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

Written by FS StaffMay 19, 2014

Our 2014 list of the Top 75 Fashion Merchandising 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) is a leader in the worlds of art, design, business and technology. Accredited by the prestigious National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, FIT offers 43 majors leading to Associates, Bachelors, and Master’s degrees. Part of the popular State University of New York (SUNY), FIT was established in 1944 with just 100 students on the top two floors of the High School of Needle Trades.

In just seven years, the school increased its student body to 1,400 day and evening students. Today, FIT covers an entire city block, it is home to more than 10,000 students, and it houses five schools. The Jay & Patty Baker School of Business & Design is home to several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include an AAS and a BS in Fashion Merchandising Management (FMM). Students interested in taking their career to the next level might also consider the BS in Entrepreneurship for the Fashion and Design Industries.

The AAS program prepares students for an entry-level position in FMM or for entry into the BS program. The BS program offers advanced study in the areas such as Product Development, Buying and Planning, Fashion Management, and e-Commerce. Courses are designed to broaden students’ global perspective. In addition, FIT offers an endless number of internship and Study Abroad opportunities to complement the FMM degree.

Through FIT’s internship program and connection with major players in the fashion industry, students can expect to work with companies such as Ann Taylor, Guess, Jones Apparel Group, Liz Claiborne, Macy’s, Nike, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Saks, and more. Students may opt for the five-week summer internship in the fashion capital of London or study in other fashion centers such as Paris, Florence, Rome, Hong Kong, or Australia. Whether pursuing an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree, all students may join the Merchandising Society at FIT, which offers the opportunity to manage all operations of the on-campus Style Shop.

2. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University’s Fashion School (formally known as the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising) provides a top-tier program for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Kent State offers a BS in fashion merchandising, as well as a five-year program that combines the BS with an MBA from the College of Business Administration. New to the university is the nation’s first Master of Fashion (MFash) degree, a 30-credit program that incorporates technology implementation, management, design, sustainability, and product development.

Fashion students have the opportunity to study in Florence, Paris, and Hong Kong, as well as KSU’s NYC Studio. Located in the famous NYC Fashion District, NYC Studio provides full-semester academic programs for Kent State fashion students during the fall, spring, and
summer terms. Other program highlights include participation in the Annual Fashion Show, access to the Kent State University Museum costume collection, the June F. Mohler Fashion Library, the “TechStyleLAB,” and the Fashion School Store (FSStore).

Launched in 2012, FSStore is “a live retail environment” located in downtown Kent that allows “faculty and students to research and test design, production, buying, marketing, sales, and planning models in a live retail setting offering both unique merchandise presentation techniques and unique products to the greater Cleveland metropolitan area.” –

Kent State University was established in 1910 as the “Kent State Normal School.” Also known as Kent, Kent State, or KSU, Kent State University consists of eight campuses with a combined student body of 43,000 students from all 50 states and 100 countries. The school’s eight campuses—Kent, Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem, Stark, Tuscarawas, and Trumbull—offer 240 degree programs.

3.  Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1891, Drexel University sits on a 74-acre campus just minutes from Downtown Philadelphia (Center City). Home to around 21,912 students from 50 states and 100 foreign countries, Drexel University has nine campuses, and it offers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs across more than dozen colleges and schools. The school’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Design & Merchandising program, which leads to a BS Design & Merchandising.

Concentrations include Retail Buying & Merchandising, Fashion Product Development, Fashion Promotion & Special Events, Merchandising Technologies, and Design Management for Design & Merchandising. Students may also choose a Minor in Business Administration or other area specific to their education and career goals or the Combined Baccalaureate in Fashion Merchandising/Master of Business Administration (MBA) through the College of Business and Graduate School Management. This program offers a concentration in Fashion Design and Merchandising

Design & Merchandising program highlights include the Drexel Undergraduate Co-op, which allows students to gain six to 18 months of paid career-related work experience at places such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Coach, and Neiman Marcus. All fashion students have the opportunity to participate in the production of the Annual Drexel Fashion Show, the school's lifestyle magazine D&M, and Drexel’s internship and Study Abroad programs. 

The school offers both short- and long-term experiences in fashion meccas such as London and France, as well as Iceland, Prague, Australia, and Greece. Internship opportunities are available at local, regional, and national retailers and companies.

4.  Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University was established in 1858 under the name Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. When it opened, the school consisted of a farmhouse, 648 acres, and several dozen students. Today, Iowa State University sits on a 1,795-acre campus and it is home 33,241 students enrolled in eight colleges and two schools. Students may choose from more than 100 majors and 800+ student organizations.  

Iowa State University’s College of Human Sciences’ (CHS) Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Department is home to the popular Fashion program. Offerings include BS and MS degrees
in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design, a 5-year BS/MS in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design,  and a concurrent MS/MBA, which is in the process of university approval. Also on the menu is a rare PhD and distance PhD in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design. Both PhD programs prepare students to work in the fashion industry, academia, museums and more. The hybrid (distance) PhD features 1 or 2 short on-campus summer coursework sessions.

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design highlights include access to the Department’s Textiles and Clothing Museum, easy access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities such as the Digital Textile Design and Printing Studio, Sourcing Simulator, and OptiTex Computer-Aided Design Software, and internship opportunities. Students have interned at Elie Tahari, BCBG Max Azria, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Target Corporation, Sports Authority, Marie Claire Magazine, Express, Kohl's, Dillards, Lacoste, Coldwater Creek, PacSun, Gap, and Chico's.

Merchandising and Design students also participate in the Annual Fashion Show, they help produce the Department’s award-winning fashion magazine—Trend, and they have access to a number of unique Study Abroad opportunities. Just a few past destinations include Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou, and Wuhan.

5. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
Established in 1868, Oregon State University (OSU) sits on a 400-acre campus just 90 miles from Portland, Oregon. Home to 27,925 students from 50 states and 100 countries, OSU offers more than 200 degree programs across 12 colleges, 15 Agricultural Experiment Stations, 35 county Extension offices, the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center in Newport, and OSU-Cascades in Bend, Oregon. The OSU College of Business-School of Design and Human Environment is home the Fashion Merchandising program.

The School offers a BS in Merchandising Management and an MA, MAIS (Master of Arts in International Studies), and PhD in Design and Human Environment. All fashion students have access to the Historic and Cultural Textile and Apparel Collection, internship opportunities at local, regional, national, and international (London) retailers, and OSU’s Study Tour program.

The Study Tour program features trips to New York City and MAGIC Market Week in Las Vegas. Also part of the program is the Architecture, Interiors, and Dress of Western Europe Tour where students explore the art, architecture, design, and fashions of London and Bath, England; Paris, and Florence and Rome, Italy.