13 of the Best Interior Design Schools That Are Actually Worth Applying To
Looking to become a professional designer? As with any higher education decision, you always want to do your research—especially if you already know what field you want to go into. If you have your sights set on a career in interior design>>>P, there are plenty of stellar schools to choose from. Here are some of the best ones to consider in the United States—many of which are recognized by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), meaning they meet the highest standards for interior design education.
New York School of Interior Design
As a university that’s completely dedicated to interior design, NYSID is committed to an education focused on innovative, immersive, and transformative spaces. It offers CIDA-accredited undergraduate programs that blend an interior design curriculum with the liberal arts. Graduate programs allow those with their bachelor’s degree in interior design or architecture to specialize in areas like lighting or sustainability. Its Manhattan location allows for easy access to internships and making professional connections through the school’s vast network.
Standout graduates include Rose Tarlow>>>P.
Savannah College of Art and Design
From architecture and design for sustainability to art history and animation, this southern school offers a range of art and design-based programs. The CIDA-accredited interior design program allows students to explore a wide range of career paths. They learn”to maximize health, wellness, style, and sustainable practices across corporate, residential, retail, and hospitality design,” according to the school’s website. SCAD is also ideal for students who want to focus on interior design while engaging with other creative fields through the more than 75 minors or certificates the university offers. Bonus: The Georgia school has campuses in Atlanta and Hong Kong for those who want to start the program in one place and finish in another.
Standout graduates include Christian Sottile>>>P.
George Washington University
Recognized as one of the top-ranked schools for architecture and interior design, George Washington University prides itself on its ability to help students make connections and land jobs. The Washington, D.C-based school offers students opportunities for cross-collaboration, letting them work on studio projects to design new spaces across the university. The school’s interior architecture program is CIDA-accredited. The school describes the program as one that fosters”creativity and pushes the boundaries of design with an emphasis on conceptual thinking and the design process.”
Standout graduates include Brittany Watson Jepsen>>>P.
Syracuse’s environmental and interior design program focuses on challenging and rethinking the built environment. Located in upstate New York, the CIDA-accredited program centers on promoting positive change through design in a constantly evolving global context. Students explore the art and architecture of environmental design and work with faculty in a studio setting that’s similar to operating in a professional office. Mixed with a broad liberal arts education, students are taught sustainable design practices, an understanding of the business of design, and to value the concerns of people.
Standout graduates include Thom Filicia and Ian Schrager>>>P.
The New School, Parsons School of Design
In 1906, Parson’s launched the very first interior design curriculum in the U.S. The famed school in New York City takes a research-oriented approach to designing physical spaces. Students work in small groups to design a range of interiors, and graduates leave ready to enter the workforce—whether it’s to join an established architecture studio or open their own design practice. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) and offers a range of career focuses including set design, consulting, sustainable design, historic preservation, and more.
Standout graduates include Jamie Drake and Albert Hadley>>>P.
Rhode Island School of Design
The interior architecture program at RISD centers on the reuse and alteration of existing buildings. Students learn how to recommend design modifications and renovations that breathe new life into interior structures through an understanding of buildings from the inside out. A vast range of approaches are explored—including domestic, retail design, theater/production design, and conservation—in a studio setting. The four-year program requires students to take a foundational year that involves drawing, design, art history, literature, and spacial dynamics courses. To graduate, students complete a final studio project that shows the major concepts they’ve learned and expertise in their chosen specialization.
Standout graduates include Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia>>>P.
Fashion Institute of Technology
At FIT, the CIDA-accredited interior design program emphasizes practical skills students need to get design projects done. It combines the history and theory of interior design with hands-on studios to ensure students graduate with the ability to envision stunning spaces and know how to build them. Students are taught by and collaborate with design experts in New York City. With sustainability and user safety at the forefront, students learn all about drafting techniques, computer modeling, lighting, and materials and methods. A great deal of spaces are covered—including residences, hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, historic settings, hospitals, and supportive housing.
Standout graduates include Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller>>>P.
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati’s interior design program teaches students problem-solving and formal design skills along with essential historical and technical knowledge. The five-year program in Ohio includes a required co-op with firms from all over the world. It’s CIDA-accredited and has strong links to the school’s architecture program with the first three semesters of both featuring a common curriculum.
Standout graduates include Eva Maddox and Kevin Roche>>>P.
The design an environmental analysis program at Cornell is centered around design innovation and strategy, sustainable futures, and health and well-being. In the STEM-certified, CIDA-accredited program—located in Ithaca, New York—students take common foundation classes and build their expertise with a number of courses from within the school’s College of Human Ecology. The curriculum combines studio-based training, field experience, and applied research to give students a substantive design education.
Standout graduates include Art Gensler>>>P.
Kansas State University
At Kansas State University, the interior design program centers on how interior environments affect well-being. In it, students explore human ecological theory, design theory, and interior design practice. K-State prides itself on being the only four-year interior design program in Kansas that’s CIDA-accredited. Its graduates go on to work in multidisciplinary offices on planning and design teams. Others go in a more specialized direction with a career in lighting, kitchen and bath design, or residential design.
Standout graduates include Jo Staffelbach Heinz>>>P.
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University boasts an interior design program with a focus on sustainability, professional preparation, human experience, and exploring the uses of materials. It combines interior design with art, art history, and general education requirements. Students engage in problem-solving design studios and cooperative employment throughout the four-year program that’s both CIDA and NASAD-accredited.
Standout graduates include Douglas Ellington and Maxfield Parrish>>>P.
With a reputation as one of the best art schools in the country, Pratt Institute also boasts a CIDA-accredited interior design program. Based in Brooklyn, the program centers on what the school describes as“deep philosophical and theoretical explorations to produce varied aesthetic expressions, while considering ethical responsibility and practical applications in line with professional standards.” Students must create a professional portfolio and thesis in order to graduate.
Standout graduates include Annabelle Selldorf and Peter Zumthor>>>P.
Auburn’s CIDA-accredited interior design program emphasizes critical and creative thinking. The Alabama-based program prepares emerging professionals to find and organize information, solve problems, relate to people, uncover needs, and ultimately shape the environment to enhance the quality of life. It includes design studios and foundational business coursework. Plus, the school encourages students to create a professional portfolio before graduating.
Standout graduates include Ashley Gilbreath>>>P.
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