The Best Ranking Institutes for Interior Design & Decorating

There are schools and universities in the United States that offer programs specific to interior design and decorating. The top programs are accredited by notable organizations and offer an associate in applied science, a bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of science degree, master of fine arts or master of science degree. Some schools also offer certificate programs, though only a select few are accredited. When researching these programs, a factor to consider is whether it offers training in interior design versus interior decorating and at what level the program has been accredited.

  1. Design vs. Decoration

    • According to the Interior Design School Review, trained interior designers handle space planning, building codes, construction management and furniture and fixture specification. Interior decorators deal predominantly with surface decorating. This would be colors, materials and furniture alone.


    • Top-ranked interior design programs are typically recognized and respected in the profession by being accredited by known organizations. The Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER) is a leading accrediting organization that evaluates interior design and decorating programs in the United States. Once a program is determined acceptable by FIDER's standards, it is included on FIDER's list of accredited schools.

    Best Ranking

    • According to the "U.S. News and World Report," top interior design programs in the country are offered by the New York School of Interior Design in New York City, the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and the Pratt Institute located in Brooklyn, New York. The Council for Interior Design Accreditation includes the bachelor degree programs offered at these schools on their list of accredited curriculums. This supports their ranking and reputation as leaders in training students to become successful professionals in the industry.

    What Makes a School Best Ranked

    • According to Washington State University, ranked ninth in a top-10 list of interior design programs, rankings are determined by surveying design firms in the United States. Feedback from employers on how well received graduates from interior design programs are reflect on the institute's training. Also, deans of design programs around the country are surveyed to determine rankings.

    Courses Offered by Best-Ranked Schools

    • Computer drafting, floor plans and construction documents in AutoCAD (the most popular computer drafting tool used by professionals), hand drafting, color theory and the history of architecture and interior design are always taught by the best-ranked schools. Building codes and studio courses specific to residential and commercial design are required. Internship work is a notable factor in considering a school's high ranking as it introduces students to the work environment and properly prepares them to do well as professionals.

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