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2014 Top 75 Fashion Design Schools in the U.S.

Written by FS StaffMay 12, 2014

Our 2014 list of the Top 75 Fashion Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York
The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), State University of New York (SUNY) was established in 1944. It opened with just 100 students on the top two floors of the High School of Needle Trades. By 1951, the school was home to 400 day students and 1,000 evening students. Today, FIT covers an entire city block, and it is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 30 programs from Menswear to Toy Design.

The school offers a wide variety of Associate and Bachelor’s degree programs for aspiring fashion designers. Unique offerings include a BFA in Fabric Styling, AAS and BFA degrees in Accessories Design, and AAS and BFA degrees in Fashion Design with Concentrations in Children’s Wear, Intimate Apparel, Knitwear, Special Occasion, and Sportswear. Also on the menu are a BS in International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries, a BS in Textile Development and Marketing, and AAS and BFA degrees in Textile/Surface Design.

BS degrees in Technical Design and Jewelry Design are on the menu as well as an AAS in Menswear and a BS in Entrepreneurship that prepares students to start their own design studios, boutiques, or other businesses. A number of Master’s degree programs are also available and include Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice (MA), Illustration (MFA), and Global Fashion Management (MPS). FIT also offers the country’s only Certificate programs in Performance Athletic Footwear and Millinery.

Besides an endless number of specialized program offerings for aspiring fashion designers, FIT has more Study Abroad opportunities that just about any other school of fashion. First, FIT’s International BFA program features 1 year of fashion design study in New York and the other in Milan, Italy. FIT also offers Study Abroad summer programs at the London College of Fashion (one of the world’s leading cities for fashion), as well as experiences in Barcelona, Florence, Shanghai, and more. Students may Study Abroad for a semester, a summer or winter, or a full year.

FIT also offers plenty of opportunities to work with some of the biggest names in fashion through the school’s celebrated internship program. Students have completed internships at companies such as Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren, Guess, Liz Claiborne, Nike, Macy's, Jones Apparel Group, Ann Taylor, Nine West, Perry Ellis, Saks, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Marc Jacobs, and Helmut Lang. Many have accepted full-time positions at other companies such as Michael Kors, Steve Madden, and Liz Claiborne.

2. Parsons The New School For Design, New York, New York
Parsons The New School for Design was established in 1896. A “pioneer in art and design education,” Parsons attracts working artists and faculty from New York and around the world. Also called “The New School” or “Parsons,” this school is home to 5,000 students enrolled in more than 40 degree programs across five schools including the Schools of Fashion, Art and Design History and Theory, Design Strategies, Constructed Environments, and the School of Art, Media, and Technology. The School of Fashion offers several renowned programs for aspiring fashion designers.

Offerings include AAS and BFA degrees in Fashion Design, an MFA in Fashion Design and Society, and an MA in Fashion Studies. Students looking to enhance their education and career opportunities may opt for the Design Business Certificate or the BA/BFA Dual degree. The Dual degree highlights trendy areas of interest such as Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Design.

In 1921, Parsons became the first art and design school in the U.S. to found a campus in the magical City of Paris. The Paris campus offers a BFA in Fashion Design, a BBA in Strategic Design and Management, and an MA in History of Decorative Arts and Design. Students may be selected to study abroad in Paris for a year or a semester. In addition, Parsons offers study experiences in Scandinavia.

3. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Established in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) houses 9 schools, offering more than 40 majors, 60+ minors, and 7 degree types. SCAD is home to more than 11,000 students across campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. One of school’s top five programs is the Fashion program. Available at the Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Savannah campuses, aspiring fashion designers may choose from a BFA, MA, or MFA in Fashion Design.

A Minor in Fashion Design is also on the menu as well as BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Accessory Design, Fibers, and Jewelry. Other offerings include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Illustration, an MA in Illustration Design, and a Minor in Accessory Design.

Besides a long list of exceptional program offerings for aspiring fashion designers, the Fashion program at SCAD partners with ELLE Magazine for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC. This gives students the opportunity to participate in this prominent event. Many SCAD students have been selected for mentoring by renowned designers such as Zac Posen, Catherine Malandrino, and Chris Benz and all programs offer internship opportunities with major designers and companies such as Betsey Johnson, Bergdorf Goodman, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, BCBG, Juicy Couture, Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, and many others.

Finally, SCAD has one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country. Around 91 percent of alumni respondents reported being employed, pursuing further education or both within nine months of graduation. 

4. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University’s College of the Arts is home to the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. At this popular fashion school, students may pursue either a BA or BFA in fashion design.

Kent State now also offers the first Master of Fashion (MFash) degree in the United States. The MFash is a 30-credit professional degree program that incorporates technology implementation, management, design, sustainability, and product development.

Program highlights include the Annual Fashion Show, access to the Kent State University Museum costume collection, the “TechStyleLAB,” and the June F. Mohler Fashion Library. Study tours of Florence, Paris, and Hong Kong are also on the menu, as well as KSU’s NYC Studio, which is located in the famous NYC Fashion District. The NYC Studio provides full-semester academic programs for Kent State fashion students during the fall, spring, and summer terms.

Established in 1910 as the “Kent State Normal School,” Kent State University’s main campus is home to more than 27,500 students from all 50 states and 100 countries. Commonly referred to as Kent, Kent State, and KSU, Kent State University has seven other
campuses in Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem, Stark, Tuscarawas, and Trumbull, Ohio. With a total student body of more than 43,000 (with more than 15,500 students across Kent’s seven other campuses), Kent State University is the third largest university in Ohio and the 27th largest regional campus system in the nation.

5. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, New York
Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute sits on a 25-acre campus in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn—a lively art community, and just 30 minutes from Manhattan. The Institute, which is home to 4,627 students from 48 states and 80 countries, offers more than 60 programs, across several departments and schools. The School of Art and Design is home to the Fashion Department and a large collection of other undergraduate fine arts programs.

The Fashion Department offers the globally recognized BFA in Fashion Design. This interdisciplinary program combines Fashion Education and Design with Illustration, Photography, Film, Performance, Visual Studies, and Material Culture. Students will have the opportunity to participate in annual design competitions sponsored the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund as well as companies such as Cotton Incorporated and Supima Cotton. These events offer exposure to the fashion world and the opportunity to vie for scholarships and other support.  

All design programs offer the opportunity to complete an internship in New York’s famous fashion district and many others throughout the state. Students have completed internships at Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Zero Maria Cornejo, and Rag & Bone. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Study Abroad program, which features study experiences in London (one of the world’s leading cities for fashion), Rome and Venice (fashion capitals), Copenhagen (home to Scandinavia's largest fashion week), South Africa, and many other places. 

Besides the BFA in Fashion Design, Pratt offers a BFA in Fine Arts with an Emphasis in Jewelry or Drawing, an Associate degree program (AOS) in Illustration, and an AAS in Graphic Design/Illustration.