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The Best Fashion Design Schools in the U.S. 2017

Fashion design schools are educational centers of learning for students seeking to embark on a journey into the world of creating fashion apparel. Programs can range from certification, the granting of an AA degree, BA, MA or PhD. Depending on their course of study and career goals, students are engaged in topics such as: basic art and design, the history of costume design, technical drawing, clothing construction, manufacturing production, trends and concepts in apparel, industrial and power sewing, concept development, draping and design, fashion drawing, grading and marker making, sewing techniques, pattern making and design, surveying current designers, textile manufacturing, event and fashion show production and business concepts. In the competitive world of fashion, who is teaching the courses can be as important as the content covered. Networking and exposure to the industry in action can be invaluable to the career-driven student. For these reasons, evaluating which fashion design school is right for you can be a difficult and frustrating endeavor. To assist in your search, we have used our resources to collect and compile valuable data regarding the educational options in the world of fashion design. Here is a list of the schools we believe offer you the very best chances for success in your personal and career goals.

  • School Name

    32 schools ranked

  • Unique in its educational approach, Parsons prioritizes humanity and culture; ever-seeking a connection to global urban centers with project-based learning. Founded in 1896, Parsons confers both undergraduate and graduate degrees at 5

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 10,344
  • With a tradition of excellence in arts education, art history and a comprehensive array of studio disciplines; KSU offers the only MFA program in northeast Ohio. Since 1910, opportunities abound, including graphic design, industrial design, and film studies.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 30,067
  • Embracing a forward-looking approach to artistic academia, SCAD is a student-centered institution determined to provide educational excellence within the context of a positive learning environment. Students learn to create art, as well as live creatively artistic lives.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 11,861
  • Pratt Institute utilizes the city of New York as a literal classroom by engaging students in real life experiences including public critiques and internships with top design companies like Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and more.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 4,784
  • Nestled amidst the picturesque New England seaboard, Rhode Island School of Design has long been one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious colleges offering rigorous art programs at both an undergraduate and graduate level.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 2,481
  • Drexal’s Westphal College offers an impressive range of degree options; 19 in the undergraduate program alone. Building on a solid foundation of visual studies, Westphal inspires a sense of experimentation and expansion of visual horizons.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 25,595
  • Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as being one of the “Best Colleges” in the nation, Iowa State University is a public college, founded in 1858 and located in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As a land grant institution, the efforts of the college benefit the community as well as its students. Especially attractive for environmentally-minded scholars; there is an Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station wherein subjects like bio-renewable fuel and soybean research are offered. The college also houses "Ames Lab"; a U.S. Dept. of Energy research center.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 35,714
  • Established in 1918, Otis is recognized as Los Angeles’ first independent professional school of art and design. With locations in the heart of cultural, entrepreneurial and artistic developments; students learn from and become masters of artistry.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 1,160
  • Cornell's AAP offers instruction in architecture, fine arts and city and regional planning. Emphasizing the power of artistic talent to conquer 21st century challenges; they encourage imagination, critical thinking and inclusiveness.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 21,904
  • At the University of Minnesota, students enjoy 17 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as numerous research and outreach centers characterized by exceptional leadership, an innovative spirit and a commitment to sustainability.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 51,147
  • Auburn hosts the oldest accredited university art department in the Southeast and is a charter member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Accomplished artists and scholars pave the way successful careers.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 27,287
  • Since 1866, School of the Art Institute of Chicago has been committed to academic excellence, interdisciplinary exploration and the enrichment of each student’s artistic inquiry and experimentation.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 3,591
  • With 30 distinct areas of study, Academy of Art University is America's largest private accredited art university. Markedly exceptional is their “No-Barrier to Admissions” policy. Applicants need only possess passion coupled with the ability to concretize it.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 13,800
  • The recipient of a multitude of awards and recognition from across the globe; VCUART demonstrates it student support by having one of the lowest tuition rates of the nation’s Top 10 Art Institutions.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 30,918
  • With 12 exhibitions a year, OSU’s Department of Art, Graphic Design and Art History demonstrates its commitment to exposing the Arts through public events. Additionally, artists present research via sizable lecture series’.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 25,930
  • The College of Design’s curriculum reflects its belief that artistic designers “shape the world.” Innovative teaching, commitment to sustainability and the development of a socio-economic worldview has made them leaders in design.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 34,015
  • Colorado State University offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees; as well as an introductory Foundations program. An array of well-equipped studios, four galleries and student exhibitions reflect their commitment to student success.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 30,614
  • A world-class research university, UC utilizes an interdisciplinary approach; complete with an international, prestigious faculty; a variety of workshop facilities, photography and computer graphics center and an experimental technology laboratory.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 36,042
  • CVAD offers 30 undergraduate and graduate art programs, heralding it as one of nation’s most comprehensive visual arts schools within a public university. CVAD hasTexas’ 1st and only Ph.D. program in art education.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 37,299
  • Within the three undergraduate degree programs: Photography, Fine Arts and Art History; Oregon State focuses on technical skill, cultural awareness and interaction with mentors drawn from a dedicated and internationally acclaimed faculty.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 29,576
  • Marist’s Department of Art and Digital Media offers 2 state-of-the-art digital labs and facilities catering to painting, sculpture and other traditional art studies. Hallmarked by international programs, students experience excellence stateside and abroad.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 6,474
  • Known for its exceptional faculty and exemplary facilities, Baylor developments both student knowledge and work ethic. Critical thinking, mastery of core principles, a grasp of art history and studio discipline define its programs.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 16,787
  • With its new strategic approach to education, Delaware’s Department of Art & Design is not only a distinguished research and educational university; it now strives to embody “Delaware first;” diversity; partnership, engagement and impact.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 22,852
  • PhilaU’s Design and Engineering programs are distinguished by emphasis on in-depth exploration of individual design, as well as engineering disciplines. Course goals include the stimulating intellectual curiosity; as well as interdisciplinary collaboration.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 3,670
  • With 22 undergraduate degree programs, 12 graduate programs and international study options; California College of the Arts successfully balances tradition with innovation and theory with practice. Students enjoy an 8:1 student/teacher ratio and class sizes averaging 13 students.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 1,975
  • FIT has consistently amassed international acclaim and recognition for its programs in fashion, design, art, communications and business. Its rigorous curriculum is steeped in its commitment to research, experiential learning, adaptable academics and industry partnerships.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 9,565
  • Established in 1879, CCAD provides a 10:1 student/teacher ratio and secures jobs for 84% of its collegians within 6 months of graduation. An elite talent educator, CCAD is committed to diversity and global vision.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 1,140
  • With 26 creative majors, FIDM students have career options in Fashion, Visual Arts, Interior Design and Entertainment. In addition to Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees, FIDM offers degree programs in Advanced Study and Professional Designation.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 2,814
  • With its legacy beginning in 1873, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), is public, independent, and one of the nation’s oldest art schools. Stressing diversity and inclusiveness, MassArt fosters and encourages community-building, within and outside the college. Challenging students to transcend traditional boundaries, MassArt addresses the learning process within each student from a holistic standpoint. Valuing art as a life-enhancing force, there is an emphasis on academic excellence as a foundation for greatness.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 1,990
  • Offering both undergraduate and graduate programs, the Department of Art prepares students for successful careers as professional artists and art educators. Critical thinking, creative problem solving and compassionate, culturally enriched living are emphasized.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 35,424
  • The School of Fine and Performing Arts upholds that living a creative life is a calling to be answered with driving force. To that end they offer over 50 programs upon which to build success.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 8,961
  • With a tradition of relentlessly monitoring the pulse of the business and fashion worlds; LIM provides students with an educational experience characterized by exposure to both real-world experience and academic study.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 1,700

What are Fashion Design Schools?

Fashion design schools are educational institutions that enable students to gain a deeper understanding of fashion design and the fashion industry n general. Along with the basic fundamental skills needed to pursue a fashion career, students will also learn advanced skills and get a chance to hone their existing skills.

Students who attend fashion design schools can prepare themselves for an exciting career in fashion design. Depending on their passions, fashion design students can learn to design several different types of clothing.

  • Mass market or ready-to-wear clothing is clothing that is mass produced in factories. This is the clothing that can often be found hanging on racks in clothing or chain stores. Although it is often made to be attractive and comfortable, it is a little less trendy than other types of clothing. It is often made from affordable fabric, and manufactured in standard sizes to fit the majority of people.
  • Designer clothing is a type of clothing that bears the name or logo of a particularly popular designer. Calvin Klein jeans and Versace dresses are considered to be designer clothing. This type of clothing may have been created by the designer, or it may simply be endorsed by him. In most instances, this type of clothing is often trendy and made from higher quality fabrics. Due to the endorsement of the designer and the higher quality fabric, this type of clothing is often slightly more expensive and sought after than some other types.
  • Haute couture clothing, or high fashion, garments are often created to custom fit one person, whether that person is a fashion model or a movie star. This is the type of clothing that is seen on red carpets and fashion runways. It is much more expensive than other types of fashion, and it can often only be purchased in fashion houses or at fashion shows.

What Are the Different Types of Fashion Schools?

In general, aspiring fashion designers have a few different choices when choosing fashion design schools or schools that offer fashion degree programs.

Traditional universities and colleges may offer fashion design degree programs, for instance. These types of educational institutes offer traditional college experiences, paired with a well-rounded education. They are often perfect for students who are looking to earn a degree in fashion, yet still wish to take some of the more traditional electives.

Art institutes, however, may be more suited to more artistic students. These types of schools often offer a number of art and design degrees, including fashion design degrees. Unlike traditional colleges and universities, these types of schools offer mainly art courses.

Fashion design schools, or fashion institutes, on the other hand, are generally geared more toward those with fashion on the brain. These schools are all about fashion, and the majority of the classes have something to do with fashion. Individuals attending fashion institutes, whether for fashion design degrees or fashion degrees, can often take additional classes to explore all
areas of fashion.

What Are the Different Types of Fashion Design Degrees?

Most fashion schools offer a few different degree options. The degree program that a student chooses will typically be based largely on her career goals.

Associates degrees in fashion design typically take about two years to earn. Students who choose to earn these degrees will often learn the basic skills and fundamentals necessary for a career in fashion design. Graduates holding these types of degrees are often able to start their fashion careers quickly, in entry level positions.

Bachelor’s degrees in fashion design usually take about four years to earn. Along with the basics of fashion design, students who earn these degrees will often learn more advanced skills and techniques pertaining to fashion design and the fashion industry in general. These types of degree programs often lead to more employment opportunities and higher starting salaries.

Masters degrees in fashion design are also available, and these typically require a few additional years of schooling after earning Bachelor’s degrees. Those who earn master’s degrees will often choose to specialize in a certain area of fashion design. Although they are not necessary, fashion design masters degrees will often give graduates the competitive edge they need to succeed in the competitive fashion world.

What Classes Do Fashion Schools Offer?

As with other schools, fashion schools offer a number of different courses at all different skill levels. To start, students will often learn about the history of fashion and fashion design. They might also learn about the different types of fashions, and the characteristics of different fabrics and materials. Skills such as sewing, draping, and patternmaking are also usually taught at fashion design schools.

Because fashion is a very visual industry, the ability to create visual representations of an idea is
imperative. Classes in sketching, drawing, and design are usually mandatory. Also, 3-D design and CAD classes are also required. In these classes, students can learn to use some of the more common computer software to help create their garments.

Although some of the necessary skills for a fashion design career can be taught in a classroom, hands-on experience is a must. Many fashion design classes allow students to draw and create their own designs from scratch, allowing them to gain valuable experience and build their portfolios.

Which Fashion Design School Should I Choose?

There are a number of different factors that might affect which fashion design school you’ll choose. For instance, you may want to attend a fashion school that is close to your home, family, and friends. The cost of your preferred fashion design schools will also usually have an influence on which one you choose.

The type of education that you will receive at a particular fashion design school should also have an impact on your decision. Research each possibility before you make your decision. Make sure your chosen school offers fashion design degrees and courses that you wish to take.

Do I Really Need a Degree From a Fashion Design School?

There was once a time when a fashion design degree was not always necessary. Today, however, the industry is extremely competitive, and fashion designers must be armed with specialized skills, such as knowledge of CAD. These types of schools also give you the opportunity to build your portfolio and network with professionals in the industry.

A degree from an accredited fashion school will give aspiring fashion designers the competitive edge they need in today’s fashion world. In fact, it can be downright impossible to find employment in the fashion industry without a degree. Many companies even require college degrees, even for entry level positions.

So, in closing, do you really need a degree from a fashion design school? Maybe not, but do you really want to take a chance and miss out on opportunities for a glamorous and exciting career? Don’t get left behind – start looking for the perfect fashion design school today!