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Colleges for Fashion Majors

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Cropped shot of two fashion designers discussing ideas.

For those enamored with fashion and the latest style trends, there are a few fashion-specific colleges that immediately come to mind when considering where to pursue a degree in fashion. However, there are several great fashion design and merchandising programs at large and small colleges across the country. If you’re looking to break into the fashion industry, look for programs that offer the education and experience you need to succeed. We’ve picked out a few for you here.

Cornell University: Ithaca, NY

When one thinks of an Ivy League education, a fashion degree is probably not the first program of study that comes to mind. At Cornell University, however, students in the College of Human Ecology can get a first-class education in fashion design and management or focus on fashion through a more scientific lens in the fiber science program.

The fashion design and management major takes fashion education to the next level. Students can choose from a fashion design option or a fashion design management option. The fashion design curriculum focuses more on the design side of the fashion industry, including conventional and digital methods. The fashion design management curriculum focuses more on the business side of fashion, including supply chain, economics, communications, entrepreneurship, and more.

The fiber science major is especially distinctive as students learn about not only the types of fibers and merchandise they’re used in, but also the chemical, physical, and engineering properties of a variety of textiles. Students interested in fashion can focus on specific interests, such as performance-enhancing fabrics for activewear or materials for sustainable fashion.

University of Nebraska: Lincoln, NE

Lincoln, Nebraska, might not be the fashion capital of the world, but it is home to one of country’s best fashion programs at University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

The textiles, merchandising, and fashion design program in UNL’s College of Education and Human Sciences offers four options: apparel design, textile science, merchandising, and communications. Alumni from UNL’s program have gone on to work at some of the most popular brands in the U.S. like J. Crew, Banana Republic, and American Eagle, and many started their own businesses in fashion design, merchandising, and more.

What makes UNL’s fashion program so comprehensive is the integration of history and theory, with students taking courses like art history, psychology, and history of fashion courses. Students majoring in the communication concentration also have the unique opportunity to take classes within UNL’s College of Mass Communication and Journalism, allowing them to prepare for a career in fashion communication or advertising — opening a variety of doors for future employment opportunities.

When students aren’t in the classroom, they can utilize the program’s many design facilities to bring their creations to life, including the Weaving and Surface Design Studio, which has looms, print, and dye areas so students can create their own textiles, and the Mary Mitchell Fashion Studio, equipped with dress forms, sewing workstations, and the latest design technology and software.

Virginia Commonwealth University: Richmond, VA

The School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University offers two degree options for students interested in fashion: a BFA in Fashion Design and a B.A. in Fashion Merchandising. The opportunities to learn and gain experience in these programs, however, are almost limitless.

Students in the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising may study in two different tracks, but what makes VCU’s program so different is that design and merchandising students take many of the same courses — allowing them to learn both sides of the industry together.

Outside of the classroom is where the real magic happens. Every year students in the program host a fashion show to showcase their creations based on that year’s fashion show theme. Students in the program have opportunities to study at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy, or participate in the VCUArts Qatar Exchange Program.

Baylor University: Waco, TX

Baylor University offers a B.S. in Apparel Design and Product Development and a B.S. in Apparel Merchandising through the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences Department of Human Sciences and Design. Students pursuing the apparel design and product development degree focus on developing technical skills in pattern making, draping, construction, and other apparel production techniques. Apparel merchandising majors explore the retail side of fashion, including management, marketing, and business principles.

Students also have access to the world-class Parker Design and Technology Center, which houses “the most extensive collection of apparel design, merchandising, and product development software and technology of any university in North America.” Through the technology and equipment in the Parker Design Center, students can bring their creations to life while also learning how to navigate industry-leading software and production tools.

These programs also offer the opportunity for students to participate in an immersive summer study abroad program in London, Paris, and Florence/Milan to enhance their classroom learning with cultural experiences related to the fashion industry.

Kent State University: Kent, OH

In this digital age, it’s important for traditional industries to find ways to adapt and become more efficient with the help of technology, and fashion students at Kent State University have the opportunity to do just that.

The well-renowned Kent State University School of Fashion is home to the TechStyleLAB, which is one of the first and best of its kind. The TechStyleLAB was created as a way to explore digital design and production in the fashion industry. The lab includes digital textile printers, embroidery machines, and more and serves as a production and research facility for students, as well as an incubator for small businesses.

Undergraduates can choose among three degree programs: a B.A. in Fashion Design, a BFA in Fashion Design, or a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising. The School of Fashion School also hosts a fashion show every April, where students get the opportunity to show off their designs and skills to a wide audience. Not only does this allow students to showcase their work, it also teaches them the basics of event planning and preparation, as well as business and marketing skills.

Other colleges that offer great fashion design, production, and merchandising programs include the University of CincinnatiSavannah College of Art and DesignDrexel University, and University of Missouri.

If you’re interested in fashion, there’s a lot you can do now to focus your interests and prepare to apply to selective fashion programs, including interning, starting a blog, and creating a portfolio. If you need help identifying fashion-related activities or selecting programs to apply to, contact us today for more information on our Initial Consultation and ongoing counseling programs.


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