By Julia Leblanc
It’s hard to believe that some people can walk into a room and immediately understand how to make it better, in terms of both form and function. But with their deep understanding of space, lighting, colour and human behavior, this is exactly what interior designers are able to do.
If you’ve ever dreamt of becoming an interior designer, you’ve clicked into the right web page. Keep reading, because up ahead, we round up the best interior design schools in Calgary!
How Much Does Interior Design School Cost in Calgary?
Like any other school, interior design schools in Calgary are dependent on a number of factors. There’s the level of education, duration of the program, and the question of whether the course is taught in person or online, among others.
To give you a general idea of how much is charged for tuition, we’ve gathered interior design programs from only the best schools. Take a look at the table below for approximate pricing, as well as the duration and mode of delivery of each program.
|University of Calgary: Continuing Education||Certificate in Visual Design specializing in Interior Design||In-person||250 hours, approx. 1.5 to 3 years||$3,600|
|Visual College of Art and Design||Interior Design undergraduate program||Online or in-person||1.5 years||$36,064|
|Mount Royal University||Bachelor of Interior Design||In-person||4 years||$38,708|
|The Interior Design Institute||Interior Design online course||Online||6 months to 1 year||Starts at $999|
|LaSalle College Vancouver||Diploma in Interior Design||Online||16 months||$18,108|
Learn more about each school below!
The Best Interior Design Schools in Calgary
Now that you have a better idea of how much each of these schools charges, let’s get into the list. Ahead, discover the best interior design schools in Calgary!
1. University of Calgary: Continuing Education
|PRODUCTS||Certificate in Visual Design specializing in Interior Design|
|ADDRESS||Main Campus: 2500 University Drive NW Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 |
Downtown Campus: 906 8 Ave SWCalgary, AB T2P 1H9
|CONTACT DETAILS||(403) 220-2866 |
|OPERATING HOURS||Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM |
*Physical office currently closed
The University of Calgary is, without a doubt, one of the most popular schools in the city. With two campuses and hundreds of programs available for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students, there’s bound to be a course for everybody.
Aspiring interior designers are no exception. University of Calgary’s one and only interior design program is available for those who fall under the Professional and Continuing Education subset of the student body.
Certificates are a little different from undergraduate and graduate programs, as they do not require students to hold a previous degree or diploma. This evens out the playing field and gives almost everyone the chance to work towards the career of their dreams.
The program teaches the foundations of visual design—think design principles, aesthetic ground rules, and more. It also allows students to choose a specialization from three options: a general certificate, a specialization in art theory and practice, or a specialization in interior design.
Four core courses are taught to all students taking up the certificate program: Colour Theory, Design Principles, Drawing, and History of Design. With these subjects serving as a foundation, students can then venture into their desired specializations with a better understanding of visual arts overall.
In addition to imparting key subjects, the program also focuses on network building and professional development. While anyone over the age of 18 can apply, most of the students that take up certificate programs already have some professional experience—this makes it a great place to meet like-minded individuals from a similar industry.
Price-wise, the program admission fee is just $105, exclusive of the price per course. In total, the approximate cost of the entire Certificate in Visual Design specializing in Interior Design amounts to $3,600.
Check out reviews from students who have taken up programs at the University of Calgary:
“A place where the education level is really high. Good playground, teachers are really interactive and friendly. If you are looking to join this is a great university for you!” —Jaskaran Singh
“Super professional and friendly place. Every prof I’ve had here and met outside of lectures since graduating has been phenomenal. It’s obvious why this place is so respected and reputable.” —Ana J.
2. Visual College of Art and Design
|PRODUCTS||Interior Design undergraduate program|
|ADDRESS||100-1035 7th Avenue, SW, Calgary, AB T2P 0W4|
|CONTACT DETAILS||1 800 290 2414|
One of the newest interior design schools in Calgary, the Visual College of Art and Design (VCAD) opened its Calgary campus in early 2019. From state-of-the-art labs to its downtown location, it’s the kind of place that aspiring art students long to be a part of.
There’s more to VCAD than its impressive new campus, though. With a mix of digital and tactile arts courses, VCAD Calgary is a creative’s dream.
Across six 12-week terms, students will get to learn how to design residential, commercial and industrial spaces by harnessing the rules of color theory, space, and lighting. At the same time, core skills like drafting and drawing will also be polished.
An interesting point to note is that VCAD’s Interior Design program also includes topics like Human Factors in Design and Eco Design. The inclusion of these courses in their curriculum helped secure VCAD’s spot in our list of the best interior design schools in Calgary, as they give students a more forward-thinking approach to their work.
Like all of the courses offered at VCAD, the Interior Design undergraduate program tackles not only artistic subjects, but incorporates business concepts as well. Students will get to learn how to build their portfolio, improve professional practices, and communicate with potential clients.
By equipping students with both creative and commercial knowledge, they can enter the industry better prepared than their peers. VCAD’s homepage houses a collection of online portfolios that prove as much, showcasing the work of their successful interior design alumni.
All of this, however, comes with a hefty price tag.
As VCAD is a for-profit institution, their tuition is on the higher end of the spectrum. The tuition for their six-term Interior Design program (exclusive of books and other fees) is approximately $36,064.
Want to learn more about the Visual College of Art and Design’s Calgary campus? Check out these reviews:
“This Campus is a great addition to the thriving Art & Design community in Calgary. If you’re looking for your next career, start here!” —Dmitri Berko
“I am having a great time being in a school that really focuses on giving you the tools to succeed in the field that you choose. The teachers are industry experts, which gives [students] great insight. It’s also great to be in class with people from different walks of life, but all have the same mindset and interests as you. It makes for a fun environment.” —Sebas O.
3. Mount Royal University
|PRODUCTS||Bachelor of Interior Design|
|ADDRESS||4825 Mount Royal Gate SW Calgary, AB T3E 6K6|
|CONTACT DETAILS||(403) 440-6111|
Despite not being a specialized arts school, Mount Royal’s Interior Design program stands its ground as one of the best in Calgary.
Mount Royal has a strategically structured curriculum laid out for the students in their Bachelor of Interior Design program. With subjects like Design Theory and Space + Experience in the first year to courses like Material Culture and Integration in the latter portion of the program, there’s a clear progression from theory and research to hands-on application.
By gradually teaching students to go from lecture to lab, drawing board to design studio, they are able to holistically understand the different facets of interior design.
Mount Royal also puts a premium on small class sizes. To ensure that students are given the guidance they need, no class houses more than 20 students.
In addition to class sizes and a strong curriculum, another thing that sets Mount Royal apart from the rest is its internship opportunity. In order to allow students to get the real world experience they need, students are given one semester in their third year to work for an interior design firm.
The system Mount Royal has in place appears to be paying off. Case in point: in 2019, 76% of their students were able to land a job as interior designers or in related fields.
However, like VCAD, students looking to enroll at Mount Royal will need to come financially prepared.
For a year of study, the tuition fee for their Bachelor of Interior Design program costs $9,677 per year (exclusive of books, supplies and other fees). This brings the total cost for four years of study to approximately $38,708.
Interested in checking out the Mount Royal University Bachelor of Interior Design program? Read these reviews first!
“I could write a book about how amazing the professors are at this school. Most of them are passionate about teaching and extremely kind human beings. I went through a lot of personal difficulties when I was a student there, and my professors were so understanding and accommodating. I’ll never forget them.” —Dani D.
“Class sizes are small and the professors are great at responding to requests. The library is a state of the art library with numerous activities and events that are now hosted 100% online.” —Usha Lakchmi
4. The Interior Design Institute
|PRODUCTS||Darren Palmer MASTERSERIES, Interior Design course|
|ADDRESS||701 West Georgia Street, Suite 1500 Vancouver, BC V7Y 1C6|
|CONTACT DETAILS||Contact form|
You may take a look at the address above and wonder, what’s a Vancouver-based school doing in a list of the best interior design schools in Calgary? Despite The Interior Design Institute (IDI) being based out of a completely different city, their courses are delivered online, making them accessible to aspiring interior designers in Calgary and all over the world.
The Interior Design Institute’s most popular offering is their Interior Design course, which is made up of 12 modules and 12 assignments. While the modules are self-paced, students never have to feel as if they’re left without guidance—they can get in touch with a personal tutor and student support anytime.
While the program is designed to be completed in 24 weeks, students are given 12 months to do so. The assignments, despite being based on hypothetical design situations, give students the groundwork to build their first professional portfolio.
In terms of the curriculum, IDI’s Interior Design course covers all the key topics: from lighting and space, to harmonious palettes, to working with clients. The last module, in particular, prepares students to set up their own interior design practice.
The Interior Design course is a great way for interior designers to get their foot in the door. However, for those who would prefer something a little less intensive, IDI also offers a unique program called the Darren Palmer MASTERSERIES.
Created and conceptualized with renowned interior designer Darren Palmer, the MASTERSERIES gives students access to 15 online videos. In these videos, Palmer dissects the fundamentals of interior design while sharing his own experiences and anecdotes.
Participating in the MASTERSERIES also gives students access to an exclusive, downloadable eBook. Upon completion, students will also receive a certificate.
While the Interior Design Institute’s programs can be classified as diploma or supplementary programs as opposed to full-time courses, they’re also much more affordable than a graduate degree at a traditional university. The Interior Design course starts at $999, while the Darren Palmer MASTERSERIES is available for $1,399 when paid in full.
Check out what students from the Interior Design Institute have to say about their online learning experience below!
“I wanted to gain as much information as possible from a quality interior design course, similar to that of getting a degree in interior design. I didn’t have the time or budget to get a degree but really wanted to have something to show at the end of the course to give me clout in the business. I think this course accomplishes that.” —Jamie Lundstrom
“I stumbled upon The Interior Design Institute online and loved what I saw. It was flexible, great reviews, great content, so reasonably priced and you get to be recognised by the CIDA. This definitely isn’t your quick little course. There was a lot of work involved, and I think that is why I enjoyed it so much; I really felt like I was learning and gaining the knowledge I needed to become a full-time designer.” —Melissa Foster
5. LaSalle College Vancouver
|PRODUCTS||Diploma in Interior Design|
|ADDRESS||2665 Renfrew St., Vancouver, BC V5M 0A7|
|CONTACT DETAILS||+ 1 604 683-2006|
If online learning is your cup of tea, here’s another school to consider: LaSalle College Vancouver. Their Diploma in Interior Design e-learning course combines self-guided training, online classes and assignments to hone students’ skills from the comfort and safety of home.
Despite the fully online delivery, the curriculum still closely follows LaSalle College Vancouver’s on-ground program. Students can rest easy knowing that their studies won’t be compromised by the distance.
The synchronous classes happen in the evenings, and the entire program stretches across sixteen months.
Unlike Mount Royal’s gradual introduction to tactical and hands-on courses, LaSalle College Vancouver takes students right in for a deep dive. In their first semester, students get to learn the foundations of 3D design and AutoCAD, which is a key software used by interior designers all over the world.
The Diploma in Interior Design opens up doors for its graduates, giving them the leverage they need to get noticed in the fields of project management, design, technical drawing or consulting.
Impressively inclusive, the program is open to anyone who has graduated high school and is comfortable with technology and remote learning.
At face value, LaSalle’s $18,108 tuition fee is noticeably more expensive than that of the Interior Design Institute. However, it’s important to note that LaSalle is not only a more popular institution—they have a more extensive curriculum, too.
Eager to learn more about LaSalle College Vancouver? Check out these reviews!
“A decision that changed my life! […] They really help with building your career and achieving your goals.” —Sukhman Grewal
“My instructors are amazing. My classes and the materials are excellent. I’m making an impact with the work I produce. And, best of all, I’m making connections with some very talented people and industry professionals.” —Brent Hampton
How to Choose an Interior Design School in Calgary
With so many options to consider, trying to identify your ideal interior design school can be a little overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve rounded up a guide.
Go through the list below for some points to consider as you narrow down your options:
Mode of Delivery
Not everyone processes information the same way. Figuring out the kind of class delivery that works best for you can go a long way in cutting down your options.
If you thrived in the traditional school setting, you may want to choose a program that is delivered in person, face-to-face. Otherwise, if you work better remotely, opt for an e-learning program.
The kind of degree you take up can be determined by your level of experience. Have you spent some time in the interior design industry, or are you just starting out?
If you’re coming straight out of high school and want a degree that can set you up for a career in the industry, an undergraduate program is the most logical next step. If you’ve spent some time in the industry and are looking to further specialize, then a graduate degree or certificate would be a good idea.
On the other hand, if you’re coming in as a beginner looking to explore interior design as a hobby, explore short online courses like the ones offered by The Interior Design Institute. These can help you test the waters and see if interior design is something you like enough to pursue full-time.
Internships are a great way for aspiring designers to get a foot in the door. However, not all interior design schools in Calgary offer these opportunities.
Be sure to take a good look at the curriculum of a school before applying. Internships usually happen in the second-to-the-last or final semester, so keep an eye out!
Frequently Asked Questions about Interior Design Schools
Think you’re ready to pursue the interior design program of your dreams? We hope that this guide to the best interior design schools in Calgary helps you out along the way!
If you’re looking for a more general career path in the creative world, how about zooming out and looking at what art schools across the city have to offer? Check out our list of the best art schools in Calgary to get started.