Top Interior Design Degree Program - Arlington, VA

Jul 26, 2020

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 o U.S. News & World Report rankings and school information, the top choices in the Arlington area are Marymount University, and George Washington University. 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: 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.

School Comparison Chart

Category Marymount University George Washington University
2020 Rankings* 37th for Regional Universities (South) 73rd for graduate fine arts programs (nationwide)
Location Arlington, VA Washington, D.C. (7.4 miles from Arlington)
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2019-2020)** $33,330 (undergraduate);
$19,296 (graduate)
$56,935 (undergraduate);
$31,824 (graduate)
Interior Design Degree Levels Offered** Bachelor's and master's degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees
Interior Design Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2018-2019** 43 26
Most Popular Interior Design Program in 2018-2019** Master's degree (23 awarded) Bachelor's degree (15 awarded)
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2013 Entering Class** 58% 82%
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

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

Winner: Marymount University

  • Total cost for undergraduates is $3,550 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: George Washington University

  • Average grant and scholarship package of $32,952 in 2018-2019, 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

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.

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