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Interior Design Universities in the USA: Courses and Fees

ACAlpina ChariNov 9, 2023

Interior Design Universities in the USA_ Courses & Fees

Becoming an interior designer is a very popular career path in the USA. Interior design universities in the USA offer a range of programs and opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing a career in this field. Universities and colleges across the country offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in interior design. These programs typically take four years to complete and provide a comprehensive education in interior design principles, planning, materials, and more. For students looking to further specialize in the field or pursue advanced research and design projects, postgraduate programs Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in interior design are also available. Students must look for programs accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Accredited programs are recognized for meeting high educational standards and can better prepare students for the interior design profession. Upon graduation, students must appear for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, or NCIDQ, exam for licensure. 

Overview: Interior Design Universities in the USA

Course levels Undergraduate and graduate
Duration  4 years (undergraduate) and 1-2 years (graduate)
General admission requirements  High school diploma (undergraduate) and interior design degree (graduate)
Annual tuition fees for international students  $40,000-60,000 per year 

Why Study Interior Design in the USA?

High-quality education: The USA is home to many prestigious universities known for their exceptional interior design programs. They provide a high standard of education, often backed by accreditation from organizations like the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).

Global recognition: An interior design degree from the USA is recognized globally and can open doors to job opportunities within the country and internationally. The USA’s strong reputation in higher education can enhance career prospects.

Innovative trends: The USA is a global leader in design innovation at the forefront of emerging design trends and technologies. American cities often serve as design hubs where students can gain exposure to cutting-edge design concepts and techniques. Students studying interior design in the USA can benefit from access to cutting-edge design software and tools, allowing them to create innovative and efficient designs.

Networking: Many universities in the USA offer opportunities for students to network with professionals and industry leaders. This can be invaluable for building connections and securing internships or job placements in the future.

Internship opportunities: The USA’s thriving design industry often provides numerous internship opportunities. These internships can give you practical experience and help you build a strong portfolio.

Career flexibility: An interior design degree from the USA can open doors to a range of job options, from working with design firms to starting your own business. The skills and knowledge you gain can be applied in various settings, including commercial, residential, hospitality, etc.

Diversity: The USA is a melting pot of cultures, and this diversity is reflected in the design landscape. Studying in the USA allows you to draw inspiration from a wide array of cultural influences, making your work more creative and adaptable.

Scholarships and financial aid: Many universities in the USA offer scholarships to academically brilliant students and financial aid to students from different countries. 

Work opportunities while studying: Students in the USA are allowed to work while studying. The experience they gain is beneficial in finding work in the country upon graduation. Students often work part-time on student visas which can be converted to work visas after graduation

Global Ranking: Interior Design Universities in the USA

University Name  QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023: Art & Design
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) 3
Parsons School of Design at The New School 4
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 5
Pratt Institute 6
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 11
Art Center College of Design 14
Savannah College of Art and Design 16
Carnegie Mellon University 17
School of Visual Arts (SVA) 21
California Institute of the Arts 24

Top Interior Design Universities in the USA

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Founded in 1877, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a renowned art and design college located in Rhode Island, USA. It is one of the most prestigious institutions for art and design education in the country. RISD offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in various art and design disciplines, including illustration, painting, graphic design, industrial design, architecture, interior architecture, etc. It is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). 

Students enrolled in the BSA course at RISD speed first year in Experimental and Foundation Studies, followed by a major course of study in interior architecture starting from sophomore year. The BSA undergraduate course is accredited by the NAAB and lends to the Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) degree. The university offers 3 courses in interior design at the master’s level: a 1-year Master of Arts (MA) and a 2-year Master of Design (MDes) in in adaptive reuse, and a 2-year MDes in exhibition and narrative environments. 

Course Name  Duration  Annual Tuition Fees
Interior Architecture (BFA) 5 years  $58,690
Interior Architecture (MA/MDes) 1-2 years $58,690

Parsons School of Design at The New School

Often referred to as Parsons, this school of design is part of The New School, a renowned university located in New York City. It was founded in 1896. The university is at the forefront of design innovation, emphasizing sustainability, technology, and the latest trends in interior design. It offers a wide range of design programs related to interior design and architecture. Parsons offers state-of-the-art design studios, labs, and workshops where students can work on their projects. The university also provides access to cutting-edge design software and tools.

The programs; a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Interior Design and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Design are known for their rigor and relevance in the field.

Course Name  Duration  Annual Tuition Fees
Interior Design (BFA, AAS) 4 years  $55,588
Interior Design (MFA) 2 years  $57,008

Pratt Institute

Located in Brooklyn, New York, Pratt Institute is a private university founded in 1887 by industrialist Charles Pratt. It is a prestigious design college that offers 48 courses in fields such as art, design, architecture, and the liberal arts. The college campus includes state-of-the-art facilities for various artistic and design disciplines, including studios, workshops, and galleries. 5,137  undergraduate and graduate students students are currently enrolled at Pratt Institute. 

The School of Design at Pratt Institute offers both undergraduate and graduate courses in interior design. These courses are delivered by the Interior Design department. 

Course Name  Duration  Annual Tuition Fees
Interior Design, BFA 4 years  $57,659
Interior Design, MFA 2 years $49,392

Savannah College of Art and Design

Another popular university to pursue interior design education in the USA is Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). It has multiple campuses in Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong; and Lacoste. SCAD was founded in 1978 and is one of the largest and most respected institutions in art and design education. It offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in fine arts, design, architecture, film and television, digital media, and more. SCAD is known for hosting various art and design festivals, exhibitions, and events, which provide opportunities for students to showcase their work and engage with the wider creative community. SCAD offers the following courses in interior design at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. 

Course Name  Duration  Annual Tuition Fees
B.F.A. in Interior Design 4 years  $40,095
M.F.A. in Interior Design 2 years  $41,085
M.A. in Interior Design 1 year  $41,085

Admission Requirements to Study Architecture in the USA

Undergraduate Courses 

High school education: Students wanting to pursue an undergraduate degree in interior design in the USA are required to have a high school level education which is equivalent to the USA high school education.

SAT or ACT: Many interior design schools in the USA require international students to submit SAT or ACT scores as a part of the admission process.  

English language proficiency: Having proficiency in English is mandatory for admission however submitting. Students can prove their English language proficiency through standardized tests like IELTS or TOEFL. 

Other admission requirements: As a part of the admission process, international students must also have a study visa, a valid passport, a creative portfolio, reference letters, a statement of purpose, etc. They must also provide financial proof to cover their fees and living expenses in the USA.

Graduate Courses

Bachelor’s education: To be admitted to graduate-level courses, students must hold a degree in interior design, architecture, or related fields from an accredited university. 

English language proficiency: Students must have English language proficiency to be admitted to graduate architecture courses in the USA. They can prove their English language proficiency through standardized tests like IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge English. 

Portfolio: Interior design students must include recent creative work (personal, academic, or professional) showcasing their skills and knowledge along with their application. 

Other admission requirements: International students must also submit transcripts, a study visa, a valid passport, a resume curriculum vitae, reference letters, a statement of purpose, etc., as a part of the admission process. 

Employment Opportunities

Some USA states have licensure or certification requirements for interior designers and require graduates to appear for the NCIDQ exam. Graduating from an accredited program may be a step toward meeting these requirements. Building a strong portfolio is also crucial in the interior design field. Many programs emphasize portfolio development to showcase your design work to potential employers. Students and professionals in the field can join organizations like the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Interior Design Society, or the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) for networking, resources, and career opportunities. Interior design graduates can pursue careers in housing design, commercial design, hospitality, healthcare design, and more. They can also work for design firms, architecture firms, or as independent designers. Typical job roles include

  • Interior designer
  • Interior decorator
  • Technical designer
  • Industrial designer
  • Project manager
  • Visual merchandiser
  • Space planner
  • Production designer 

The median pay for interior designers in the USA is $61,590 per year. This statistic is provided by the US Labor Department as of May 2022. Jobs in these fields are projected to grow at the rate of 4% from 2022 to 2032 opening up a lot of opportunities for prospective interior designers and architects. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, interior design universities in the USA offer high-quality interior design programs, often accredited by reputable organizations, providing students with a solid foundation in design principles and practical skills. The global recognition of the degree in interior design opens doors to an array of career opportunities, both locally and internationally. Networking, internship options, and exposure to industry leaders further enrich the experience, setting the stage for a successful career in the field. Ultimately, for those who dream of becoming an interior designer, the USA offers a fertile ground for that dream to flourish. The combination of world-class education, diverse design opportunities, and a dynamic environment makes studying interior design in the USA a fascinating choice. To know more about interior design universities and courses in the USA, contact Gyanberrys educational counselors. If you have decided on which university to apply to then you can make use of our platform OneApply to apply to your choice of university. Book a video meeting with us today!

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Frequently Asked Questions

The annual tuition fees for interior design courses in the USA for international students range from $40,000-$60,000 per year.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Parsons School of Design at The New School, Pratt Institute, and Savannah College of Art and Design are the top interior design schools in the USA. 

Typically undergraduate courses in interior design last 4 years; graduate courses last for 1-2 years.

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