Why This Matters

  • DEMAND FOR INTERIOR DESIGNERS TO RISE 4%

    Employment of interior designers is expected to grow at an average pace during the next decade, as new construction increases and existing buildings are redesigned to meet new environmental and accessibility standards.

  • CHOOSE FROM OVER 10 SPECIALIZATION AREAS

    Interior design is a versatile field. Most interior designers choose to work in commercial or residential design, and focus on areas such as hospitality, showroom, retail/office, or historic preservation.

  • EARN $15,630 MORE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE

    The median annual salary for an interior designer is $53,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, senior positions, which may require an advanced degree, pay $69,000 annually, reports Payscale.com.

Our Research

There are a number of educational paths to becoming an interior designer, including certificate programs, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s programs. Our list includes all of these options, so you can choose the type of program that best suits your career aspirations and current education level.

All of the schools on our list are regionally accredited, which means they meet rigorous standards for post-secondary education. Many of the programs also have accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), or the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), as an extra assurance of quality in interior design education.

Our list includes online programs, as well as on-campus and hybrid programs. We evaluated the programs on the basis of faculty, flexibility, reputation, course strength, and cost. Each school received an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best interior design degree are affordable, flexible, and highly regarded. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 66 hours to write this article
  • 90 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 285 education programs we compared

The Top 25 Interior Design Degrees

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What You Should Know About This Degree

A bachelor’s degree is typically considered the minimum level of education necessary for entry into the interior design field, although a certificate or associate’s degree is sufficient for some entry-level positions. Many interior designers work their way up to senior positions through hands-on experience. However, some choose to earn a master’s degree to help advance their career, or prepare them for the field if they have a bachelor’s degree in a different area.

Each state regulates interior designers differently. Some states mandate that interior designers must have a license in order to use the title “interior designer,” while in other states, both licensed and unlicensed individuals can use the title.

In most states, in order to become licensed, interior designers must have certification from the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). The certification process includes meeting educational and professional experience eligibility requirements, paying a fee, and passing a three-part certification exam.

Although students who attend non-CIDA-accredited programs can get certified, if a program has CIDA accreditation, it is more likely to meet the educational standards mandated by the NCIDQ. During the research phase, find out if the program has CIDA accreditation, as this may be a factor in deciding which program you will attend.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Interior Design programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Artistic skills are crucial in interior design. As such, many programs ask applicants to demonstrate their artistic abilities during the admissions process by submitting a portfolio. At the master’s level, programs may also seek candidates with an undergraduate degree in interior design or a related field, and professional design experience.
  • Do you need financial aid? This is an important consideration if you are thinking about getting a certificate in interior design. Typically, only students enrolled in degree-granting programs are eligible for federal financial aid like loans and grants. Talk to a program representative or financial aid counselor to find out exactly what type of resources you are eligible for based on the program you are researching.

Take a look at the program’s application requirements and deadlines when researching programs. They may vary based on whether the programs grants a certificate or a degree. Degree-granting programs tend to have more significant admissions requirements, especially at the master’s level. Find out what your financing options are as well, including scholarships, loans, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer, if you are currently working.