With so many options to choose from, how do future interior design students select the right school? Editor at Large has introduced a series of profiles to help answer that question. With the series, we hope to offer a better understanding of what makes each school unique. This time we’re focusing in on the New York Institute of Art and Design—which is solely online.
Formerly the Sheffield School, the New York Institute of Art and Design was founded in 1985 as a “home-study” interior design school, which means students anywhere in the world could study and do their work from anywhere, at their own pace.
Now, with course work completely online, the school enrolls between 2,000-4,000 new students each year and about a third are part of the interior design program.
With the school having graduated some 10,000 interior designers all over the world, this reporter talked with marketing director Zach Heller to learn about the concept, how the school has evolved and where it’s headed in the future.
Describe the school's make-up. Is it mainly interior design students?
The New York Institute of Art and Design offers 6 courses: Interior Design, Feng Shui Design, Wedding and Event Planning, Jewelry Design, Professional Blogging, and Fiction and Memoir Writing. The three largest courses make up almost 90% of all students—Interior Design, Wedding and Event Planning, and Jewelry Design.
Why did you choose to make the school online only?
We have always offered education at a distance because we feel that it suits the lives of our students better than a traditional brick and mortar education. Our students work full time, have families and other responsibilities that make commuting to and from class and working on a strict schedule near impossible. Our courses allow students to work from anywhere, in their spare time, and go at their own pace.
What are some key elements of your interior design program?
Students work through course materials, completing a variety of design projects along the way that are evaluated by one of our teachers, all professional interior designers licensed to teach by the New York State Education Department. If students ever have questions, we have student advisors available for them to talk to by phone or email. All of our advisors are also professional interior designers.
After graduation, students are encouraged to continue to reach out to their student advisors with any questions they have. We are here to offer career advice for as long as they need us.
What makes your program different from other design schools?
By the end of the course, students will have created a portfolio of their work, consisting of full design work for three rooms. The course also offers full business training, so that by the time they graduate, students are prepared to start their own interior design business, find and sign new clients, and market their work successfully.
How do you attract students to your school?
We reach prospective students through search engine marketing and social media. Our course is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council, a national regulator of distance education schools, and is licensed by the New York State Education Department, one of the toughest regulating bodies in the country. Students looking for an accredited interior design program to launch a new career usually find us.
What is your faculty like?
Our teachers are all professional interior designers with years of experience teaching interior design. They are licensed teachers with New York State, and work full time as interior designers when they’re not evaluating our students’ projects.
One of our more recent notable graduates is Layla Palmer, who recently shot a pilot for HGTV. Layla also operates a popular design blog.
Is there anything new you're rolling out for the fall semester, or bigger plans for the future?
We just launched the new website and with the name change, we rolled out brand new versions of all of our courses, updating everything about them. We are also planning the rollout of several new courses in the next 12 months.
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