Universities with Interior Design Majors: How to Choose

Interior design is a broad term that encompasses everything from the basic architecture of a room to the furniture placed within it. Interior design bachelor's degree programs are available at a number of colleges throughout the U.S.

How to Select an Interior Design School

Interior design programs are widely available and typically result in a bachelor's degree. When looking for suitable programs, students should be aware of several factors in order to make an appropriate training decision.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Types of programs and curriculum
  • Networking opportunities
  • School accreditation

Types of Programs and Curriculum

A bachelor's degree in interior design can be obtained either as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Interior Design or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interior Design. A B.S. program may incorporate marketing, principles of accounting, public speaking and organizational behavior. Students earning a BFA will spend more time on specific subjects such as advanced lighting, residential design, furniture design, and contract design.

The intensity of interior design programs will vary from school to school. Some undergraduate programs are more basic than others and will only include about 30 to 40 credit hours of interior design-based coursework. Other programs, typically at more specialized design schools, include more than 80 hours of coursework specifically dealing with interior design.

Networking Opportunities

Students considering an undergraduate degree in interior design might want to consider the availability of field-specific student organizations at prospective colleges. Campus groups that are set up to connect and encourage interior design students with similar interests could help students both academically and professionally. Students may also want to consider the availability of internships and whether those internships are built into the course work or exist outside of the school's official program.

School Accreditation

There are many ways to qualify for the National Council of Interior Design Qualification's (NCIDQ) exam, but the quickest way is to attend a Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) accredited school. If the school is only National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) associated or Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) accredited, then the minimum work experience needed to qualify for the NCIDQ exam increases from 3,520 to 5,280 hours. Accreditation information can usually be found on a school's official website under the 'About Us' category.

Program Overview

Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design

An undergraduate degree program in interior design combines many different aspects of the art world as well as the fundamentals of design. Study abroad programs, internships, thesis projects and field experience are all part of a bachelor's degree program in interior design. Aside from fulfilling general education requirements, students will spend much of their time focused on the fundamentals of design, including:

  • Textiles
  • 3D animation
  • Graphic design
  • Sketching

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