The only thing better than dabbling in design? Bagging a degree in it, of course. For those who are eyeing a career in design, the question of where to hone their design chops is serious business—and with no shortage of A-list schools, it’s those little extras that can seal the deal. Curious to know who’s offering what? Here are eleven knockout design schools around the U.S. to consider.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s interior design department prioritizes both a comprehensive liberal arts education and cross-disciplinary projects. Determined to provide students with a program that sets them up for success, Syracuse has also racked up accolades for cultivating a studio experience that mirrors that of a professional design office (and who doesn’t love a sneak peek?). Bonus: if your college checklist includes a study abroad program, Syracuse might just be your ticket. Junior year students are encouraged to study abroad in London or Florence. Bon voyage!

Photo courtesy: The New School’s Parsons School of Design

The New School, Parsons School of Design

Among the Parsons School of Design’s many bragging rights is that fact that they launched the first interior design curriculum in the U.S. (in 1906, to be exact, thank you very much). Their BFA program boasts an extensive curriculum that includes the study of design theory, materiality, art history, hand-drawing and gobs more. Thanks to the school’s premier New York location, enrolling in this program also means getting to take a massive bite of the Big Apple life—not to mention the access it provides to all of the abundant NYC post-grad opportunities.

Cornell University

The only Ivy League to offer an interior design program, Cornell’s BS degree counts itself part of the College of Human Ecology’s Design and Environmental Analysis program and specializes on the impact of design decisions on the environment. For anyone who’s ever thought a career in interior design means forgoing the weighty academia, check out Cornell’s STEM-certified program, which offers three primary research themes: Design Strategy and Innovation, Sustainable Futures, and Health and Well-Being.

Photo Courtesy: Smiljana Peros/FIT

Fashion Institute of Technology

If you thought it was all about fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology, think again. Prepping students for careers in manufacturing, furniture production, showroom design, retailing, real estate, and facilities management, FIT’s BFA design program includes courses such as lighting, computer modeling and drafting, all of which are taught by current experts in the field. Beyond the design classes, FIT’s program also provides students with a strong foundation in liberal arts. Did we also mention this hot shot school also has a prem-o NYC location?

Pratt Institute

One of the oldest interior design programs in the country, Pratt Institute’s program focuses on both practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge via studio classes and research-based thesis projects. Pratt prepares students for a professional career steeped in environmental and social responsibility, making it ideal for those who believe in the greta-good!

Photo Courtesy: UC Creative Services

University of Cincinnati in Ohio

Thanks to a curriculum that heavily interlocks with its architecture program, the five-year BS degree at the University of Cincinnati provides students with the chops to work across sectors. The architecture and interior design programs share a core curriculum for three semesters before breaking off into more nuanced subject matter. The rigorous program also has mandatory co-op requirements and has partnerships set up with firms all around the globe. Work and play? We say yes all day!

New York School of Interior Design

Backed by the guiding belief that well-designed interiors improves human welfare, the New York School of Interior Design is an inspired choice for anyone looking a small liberal arts college feel in the Big City. It boasts a jaw-dropping student to faculty ratios (10:1, to be exact), and employs more than 100 faculty members, all of whom are practicing designers. Additionally, NYSID offers both graduate and undergrad degrees as well as a basic one-and-done interior design certificate.

Photo Courtesy: Jo Sittenfeld / RISD

Rhode Island School of Design

If you love a good renovation project, Rhode Island’s School of Design’s Interior Architecture program might just be your match. With a focus on how to reuse and transform existing buildings, the program puts the lens on understanding buildings’ structure rather than an outward application of materials. RISD studios focus on a wide array of approaches, including domestic and retail design, theater/production design and, of course, preservation and conservation.

Drexel University

Cultivating students who not only take into account smashing aesthetics, but stewardship of the environment is of the utmost importance to Drexel University. Confirming that sustainable design is the design of the future, Drexel’s BS program, which is a part of the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, offers a minor in Sustainability in the Built Environment. In addition to having sky-high employment rates, Drexel students are also required to complete a six-month professional co-op work experience. Work experience on the resume before graduation? Yes, please!

Photo Courtesy: Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

In addition to consistently ranking as one of the top domestic and international schools, Savannah College of Art and Design has satellite campuses in Atlanta and Hong Kong. Their BFA program encourages collaborative projects and critical thinking and boasts a wide array of classes, including all-important topics like professional ethics and career prep.

Photo Courtesy: School of Visual Arts

School of Visual Arts

With an illustrious history that spans more than seven decades, the School of Visual Art’s Interior Design BFA pairs students with architects and engineers to bring stunning spaces to life. Last year, SVA announced the addition of a Master of Art (MA) in Art Education to their graduate degree program (starting Fall 2020), making them a go-to for continuing education students as well.

Lead photo courtesy Syracuse University


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January 30, 2020

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