Database of Colleges with Accessory Design Programs

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In the fashion world, accessories are the icing on the cake. Without accessories, fashion gurus would not be able to complete an outfit. We would not be able to add a little flair or style to an otherwise boring outfit. They add the bling, the sparkle, the coup de grace to any well-planned outfit.

Like everything else in the fashion world, however, accessories must first be designed. The design process for different types of accessories is often very long and requires an in depth understanding of fashion and accessory design. In order to gain a deeper understanding of what goes into designing accessories, many aspiring accessory designers will choose to attend fashion institutes or accessory design schools.

Before you make the decision to pursue an accessory design career, however, you should first have an idea of what types of items you will be designing and creating.

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Types of Accessories

Accessories can be used to adorn a person – literally – from head to toe. There are several different types of fashion accessories that you can learn to design at fashion and accessory design schools. Some of the most common types of accessories include:

  • Hair accessories
  • Hats
  • Eyewear
  • Jewelry
  • Scarves
  • Ties
  • Handbags
  • Belts
  • Footwear

Many fashion and accessory design schools offer accessory design programs that allow students to dabble in a little bit of everything. This means that you will often get a chance to design and create several different types of accessories, from hair accessories to shoes.

If you’re like some designers, however, you may want to specialize in a certain type of accessories. For example, specializing in shoe design or handbag design is very popular. The majority of accessory design schools will give you the opportunity to focus on one type of accessory, if you prefer. You might also have the opportunity to earn an advanced degree in accessory design, which will help you focus even more on your chosen accessory.

Attending Fashion and Accessory Design Schools: Should You?

There are a lucky few that may be able to start their accessory design career with no formal training or education whatsoever. It is rare for these people to become very successful, however, and training in fashion or accessory design is usually necessary.

Keep in mind, though, that there are very few actual accessory design schools that are devoted entirely to accessory design. Instead, you will usually have the option of attending either an art school or a fashion institute. Both of these types of schools have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Art schools are one option for individuals interested in an accessory design career. While not all art schools have accessory design programs, many of them do. Some art schools offer generic accessory design programs, while others offer programs that focus more on a specific type of accessory, like footwear.
  • Fashion and accessory design schools are another option for individuals interested in a career in accessory design. These types of schools typically offer more focused courses and more opportunities for individuals pursuing this type of career.

Accessory Design Programs

Just as there are a few different types of accessory design schools to choose from, there are also a few accessory design programs to choose from as well. Student should choose an accessory design program that fulfills their wants and needs.

Here are some of the different types of programs that you can enroll in at fashion and accessory design schools:

    • Certificate programs for accessory design typically only take a few months to a year to complete, and they are generally much less expensive than other types of accessory design programs. These types of programs are good for students who just want to learn the basics of accessory design. They are not, however, recommended to anyone looking to have a successful career in the fast-paced and competitive fashion industry.
    • Undergraduate degree programs are often the most common type of accessory design programs. Nearly all fashion and accessory design schools offer some sort of accessory design degree program. These types of programs are much more in depth than certificate programs, but they are also usually more expensive. Depending on a student’s career goals, an accessory design degree will usually take either two or four years to earn.
    • Graduate degree programs are available to students who have completed a four year accessory design undergraduate program at an accredited fashion and accessory design school. These types of degrees, often referred to as Master’s degrees, allow motivated students to gain an even more in-depth understanding of the world of accessory design. Some courses may include advanced design techniques and market research.


As mentioned above, there is no right or wrong degree for accessory design students. A student’s chosen degrees will usually reflect her career goals. For instance, a student just looking to tinker around with accessory design in order to make a little extra money may want to just earn an accessory design certificate. On the other hand, those interested in a lifelong accessory design career should consider earning at least an undergraduate degree in accessory design.

Accessory Design School Curriculum

Although no two accessory design schools are identical, there are typically several different core courses that most students will need to take when earning their degrees. Students will usually start off by taking basic courses in fashion history and trend spotting.

Since accessory design is a creative career, accessory design students should also be creative and artistic individuals. Classes in creative studies, drawing, and design are also usually part of the core curriculum for accessory design students as well.

Due to amazing technological advances in recent years, the majority of fashion and accessory design is done with the help of special – and complicated – computer software. Because of this, accessory design students will usually be required to successfully complete several computer courses as well.

The majority of accessory design schools will usually give their students the opportunity to choose courses on how to design and create specific types of accessories. These might include courses of handbag design, shoe design, or jewelry design. These types of courses allow students to break away from their books and get hands-on experience in accessory design. For instance, most students will be required to come up with an idea for an accessory, then design and create it. Courses such as these not only give an accessory design student hands-on training, but they also allow a student to get a start on the creation of her portfolio as well, which is a very important tool when starting an accessory design career.