Best Schools to Become an Interior Designer from Around the World

As an aspiring interior designer, studying in one of the best interior design schools can give you the quality education, rigorous training, and internship opportunities that you need to stand out among your peers. The institutions on my personal list below can give you all of these and more. 

Formal education for interior designers has never been more important now that 26 states are requiring those in the field to obtain licensure. This includes a combination of education, work experience, and passing a standardized exam.

Some of the schools below are recognized by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) to meet the highest standards when it comes to interior design education.

Without further ado, based on the latest rankings and recommendations from QS World University Rankings, Architectural Digest, Design Schools Hub, and Azure Magazine, here’s my favorite list of the best interior design schools around the world.

Editor’s note: The tuition fees indicated below are for the coming school year, 2020 to 2021, and do not include costs like room and board.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design
Courtesy of SCAD
  • Locations: Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Hong Kong; and Lacoste, France
  • Tuition Fee: US$38,520
  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts
  • Famous Alumni: Chuck Chewning, Kati Curtis
  • CIDA accredited: Yes

A consistent contender when it comes to top interior design schools lists both domestically and internationally, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) curriculums focus on collaborative projects, career preparation, and portfolio development while also developing work ethics, innovation, and critical thinking.

Aside from their avant-garde technology and talented faculty, what makes SCAD so desirable is its strong industry and alumni network which translates into a very high job placement in design positions.

Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute
Courtesy of Peterson’s
  • Location: 3 New York Campuses – Brooklyn, Manhattan, Utica
  • Tuition Fee: US$51,754 for undergraduate, US$55,410 for graduate
  • Programs: Bachelor of Fine Arts., Master of Fine Arts
  • Famous Alumni: Annabelle Selldorf, Lou Switzer, Naomi Leff, Arnold Friedmann
  • CIDA accredited: Yes

If you’re looking for an architecturally oriented formal education, the Pratt Institute is an excellent choice. With 132 years of history, this school is a global leader which specializes in spatial design and surface embellishment. The well-accomplished staff continuously challenges their students to create purposeful art pieces that show good social and environmental responsibility.

Located in New York, the Pratt Institute can provide excellent work opportunities in prestigious firms and showrooms. Its students also have the opportunity to study abroad at the Copenhagen International School in Denmark.

Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design
Courtesy of RISD
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Tuition Fee: US$51,800
  • Programs: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Design
  • Famous Alumni: Alina Vadera, Andrea Valentini, Nader Tehrani
  • CIDA accredited: No

With a 142-year long history under its belt, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the oldest American colleges of art and design. It’s situated right in the middle of cultural centers, Boston and New York, so its students get a wide range of projects and coursework that can develop their skills.

RISD has a holistic approach to interior designing so it emphasizes adaptive reuse and the transformation of existing buildings. As a result, many of its graduates excel in conservation or set and theater design.

New York School of Interior Design

New York School of Interior Design
  • Location: New York
  • Tuition Fee: Per credit for undergraduate US$1060, for graduate US$1200
  • Programs: Basic certificate, Associate in Applied Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, PPM of Fine Arts, MPS in Healthcare, MPS in Lighting Design, MPS in Sustainable Interior Environments
  • Famous Alumni: Rose Tarlow, Penny Drue Baird, Yuan Yuan Ma
  • CIDA accredited: Yes

The New York School of Interior Design (NYISD) is a specialist institution, allowing it to provide in-depth interior design education and a wide range of programs that includes 3 undergraduate and 5 graduate courses. Aside from equipping its students to have the necessary business, legal, and administrative skills, their programs teach the students social, historical, and cultural awareness

Being located in New York, it is also able to enhance the career prospects of its students through its extensive professional network. 

Royal College of Art

Royal College of Art
Courtesy of RCA
  • Location: London, U.K.
  • Tuition Fee: £19,500 (local students) – £58,000 (international students)
  • Programs: Master of Arts
  • Famous Alumni: Sir James Dyson, Ben Kelly
  • CIDA accredited: No

A Kensington-based institution with a newly revamped interior design curriculum, the Royal College of Art (RCA) provides a solid foundation for their students when it comes to building reuse, material personification, history, and theory. The budding interior designers creative and critical thinking skills are also honed by being assigned to experienced mentors from prestigious firms around London.

Top firms and studious from around the globe flock to the RCA’s year-end show to hire the best that the institution has to offer.

Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design
Courtesy of New School
  • Location: New York; Paris, France
  • Tuition Fee: For undergraduates, US$17,245 – US$25,230; For graduates, US$25,875
  • Programs: Associate of Applied Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, Master of Fine Arts
  • Famous Alumni: Victoria Hagan, Mario Buatta, Albert Hadley, Angelo Donghia, Van Day Truex
  • CIDA accredited: No

The Parsons School of Design has a stellar reputation when it comes to molding the next generation interior design visionaries. It has a research-based forward-thinking curriculum that emphasizes on sustainability diversity, and art history.

Thanks to its top-notch connections, Parsons are able to pave the way for their students by giving them access to influential firms, showrooms, and galleries, and pushing them to join international competitions and events like the UN Mass Housing contest and Venice Biennale. Students who wish to study abroad can take advantage of their France campus and exchange opportunities in the UK, Australia, Italy and Denmark. 

Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London (UAL)

Courtesy of UAL
  • Location: London, U.K.
  • Tuition Fee: For local students, £9,250 to £12,280; For international students, £12,280 to £22,920 depending on the program 
  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts, Graduate Diploma, Master of Arts
  • Famous Alumni: Alex Randall, Guy Hendrix Dyas
  • CIDA accredited: No

Another London-based interior design school, the Chelsea College of Arts UAL programs equip its students with the skills, knowledge, and experience required to create complex architectural spaces and multimedia environments. As such, apart from interior design, its graduates are able to work in architecture, exhibition and film and TV set design.

Ryerson School of Interior Design

Ryerson School of Interior Design
Courtesy of RSID
  • Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Tuition Fee: For local students, CA$7,049 – CA$7,770; For International students, CA$27,284 – CA$27,904
  • Programs: Bachelor of Interior Design
  • Famous Alumni: George Yabu, Glenn Pushelberg, Alessandro Munge
  • CIDA accredited: Yes

The Ryerson School of Interior Design (RSID) offers a studio-based curriculum which covers everything from art history, theory, and business. Its focus lies on resolving design challenges using cutting-edge technology. As such, it recently added an in-house digital fabrication lab with state-of-the-art equipment.

To ready their students for their career, RSID works with organizations like the Bata Shoe Museum, IIDEX and the Design Exchange Museum. Sem-long exchange opportunities in Australia, Hong Kong and Finland also await its young interior designers.

Université de Montréal

Courtesy of UdeM
  • Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Tuition Fee: $1,147 in Quebec, $3,515 elsewhere in Canada, $7,853 international
  • Programs: Bachelor of Interior Design
  • Famous Alumni: Jessica Rivière Gomez, Laurie Bedikian
  • CIDA accredited: No

Having only produced its first interior design graduates in 2001, the Université de Montréal is a relatively newcomer compared to the other institutions in our list. It quickly gained popularity for its research and theory-based foundation which is complemented by hands-on experience with the must-know fabrication tools. What sets this school apart from the other interior design institutions on our list, however, is that the course is delivered entirely in French. 

Domus Academy

Courtesy of Alessandro Lombardo
  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Tuition Fee: For EU and Switzerland students, €16900; For Non-EU students, €25600
  • Programs: Master in Interior & Living Design
  • Famous Alumni: Matteo Thun, Antonio Rodriguez, Jigs Adefuin, Anupriya Diwan, Lea Meile
  • CIDA accredited: No

The Domus Academy was founded in 1982 by renowned designers Alessandro Mendini and Andrea Branzi to give young creatives the opportunity to work with admired professionals like Italo Rota, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and Patricia Urquiola. The lectures, workshops, and aesthetic training from the school’s all-star faculty imbue cultural sensitivity, social understanding, and strategic thinking to the students. 

Finding the Best Interior Design School for You

There are many other schools that can help you kickstart your career as an interior designer. Aside from the institutions on our list, you might also want to check out the University of Manitoba and the Florence Design Academy.