architecture is becoming more relevant to the interior design industry; we aren't just simply decorators. Research how prominent architecture is incorporated into the program because even a basic education in that capacity will make you a better candidate when entering the professional field.

Melissa Coufal, Interior Design student at SDSU

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