There are few careers that can offer the same levels of personal satisfaction as those in the arts, but in a STEM-driven economy, technical degrees such as architecture and engineering are where the salaries are at.
Luckily, though, for those who want to balance these aspirations, there’s a compromise. With interior design, you get a combination of both, allowing you to display your creative flair while getting to grips with the technical processes of construction and architecture.
If this sounds interesting, but you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled data and recommendations from Quacquarelli Symonds, Design Schools Hub and Azure magazine in order to narrow down your study choices.
So, without further ado, here are the best interior design schools in the world.
10. The Interior Design School
Location: London, UK
Average ranking: 8.0
Offering a professional diploma in interior design, the Interior Design School is targeted at professionals who are looking to change careers, continue in their education or simply pique their creative interest. Either way, students benefit from the school’s glowing industry reputation, as well as the studio facilities on offer at the school’s campus in North West London.
The faculty boasts numerous years of experience and expertise, while there’s also a wide range of industry links, affiliations and suppliers. The school is also not afraid to take advantage of the various exhibitions, galleries and buildings that London has to offer, with regular field trips and visits that are designed to inspire.
9. Ryerson University – School of Interior Design
Location: Toronto, Canada
Average ranking: 7.8
The four-year BID programme taught at the Ryerson School of Interior Design (RSID) offers undergraduate students a broad grounding in the subject, with the main block of studio and lecture work supplemented by modules in communications, art and design history, and technology.
There is also a compulsory internship in the third year that focuses on the business aspects of interior design, as well as field trips, international exchange opportunities in the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand, and an annual design show.
8. Florence Design Academy
Location: Florence, Italy
Average ranking: 7.7
When it comes to design inspiration, there are few places in the world as iconic or as breath-taking as Florence; it’s unsurprising, then, that it is also home to one of the world’s top interior design schools.
There are four study programmes available, including three undergraduate courses and a master’s programme; all are taught in English (although language aficionados can still take advantage of the free Italian lessons on offer). There’s more to the Florence Design Academy than just an inspiring backdrop, though: the diverse and esteemed array of faculty members, the opportunity to work on real-life projects and the exposure to industry contacts all ensure that the school is a solid study choice.
7. Université de Montréal
Location: Montreal, Canada
Average ranking: 7.3
Despite being a relative newcomer (the school graduated its first interior design class in 2001), the Université de Montréal offers a renowned three-year undergraduate programme.
Integrating related disciplines such as architecture, landscaping and urban planning, the course is structured from the bottom up, meaning that students have a thorough understanding of theory and principles first. There is also a unique workshop experience that provides opportunities to work with industry professionals, as well as study trips abroad, practical internships and an international exchange programme. It’s worth noting that your language skills will have to be up to scratch, though, as the course is taught entirely in French.
6. University of the Arts London (UAL)
Location: London, UK
Average ranking: 6.3
The second London-based entry on this list, UAL offers a three-year BA in Interior Design, taught at the university’s satellite school, the Chelsea College of Arts. Described as a programme with an emphasis on ‘collaborative, provocative and innovative design’, it is partnership-heavy, with regular access to high-profile organisations and figures from within the industry.
Covering a broad range of core and supplementary topics and skills, the course also gives students the opportunity to work on small and large-scale real-life projects, while there is also a one-year MA option for graduates.
5. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
Average ranking: 6.0
Offering three study programmes (BFA, MA and MFA) at a choice of locations (including Savannah and Atlanta in the US and Hong Kong, as well as an online option at MA level), SCAD is a highly renowned and prestigious interior design institution that has received numerous accolades and industry acclaim.
With a faculty consisting of award-winning designers, and access to state-of-the-art modern facilities, SCAD students are also privy to high-profile networking events and international exchange opportunities, including a semester in France.
4. Pratt Institute
Location: New York City, NY, US
Average ranking: 5.3
One of the most widely recognised names in the design world, the Pratt Institute offers a BFA in Interior Design from its Brooklyn campus (although it also has satellite campuses in Manhattan and Utica), as well as an MFA option for graduates.
Both programmes are collaborative in nature and involve working on small projects that gradually evolve into larger ones throughout the course. There is also the opportunity to spend a term at the Copenhagen International School in Denmark, which involves extensive study tours to the interior design mecca that is Scandinavia.
3. Royal College of Art
Location: London, UK
Average ranking: 5.0
Confirming London’s status as a global interior design hub, the Royal College of Art – based in Kensington – offers a two-year master’s programme, which features a strong blend of studio and workshop-oriented study.
Headed by renowned designer Graeme Brooker, there are also opportunities to partake in live, real-life industry projects with selected university partners, while the school’s emphasis on personal growth and development is illustrated by the assigning of dedicated practice mentors.
2. Parsons School of Design
Location: New York City, NY, USA
Average ranking: 4.8
Based in the trendy Greenwich Village area of Manhattan, the Parsons School of Design is one of the five constituent colleges of the New School and is one of the most famous design institutions in the world.
It offers interior design programmes at both the BFA and MFA level, drawing on the urban inspiration of New York to illuminate key design concepts. There is also a multidisciplinary feel to the curriculum, inviting collaboration not just with students in related fields, but with those in business, journalism and the performing arts, too.
For those who want to spend time abroad, Parsons also has a campus in Paris, while there are exchange opportunities in the UK, Australia, Italy and Denmark.
1. Rhode Island School of Design
Location: Providence, RI, USA
Average ranking: 4.7
Just pipping Parsons to top spot, however, is the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), a highly prestigious institution that has graduated many famous names in the creative world.
Offering both a four-year BFA and a one-year MA programme in Interior Architecture, students are encouraged to choose one of three pathways (theatre design, exhibition design or retail design), with the theory and teaching aspects of the course counterbalanced by hands-on exposure to the construction industry.
In the final year, students are also required to complete a module in human factors, which is meant to consolidate the humanist and environmentally responsible approach to design that RISD prides itself on.
Of course, there are many great schools and programmes all over the world, with top institutions such as the Domus Academy, the New York School of Interior Design and the University of Manitoba all just missing out. Wherever you choose to study, though, the important thing is that your environment is right for you.
Meanwhile, if you feel that your creative skills might be better utilised elsewhere, then don’t forget to check out our list of the best graphic design universities!
Are you thinking of studying interior design at university? Where would you pick? Let us know in the comments below!