Do you look at a space and see what it could be? Do you enjoy designing spaces with details and color to create a certain atmosphere? If so, interior design may be the field for you. Interior design is a fascinating field full of color! This field blends art, lighting, and function to create spaces to meet a client’s needs.
You already hold the creativity, but you need the credentials to match. Some states require interior designers who work with commercial properties to gain licensure, and other states are following suit. Earning a bachelor’s in interior design is a sure way to succeed in this vibrant field.
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
What is a Bachelor’s in Interior Design?
A bachelor’s in interior design is an undergraduate program that blends creative and practical skills. This degree prepares students for careers as professional interior designers for residential, commercial, or public spaces. Undergraduate interior design programs are typically housed in a university’s Arts, Design, and Architecture department.
Interior design degrees may be Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Bachelor of Design (BDes).
Each interior design degree requires at least 120-credit hours and the following:
- General education courses
- Major courses
- Capstone project or thesis
Since interior design is a hands-on field, at least half of coursework will be done in studio settings. Collaborating on projects with classmates is also a benefit of this field of study. Some of the top interior design bachelor’s degrees require internships. Gaining hands-on experience is essential in understanding the field and preparing for future careers.
The application requirements for interior design undergraduate degrees vary depending on the school. Most require at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA, a handful of prerequisite courses, recommendation letters, and an admission essay letter. Some of the best bachelor’s of interior design also require an admission portfolio.
Careers for Interior Design Majors
With a bachelor’s in interior design, you have expertise in marketable skills such as graphic design, architecture, critical thinking, and communication, which translate into a variety of career options. Interior design majors can choose from a variety of creative careers depending on their strengths and interests.
While the obvious career choice is an interior designer, you will focus your options. For example, you may choose to become a residential interior designer and work for specific clients. Or maybe you would prefer to become a commercial interior designer and work for a larger corporation. Some interior designers work for healthcare facilities. Others specialize in architecture or engineering services.
The bottom line here is interior design majors have career options. Check out these examples:
- Design consultant
- Retail sales associate
- Production designer
- Graphic designer
- Art director
- Manufacturer’s representative
- Lighting specialist
- Kitchen and bath designer
- Furniture designer
- CADD designer
- Design manager
If you are interested in a particular part of interior design, lighting or architecture for example, look for programs that offer concentrations or certifications in these areas.
Bachelor’s in Interior Design Salary Potential
Interior designers with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn an average of $57K per year, based on recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries range from below $33,020 to more than $97,920 annually. As you can see, this is quite a range. Potential salary depends on the following factors:
- Level of experience
- Level of education and credentials
- Specific employer
- Geographical location
Interior designers who work in architectural, engineering, and other related services earn the higher end—around $63K annually. Those who work in wholesale trade make $57K, and those who work in specialized design services bring in $54K. Interior designers who work at furniture stores earn approximately $48K annually (BLS). The interior design data from Indeed is consistent with these numbers. Indeed reports the average salary for an interior designer in the U.S. to be $57,299.
A master’s degree typically always raises salary potential. Some of the schools in this ranking offer joint bachelor/master degrees that can be completed in just five years.
What are the Best Bachelor’s in Interior Design Degrees?
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University of Cincinnati
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once called the city of Cincinnati the “Queen City of the West,” and what better location to earn a top interior design bachelor’s degree? Founded in 1919, the University of Cincinnati is ranked “among the top tier of the Best National Universities.” (U.S. News & World Report).
More than 300,000 alumni call themselves Bearcats, and you may be one too if you pursue UC’s Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. This best BS in interior design entails 126 credit hours and will take you five years to complete if you are a full-time student. Along with major interior design courses, you will prepare a capstone project and gain practical hands-on experiences along the way.
UC’s interior design program also includes study abroad opportunities, minors, and certificate programs. Graduates are well prepared to jump into careers as interior designers—although some become:
- facility programmers
- computer software designers
- facility managers
- university educators
See your future self as a UC Bearcat? Check out admission details here.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Another top interior design bachelor’s degree comes from the highly ranked research university, Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is located in the gorgeous mountains of Blacksburg, Virginia, and includes nine colleges, including a graduate school. Virginia Tech’s top Bachelor of Science in interior design holds a simple philosophy: “prepare students to create a better world.”
Learning by doing is the best way to understand any subject, which is why Virginia Tech’s BS in interior design is based on experiential learning. Virginia Tech’s interior design degree is broken down into the following requirements:
- 45 credit hours general education
- 60 credit hours interior design courses
- 15 credits professional elective courses
- 3 credits free electives
Along with a focus on internships, VT also emphasizes student service. Interior design students frequently seek out experiential learning opportunities in the larger context of Southwestern Virginia. Additionally, students may study abroad in various counties overseas—both long and short term. Virginia Tech’s best bachelor of interior design will make design come alive in and outside of the classroom.
Florida State University
Founded in 1851, Florida State University is the oldest university in the state. It’s also one of the nation’s most prominent research universities and houses one of the best bachelor’s of interior design. Here is some excellent news about Florida State University’s bachelor’s in interior architecture and design:
- You can earn either a bachelor of art or science
- Both degrees are accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation
- Both degrees are also accredited by the National Association of the Schools of Art and Design
- 100% of interior design students complete an internship
- 89% of students are employed within nine months of graduation
FSU’s bachelor’s in interior architecture and design entails 77 semester credits in addition to the general education requirements. Along with a required internship, you also have plenty of opportunities to get involved. If you love to travel, check out the summer study abroad program in London, England! If you’re interested in applying to FSU, here’s the link.
Kansas State University
What does it mean to be a Kansas State University wildcat? One word: family. Kansas State, a school with a tight-knit feel, is a comprehensive research institution devoted to its students’ success. What is special about Kansas State’s B.S. in interior design? Well, for starters, it’s the only four-year CIDA-accredited program in the state.
Kansas State’s top B.S. in interior design gives students the knowledge and skills they need to become professionals who “design interior spaces that are sustainable and enhance user satisfaction, health, well-being, productivity and safety.” Along with general education and elective courses, you will complete professional courses like the following:
- Design and Behavior in the Interior Environment
- History of Interior Design I & II
- Construction Methods and Materials for Interior Design
- Advanced Design & Behavior
Kansas State reports that more than 90% of its graduates complete this program in just four years. Interior design graduates work at various architectural and interior design firms. Some focus on certain facts of interior design such as kitchen, bath design, or lighting. Other careers include facilities managers and product designers.
George Washington University
Students from all 50 states, Washington D.C., and 130 countries attend George Washington University. Perhaps the biggest draw to GW is its rich history dating back to 1821. Or maybe it’s because it’s located in downtown Washington D.C. There are plenty of reasons why students are drawn to GW, and you may be too after you see all the BFA in interior architecture has to offer.
GW’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior architecture is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s the only CIDA-accredited program in Washington D.C. and one of ten interior design programs ranked in the top 70 of U.S. News & World Report’s national research universities. In GW’s interior architecture program, you will complete a core studio course and two supporting courses each semester.
The final studio course is when you will create a capstone project based on your interests. All GW interior architecture students are also required to complete a 120-hour internship, and with an ideal location such as the nation’s capital, you will have an array of options. Another perk: students who receive their BFA in interior architecture can stay at GW for one more year and earn their Master of Arts in interior architecture!
Brenau University is a private, non-profit institution with its main campus in Gainesville, Georgia. Brenau holds awards in Best Regional Universities, 2022 and Social Mobility, 2022 from U.S. News & World Report. Brenau’s CIDA-accredited Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design prepares students for careers in the interior design field as well as for graduate school.
Brenau’s BFA in interior design is offered from both the main campus or the Women’s College on the Gainesville campus. The interior design curriculum focuses on developing a global perspective through “ecological, socio-economic, and cultural contexts.” Classes are small, student-centered, and taught by devoted interior design professionals.
Brenau interior design graduates are well equipped to begin careers in various types of design like the following:
- Commercial design
- Healthcare design
- Hospitality design
- Residential design
- Facilities management
To apply to Brenau University’s interior design program, you need at least a 2.75 GPA if you’re a freshman or a 2.0 in all college transcripts if you’re a transfer student.
New York School of Interior Design
A university that is focused on interior design, New York School of Interior Design lives out its guiding principle in all its academic programs. “Successful design improves human welfare” and interior design serves “an important role in ensuring that spaces are beautiful, functional, healthy, safe, and built-in a socially and environmentally conscientious way.”
NYSID’s CIDA-approved Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design emphasizes creativity, communication, technical proficiency, and sustainability. The curriculum entails 132 credits in courses such as:
- Historical Styles
- Construction Documents
- Environment and Behavior
- Modern Architecture
- Kitchen and Bath Design
An intensive French or Italian course is also required for all interior design students.
More than 100 faculty members teach interior design at NYSID, and some are practicing designers at some of the nation’s top firms:
- Perkins + Will
- Rockwell Group
- Kati Curtis Design
Of course, another reason why NYSID is set apart from others is its location. The campus is within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection. You can request more information about NYSID’s interior design program by emailing or calling the contact information on this page.
Parsons School of Design (The New School)
Founded in 1919, Parsons School of Design (The New School) is one of the most notable art schools in the country. Parsons is conveniently located in lower Manhattan in the vibrant New York City but also includes a branch campus in Paris. Parsons’ BFA in interior design is a 120 credit hour, full-time, on-campus program.
As a Parsons interior design student, you will study an array of topics both in typical classrooms and in design studios. Expect to dive into areas such as:
- Art and design history and theory
- Research, writing, and critical thinking skills
- Textiles and soft materials
- Light and surface interaction
Parsons’ BFA interior design goes “beyond aesthetics,” though. The goal is to teach students to understand how interior design connects with human and ecological conditions. You have opportunities to thrive in internships in New York City and also travel abroad to Paris, London, or Florence. Parsons graduates are highly sought-after and begin careers in interior design or pursue further studies.
Endicott College is a private college outside of Boston known for its career-focused programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks Endicott #14 in Best Undergraduate Teaching and #23 in Regional Universities North. Endicott’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior architecture is a multifaceted program with “rigorous classroom learning, real-world internship experiences, and eye-opening travel opportunities.”
Endicott’s interior architecture curriculum entails 129 credits divided strategically by each of the four years. Notable courses include:
- Visual Art and Cultural Values
- Construction Materials
- Electronic Media
- Global Issues
- Advanced Lighting Design
During your final year, you will complete a 12-credit hour internship and prepare a senior thesis.
Endicott interior architecture graduates either start careers or pursue graduate school, and the BFA in interior architecture prepares them for both options. Graduates have the option of enrolling in Endicott’s fifth year M.A. in interior architecture which allows them to complete both a bachelor’s and master’s in just five years. Current alumni are employed by notable design firms such as:
- IA Interior Architects
- Perkins + Will Architects
- Winter Street Architects
- Michael Kors (retail design)
Savannah College of Art and Design
Known as “The University for Creative Careers,” Savannah College of Art and Design consistently appears on top ranking lists and for good reasons. For one, SCAD offers more than 100 degrees and specializations—more than any other art and design university in the country. The top BFA in interior design from SCAD produces professionals that partner with major corporations like Disney, Amazon, Chick-fil-A, and more.
SCAD’s BFA in interior design is available in Atlanta, Savannah, and online. The program requires 180 hours of total credits, broken down into the following:
- Foundation studies: 35 hours
- General education: 55 hours
- Major courses: 80 hours
- Additional electives: 10 hours
Courses range from Electronic Design to Building Construction and Systems for the Interior. Students are required to complete both an interior design internship and a capstone project. SCAD graduates are successful. In fact, 98% are either working in the field or in graduate programs within six months of graduation. Current SCAD alumni are employed by notable companies such as:
- Alnsworth Noah
- American Institute of Architects
- Extell Development Corporation
- SCAD Museum of Art
Bay Path University
Bay Path University’s mission has remained the same since it opened its doors in 1897: “to provide a practical, affordable, and career-oriented education to meet the needs of companies, organizations, and communities.” You will soon see that Bay Path’s Bachelor of Science in business: interior design: residential and commercial program is a convenient and practical pathway to meet your career goals.
Bay Path’s interior design degree focuses not only on interior design but on the business side. While some programs emphasize residential OR commercial interior design, Bay Path focuses both, broadening your career options. You will gain the expertise to design, market, and sell interior space ideas for homes, offices, and larger corporations.
Bay Path also features an accelerated format where you can finish the bachelor’s degree in just three years and save a year’s worth of tuition. Likewise, you can earn a 3+1 bachelor’s to master’s degree in just four years! Bay Path interior design graduates dive into all types of careers. Check out the following examples:
- Interior designer
- Art director
- Industrial designer
- Landscape architect
Among the best bachelor’s in interior design colleges is Pratt Institute. Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute is a globally recognized college for art and design. Located in Utica, New York (with campuses in Brooklyn and Manhattan!), Pratt offers vibrant creative programs, including our #12 ranking: a BFA in interior design. Pratt’s interior design curriculum is dense—covering everything from global cultural history to material research.
Pratt interior design students complete 126 credits of classroom and studio courses. Sample classes include:
- Time and Movement
- Themes in Art and Culture
- Assemblies & Environments
- Design Studio
During your final year, you will complete a design thesis and a portfolio—handy for future employers!
Another bonus of studying interior design at Pratt is that you have the opportunity to spend the spring semester of your junior year at the Danish International School (DIS), studying in Copenhagen. Pratt interior design graduates have a competitive edge when looking for careers. In fact, within six months of graduation, 93% of graduates are working in the field. Likewise, 100% who apply to graduate school are admitted!
From its start in 1874, Andrews University has been known as “the heartbeat of Adventist education.” Andrews is ranked 2nd in the nation for campus diversity and holds the 7th highest percentage of international students (U.S. News & World Report, 2021). Andrews University’s bachelor of interior design is an excellent choice that focuses on both residential and commercial projects.
Andrews University’s undergraduate program entails four years + one summer abroad course of study. The bachelor of interior design courses detail topics such as:
- Residential and commercial design
- Environmental design
- Project management
- Space allocation
- Material selection
The bachelor of interior design entails 132 total credit hours, including 89 credits in major courses and a five-week summer abroad course to Europe!
To apply to Andrews University’s interior design program, you need to first apply to the school. If accepted, you will complete pre-professional year one and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5. During pre-professional year two, you will submit a portfolio, three recommendation letters, and an intent letter, while maintaining a 2.75 GPA.
Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island School of Design, a private, nonprofit college, was founded in 1877. RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) is one of the country’s first art and design schools—and one of the best! RISD’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior studies is a multidisciplinary program across three departments:
- History, Philosophy and Social Sciences
- Literary Arts and Studies
- Theory and History of Art and Design
The program includes 126 credits of coursework in interior architecture, studio electives, and liberal arts classes. First year students complete RISD’s foundational studies courses and begin interior architecture courses during their sophomore year. As a junior and senior, you will take more advanced studio courses, history and theory courses, and a final studio project seminar.
As a RISD interior studies major, you will be a part of an inspiring, collaborative community of both undergraduate and graduate students. This program is especially beneficial for those who are interested in graduate school and/or professional design practice. To apply to RISD, you will submit your application through the CommonApp. In addition, you will compile a portfolio of 12-20 examples of your work.
College for Creative Studies
Founded in 1906, College for Creative Studies is a highly ranked art and design school in Detroit, Michigan. CCS is a small community with loads of industry connections, networking opportunities, and student success. If you are looking for a tight-knit, collaborative community, check out CCS’s CIDA-approved Bachelor of Fine Arts in interior design.
CCS’s 127-credit BFA in interior design focuses on concept development and creative thinking through coursework and real-world projects. A huge perk of this program is the industry-standard resources such as:
- 3-D printers
- Large presentation plotter
- Unlimited library materials
- Revit architectural software
Detroit industry partners work directly with interior design students, providing internships and post-graduation employment.
CCS reports that its interior design graduates achieve 100% employment after graduation. Common career choices include:
- Commercial interior designer
- Corporate interior designer
- Displayer designer
- Facilities designer
- Furniture designer
- Hospitality designer
At 26%, admission to CCS is competitive. If you are interested in applying to one of the nation’s best art and design schools, check out admission details here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do with a bachelor’s in interior design?
Interior design graduates hold an array of creative skills that allow them to work in various areas of design. For example, with a bachelor’s in interior design, you could pursue some of the following options:
- Commercial design
- Residential design
- Healthcare facilities design
- Sustainable design
- Restaurant design
Some interior designers are interested in the architect side and become architects or industrial designers. Some may be interested in management and become art directors or design managers. Of course, you could always teach design courses if you want to become an interior design educator. There is no limit to what may come from an interior design undergraduate degree.
Which bachelor’s degree is best for interior design?
The best bachelor’s degree in interior design is the one that matches your interests and career goals. Bachelor’s in interior design may be offered as the following:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in interior design
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in interior design
- Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) interior architecture
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in interior design
- Bachelor of Design (B.Des.) in interior design
- Bachelor of Science in architecture: interior design
These bachelor’s degrees differ some in their goals. A bachelor of science will have more math and science courses than a bachelor of arts. A bachelor of arts will focus on humanities courses and often require foreign language classes. Interior design education focuses on the aesthetics of the interior space of a building, while interior architecture focuses on the interior structure.
What are the best majors for interior design?
Within the interior design major, you can choose a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts, or a Bachelor of Design. Some of the top interior design bachelor’s degrees offer concentration and options like the following:
- Residential design
- Commercial design
- Interior architecture
- Healthcare facility design
- Kitchen design
If you are interested in a specific type of interior design, look for schools that offer program concentrations in that area.
How much can I make with a bachelor’s in interior design?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for interior designers is $57,060 a year. Interior design salaries range from below $33K to above $98K depending on experience level, geographic location, and of course, the specific employer. Interior designers who work in the architectural or engineering field can expect to make slightly more (average of $62K) than those who work in other areas of interior design.
Can I get a bachelor’s in interior design online?
Most of the bachelor’s in interior design on our ranking are on-campus programs. However, some schools offer their interior design programs online too. Our #10 ranking, Savannah College of Art and Design offers an online BFA in interior design. The more common option for interior design programs is a hybrid format where you take some classes online and studio courses in person.
How much does an interior design bachelor’s degree cost?
The cost of a bachelor’s in interior design will depend on factors such as state residency, on or off-campus housing, and of course, the cost of tuition. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that year at a four-year university costs: $28,775 (data taken from the 2019-2020 school year). Keep in mind that this amount includes tuition, fees, and housing.
You will generally find that the more affordable interior bachelor’s degrees are online. U.S. News & World Report states that “per-credit costs for an online interior bachelor’s degree typically range from $465 to $875.” This comes down to $56,000 to $116,000 for four years. While you may not find a cheap BA in interior design (or any bachelor’s degree for that matter), low-cost bachelors are available if you know what to look for.
Top Searched Programs:
Check out other top interior design bachelor’s degree programs from these top searched schools:
University of Texas San Antonio
Housed in the College of Engineering and Integrated Design, UTSA’s Bachelor of Science in interior design is an excellent choice. UTSA’s studio-based program emphasizes leadership in design, collaboration, and professional practice. Check out the details of UTSA’s BS in interior design here.
New School of Architecture and Design
Located in San Diego, California, NewSchool offers a bachelor of interior architecture and design. This innovative, interdisciplinary program requires 180 credits and is offered on campus. Several minors and certificates are also available to further customize the degree.
Woodbury University’s BFA in interior design is officially designated as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree. The BFA entails 128 semester hours which includes a valuable internship. At Woodbury, you will thrive in small classes and a collaborative community.
Drexel is a global research institution known for its dynamic academics. Through Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, you will find a Bachelor of Science in interior design. Drexel’s BS in interior design combines studio-classes with experiential learning—the quality is unmatched!
New England Institute of Technology
The New England Institute of Technology is known for its career-focused programs and hands-on learning woven into all curriculum. NEIT’s Bachelor of Science in interior design focuses on advanced areas of interior design and building science through both classroom and studio courses. You can read more about all NEIT has to offer here.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
The Hiller College of Architecture and Design (HCAD) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology houses a studio-centered interior design program. HCAD’s Bachelor of Arts in interior design is a four-year program fully accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Check out more information here.
Sullivan University, a private institution based in Louisville, Kentucky, features a Bachelor of Arts in interior design. Sullivan’s interior design program is CIDA-accredited and prepares students for interior design careers and for advanced study. Check out this link for more details.
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