Interior Design Courses: Top Interior Design School - New York, NY

Students interested in studying interior design in New York, NY, have several schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition, and ranking info to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

There are about eight schools in New York City that offer programs in interior design. Prospective students should be aware that New York requires interior designers who use the word 'certified' as part of their professional titles to obtain a license from the state. Requirements for licensure including being 21 years of age or older, having at least seven years of academic and professional experience and a earning passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam. The schools listed below are all accredited institutional members of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Based on rankings, degree offerings and graduation rates, the top three schools in NYC are:

  • Winner: The Pratt Institute had the number one graduate interior design program in the country in 2012, according to U.S. News & World Report. It offers bachelor's and master's degree programs.
  • Runner-Up #1: The New School has a #36 ranked graduate fine arts program. It offers associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs.
  • Runner-Up #2: The New York School of Interior Design also has a ranked graduate fine arts program. It offers certificates, associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. It also has the lowest tuition of the three.

School Comparison Chart

Category Pratt Institute The New School New York School of Interior Design
Ranking(s) (2012) Graduate interior design program ranked #1
Graduate fine arts program ranked #27*
Graduate fine arts program ranked #36* Graduate fine arts program ranked #145*
Location Brooklyn, NY (2.3 miles from New York City) New York City New York City
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $41,092 (undergraduate)
$26,646 (graduate)**
$39,368 (undergraduate)
$35,544 (graduate)**
$23,026 (undergraduate)
$28,850 (graduate)**
Interior Design Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees** Associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees** Associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees; undergraduate certificate**
Interior Design Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 112** 115** 170**
Most Popular Interior Design Program (2011-2012) Master of Science in Interior Design (57 awarded)** Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design (67 awarded)** Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design (66 awarded)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 62%** 60%** 82%**
Noteworthy Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Research*** Home of Allen Wexler's Closet #1, Parson's Kitchen, from the Closet Architecture Series*** Lunch and Learn Professional Development Program***

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Schools' websites.

Winner: Pratt Institute

  • Ranked #20 among northern regional universities in 2013, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts ranked #2 (2008-2013) and Master of Science ranked #1 (2011), as reported by the Design Intelligence survey
  • Co-curricular activities include Art and Design Educational Club, History of Art and Design Student Association, and the Artist League
  • Opportunity to spend a semester studying interior architecture at the Danish International School in Copenhagen

At the main campus of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, students can pursue NASAD-accredited undergraduate and graduate programs in interior design. The Bachelor of Fine Arts program emphasizes an architectural and spatial approach to interior design, and the curriculum includes basic courses in color, drawing, and light. Students also develop portfolios and can pursue specialized topics in AutoCAD, construction, and furniture design.

Similar coursework can be found in the architecturally based Master of Science in Interior Design program, which requires 48 credit hours. In addition to learning how to work with color and materials, graduate students receive advanced training in computer-aided drafting and presentation techniques. The program culminates in a thesis or a 2-semester study of exhibition design.

Runner-Up #1: The New School

  • School was ranked #125th among national universities in 2013, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Interior design facilities include a materials center and library, light and energy lab, and fabrication shop
  • Host of AFTERTASTE, an annual interior design symposium organized by graduate students, and the Parsons Festival, an annual art and design event

The New School is divided into seven degree-granting divisions and the interior design programs are offered through Parsons The New School for Design. Parsons offers NASAD-accredited programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's degree levels. In addition to learning how to read construction documents, 2-year students complete 65 credits of coursework in environmental and interior design, color, and drawing. This Associate of Applied Science program also has a fast-track option for students with 31 transferable credits.

Undergraduates who enroll in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program participate in a series of cross-disciplinary seminars and studios. They also study the ecological and energy-related aspects of interiors and complete a 6-credit capstone and a thesis.

At the graduate level, the 60-credit Master of Fine Arts curriculum includes topics in fabrication, environmental technology, and spatial analysis, as well as a 9-credit design studio. Students can also pursue a 102-credit, combined course of study in interior and lighting design, though which they can learn how forms and materials interact with light (thesis required). In partnership with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Parsons also offers a graduate program in decorative art and design history that includes the study of American and European furniture, ceramics, and metalwork, from the Renaissance to the present.

Runner-Up #2: New York School of Interior Design

  • Facilities include a lighting lab and the Mario Buatta Atelier, which includes samples of fabric, wallpaper, and floor coverings, computers, and drafting tables
  • Four interior design organizations, including student chapters of the American Society of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association
  • Student activities include field trips to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, Kykuit (Rockefeller Estate) in the Hudson Valley, and the Penn & Fletcher custom embroidery company in Manhattan
  • Opportunity to provide design services to people in need through the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, New York Cares, and Rebuilding Together

The New York School of Interior Design offers a wide range of NASAD-accredited interior design programs that can lead to a certificate, undergraduate degree, or graduate degree. Unique to the school is the non-degree Basic Interior Design program that can help to prepare students for admission to the Associate of Applied Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts programs. In addition to a study of historical styles, the 24-credit curriculum includes topics in drafting, textiles, and residential design.

At the graduate level, aspiring professionals can pursue a CIDA-accredited Master of Fine Arts program that takes three years to complete and includes training in kitchen and bath design, lighting, furniture and textiles. The program also requires six interior design studios and a thesis. Alternatively, the school offers a 60-credit, post-professional program for working designers, with specialized studio work in green, hospitality, and lighting design.

Through the 30-credit Master of Professional Studies programs, graduate students can learn how to design interiors for healthcare facilities or sustainable environments. Both the lighting design and sustainable interior programs are approved by NASAD; the healthcare interior design program has not been approved by the organization.

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