These days, there are many paths toward becoming an interior decorator or building a fulfilling career in interior design. But attending one of the top interior design schools remains a solid route for acquiring the skills required of most creative careers. Over the past several years, an increasing number of US states have begun requiring a licensure for design professionals—some combination of classroom education, professional experience, and passing a standardized exam—thus making design classes and degree programs more appealing investments.
If you decide attending an interior design university is for you, you’ll want to start by doing some research. Certain interior design colleges on this list are recognized by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), meaning they’ve met the highest standards for interior design education. (This designation is intended to help ensure that students learn whatever the industry considers to be fundamental.)
A formal education from an interior design university has benefits beyond licensure too. The best schools for aspiring interior design professionals are those that offer guidance on how to navigate the spectrum of challenges that come with working in the industry, from developing a professional network to handling the myriad tasks involved in running a creative business. Many schools also have structured programs for study abroad, internships, and co-op opportunities. Regardless of an aspiring designer’s exact career path, the programs featured below are well equipped with everything a student might need to succeed in the interior design industry. Here are 17 programs to know.
Editor’s note: The costs mentioned for each interior design school are an estimate of the tuition and do not include room and board. Costs will vary from student to student. The job-placement statistics shown here feature the most recently available data for each program or for the university, if program-specific data was not available.
Savannah College of Art and Design appears consistently on any list ranking top-tier interior design colleges, earning the highest placement on DesignIntelligence’s list of best interior design schools seven times since 2008. The prestigious Red Dot Rankings have named SCAD as the number one university in the US and the number two university in the Americas and Europe six years in a row. The school has been named the number one art and design university in the US by Art & Object the past two years in a row, topping a list of schools that included CalArts, RISD, and Yale.
The program at SCAD encourages collaborative projects, innovation, critical thinking, clear and effective communication, and a core of professional ethics. SCAD’s offerings extend beyond its classrooms as well: Each year, SCAD hosts a three-day event called SCADstyle, gathering together industry-renowned designers, architects, and editors. Its collaborative design studio, SCADpro, helps students earn real-world experience. Career prep also plays a vital role in the program’s offerings: résumé and portfolio development, mock interviews, and self-promotion are all built into the curriculum. With satellite campuses in Atlanta, Georgia, and Lacoste, France, SCAD offers students access to education on a global level.