Radford University Named One of Nation's Best Interior Design Programs

Interior design artistic model

One of the many models created every year by students in the interior design program. The program was recently named one of the best in the nation by DesignIntelligence.

Harvard, Princeton … and Radford University?

A resounding yes, according to DesignIntelligence, which for the first time ever in its annual national survey of America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, ranked Radford University’s Department of Interior Design & Fashion (ID&F) as one of the nation’s ten best interior design programs.

“To get this ranking is just a huge feather in our cap,” said Holly Cline, interim chair of ID&F. “It’s extremely difficult to make that list. Words cannot describe how shocked, proud and amazed we are that we got this ranking.”

The independent study was conducted in mid-2010 by the national trade magazine DesignIntelligence, on behalf of the Design Futures Council, to rank accredited undergraduate and graduate architectural and interior design programs throughout the United States. This year’s 12th edition of the survey polled 381 professional practice leaders and employers with direct experience in both hiring and evaluating the performance of recent architecture and design graduates in their specific fields.

“It comes from the top 100 design firms in the country,” said Cline. “It’s even more difficult for a small school like ours to get in that ranking because you could imagine that schools that are graduating two- to three-times as many students as we are have a lot more students working out there in the field.”

Some of the areas focused on in the survey included: preparedness for practice; how programs rate in teaching; various skill sets; and sustainability education trends. The rankings were then compiled using survey data analyzed by DesignIntelligence with supplemental information from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, the National Architectural Accreditation Board, the American Institute of Architecture Students, and design organizations from each discipline.

Standing eye to eye with some of the significantly larger institutions found in the top 10 rankings doesn’t come easy, according to Cline, who points to the strong, supportive relationships found between the ID&F’s students and educators.

“We’re very hands on,” said Cline. “The faculty is always here—there aren’t graduate students teaching our classes; it’s all housed within our department—and it’s a very close-knit group.”

Unlike most design programs typically found at other schools, Radford’s ID&F department does not require a portfolio review admission assessment for incoming freshman or first-year students.

“We wait until after two years of giving them the tools, and then we have a portfolio review,” said Cline. “What’s very different for us than most programs is we also don’t have a [student class] cap. If we have 12 good students, then we take 12 good students. If we have 18 good students, we take 18 good students.”

It begins and ends with the constant quality control: promoting highly proficient student development as they craft their portfolio throughout their college years.

“Our quality lies in our review process,” said Cline. “We take the best, period.”

Emboldened by the DesignIntelligence ranking, the ID&F department measures success through its alumni and generations of creative minds.

“If you’re passionate about design, you’re going to be good,” said Cline. “All we need is for you to get excited.”

Apr 20, 2011
Keith Hagarty