Interior Design Schools: Navigating Your Options

Think Interior
8 min readMay 30, 2024


Choosing the right interior design school is a pivotal commitment that can shape your future career in design and aesthetics. It’s a journey of self-discovery, professional growth, and creative expression. To embark on this exciting path, you must navigate the numerous options available to find the school that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

You can certainly learn about navigating your options for interior design schools through an interior design diploma program. However, the focus of a diploma program may be more specific and practical. This article will serve as your convoy, helping you explore the factors and considerations essential for making an informed decision.

Identifying Your Goals and Interests

When embarking on the journey of selecting the right interior design school, one of the most crucial early steps is to embark on self-discovery and introspection. Identifying your goals and interests is the cornerstone of your educational and professional journey. Here’s why it’s so essential:

Aligning Your Educational Path with Your Aspirations: Before choosing the ideal interior design school, you must ask yourself what you hope to achieve in your career. Do you aspire to be a residential interior designer focused on creating beautiful homes? Or are you more drawn to commercial interior design, shaping functional and aesthetically pleasing workspaces? Perhaps you are passionate about sustainable design, aiming to create environmentally responsible spaces. You can begin to shape your educational path by identifying your goals.

Exploring Your Design Interests: Interior design has numerous specialisations and design styles. Some designers are drawn to classic and timeless designs, while others love experimenting with avant-garde and cutting-edge techniques. Some focus on specific areas, such as kitchen and bath design, hospitality design, or healthcare design. Identifying your design interests will help determine which interior design school and program align with your unique aesthetic preferences.

Your design personality encompasses your design preferences, working style, and even the materials and colours you’re drawn to. Are you a minimalist, favouring clean lines and simplicity, or do you lean toward eclectic and layered designs? Do you thrive in hands-on, project-based learning environments, or are you more inclined to theoretical and research-driven approaches? Understanding your design personality can lead you to schools that cater to your style and learning preferences.

Career Projections and Opportunities: Interior design offers many career opportunities, including residential and commercial design, hospitality design, retail design, and more. Some designers work independently as freelancers, while others become part of more prominent design firms. By identifying your goals, you can explore which school programs offer the skills and knowledge required for the specific career path you envision.

Educational and Artistic Growth: Interior design is about creating beautiful spaces and personal and artistic growth. Different schools have unique strengths, teaching methods, and philosophies. By understanding your aim and interests, you can pinpoint programs that provide practical knowledge and foster creativity and artistic expression.

Passion and Dedication: Interior design is a field that demands passion and dedication. Identifying your goals and interests helps channel your enthusiasm and commitment toward a meaningful and fulfilling career. When you’re passionate about your work, it becomes a source of inspiration and lifelong learning.

Accreditation and Quality Assurance

Accreditation is a pivotal factor when considering interior design schools. It serves as a symbol of quality assurance and excellence in education. Here’s why accreditation is of utmost importance in your quest to find the right interior design school:

Ensuring Educational Standards: Accreditation is evaluating and recognising that an educational academy meets specific standards of quality and excellence. When a school is accredited, it signifies that it has undergone rigorous assessment and meets the academic standards established by reputable accrediting bodies.

Credibility and Recognition: Accreditation lends credibility and recognition to a school’s interior design programs. It assures students, employers, and the industry that the education is high quality and aligns with professional standards.

Transferability of Credits: Accredited schools often allow for the transfer of credits between institutions. This flexibility can be crucial if you decide to change schools or pursue further education in the future. Ascribe credits are more likely to be recognised by other accredited institutions.

Eligibility for Financial Aid: Many financial aid programs, including federal student aid, scholarships, and grants, are often available exclusively to accredited students. Accreditation can expand your opportunities to secure financial support for your education.

Professional Licensure: Interior design is a field where licensure and certification may be required, depending on the state or region. Graduating from an accredited program can streamline obtaining professional licensure, as many licensing boards prefer or require applicants to have completed certified education.

Competitive Advantage: Employers often prefer to hire graduates from accredited interior design programs. Accreditation assures them you’ve received a comprehensive and industry-standard education, making you a more competitive candidate in the job market.

High-Quality Faculty and Resources: Accredited schools must maintain high-quality faculty and resources. You will likely benefit from experienced instructors, well-equipped design studios, libraries, and access to up-to-date technologies and tools.

Industry Connections: Accredited schools often have established connections with the interior design industry. It can lead to internships, networking, and job placement chances, giving you a head start.

In interior design education, accreditation is a crucial quality assurance mechanism, setting the standard for excellence and professional relevance. When you choose an accredited interior design school, you’re investing in your education and future career. Accreditation assures that the knowledge and skills you acquire align with industry expectations, ensuring you’re well-prepared to thrive in interior design’s dynamic and creative world.

Types of Interior Design Schools

Interior design schools come in various forms and offer diverse learning experiences. Choosing the correct type of school depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and career goals. Here are the key types of interior design schools:

Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Institutions

- On-Campus Learning: Traditional schools offer in-person, on-campus education. Students attend classes, interact with professors and peers, and have access to physical design studios and libraries. This format provides a sense of community and immediate access to resources.

- Structured Schedules: On-campus programs often follow a set schedule, which can benefit students who thrive on routine and face-to-face interactions.

Online Interior Design Schools and Programs

- Flexibility and Convenience: Online programs permit students to study from anywhere, providing flexibility and convenience. This option is ideal for individuals balancing their education with work, family, or other commitments.

- Self-Paced Learning: Online programs often feature self-paced courses, enabling students to tailor their learning to their schedules. It can be especially advantageous for independent learners.

Vocational or Specialized Schools:

- Focused Training: Vocational or specialised schools concentrate on specific aspects of interior design. For example, some may offer comprehensive training in kitchen and bath design, sustainable design, or commercial interiors. These schools cater to students with clear career objectives.

- Intensive Learning: Specialized schools often provide intensive, hands-on training in a shorter duration, preparing students for a specific niche within the interior design field.

Hybrid Programs

- Combination of In-Person and Online Learning: Hybrid programs blend traditional and online education elements. Students may attend on-campus classes for hands-on studio work while completing theoretical coursework online.

- Balancing Flexibility and In-Person Interaction: Hybrid programs offer the best of both worlds, allowing students to balance flexibility with in-person interaction and practical experience.

Community Colleges and Continuing Education Centers

- Affordable Options: Community colleges and continuing education centres often offer more affordable interior design courses and certificates. These programs can be a cost-effective way to gain foundational knowledge and skills.

- Part-Time and Evening Classes: These institutions frequently provide part-time and evening classes, making education accessible to those with busy schedules.

Four-Year Universities and Colleges

- Comprehensive Degrees: Four-year universities and colleges typically offer comprehensive interior design degree programs, including bachelor’s degrees. These programs often provide a well-rounded education with a solid theoretical foundation.

- Advanced Degrees: Some universities also offer advanced degrees, such as master’s programs, which can be valuable for those seeking specialised knowledge and leadership roles.

Art and Design Schools

- Emphasis on Creativity: Art and design schools prioritise creativity, offering programs focusing on interior design’s artistic and aesthetic aspects. Students in these schools often have opportunities to explore various design styles and experiment with unconventional ideas.

Your choice of interior design school type should align with your preferred learning style, career goals, and personal circumstances. Consider factors such as flexibility, location, cost, and program specialisations when deciding which type of school best fits your educational journey in interior design.

Location and Campus

When selecting an interior design school, the institution’s physical location and the campus environment are significant considerations that can impact your educational experience. Here are the key aspects to consider:

Geographical Location:

- Urban vs. Rural: Different schools are situated in urban or rural locations. Urban campuses often provide more exposure to cultural events, industry connections, and internship opportunities. Rural campuses, on the other hand, may offer a quieter and more focused learning environment. Consider which setting aligns with your lifestyle and career goals.

Proximity to Home

- Commute or Relocation: Think about how far the school is from home. Some students prefer to commute daily, while others are open to relocating for the duration of their studies. Consider the viability of the location in terms of transportation and housing options.

Cost of Living

- Living Expenses: The cost of living can vary from one location to another. Consider your budget and how it aligns with the cost of housing, food, and other necessities in the area.

Curriculum and Course Offerings

An interior design school’s curriculum and course offerings are at the core of your educational experience. They shape the knowledge and skills you acquire during your studies. When evaluating interior design schools, it’s essential to consider the following aspects of the curriculum:

Core Interior Design Courses

- Design Principles: The curriculum should include courses that teach the fundamental principles of interior design, covering topics such as spatial planning, colour theory, and design aesthetics.

- Design Studio Courses: These are hands-on courses where students work on design projects, applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios. These projects often include designing residential and commercial spaces.

- Materials and Finishes: A thorough understanding of materials, finishes, and construction techniques is crucial for interior designers. Look for interior design and landscaping courses that delve into these aspects.

- Computer-Aided Design (CAD): In today’s digital age, proficiency in CAD software is essential. Ensure that the curriculum includes courses on CAD and 3D modelling.

- Sustainable Design: Given the growing importance of sustainable design, look for courses that cover environmentally responsible design practices and materials.

Practical Experience and Internships

- Internship Programs: Check if the school provides internship programs or assistance in securing internships. Practical experience is invaluable for building your portfolio and gaining real-world exposure.

- Collaborative Projects: Collaborative projects with local businesses or non-profit organisations can allow students to work on real design projects, providing a taste of the professional world.

Course Duration and Structure

- Degree Length: Consider the duration of the degree program. The bachelor’s scheme typically lasts four years, while the master’s scheme is usually one to two years.

- Credit Hours: Review the number of credit hours required for graduation and the distribution of courses over semesters.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

- Field Trips: Some schools organise field trips to design showrooms, museums, and architectural landmarks. These trips can enhance your understanding of design concepts and trends.

- Study Abroad Programs: If you’re interested in global design perspectives, inquire about study abroad programs that offer exposure to international design styles and practices.

Licensing and Certification Preparation

- Preparation for Licensure: If you intend to pursue interior design licensure, verify whether the curriculum aligns with the requirements of your state’s licensing board.


In interior design, your school choice is a significant stepping stone to a creative, fulfilling, and prosperous future. The decision reflects your aspirations and your commitment to the art and science of design. By navigating your options with thorough research and thoughtful deliberation, you can embark on a journey that nurtures your talents, hones your skills, and empowers you to transform spaces into works of art.



Think Interior

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