Best Interior Design Programs

Learn how a bachelor's in interior design sets graduates up for meaningful careers in varied sectors and what it takes to earn this degree.

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by Staff Writers

Published July 26, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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A bachelor's in interior design program is typically the minimum educational requirement for entry-level jobs, making it the perfect degree for people looking to break into the field. These programs typically require 120 credits, or four years of full-time study, and include an internship requirement. Private and public colleges offer these programs, and many offer both in-person and online learning options.

The cost of an online bachelor's in interior design can vary widely, making it important that prospective students fully research their options. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job growth for interior designers looks to remain static from 2020-2030. That said, the BLS projects roles for industrial designers and art directors to grow by 6% and 11%, respectively, during the same period. Interior designers earned median annual wages of $60,340 as of 2021.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Keep reading to find out which schools make our list of the best interior design programs, and discover which one may best fit your goals.

Our Top Pick

The Fashion Institute of Technology - New York City, New York

Why It's #1: The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is the number one ranked school on our best interior design programs list. This institution has a high graduation rate of 80%. About 73% of FIT's students receive financial aid. Entrance into this institution is more competitive than average, with a 54% admission rate. Additionally, 31% of students take advantage of online classes at FIT, making it a good option for distance learners.

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Best Accredited Bachelor's in Interior Design Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

Fashion Institute of Technology

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 80%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
In State | $3,585
Out of State | $10,846

Credits to Graduate
60 plus general education requirements

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | Yes
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

New York's Fashion Institute of Technology is home to an interior design BFA program that prepares graduates for various careers in fields like manufacturing, showroom design, and furniture production.

In addition to general education requirements, students complete a 60-credit curriculum that includes classes such as interior design, lighting design, and design technology. Before graduation, degree-seekers complete an internship and a senior thesis design project.

This program is an ideal option for students transferring from another four-year institution or who hold an associate degree. Applicants typically have 60 general education credits before enrolling.

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#2

University of Wisconsin-Madison

School Information
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $498
Out of State | $1,691

Credits to Graduate
120-122

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

The University of Wisconsin's flagship campus in Madison offers a bachelor's in interior architecture that students usually complete in about four years. Alongside general education credits, students complete major requirements such as history of architecture and interiors and research methods in design. Learners also take a course on the multiple sections of interior design.

Prospective students should declare their interior architecture major upon enrolling and must complete a series of pre-major requirements. After completing prerequisites, professors and administrators evaluate their readiness for major requirements.

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#3

California State University-Long Beach

School Information
Location Long Beach, California
Admission Rate 39%
Graduation Rate 74%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
In State | $2,871
Out of State | Extra $396 per credit

Credits to Graduate
132

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Just outside Los Angeles, California State University-Long Beach is home to a BFA in interior design. Alongside general education requirements, students complete core major requirements, such as interior architectural model building. Other core classes include visualization for interior architecture and the history of furniture and decorative arts.

To gain admission into this competitive program, students must complete various prerequisites with a "C" grade or better. Additionally, students must submit a BFA portfolio that showcases work consistent with the program's standards.

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#4

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $62,110
Out of State | $62,110

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Based in Washington, D.C., George Washington University offers a BFA specializing in interior architecture. Throughout this major's 60-credit curriculum, students complete classes such as beginning sketching for designers, understanding materials and color, and basic sustainability design strategies. Before graduation, students must complete an internship at an approved professional site.

Prospective students must hold a high school or GED diploma and can apply through the Common Application. Unlike other BFA programs, George Washington University does not require a portfolio for admission.

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#5

Harding University

School Information
Location Searcy, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $750
Out of State | $750

Credits to Graduate
130

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Established in 1924, Harding University is a private Christian institution that offers a bachelor's in interior design. In addition to general education requirements, students tackle 67 credits of major coursework. Core classes include topics such as the fundamentals of interior design, modern architecture and design, and an interior design internship.

Prospective students must hold a high school or GED diploma and can apply online. Applicants must include official transcripts from high school and any institutions of higher education. Harding University is a test-optional institution as of July 2022.

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#6

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

School Information
Location Blacksburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $504
Out of State | $1,323

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Based in Blacksburg, Virginia, Virginia Tech is a public research institution that is home to a four-year bachelor's in interior design. Before completing major coursework, degree-seekers tackle foundational design coursework alongside other courses in specialty areas like architecture and industrial design.

In addition to general education and foundational design courses, students take classes such as the history of interior design and contemporary practice in interior design. 

Virginia Tech evaluates applicants primarily on high school performance and SAT or ACT scores. Prospective students are not required to submit a portfolio for admission.

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#7

Marist College

School Information
Location Poughkeepsie, New York
Admission Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 84%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $46,250
Out of State | $46,250

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | N/A

While most Marist College students take coursework at the school's Poughkeepsie, New York campus, interior design students study at the school's campus in Florence, Italy. Throughout this undergraduate program, degree-seekers complete core requirements such as the history of architecture, the history of interior design, and introduction to interior design. 

Marist College applicants must submit an application with academic transcripts, a personal essay, and two letters of recommendation. Additionally, interior design applicants must submit and present a portfolio of relevant work.

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#8

Baylor University

School Information
Location Waco, Texas
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 78%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester
In State | $25,869
Out of State | $25,869

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Based in Waco, Texas, Baylor University is a private research institution that offers a bachelor's in interior design. Baylor's interior design curriculum is informed by the school's Christian mission. Students complete core classes such as sustainable design, space planning, and design presentation techniques.

Baylor applicants can apply online and must hold a high school or GED diploma. Applicants must submit an essay, but SAT or ACT test scores are optional.

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#9

Michigan State University

School Information
Location East Lansing, Michigan
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 81%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $15,436
Out of State | $42,022

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Michigan State University is a large public research institution that offers a CIDA-accredited bachelor's in interior design. Michigan State students complete a 120-credit curriculum that includes general education, elective, and major requirements. Core classes include topics such as interior design drafting, contemporary design issues, and the history of interior design.

Before gaining admission into this program, applicants need at least 28 credits with a minimum 2.50 GPA. Prospective interior design students must submit a portfolio to determine their placement in required coursework.

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#10

Appalachian State University

School Information
Location Boone, North Carolina
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $177
Out of State | $844

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree-Completion Program | No
Program Accreditation | Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Located in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State University is a public institution that offers a bachelor's in interior design. Alongside general education coursework, degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced design classes. Coursework covers multiple sections of interior design, and students must complete a four-credit internship before graduating.

Appalachian State does not require a portfolio for admission. But interior design students must submit a portfolio following their first year of foundational classes.

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Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Bachelor's in Interior Design ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 180 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Interior Design Programs

Is a bachelor's in interior design worth it?

Yes. Earning a bachelor's in interior design is often worth it as it helps graduates meet the educational qualifications required for many jobs in the field. Whether earning the degree online or in person, pursuing a bachelor's in interior design helps set graduates apart from other job candidates. It also signals to employers their commitment to the discipline.

While most students need four years of full-time learning to earn their degree, students looking to graduate early may find an accelerated program. These programs may require as few as 36 months of study.

What can I do with a bachelor's in interior design?

A bachelor's in interior design qualifies students to begin various roles based on their interests and career goals. Those who decide to go the traditional route can specialize their projects in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, office spaces, or corporate facilities. Others may decide to focus on a particular era or style, such as Victorian, craftsman, or modern.

Some graduates may decide that, rather than designing individual spaces, they want to design products and materials and work in interior design development. Others may decide they want to produce content about interior design and decide to work as an art director or writer.

What continuing education is available for interior design graduates?

Continuing education for interior design comes in many forms, making it easy for students to find a path that works best for them. Many learners decide to pursue a master's in interior design program. These degrees cover advanced subjects and let employers and clients know these professionals are committed to the discipline.

Continuing education units (CEUs) are also common within the interior design field. They allow students to build new skills and knowledge to complement existing competencies. For instance, someone looking to sharpen their skills in kitchen design may undertake several CEUs to learn about current trends and designs. Several respected organizations offer CEUs designed to fit individual needs.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in interior design?

As of 2021 BLS data, interior designers earned median yearly wages of over $60,000. Professionals in these roles who climb to the top 10% of workers can command salaries in excess of $99,070, while those just starting out can earn less than $30,930 per year.

Designers working in architectural, engineering, and related services tend to earn the most. These professionals made median salaries of $63,210 in 2021. Conversely, interior designers employed by furniture stores usually earn the least. These employers paid median salaries of only $48,790 during the same year.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in interior design?

Interior design graduates who decide to move into art direction earned median wages of $100,890 in 2021, as per the BLS. This salary is substantially higher than traditional design salaries. In fact, those in the top 10% of art directors took home salaries in excess of $194,130 in 2021. Similarly, industrial designers made a median pay of $77,030 the same year.

When considering maximum salary potential, people must consider several factors. For instance, a designer living and working in a large city will likely earn more than one in a rural area, as the cost of living is higher in cities. Other factors include experience, title, employer, and education.

Feature Image: MoMo Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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