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Top 10 Fashion Design Schools and Colleges in the Midwest – 2017

Written by FS StaffMay 22, 2017

Our 2017 rankings of the Top 10 fashion design programs in the Midwest. 

We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio 

Kent State University (Kent or KSU) is home to the College of the Arts, which houses the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. Known as “The Fashion School,” the school offers BA and BFA degrees in Fashion Design, a BFA in Crafts (Jewelry and Metals or Textile Arts), an MA in Fine Arts (Fashion), and an MFA in Design/Technology – Costume Design. Minors in Accessories, Textiles, Costume Design Technology, and Fashion Media are also on the menu and the College of Business Administration offers an MBA with a Concentration in Fashion Design and Merchandising. 

All fashion students are eligible to participate in The Fashion School's Annual Fashion Show—FS2: Crescendo, as well as a variety of international programs. According to the school, “study tours to Europe and Asia are offered on a regular basis.” Fashion capitals such as Florence, Paris, London and Hong Kong are often on the menu. 

In addition, The Fashion School has a studio located in New York’s Fashion District. According to the School, the NYC Studio “provides full-semester academic programs for Kent State fashion students in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms. Guest students, studying fashion at their home school, may also attend the program during Summer Session.” 

About KSU: Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) was founded in 1910. The school is home to more than 40,000 students enrolled in 300 degree programs across 11 colleges and the School of Digital Sciences. 

2. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Minnesota 

The College of Design at University of Minnesota (U of M) is home to the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel. The Department offers a BS in Apparel Design and MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Design with an Apparel Studies Track. A Fashion Studies Minor is also on the menu. 

Apparel Design students have access to The Wearable Product Design Center (WPDC), the Wearable Technology Lab, and the Human Dimensioning Lab, as well as the opportunity to show their collections at the College of Design Annual Apparel Design Fashion Show. In addition, all students have the option to study abroad. Study abroad opportunities are available in Sydney, Australia; Florence, Italy; Amsterdam; Istanbul, Turkey; London, England, and Northern Ireland.  

About U of M: The University of Minnesota (U of M) was founded in 1851. The school is home to nearly 63,000 students (system-wide), with 48,770 students at the Twin Cities campus. More than 400 degree programs are offered across 17 colleges and schools. 

3. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 

Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) is home to the College of Human Sciences, which houses the Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management (AESHM) Department. The Department offers 15 undergraduate majors, including several for aspiring fashion designers. Options include BA, MS, and PhD degrees in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design. A Minor is also on the menu. 

Program highlights include the opportunity to study in “major market areas” such as New York or Chicago, participation in a variety of international study programs in Europe, and the opportunity to help produce Trend Magazine—the completely student-run fashion publication. Students also have access to the interactive Textiles and Clothing Museum and possible internship opportunities at places such as Anna Sui, Rag & Bone, Fossil Group, Kohl’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, Elie Tahari, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and BCBG.  

In addition, all students have the opportunity to display their creations at the campus-based Mary Alice Anderson Reinhardt Gallery and participate in ISU’s Annual Fashion Show—one of the largest student-produced fashion shows in the nation. 

About Iowa State: Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) was established in 1858 as Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. The school is home to 36,660 students enrolled in 100 majors across 10 colleges and schools. 

4. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is home to the Department of Fashion Design.  Program options here include a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Fashion Design or Fiber and Material Studies or an Emphasis in Fashion. A Master of Design (MDes) and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body and Garment are also on the menu. 

Undergraduate SAIC Fashion students have the opportunity to participate in study tours of fashion capitals such as Antwerp, London, New York, and Paris as well as display their collections at the SAIC Fashion Show. The show is open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. 

The “intensive” two-year graduate program highlights the Fashion Design Studio. Taken each semester, the Studio “provides a place for an expansive investigation of fashion, body, and garment and for deeper individual investigation of fashion within the broader context of community, sustainability, technology, and the industry,” says SAIC. The program also encourages study in other areas such as Fiber and Material Studies, Writing, and Performance. 

About SAIC: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1866. It is home to 3,590 students enrolled in more than 25 art and design programs across 40 academic departments. 

5. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 

The University of Cincinnati is home to the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), which houses the School of Design. The School offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers including a BS in Fashion Design, a Master of Design (MDes), and a Fashion Design Studies Minor. 

Program highlights include two focus areas—Realization (Design) or Development, a mandatory cooperative education component where students work full-time in the fashion industry on alternating semesters. In addition, all students have the opportunity to participate in the popular DAAP Fashion Show. 

About University of Cincinnati: The University of Cincinnati was founded in 1819. The school is home to 44,338 students from all 50 states and 110 foreign countries. Around 370 degree programs are offered across 13 colleges and a graduate school. 

6. Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri 

Stephens College is home to the School of Design, which offers a BA in Apparel Studies and a BFA in Fashion Design & Product Development. Both programs highlight study trips to international fashion capitals, the opportunity to intern at companies such as Escada, Cosmopolitan, Baby Phat, and WWD, and participation in The Collections Annual Fashion Show (est. 1944). Past jurors have included supermodel Karlie Kloss and alumna Brianne Ratliff ’03 from Armani Exchange. In addition, students have access to the School of Design Historic Costume Museum and Research Library, which consists of more than 13,000 pieces and designer garments. Bill Blass, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Valentino are just a few. 

About Stephens College: Founded in 1833, Stephens College is the second oldest women’s college in the U.S. The school is home to around 800 students enrolled in more than 25 programs across four schools. They include the School of Design, School of Health Sciences, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the School of Performing Arts. 

7. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 

Kansas State University (Kansas State or K-State) is home to the College of Human Ecology-Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design (ATID). ATID offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers including BS and MS degrees in Apparel and Textiles, and a PhD with a Specialization in ATID. Apparel and Textile students who would like to focus on fashion design may specialize in Apparel Design and Production. In addition, the Department features mandatory internships, faculty-led study tours in the U.S. and abroad, and an annual public exhibition of student work. 

About K-State: Kansas State University was founded in 1863. It is home to more than 22,000 students enrolled in 250-plus undergraduate majors and options, and 150-plus graduate study programs, including graduate certificates. The school houses nine colleges and a graduate school. 

8. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio 

Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) offers a BFA and a Minor in Fashion Design. Program highlights include internship opportunities at companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Justice, and Victoria’s Secret (all headquartered in Ohio), participation in the Annual CCAD Senior Fashion Show, and study abroad opportunities in Chile, China, England, and Italy. 

CCAD fashion students also have the opportunity to study in a New York studio for one term through CCAD’s New York Studio Residency Program. Graduates of the program have landed positions at major companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor Loft, BCBG, J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, and White House Black Market. 

About CCAD: Established in 1879 and home to more than 1,300 students, Columbus College of Art and Design is one of the oldest and largest private art and design colleges in the U.S. The school offers 35 majors, minors and concentrations through a number of departments. 

9. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 

Columbia College is home to the School of Fine and Performing Arts, which houses the Department of Fashion Studies. Program offerings here include BA and BFA degrees in Fashion Design, and a BFA and Minor in Fashion Business. Those on the entrepreneurial path may choose a double major in Fashion and Fashion Business, or a Fashion Major and Fashion Business Minor. 

Program highlights include a Semester in LA, internship opportunities and access to the school’s Fashion Lab, the Fashion Study Collection (FSC), and the Fashion Study Collection Research Center (workspace and archive). Students also have the opportunity to display their creations in the Fashion Studies Exhibition Windows on campus. 

About Columbia College: Home to more than 10,000 students, Columbia College Chicago (better known as Columbia College) is the largest private, nonprofit arts and media college in the nation. The school offers more than 100 academic majors or programs across three schools including Fine and Performing Arts, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Media Arts. 

10. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 

Indiana University’s (IU) College of Arts & Sciences is home to the Department of Apparel Merchandising & Interior Design (AMID). AMID offers two programs for aspiring fashion designers—the Fashion Design Bachelor of Arts (FD-BA) and a Minor in Fashion Design. FD-BA students have the option to add a Minor in Apparel Merchandising. 

Program highlights include internship opportunities, optional membership in the Retail Studies Organization (RSO), and access to the Sage Collection, which features more than 20,000 pieces. Students also have the opportunity to take select upper-level courses at The Indiana University Center for Art and Design Columbus (IUCA+D Columbus) and they may participate in a variety of IU fashion show events. 

About IU: Indiana University (IU) was founded in 1820. It is home to more than 114,000 students and 20,000-plus faculty and staff, across eight campuses. Students have access to more than 180 majors, 330 degree programs, and more than 190 master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs through 15 colleges and schools.