Top Interior Design Degree Program - Arlington, VA

Few schools in the Arlington area have top ranking interior design programs. Read on to find out more about what these top schools have to offer for interior design, as well as tuition and degree information.

School and Ranking Information

Students seeking an interior design program in Arlington can choose from among nine schools located within a 15-mile radius of the city's downtown. Based on 2012 U.S. News & World Report rankings and school information, the top choices in the Arlington area are Marymount University, George Washington University and Corcoran College of Art and Design. Both Marymount University and George Washington University offer programs that are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), a distinction enjoyed by just nine schools in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

  • Winner: Marymount University is the first university recipient of the American Society of Interior Designer's Potomac Award (Washington Metropolitan Chapter, 2012). It offers both bachelor's and master's programs in interior design.
  • Runner-Up #1: George Washington University has a significantly higher graduation rate than the other top schools. It also offers bachelor's and master's programs in the field.
  • Runner-Up #2: Corcoran College of Art and Design, the only art and design school in the Arlington area, ranks third with bachelor's and master's programs.

School Comparison Chart

Category Marymount University George Washington University Corcoran College of Art and Design
Rankings 46th for Regional Universities (South)* 37th in High School Counselor Rankings,
127th for graduate fine arts programs (nationwide)*
Not applicable*
Location Arlington, VA Washington, D.C. (7.4 miles from Arlington) Washington, D.C. (7.7 miles from Arlington)
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $25,178 (undergraduate);
$14,729 (graduate)**
$45,780 (undergraduate);
$24,147 (graduate)**
$31,130 (undergraduate);
$24,810 (graduate)**
Interior Design Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees** Bachelor's and master's degrees** Bachelor's and master's degrees**
Interior Design Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 46** 25** 19**
Most Popular Interior Design Program in 2011-2012 Bachelor's degree (33 awarded)** Bachelor's degree (15 awarded)** Master's degree (17 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 48%** 81%** 57%**
Noteworthy DISCOVER program supports first-year creative seminars and students research conference New and affordable interior design firm established by recent alumni for students and entry-level professionals One of very few art schools in the United States operating in conjunction with a major museum

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

Winner: Marymount University

  • Total cost for undergraduates is $3,340 lower than the national average for 4-year, private schools, according to the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center
  • Access to industry professionals and networking opportunities through the student-run Interior Design Alliance
  • Students have interned with top U.S. design firms

A private school affiliated with the Catholic Church, Marymount University offers Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts programs in interior design through its School of Arts and Sciences. Under the direction of six faculty members, undergraduates complete a 6-course interior design sequence and study architectural graphics, computer-aided drafting, lighting techniques and textiles. As juniors and seniors, future professionals can participate in internships with high-end design firms, furniture retailers and other companies.

At the graduate level, the school allows students to pursue a professional or post-professional track. The professional track is accredited by CIDA and requires 27 credits of accelerated interior design courses and 51 credits of graduate studies, including a research project or thesis. Similar requirements can be found in the 36-credit post-professional program. Both courses of study include 12-18 credits of electives in acoustical or furniture design, contemporary architecture and historic interiors, among others.

Runner-Up #1: George Washington University

  • Average grant and scholarship package of $25,705 in 2011-2012, as noted in NCES
  • Fully equipped design lab with books, magazines, computer equipment and materials
  • Interior Design Advisory Board composed of faculty, professionals and students

As of the 2013 fall semester, students in both the undergraduate and graduate design programs at this university were expected to see a significant increase in their studio core requirements. The interior design and architecture program has recently embarked on an ambitious renovation that, when complete, will give students access to a dedicated work space.

Under the direction of approximately 14 full-and part-time faculty members, undergraduates in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program complete prerequisite coursework in architectural and decorative arts history, drawing and sculpture. Beginning in the sophomore year, they participate in five design studios and take classes in acoustics, digital drafting, lighting and professional practices.

The 2-year Master of Fine Arts program is intended for students who have not completed an undergraduate program in architecture or interior design. Prerequisites include 30 credits in liberal arts and sciences. In addition to including five design studios, the curriculum covers topics in building systems, structures and sustainability.

Additional programs include an 18-credit graduate certificate program in exhibition design that allows for 12 credits of electives in interior design.

Runner-Up #2: Corcoran College of Art and Design

  • 92% of first-time undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012, according to NCES
  • Design internships are available through the Corcoran Career Services Center
  • Networking and real-life access to the industry is provided through a student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers
  • Visiting artist's series features programs nearly every night of the week

Corcoran College of Art and Design is located not far from the White House, and the interior design faculty is composed of 30 members. The school offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Fine Arts program in interior design with upper-level studio courses in 3-D digital design, finishing methods, lighting and rendering techniques, among other areas. In addition to a senior thesis, degree requirements include electives in local art and architecture, color theory and photography.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits the 60-credit Master of Arts in Interior Design program, available at the Georgetown campus. In addition to completing core coursework, students learn to work with AutoCAD and Revit Architecture software, participate in four interior design studios and undertake a research- and project-based thesis. Graduates might be eligible to take the National Council of Interior Design's certification exam.

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