What Is a Fashion Degree?

What Is a Fashion Degree?

Are you ready to find your fit?

Have an eye for patterns, colors, and design? Consider a degree in fashion to make your mark on future styles and trends.

If you’re artistic, or if you’ve ever sobbed at the thought of having to sit at a desk and do the same thing for the rest of your life, a degree in fashion might be for you. Fashion designers rely on their creativity and style every day to produce attractive, trend-setting garments for a wide variety of consumers.

A degree in fashion will allow you to study topics such as art, design, textiles, and computer-aided design. You will also develop the skills necessary to work creatively, on your own, and within teams.

What kind of degree in fashion should you get?

Consider your future career goals when deciding what kind of degree in fashion you might want to pursue. Are you interested in learning about what makes a line of clothing sell well to a large variety of industries? Think about your personal preferences and career goals when deciding on a fashion degree, as many programs will provide you with flexible elective options to help tailor your degree to your specific goals.

If you are looking for a degree that is ultra-flexible and allows you to take classes while working at the same time, you should consider an online program. Online programs allow you to continue working at your existing position, or to work your classes around your busy personal and professional commitments. Be sure to check out our list of the 50 Best Online Colleges to help you narrow your search.

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How much money do people make with a degree in fashion?

Although some people believe that growth in the field of fashion is slightly slower than average, there are thousands of new jobs created every year in this field, with an expected growth rate of nearly 20 percent. Furthermore, individuals with fashion degrees tend to earn high starting salaries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most fashion designers earn around $67,420 per year. This salary varies depending on the state and industry in which the designer works, with the highest paid individuals employed at wholesale or manufacturing establishments or apparel companies.

What can you do with a degree in fashion?

With a degree in fashion, you can work in all capacities to design, create, and produce your own garments and products. You will likely walk your apparel through all aspects of the development process.

You might create street fashion lines or work as a pattern designer in a textile company. You could even become a designer at a large or small fashion company or set out on your own to create your own line. You could even work in fashion marketing or merchandising. A degree in fashion is ideal for someone who loves to draw, create, and influence future trends.

What are the requirements for a degree in fashion?

Most aspiring fashion professionals only need to obtain an undergraduate degree in this area. If you plan to start your own business or lead a team of other designers, you might also consider pursuing an additional graduate degree in a topic such as Business. This will give you the management and financial skills necessary to be successful in a variety of settings.

While enrolled in your studies, you will take a mixture of courses that are both hands-on and theoretical in nature, with a large amount of time spent working on original designs in the studio.

What are the best degrees in fashion?

The best degrees in fashion are those that allow you to tailor your studies to a specific area of fashion, doing so mostly through the selection of electives and one-on-one studio time. Good programs also include a high level of professional development, providing students with opportunities for internships, cooperative learning experiences, and networking with potential employers and other industry partners.

Search for a program with a high post-graduate employment rate, as well as those that offer strong career and student development services so that you can make the most out of your time in school.

When we are compiling our rankings to determine the best degrees in fashion, we look at a variety of factors to make your decision as easy as possible. We analyze quality, affordability, value, school reputation, and, most importantly, overall student satisfaction. We use real data sources for each factor, including Payscale, the Bureau of Labor Statics, and the International Postsecondary Education Data System.

We want you to study at the best possible school for your style and aspirations, and that’s why we make sure you see only the very best institutions represented on our lists. Check out the Best Fashion Degrees below.

The Best Colleges and Universities for Fashion

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Delaware

    Newark, DE




    The largest university in the state, the University of Delaware offers over 135 undergraduate degrees, among them its prestigious Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising. This program, housed in the University of Delaware’s top-ranked Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies, is just one of many integrative options in fashion and design. The university also offers degrees and minors in Apparel Design, Fashion History and Culture, Fashion Management, and other areas.

    Program Features

    This program is highly integrated, providing students with internship opportunities as well as a vibrant student exchange program. This program allows students to experience design and fashion work at other universities as well as other states and countries. Additional core courses include:

    • Fundamentals of Textiles
    • Advanced Apparel Product Development
    • Social Psychological Aspects of Clothing
    • Global Apparel and Textile Trade and Sourcing
    • Strategic Fashion Management

    This campus is ideal for developing future fashion designers and merchandisers, offering a range of opportunities for students, both in the classroom and out. The university offers over 300 student organizations, along with dozens of Division I intercollegiate athletics, study abroad programs, and international partnerships. This best-value school, as ranked by both U.S. News & World Report and Kiplinger’s, is a must-see option when you are considering a degree in Fashion Merchandising.

  2. Thomas Jefferson University

    Philadelphia, PA




    Philadelphia University, which recently merged with Thomas Jefferson University, offers comprehensive professional education in areas such as engineering, health, architecture, science, and, of course, fashion. The Fashion Design program is one of the most popular majors at Thomas Jefferson, and affords students the opportunity to work in the award-winning Fashion & Textiles Futures Center. This center gives students access to immersive, hands-on experiences in the fashion marketplace before finishing their studies.

    Program Features

    This program is modeled directly after the fashion industry, relying on input from fashion professionals and industry experts. Students will receive opportunities to immerse themselves in fashion, receiving access to hands-on experiences with production equipment, design courses, and computerized design. Required classes include:

    • Design Essentials
    • Drawing Essentials
    • Fashion Design Research
    • Figure Drawing
    • Survey of the Textile Industry

    This school is ranked as one of the top fashion schools in the world, according to Business of Fashion. Students receive access to international opportunities through study abroad programs at international fashion hubs like London or Rome. Through these experiences, as well as extensive networking with top fashion companies like Donna Karan and BCBG Max Azria, students receive the skills necessary to positively influence the world of fashion design.

  3. University of Georgia

    Athens, GA




    The University of Georgia offers a Fashion Merchandising degree that provides students with direct access to over 20 fashion industry leaders. This quality program is one of many award-winning programs offered on the 762-acre campus. This university, recognized as a Public Ivy for its high quality programs, offers dozens of programs with an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

    Program Features

    This program is heavily rooted in business concepts and prepares students with the skills necessary to be competitive in today’s fast-paced market. Classes are demanding and provide students with an overview of historical perspectives as well as current trend analysis and skill development. Required classes include:

    • Fundamentals of Fashion Merchandising
    • Apparel Quality Analysis
    • Textile Testing
    • Trend Analysis and Forecasting
    • Apparel Line Development and Presentation

    University of Georgia graduates are highly successful, with over 84 percent of recent alumni either employed full-time in the fashion industry or attending graduate school. Alumni boast impressive job titles such as Operations Managers, Licensing Assistants, Technical Designers, and Digital Merchant Assistants. This is largely because the university devotes extensive resources to providing students with internship opportunities with leading brands like Anthropologie and major fashion show producers.

  4. St Catherine University

    Saint Paul, MN




    St. Catherine University is a private Catholic liberal arts university located in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN. This university was one of the first schools in the country to offer programs just for women, but now enrolls over 5,000 men and women alike in its exceptional graduate and undergraduate programs. Among them is the award-winning degree in Apparel Design, which balances the artistic aspects of fashion design with the business skills necessary to get ahead of the competition.

    Program Features

    This program is highly flexible, allowing students to pursue a wide variety of jobs upon graduation. Students will learn how to design collections and create eco-friendly fashion within ethical guidelines and parameters. Required classes include:

    • Aesthetics
    • Trends
    • Fashion Illustration
    • Sewing
    • Tailoring
    • Patternmaking

    This program is unique in that it requires each student to create three formal portfolios to share with future employers. These portfolios are all influenced by the sustainable practices that are the core of each St. Catherine’s program. Students learn how to be fashion forward as well as technologically innovative. The program is industry-relevant and designed by an experienced panel of fashion experts and gifted instructors.

  5. Iowa State University

    Ames, IA




    Iowa State is a public land-grant university that offers students unique opportunities to succeed both in class and out. With over 800 student organizations and ample openings for student employment, internships, and study abroad, this is an exceptional school at which to study Apparel Merchandising and Design. Students learn from world-class scholars who teach among eight different professional colleges and countless academic programs.

    Program Features

    This program requires a total of 123 credits, with students taking a range of classes in general education as well as apparel industry professional core groups. Additional optional minors are available in topics such as merchandising, textile science, and apparel. Core courses include:

    • Fashion Products and Markets
    • Textile Science
    • Applications in Digital Design and Data Management
    • Aesthetics and Brand Image
    • Retail Merchandising

    This university is top-ranked, receiving numerous recognitions for its overall value and quality programs by publications such as Money Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. In particular, the outstanding excellence of the fashion program has been recognized by Fashion Schools, which notes the program’s curricular quality and competitive edge. The fashion program allows students to focus on the topics that matter most, while at the same time developing the interpersonal and business skills necessary to be successful in the real world.

  6. Fashion Institute of Technology

    New York, NY




    The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City offers dynamic degrees in design, business, marketing, textiles, visual arts, and dozens of other fashion-related programs. The school offers the FIT museum that allows students the ability to showcase their work. It also operates a regular lecture series to give students exposure to current designs and future trends.

    Program Features

    The Fashion Institute of Technology spans an entire city block in Manhattan and offers day and evening programs. Students may pursue different concentrations in Children's Wear, Knitwear, Intimate Apparel, Special Occasion, and Sportswear. Key courses include:

    • Materials and Construction
    • Visual Design Concepts
    • Textile Principles for the Fashion Designer
    • Fashion Research and Inspiration
    • Fashion Art Studio

    The Fashion Institute of Technology provides students with extensive opportunities to engage in resume-building activities. For example, the university has more study abroad programs than most comparable universities, offering programs in Barcelona, Shanghai, and more. The university also gives students opportunities to conduct internships with top fashion companies like Saks, Calvin Klein, and Michael Kors.

  7. Dominican University

    River Forest, IL




    Among dozens of other accolades, Dominican University is one of the top five “Best Value Schools” in the Midwest, according toU.S. News & World Report. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design, the university also offers a program in Fashion Merchandising. Each program requires the completion of core liberal arts credits as well as real-world experiences, including an internship, the creation of a portfolio, and participation in the annual fashion show.

    Program Features

    This program provides students with access to the most up-to-date computer-aided technology. Students use this technology to create and actualize textile prints. Most students also take classes like Specialty Markets, which allow them to investigate hundreds of clothing markets, and Senior Collection, in which they create their own unique and marketable designs. A sample of courses might include:

    • Flat Pattern Design and Draping
    • Design Studio
    • History of Dress
    • Contemporary Dress
    • Computer-Aided Design

    This program integrates education with experience, providing students with opportunities to demonstrate their skills before leaving campus. The university has a close relationship with the community and gives students access to local fashion shows and competitions. Fashion Design students also design costumes for all Performing Arts Center productions. These unique experiences make students proficient in design and collaboration before moving on to each larger project.

  8. The New School

    New York, NY




    The New School, offering degrees in Fashion Design, Fashion Studies, and Fashion Marketing, has been producing talented fashion designers for well over the last ten years. This school offers over 40 degree programs across five schools, with popular fashion degrees including Fashion Design, Fashion Design and Society, and Fashion Studies. Students may also pursue Dual Degrees in Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Design.

    Program Features

    This program allows students to gain experience in designing fashion for a complex, rapidly changing field. Students will develop skills in problem solving, creative development, and entrepreneurship along with taking core courses in subjects such as:

    • Design Studio
    • Intro to Fashion Studies
    • History of Fashion Studies
    • Drawing/Imaging
    • Space/Materiality

    The New School’s New York City location is optimal, offering students the opportunity to attend workshops and one-on-one critiques with famous designers like Donna Karan. For added flexibility and diversity, The New School also operates a campus in Paris, France. Most faculty members in this program continue to work in the fashion industry. Students are also granted connections with top retailers and corporations to allow students exposure to current trends and feedback.

  9. Mount Mary University

    Milwaukee, WI




    Mount Mary University’s 80-acre campus is located in downtown Milwaukee, WI, and offers over 35 programs over five schools. This university, which was established in 1913, is home to the School of Arts and Design, in which a superior Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design is housed. This program was the first of its kind in the state and is accompanied by a related certificate in Fashion Design for those seeking a shorter-duration fashion experience.

    Program Features

    In addition to required core courses, each student at Mount Mary is required to participate in travel experiences to places such as New York and Paris to explore trends in textiles and apparel. While there, students also tour studios and showrooms, as well as museums and local shopping districts. Required on-campus courses include:

    • Clothing Construction
    • Flat Patternmaking
    • Draping
    • CAD Graphics
    • History of Costume

    This program has the unique ability to connect future fashion designers with world-famous designers and trend analyzers, allowing students to get a leg up on the industry before graduation. The university also offers award-winning certificate and degree programs In Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, and Business/Professional Communication. These career-building programs allow students to integrate their creative talents with the sharp business acumen necessary to be successful in the fashion industry.

  10. Ursuline College

    Pepper Pike, OH




    This college, established in 1871, was one of the first colleges for women in the United States. Now, although the school is still small with a population of 1,500 students, it also welcomes male students. The campus is just 13 miles from Cleveland and offers over 40 academic programs. The Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design is housed within the School of Graduate and Professional Studies and is offered in collaboration with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

    Program Features

    This program also grants students internship opportunities to local and national companies, as well as access to cutting-edge technologies such as the Computer-Aided-Design Lab, industry-leading drafting tables, and Wolf dress forms. Required classes include:

    • Apparel Construction
    • Textiles: Concepts and Principles
    • Textile Performance
    • Costume and Fashion
    • Beyond Design: The Synergy of Product Development

    Because of this program’s uniquely collaborative relationship with the Fashion Institute of Technology, students actually graduate with an Associate in Applied Science degree from F.I.T. as well as a Bachelor of Arts from Ursuline. This unique experience means that students are granted access to one of the top cities for fashion in the entire world, while also receiving the close-knit education for which Ursuline is famous.

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