Top School in Dallas for Becoming an Interior Designer

Students interested in studying interior design in the Dallas, TX, area have a few schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

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School and Ranking Information

Aspiring interior designers can choose from about six schools within 50 miles of downtown Dallas. Based on rankings, program offerings, graduation rate and distance from downtown, the top three schools that offer interior design programs are listed below. Two of the three schools offer programs that have professional status with the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Completion of one of these programs is needed to earn the Registered Interior Designer credential from the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE).

  • Winner: Texas Christian University (TCU) earns the top spot for having the highest graduation rate among these three schools. It is also the only school on this list with a national ranking from U.S. News and World Report.
  • Runner Up #1: The University of Texas (UT) at Arlington had the second highest graduation rate and was the only other school that offers a bachelor's degree in interior design that qualifies students for TBAE certification.
  • Runner Up #2: El Centro College is located right in Dallas and offers two different interior design programs. This 2-year school has the lowest tuition among the three top schools.

School Comparison Chart

Category Texas Christian University University of Texas at Arlington El Centro College
Rankings Ranked 92nd for national universities in 2013* N/A N/A
Location Fort Worth, TX (35 miles from Dallas) Arlington, TX (21 miles from Dallas) Dallas, TX
School Type Four-year, private not-for-profit Four-year, public Two-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $34,590** $8,878 in-state,
$17,302 out-of-state**
$1,350 in-district,
$2,490 in-state,
$3,960 out-of-state**
Interior Design Program Levels Offered Bachelor's degrees Bachelor's degrees Certificate; associate's degrees
Interior Design Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 12** 13** 7**
Most Popular Interior Design Program in 2011-2012 N/A N/A Associate's in Interior Design (6 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) 74% (2005 entering class)** 40% (2005 entering class)** 5% (2008 entering class)**
Noteworthy Department of Interior Design and Merchandising houses the TCU Interior Design Association (TIDA) student organization that sponsors monthly networking meetings among students and industry professionals The university's Architecture and Fine Arts Library offers various resources on interior design and other related fields The El Centro campus is located in downtown Dallas with easy access to free transportation on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)

Sources: *2013 U.S. News and World Report, **NCES College Navigator

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Winner: Texas Christian University (TCU)

  • Department of Interior Design and Merchandising offers a one semester study abroad program in Italy for interior design students
  • Students have the opportunity to become a member of the Beta Zeta Chapter of Phi Upsilon Omicron - a national honor society

The Department of Interior Design and Merchandising is housed within the university's College of Fine Arts. In the fall of 2012, the College of Fine Arts reported an enrollment of 839 students, according to the schools' website. The department offers a four-year program in interior design that culminates in a Bachelor of Science degree. Students undergo a portfolio review in the spring semester of their freshman year to determine eligibility for continued study. The program consists of intensive studio training and a summer internship in the junior year. Past students of the program have interned at organizations, such as Christopher Coleman - New York City, Corgan and Gensler. By completing the CIDA-accredited bachelor's program, students meet the education requirements to take the NCIDQ exam and apply for registration with the TBAE.

Runner-Up #1: University of Texas at Arlington

  • Interior design programs have dual accreditation with the CIDA and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
  • The School of Architecture undergraduate programs are offered as a cohort group, where the same set of students complete all classes together

The University of Texas at Arlington offers training in interior design at the undergraduate-level through the School of Architecture. According to the university's fact book, the school enrolled 178 students in 2012. The Bachelor of Science program is offered as a full professional degree, which meets the educational requirements for the NCIDQ exam and registration with the TBAE. Students initially enroll in the program as interior design-intended majors. After completion of basic and core classes in the sophomore year, students are then able to declare a major in interior design, if a minimum GPA of 2.8 is maintained. Students learn the theory and history of interior design, as well as practical application through a series of studio classes. Further study can also be attained through a supervised research study or an approved internship in the senior year.

Runner-Up #2: El Centro College

  • The college's Interior Design Department offers student chapters of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
  • The college offers low tuition rates for in-district students at $1,350 per year, according to the NCES

El Centro Community College is the premier institution of the Dallas County Community College District. The college has three campuses in Dallas, including its downtown El Centro campus. This campus is the only one of the three that offers classes in interior design. The school offers an Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design and an Advanced Technical Certificate in Interior Design. The associate's degree program offers rigorous studio training to prepare students for professional practice. To gain admission, students must pass a Texas Success Initiative assessment test or submit proof of exemption.

For the advanced certificate program, students must first complete the associate's degree program and pass a portfolio review to be admitted. Both programs are currently not accredited by the CIDA. However, the school reported that students who complete the advanced certificate program by July of 2014 are eligible to receive the same education credits from the TBAE that is usually only applied to CIDA programs.

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