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Top 10 Fashion Design Schools and Colleges in the Southwest – 2015

Written by FS StaffJune 11, 2015

Did You Know.... Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion offers BFA's in Fashion, Fashion Merchandising, Textile Design, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Styling, Costume Design, and Fashion Product Development. Learn more.

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Our 2015 rankings of the Top 10 schools for fashion design in the Southwest US. 

We define the Southwest as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Founded in 1870, Colorado State University (CSU) is home to around 30,000 students enrolled in more than 150 degree programs across 14 colleges and schools. The College of Health and Human Sciences is home to the Design and Merchandising Program which has several degree offerings for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BS in Apparel and Merchandising - Apparel Design and Production, and an MS in Design and Merchandising - Apparel and Merchandising. 

Program highlights include internship opportunities, study abroad experiences, and access to the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising (formerly the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection). The Museum features more than 18,000 artifacts and collections, with special collections by Calvin Klein, James Galanos, Carolina Herrera, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, and Versace. The museum also features ethnographic holdings and The Ruth Payne Hellmann Lace Collection which includes more than 1,500 pieces of historic lace and lacemaking tools.

Students interested in studying abroad have a variety of locations to choose from. Past design students have studied in Italy, France, Peru, Ghana, and Australia. Some have also participated in Semester at Sea which enrolled 629 students from 251 colleges and universities in 2014.

2. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Established in 1890, Oklahoma State University was is home to more than 35,000 students enrolled in nearly 200 programs, options, and specializations across five campuses and 10 colleges. The College of Human Sciences is home to the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Program offerings include a BS in Design, Housing and Merchandising (BS DHM) with an Option in Apparel Design and Production (ADP) and an MS in Design, Housing and Merchandising (MS DHM) with a Research Thesis Option or Design Thesis Option in Apparel Design & Production (ADP).

A PhD in Human Sciences with a Specialization in Design, Housing and Merchandising (PhD - DHM) is also on the menu as well as a Minor in Apparel Design and Production (ADP).

Program highlights include the opportunity to complete an internship with designers and brands such as  BCBG, Lands’ End, Max Azria, Vera Wang, Liz Claiborne, and Victoria’s Secret, and travel-study experiences in places such as New York, Dallas, Mexico, Paris, Berlin, and many others.

3. Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Baylor University has been around since 1845. It is home to more than 16,000 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across nine colleges and schools. The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences is home to the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences which offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel Design & Product Development.

The BS program features access to the Parker Design & Technology Center which “provides students with the latest state-of-the-art software, equipment, and technology,” as well as access to internship opportunities both within the states and internationally. Students have interned at Betsey Johnson - NY,  Anna Sui - NY, Quick Silver – Los Angeles, XOXO and Rampage – Los Angeles, and Haggar - Dallas. Internships abroad have included Ann-Louise Roswald - London, UK, Amanda Wakeley - London, UK, Christopher & La Lou - Paris, France, and others.

The program also offers the opportunity for fashion students to show their collections at the Annual Baylor Fashion Show, which takes place at the end of spring semester each year. Field experiences are on the menu and may include trips to Dallas Market, Studios of Apparel Designers, Apparel Manufacturing Firms, and Fashion Group International (FGI) Dallas Career Day, which is held at the Apparel Mart.

4. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas

University of North Texas was founded in 1890 and it is home to more than 36,000 students enrolled in 99 bachelor’s, 83 master’s and 36 doctoral degree programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Visual Arts & Design offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BFA in Fashion Design and an MFA in Design with a Concentration in Fashion Design.

All fashion students may participate in the internship program which allows students to work at fashion houses in Dallas and Fort Worth as well as apparel companies in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the annual ArtWear Fashion Show as well as national and international events such as Fashion Group International of Dallas’ Career Day, and The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Gap Inc.’s Design Your Future competition.

Graduates of the Fashion Programs at UNT have been hired by major companies such as Calvin Klein, Dillard’s, Fossil, the Haggar Clothing Co., Nicole Miller, Ralph Lauren, Zac Posen, and more.

5. Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas

Texas Woman's University was founded in 1901 as The Girls Industrial College. It is home to more than 15,000 students enrolled in over 150 programs across four colleges and a graduate school. The College of Arts & Sciences is home to the School of Management which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include s BA in Fashion Design, a BA/BS Dual Degree in Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising, a BA/BBA Dual Degree in Fashion Design and General Business-Entrepreneurship, and a BA/BS in Fashion Design and Marketing. All programs have design components and a Minor in Fashion Design is also on the menu.

In addition to a variety of programs that teach students how to design, produce and sell their own products, the School of Management offers internship opportunities at companies such as Aldo, BCBG Max Azria, Coach, Express, Michael Kors, and Nordstrom. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Montage Senior Fashion Show.

6. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) opened in 1883. It is home to more than 51,000 students enrolled in 300+ academic programs across 13 colleges and schools. The Division of Textiles and Apparel of the School of Human Ecology offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BS in Textiles and Apparel (TXA) with an Option in Apparel, Functional, and Technical Design, and an MS in Textile and Apparel Technology (MSTAT).

Apparel design students have access to study abroad opportunities in places such as India and China as well as internship opportunities major companies such as Anne Klein, Betsey Johnson, Coach, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Zac Posen, and more. In addition, all UT students with upper-division standing are eligible for the UT in NYC Program which “brings apparel design, conservation and merchandising students together for a broad look at the apparel industry with an entrepreneurial focus,” says the school. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in the annual fashion show.

7. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 

Founded in 1923, Texas Tech University is home to more than 35,000 students enrolled in 300 degree programs across 10 colleges. The College of Human Sciences is home the Department of Design (DOD). The Department offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel Design and Manufacturing (ADM).

Program highlights include the Senior Internship, two annual apparel design contests—the Design Competition and the Senior Fashion Show, undergraduate research experiences in ADM, and an annual fashion tour of New York or Los Angeles. In addition, all fashion students may choose a minor to enhance their degree. Possible areas include Art, Business, Retailing, Mass Communications and Theater.

8. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas

University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) was founded as Incarnate Word College in 1881 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. The school is home to approximately 9,940 students enrolled  100 undergraduate and graduate majors across 9 colleges and schools. The School of Media and Design houses the Juren Sullivan Center for Fashion Management. The Center offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Options include a BFA in Fashion Design, a BA in Fashion Management with a Concentration in Product Development or Fashion Merchandising, and an MA in Fashion Design. MA students may choose between the Thesis Track and the Collection Track and BA students have the option to Minor in Business Management and/or Marketing.

Fashion program highlights include access to the Lila Bath Gallery (a teaching and research facility for students), participation in The Cutting Edge Fiesta Fashion Show, internship opportunities and study abroad opportunities. Just a few UIW overseas sister schools include London College of Fashion, Tainan Fashion School in Taiwan, and Chelsea College of Arts in London.

9. Wade College, Dallas, Texas

Wade College was founded in 1962 with only 10 students. Today, the school is home to more than 200 students enrolled in a variety of Associate of Arts (AA) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs. Offerings for aspiring fashion designers include both AA and BA degrees in Merchandising and Design with a Concentration in Fashion Design. Program highlights include a variety of studio electives such as advanced design, draping, and patternmaking, participation in a variety of popular fashion show events around Dallas, and access to state-of-the-art equipment such as a fashion design studio, an art studio, multimedia-equipped classrooms, and three computer labs.

According to Wade College, “upon completion of the fashion design concentration, students should have the skill sets to secure employment opportunities within a fashion design or related field, communicate professionally using appropriate aesthetic principles for the business environment, and make significant contributions to the industry and community by supporting their peers and juniors in a mentoring role.”

10. The Art Institute of Dallas, Dallas, Texas

The Art Institute of Dallas opened in 1964 as Dallas Fashion Merchandising College. It is home to more than 1,800 students enrolled in more than 20 degree programs in the areas of Design, Media Arts, Fashion, and Culinary Arts. Program offerings for aspiring fashion designers include AAA and BFA degrees in Fashion Design.

According to the school, the fashion design curriculum “offers exposure to global fashion business practices, product development, entrepreneurship and professional presentations.” Other highlights include a campus gallery designed to show student, faculty, and alumni work, production studios featuring the latest industry equipment and technology, and optional membership in student organizations such as Design Dallas and Dallas GLAM.