Why This Matters

  • CHOOSE FROM 800 NEW JOB OPPORTUNITIES

    Although employment is projected to grow at a relatively slow pace over the next decade, new construction is expected to create demand for interior designers, especially in high-income areas.

  • ENJOY THE FREEDOM OF FREELANCING

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32% of interior designers are self-employed. Independent designers have the unique ability to choose clients and projects that interest and benefit them.

  • EARN $60,340 PER YEAR WITH A DEGREE

    The median annual wage for interior designers is $60,340, while the top 10% earn more than $99,070 per year. While a bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry-level jobs, a master’s can help advance you to senior positions in the field.

Our Research

This list features some of the best interior design degree programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list are accredited by organization like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), which assesses interior design programs for educational excellence and a commitment to quality education.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for on-campus students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of interior design degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Top 40 Interior Design Degree Programs

Best Interior Design Degree Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
Fashion Institute of Technology
01
Best Graduation Guarantee
Converse University
01
Best Catholic University
Marywood University
01
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Maryville University
01
Best in the West
California State University at Long Beach
01
Best in the South
Auburn University
01
Best in the Midwest
Purdue University
01
Best Mentorship Opportunities
Samford University
01
Best Christian College
Mississippi College
01
Best for Study Abroad
Andrews University
01

George Washington University
01

Harding University
01

Virginia Tech
01

Marist College
01

Michigan State University
01

Baylor University
01

Appalachian State University
01

Endicott College
01

Suffolk University
01

Iowa State University
01

Brenau University
01

Concordia University Wisconsin
01

Abilene Christian University
01

Judson University
01

Arizona State University at Tempe
01

Mount Mary University
01

Ohio State University at Main Campus
01

Washington State University
01

Queens University of Charlotte
01

University of Minnesota at Twin Cities
01

Meredith College
01

Ferris State University
01

The University of Texas at Austin
01

University of Northern Iowa
01

University of Idaho
01

Park University
01

University of Cincinnati
01

The University of Oklahoma
01

Indiana University at Bloomington
01

Adrian College

What You Should Know About This Degree

Interior designers typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field, although an associate degree may qualify individuals for some entry-level positions. Licensure requirements are determined at the state level. In some states, interior designers must have a license to perform interior design work. In other states, unlicensed designers may be able to do such work, but only licensed designers may call themselves interior designers. There are also states in which both licensed and unlicensed designers may use the title “interior designer.”

To become licensed, interior designers must pass a state-approved exam. Typically, this exam is the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, a nationally recognized professional interior design certification. The NCIDQ sets minimum educational and professional experience requirements and administers the three-part certification exam. Exam eligibility requirements include the completion of post-secondary interior design or architecture education as well as a minimum of 3,520 hours of work experience. While graduating from a CIDA-accredited program is not required to sit for the NCIDQ exam, CIDA-accredited programs are designed to meet educational competencies established by NCIDQ, meaning the certification process may be easier for graduates of CIDA-accredited programs.

Additionally, interior designers should be proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) software and have strong drafting skills. A high-quality portfolio is crucial for interior designers to showcase their capabilities.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching interior design programs:

  • How long does it take to complete this degree? Associate degrees are typically designed to be completed within two years of full-time study, while bachelor’s degrees require four years to complete. On average, a master’s degree program takes one to two years to complete.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? For online programs, courses may be offered synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous courses meet online, in real-time, while asynchronous courses can be accessed at any time and don’t require real-time interaction. If you attend an online program, choose one with a delivery format that works best for you.

Admission procedures vary by school, so it’s important to keep track of deadlines and application requirements for each school. Information about application procedures is usually available on the school’s website. You can also contact the admissions department directly.

Financing is another factor to consider as you pursue your education. Overall costs vary by program; however, funding sources may be available to help you pay for your education, including federal financial aid, loans, grants, scholarships, and tuition benefits from your employer, if you’re currently working.