How to Choose Schools with Interior Design Programs and Courses

Programs in interior design are offered at the associate and bachelor's degree levels at many colleges and universities across the country. Future interior designers learn fundamental design principles, color theory and textiles, among other topics.

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Interior design can be studied at the associate and bachelor's degree levels. Students may find programs offered through the design departments of many 2-year technical and community colleges, as well as 4-year universities.

Schools with Interior Design Programs

The following 2-year and 4-year schools offer degree programs in interior design:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,772 (In-state) $31,464 (Out-of-state)
Alexandria Technical & Community College Alexandria, MN 2-year, Public Associate's $5,402
Baylor University Waco, TX 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $40,198
California State University - Sacramento Sacramento, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,872 (In-state) $18,032 (Out-of-state)
Columbus College of Art and Design Columbus, OH 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $32,710
Fashion Institute of Technology New York, NY 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Associate's, Bachelor's $5,230 (In-state) $14,230 (Out-of-state)
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $7,736 (In-state) $20,856 (Out-of-state)
University of Kentucky Lexington, KY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $10,936 (In-state) $24,268 (Out-of-state)
University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR 4-year, Public Bachelor's $8,522 (In-state) $21,826 (Out-of-state)
Villa Maria College Buffalo, NY 4-year, primarily associate's, Private, not-for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's $20,260

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Some things to consider when selecting an interior design school include the following:

  • Look for schools that are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), which enables students to qualify to take the national certification exam offered by the National Council of Interior Design Qualification.
  • Choose programs that line up with your career goals. A 2-year associate degree program is sufficient to become a design assistant. A bachelor's degree is needed for those seeking to begin as an entry-level designer.
  • Consider programs with formal training in computer-aided drafting (CAD), architectural and engineering basics, as they are desirable skills for future job-seekers and are increasingly more important in the field.
  • Programs offering formal internships or apprentice programs are desirable. They give students a competitive edge and makes them more well-prepared when entering the profession.

Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs offered by many community colleges prepare students for entry-level interior design jobs, such as a designer's assistant. Such programs generally take two years to complete. Many allow students to transfer credits into a bachelor's degree program.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs offered by many colleges and universities prepare students to become registered interior designers. Most of these 4-year programs emphasize creative problem solving, lighting, color, building codes and functionality.

Students interested in studying interior design can find associate's and bachelor's degree programs at several 2-year and 4-year institutions. While choosing a program to attend students should keep in mind that more favorable programs may include apprentice programs, internships and/or basic CAD training.

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