Interior design is an increasingly popular major for good reason. The global interior design market is projected to reach a total of over $5 billion CAD by 2027. In Canada, the demand for interior designers grew by an annual average of 2.4% from 2014-2019. Today, the Canadian interior design market is valued at $1.4 billion CAD.
For students seeking to major in interior design, one of the most important decisions involves where to study. While there are many universities in Canada that offer baccalaureate degrees in interior design, these are the top five schools.
Located in downtown Toronto, Ryerson University is a large public research university with over 45,000 students. Here, students will study in the Ryerson School of Interior Design which seeks to balance theoretical and practical concepts while offering students experiential learning opportunities. The institution features three floors of dedicated studio space with advanced technologies. One of the biggest perks of this program is the integration of internships, networking events, and research activities into the curriculum.
This four-year program focuses on six “core streams” which include communications, design dynamics, history of art & design, interior design, professional practice, and technology. These streams are evident throughout the four years of courses and are aimed at producing well-rounded practitioners who are capable of excelling in a variety of different roles. Many courses include site visits and other immersive learning opportunities. Ryerson graduates are well-prepared to transition into an interior design career.
George Brown College of Applied Arts & Technology is located in Toronto and features three campuses: Casa Loma, St. James, and Waterfront. The university totals over 25,000 students and offers eight degree programs as well as a number of certificates and diplomas. The interior design program is offered as an Advanced Diploma through the School of Architectural Studies at the Casa Loma campus, which is located just north of downtown Toronto.
This program is three years and prepares students for the role of Interior Design Technologist including a focus on 2D and 3D design, sustainability, accessibility, lighting, textiles, furniture, and the use of colour. Successful graduates will be able to follow the complete interior design process from consultation and crafting a design proposal to assessment of completed design solutions. One of the highlights is a competitive design co-op experience during the third year which is an intensive internship.
Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning, more popularly known simply as Humber College, is located on the banks of the Humber River in northwest Toronto. It has a campus of 27,000 full-time students including over 6,000 international students representing 135 countries. While most students attend the North Campus, the institution also has a Lakeshore Campus as well as a small site in Orangeville. At Humber College, interior design is a degree program that spans eight semesters.
It focuses on a balance of creativity with pragmatic design and seeks to leverage problem solving and exploring how design can help people thrive. The institution’s design space simulates a professional studio environment with computer stations, drafting tables, and presentation areas. The highlight of this is the Design Centre which is a large, open concept space focused on digital design. The program includes a self-directed volunteer project that integrates community service within design as well as a 420-hour paid internship. Students also benefit from career seminars focused on networking, interviewing, and the job search process.
The first university founded in Western Canada, the University of Manitoba is located in the provincial capital of Winnipeg set alongside the banks of the Red River. A large public research university with over 30,000 students, the university offers hundreds of different degree programs. The institution’s Department of Interior Design is well-respected in the field having established Canada’s first Master of Interior Design program. Meanwhile, undergraduate students will study a Bachelor of Environmental Design.
The first two years focus on foundational courses such as visual media, design studio, urban media, and other facets of design. The final two years feature the interior environments option (there are also options for architecture and urbanism). These include the more intensive design courses and experience. The focus of the program is an investigation of the relationship between people and the environment through artifacts of cultural production. Students have options for co-ops, student organizations, and travel opportunities within the discipline.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, typically simply referred to as KPU, operates five campuses in the greater Vancouver area with over 20,000 total students. The main campus, and largest, is KPU Surrey. The university operates two other Surrey locations (KPU Tech and KPU Civic Plaza) as well as campuses in Langley and Richmond. In fact, it is the Richmond campus that houses the Wilson School of Design, where interior design majors study. Interior design is a four-year baccalaureate program.
KPU offers a comprehensive program that includes a foundation of theory while students engage in critical practice and research. The degree includes seven content streams that span the program. Perhaps the most interesting is Site Studies where students travel outside the classroom to view projects at various stages of completion and explore global differences in design. Meanwhile, the Professional Practice area supplements traditional interior design instruction with knowledge of leadership, business practices, sustainability, global issues, and legal issues in the field. In addition to a large Design Lab, students also have access to a workshop with hand tools, power tools, and drafting equipment. The program also provides semester abroad opportunities and opportunities to engage in industry events.
Interior design is a fast-growing field with a strong long-term outlook. Prospective students have a variety of options to consider in terms of where to engage in their professional preparation. While there are many potential universities offering programs, the top schools to pursue interior design are Ryerson, George Brown, Humber College, the University of Manitoba, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. With strong reputations, excellent design spaces, and opportunities to engage in learning through various experiences, these programs consistently produce some of the top interior designers.