Best Interior Design Graduate Programs – These top interior design schools and majors are worth applying for. See which interior design programs made the list to narrow your school search.
While a formal education is not an absolute must, most interior design firms require their designers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in one of a wide range of disciplines. In fact, a bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education that more than 2 in 5 interior designers (44%) surveyed in 2022, while 27% went on to a master’s degree. More than a quarter of interior designers surveyed by the report have an associate degree or lower qualification.
Best Interior Design Graduate Programs
Earning an interior design degree provides the aesthetic, technical, and business training needed to be a well-rounded interior designer. Having a formal degree can also increase your earning power during your career as an interior designer. According to IIDA, interior designers with advanced degrees or additional certifications (NCIDQ, LEED or CID) report a median annual salary of $17,000 more than those without.
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The first step to choosing a top interior design program is to make sure it has the right accreditation. The two main elements you need to know when you start your search are the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ exam):
An independent, nonprofit accrediting organization for colleges and universities in the United States and internationally. Counseling volunteers ensure that students receive an education that will serve them well as students and prepare them for future professional growth.
A three-part exam that tests interior designers’ knowledge of the basic skills required for professional practice in the industry. Students enrolled in an accredited interior design program can be confident that they will be prepared for the NCIDQ exam and meet quality standards recognized by the profession.
The task of finding an accredited college or university can seem daunting, but this list of programs can help you narrow down your options or at least begin your search for the best school for you.
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Drexel’s interior design program combines the study of interior design with the study of art and art history. Students examine behavioral, technological, environmental and aesthetic aspects of interior design in the context of complex design projects. Combined with art and art history and general education requirements, a core of interior design courses creates a unique education at the forefront of design. Drexel’s Westphal College is considered one of the best interior design colleges because it offers an impressive range of degree options; 19 in undergraduate programs only. Built on a solid foundation in visual studies, Westphal inspires a sense of experimentation and expansion of visual horizons.
Syracuse University’s interior design program is housed in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, in downtown Syracuse. The emphasis is on self-discovery in visual arts and design; risk taking and critical thinking. Syracuse’s program is called “Environment and Interior Design,” which is a bit broader than most of the other programs on this list. At Syracuse, interior design students receive a liberal arts education and studio courses in arts and crafts to complement their major courses of study. This program can be a good option for students who want to focus on design but also want to participate in a more standard liberal arts experience.
Cornell is the only Ivy League school to offer an interior design program, making it competitive and rigorous. Human-centered design programs, at the undergraduate and graduate level, provide students with practical experience in research and innovation, with a special focus on the impact of design on the environment. The curriculum is organized with a focus on three areas: design strategy, sustainable future, and health and well-being.
FIT has consistently garnered international acclaim and recognition for its programs in fashion, design, art, communication and business. FIT’s Interior Design program has been preparing students for success for more than 50 years. This rigorous multidisciplinary program combines the academic study of history and theory of interior design with practical, hands-on projects. Over the years, the school has been ranked number 7 in the best interior design programs by Design School Hubs and number 8 by Design Intelligence. Its strong curriculum is embedded in its commitment to research, experiential learning, adaptive academics and industry partnerships.
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Founded in 1906, the New School offers more than 25 programs, including a BFA in Interior Design, BFA. in Design and Technology, B.S. in Urban Design, and an M.F.A. in interior design. Students have access to top NYC companies and showrooms, as well as exclusive connections from one of the best and oldest interior design schools. Grade 5 by Design Intelligence and Design Schools Hub, New School for Design has some well-developed networks in commerce and industry, so this school can be a particularly good option for students who want to pursue commercial design. The program emphasizes collaborative work, allowing students to work with others in different degree programs. Interior designers must work with many different types of professionals to complete a job, this type of collaboration helps prepare students for careers in interior design.
According to Design Intelligence, the interior design program was ranked No. 4 in the nation for 2017-2018, and is consistently in the top 10 year after year. The School of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati offers a five-year program that emphasizes the physical, psychological and social needs of clients and customers; culminating in a capstone project, which provides students with hands-on practical experience. Ninety-two percent of the students were employed within three months of graduation (71% with starting salaries above $40,000 per year), and are able to solve problems, think critically and use modern technology in the field. The course is practical in the studio, as well as specialized classes, such as Furniture / Millwork, Communication Skills, Design Science, Business, and Lighting.
NYSID is a specialty interior design school founded in 1916. The school’s focus on interior design allows it to provide its 600 undergraduate and graduate students with some of the most comprehensive and creative training available in the United States. NYSID’s graduate programs are ranked No. 4 in the nation, and its undergraduate programs are ranked No. 5 in the nation for 2016. Ninety percent of students from undergraduate programs found work within six months of graduation, and for postgraduate programs were eighty – four percent. The school has a large alumni and professional network that students can use to improve their career prospects. This program gives students the tools to think analytically; to create functional, safe and beautiful interior environments; and communicate orally and graphically using the latest technology.
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the most popular and highest ranked design schools in the country. It was ranked number 4 of the top interior design schools by Design Intelligence and number 3 by Design Schools Hub. The school offers “Internal Studies” subjects at the undergraduate level. At this level, the student has the choice of three specializations, or “paths”, through the advanced design studio, focused on design for the theater, exhibition design or detail design. RISD has one of the largest concentrations of artists in the country, making its interior design program known primarily for its hands-on instruction and courses.
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This top interior design school operates out of its main Brooklyn campus (PI also has a Manhattan campus), where it has maintained its reputation for both the creative flexibility and practical rigor of its program. Since 2008, the professional survey, Design Intelligence, has ranked the undergraduate program number two in the country. The interior design program is an architecturally oriented program with an emphasis on spatial design and surface decoration. All aspects of space – scale, proportion, configuration and light sources, as well as texture, material and color – are studied in relation to their effects on the human mind. Pratt Institute has impressive statistics, with 94% of graduates obtaining employment after graduation between July 2018 and June 2019 within a year of graduation.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) ranks highly across the board (No. 1 by both Design Intelligence and Design Schools Hub) for all of its art and design programs. The main campus is located in Savannah, Georgia, but SCAD also has interior design programs based in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. Elsewhere, these programs mean greater opportunities for internships in metropolitan areas, or opportunities to study abroad! The SCAD Collaborative Learning Center, or CLC, partners with leading companies, brands and organizations to generate design-driven concepts and solutions for experiences, products, media and technology. SCAD made our list of the best universities for interior design because it is the first art and design university to receive the Teaching Technology Council’s Award for Outstanding Distance Education Program, and the Excellence in Online Teaching ranking and Learning Institutes of the Online Learning Consortium. .
After reading this list of the top 10 interior design programs, you should have a better idea of what’s out there for you. All
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