While interior designers need to hold a bachelor's degree and pass a certification exam, interior decorators do not need to meet particular educational requirements. However, they can improve their skills and job prospects in interior design programs.
10 Interior Design Schools
Several colleges and universities offer interior design programs, such as the ones below:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees, In-State (2015-2016)*|
|Arizona State University - Tempe||Tempe, AZ||4-year, public||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate: $10,158, Graduate: $11,304|
|Auburn University||Auburn, AL||4-year, public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||Undergraduate: $10,424, Graduate: $10,418|
|California College of the Arts||San Francisco, CA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||Undergraduate: $43,708|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee, FA||4-year, public||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate: $6,507, Graduate: $11,543|
|George Washington University||Washington, DC||4-year, private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate: $50,435, Graduate: $27,851|
|New York School of Interior Design||New York, NY||4-year, private not-for-profit||Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate: $22,670, Graduate: $31,950|
|Pennsylvania College of Art and Design||Lancaster, PA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||Undergraduate: $22,800|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah, GA||4-year, private not-for-profit||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergrad: $34,970, Graduate: $32,825|
|University of Massachusetts - Amherst||Amherst, MA||4-year, public||Bachelor's||Undergraduate: $14,171|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Blacksburg, VA||4-year, public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate||Undergraduate: $12,485, Graduate: $14,116|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Here are a few considerations for students looking into interior design schools:
- Students may want to look for schools that are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and/or the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, as this recognition is a sign of high-quality educational offerings.
- Prospective students who know that they do not want to advance beyond the interior decorator level may want to look for certificate programs that are offered specifically in interior decorating.
- Students who have scheduling constraints or other time commitments may want to look for schools that offer courses in online formats.
- It is important for students to look into the school's facilities in order to ensure that they will have access to industry-standard equipment and software applications.
There are a few schools in the United States that offer certificate programs specifically for interior decorators, but these programs are rare. They cover basic topics in the field, such as furniture arrangement, flooring selection and color coordination. These programs can be completed in as few as 4-5 months but are typically offered in online formats that allow students to work at their own pace.
Associate's Degree Programs
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs can prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the interior design field, such as interior decorator. Topics of study include color theory, architectural history, room planning, materials selection, regulatory compliance and computer-aided design (CAD) software. Students also complete general education coursework.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree build on the basics covered in associate's degree programs with more advanced coursework in the cultural, environmental and business aspects of interior design, as well as extensive hands-on design practice. Programs may lead to a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, and they prepare students for certification. In most cases, interior decorators do not pursue this level of education without deciding to take the interior designer exam.
Aspiring interior decorators can find a few rare programs specifically in the field, but formal education in the field is more commonly available through interior design programs.