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

Fashion merchandising schools are educational institutions focused on preparing students to handle the business, artistic, and analytical demands of the retail fashion industry. A well-rounded education in fashion merchandising helps a student unlock their creativity while skillfully marrying it to real world analytics and business principles. Classes such as Advanced Math, Color Design and Theory, Visual Communications, Consumer Psychology, Marketing Communications, Brand Management, Retail Fundamentals, Employee Development and Management, the Economics of Fashion, Advertising, the History of Design Theory, Textile Production, Digital Sales and Marketing, Product Analysis, and Issues of Sustainability, are just a few examples of the unique curriculum that students have the option to take while in school. With hundreds of available fashion merchandising programs across the country, it can be a daunting task to research schools that are the right fit for you. To help you find the right program, we provide a comprehensive list of the top fashion merchandising schools in the nation who stand out for both academic excellence and for positive student outcomes.

  • School Name

    30 schools ranked

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Berkley College offers associates, bachelors, graduate and professional degrees in the areas of Design Management; Fashion Merchandising and Management; Graphic Design and Interior Design. Campuses are located in New York and New Jersey; as well as online.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 4,403
  • 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
  • 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
  • The state of Georgia’s flagship program; the Lamar Dodd School of Art, believes art and design are essential to quality of life. The program develops both the scholarly and creative potential of students.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 36,130
  • The department of Retail, Merchandising and Product Development educates students in the economic, behavioral and physical elements which comprise the apparel and textile industries. Areas of learning include product development and retail merchandising.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 40,830
  • 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
  • With a Department of Art and Art History; the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music; the Department of Theater and Dance, and the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies; UT has it all.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 50,950
  • 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
  • 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
  • JWU’s College of Culinary Arts is offered in Rhode Island, Florida, Colorado & North Carolina. Programs combine the craft and art of cooking with science, nutrition, management skills and work experience.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 9,454
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • LSU’s School of Art provides an exceptional student experience by balancing independent and collaborative work. It’s notably accomplished faculty inspires students to think critically, be creative problem solvers and well-rounded communicators.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 31,524
  • Offering both online and campus-based education, AI prepares students for careers in the areas of: design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts. They also offer substantial grants, scholarships and transfer incentives.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • As part of the College of Environmental Design, the Art Department fosters global awareness as well as substantive artistic development. It offers students excellence in instruction, and high quality programs.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 23,717
  • Renowned for its excellence in the BA and MA programs; OSU maintains its core values of creative examination and intellectual freedom, while providing students with a rich, people-centered educational environment.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 58,663
  • The theme at URI, “Honor the Artist Within,” provides insight into the college’s rich approach to the visual arts. Whether in sculpture, digital art and design, painting or photography; student passion is embraced.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 16,613
  • TCU’s College of Fine Arts encompasses Schools of Music, Art and the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance. Departments within the college include Graphic Design, Interior Design, Fashion Merchandising and Theater.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 10,323

What Are Fashion Merchandising Schools?

To understand what fashion merchandising schools are, you should first grasp the concept of fashion merchandising itself.

Fashion merchandising is a position in the retail industry in which you choose the pieces that stores will stock based upon your predictions about what’s up-and-coming in the industry. Commonly known as a “buyer,” a fashion merchandiser works closely with designers and attends fashion shows and trade exhibits all over the world to stay abreast of the newest trends and hottest designs that the industry has to offer.

Fashion is fickle, and it can change on a minute-by-minute basis, so picking the right trends is a crucial role that requires a critical knowledge of the fashion industry. Fashion merchandising schools can help arm you with crucial knowledge of the fashion industry and what to look for when trend spotting.

There are a number of job opportunities for individuals that choose to attend fashionmerchandising schools. If you become a fashion merchandiser, for instance, you might choose to work in a large department store, a well-known chain store, or even a small local boutique. Each of these types of businesses requires different duties from a fashion merchandiser. If you find yourself working for a smaller store, for example, you may find yourself doing quite a bit of the
store’s promotion and sales activities along with selecting styles that the store will carry.

These different duties and responsibilities are why you need fashion merchandising schools. When you earn a degree from a good fashion merchandising school, you will be armed with the skills and knowledge you need to land your dream position in the competitive fashion industry. You’ll also have an edge over other applicants that happen to be vying for the same position.

What Types of Degrees Do Fashion Merchandising Schools Offer?

When you earn your degree from an accredited fashion merchandising school, you can take many different career paths in the world of fashion. Fashion merchandising schools offer a few different common degree programs that you can choose from, depending on your career goals.

An associate’s degree in fashion merchandising, for instance, is often a degree that takes the shortest amount of time to complete, usually about two years. These degrees allow students to learn the fundamentals of fashion merchandising, which can prepare them for entry level positions in the fashion industry.

If you decide to pursue a program to earn your bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, however, you’ll not only learn the fundamentals of the fashion industry, but you’ll also learn critical business skills for your future career. These types of degree programs typically take a little more dedication and time to complete – about four years. However, earning a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising can help make you a valuable contender for some of the more sought after fashion merchandising careers.

What Types of Classes Do Fashion Merchandising Schools Offer?

Fashion merchandising schools offer hands-on classes either on-campus or online, so they provide extremely flexible opportunities for you to earn your degree on your own time. A wide variety of topics are covered during any typical fashion merchandising program, and these topics may include subject matter such as textiles, fashion retailing, public speaking experience, fashion marketing basics, procedures for buying merchandise, brand power, concepts of fashion
merchandising, and how to predict the fashion trends of the future.

A fashion merchandising school also teaches students how to identify and procure the right trends and pieces for the market sector they are serving, and students will also learn the business side of things, such as marketing, project management, and promotional skills.

When attending a fashion merchandising school, you’ll get a taste of store planning, promotional activities, advertising, and visual merchandising tasks during your studies. Other areas of focus while in school may include distribution and budgeting strategies, product assortment analysis, controlling stock, inventory management, and catalog development experience.

One of the most important aspects a fashion merchandising education, however, is the broad overview of how apparel is actually designed, how it is manufactured, and the ways in which merchandisers can market the apparel to specific retailers.

Depending on the program, you may also have access to work-study and internship opportunities while enrolled to better prepare you for your career after graduation.

What Are the Qualifications for Attending a Fashion Merchandising School?

Although many fashion merchandising schools don’t require specialized testing for admittance, you should have a high school diploma and an acceptable GPA prior to acceptance.

Above all, though, you should have a love and admiration for all things fashion. A love of the latest and greatest trends, however, may not be enough to start you fashion merchandising career. You should also realize that, although it can be fun and rewarding, a career in the fashion industry involves tons of hard work and dedication. If you aren’t ready to dedicate yourself to long grueling hours and loads of work, perhaps a fashion merchandising career isn’t right for
you.

Do I Really Need a Degree from a Fashion Merchandising School?

That depends. If you want a job in fashion merchandising, then yes, you do need to invest your time and money into a reputable fashion institute or fashion merchandising career.

The reason for this is simple. We live in incredibly unsteady economic times, and the fashion industry is no exception from the struggling job market today. Having a highly specialized degree tailored to your chosen career path puts you in a much better position and gives you a competitive edge as a future job candidate in the competitive world of fashion.

Also, an internship or work-study program – which some fashion merchandising schools can offer you – will put you in an even better position to snag a job following your graduation. These opportunities give you valuable experience in fashion merchandising, and any additional skills that you can add to your resume are a bonus that will give you an edge over your competitors. And no one is going to argue that job seekers need every advantage they can in this cutthroat job
market.