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Top 10 Fashion Design Schools and Colleges in the Southwest – 2016
Our 2016 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. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University was established in 1890. It is home to more than 35,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs across a five-campus system and 10 colleges. The College of Human Sciences, Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising (DHM) offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. According to the Department, “the ADP program at OSU is one of only thirteen apparel programs in North America to receive the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) approval.” This means that the “curriculum and facilities have met the rigorous standards” of the AAFA.
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).
Apparel design students have 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. In addition, travel-study programs allow students to explore the fashion scene in places such as New York, Dallas, Mexico, Paris, and Berlin.
2. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, Colorado State University (CSU) is home to 32,236 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. Degree offerings for aspiring fashion designers include a BS in Apparel and Merchandising - Apparel Design and Production, and an MS in Design and Merchandising - Apparel and Merchandising.
The College of Liberal Arts, Department of Art and Art History has several additional offerings for fashion students. Options include BA in Studio, BFA in Studio Art, MA, and MFA degrees with a Concentration in Fibers or Jewelry and Metalsmithing.
Apparel Design students have the opportunity to work with more than 18,000 artifacts and view collections at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising (formerly the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection). Special collections include designer garments from Calvin Klein, James Galanos, Carolina Herrera, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, and Versace, as well as ethnographic holdings, and The Ruth Payne Hellmann Lace Collection, which features more than 1,500 pieces of historic lace and lacemaking tools.
In addition to having access to Avenir Museum, design students have the opportunity to participate in the internship program and study abroad opportunities. Past design students have studied in Italy, France, Peru, Ghana, and Australia. Some have also participated in Semester at Sea, which typically enrolls more than 600 students from more than 250 colleges and universities.
3. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Founded in 1890 as Texas Normal College and Teachers’ Training Institute, University of North Texas (UNT) is home to 37,000 students enrolled in 220 degree programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Visual Arts & Design offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers including a Fashion Design Pre-Major, a BFA in Fashion Design, an MFA in Design with a Concentration in Fashion Design, a Studio Art Pre-Major, and BFA degrees in Studio Art with a Concentration in Fibers or Metalsmithing and Jewelry.
Program highlights include an internship program that provides the opportunity 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.
4. Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Chartered in 1845, Baylor University is home to 16,787 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across nine colleges and schools. The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences houses the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences, which offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel Design & Product Development.
Program highlights include student membership in Fashion Group International (FGI), study abroad opportunities, access to the Parker Design & Technology Center, which “provides students with the latest state-of-the-art software, equipment, and technology,” and internship opportunities across the U.S. and overseas. 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 to participate in the Annual Baylor Fashion Show, which takes place at the end of spring semester each year. Field experiences are on the menu as well and may include trips to Dallas Market, Studios of Apparel Designers, Apparel Manufacturing Firms, and FGI Dallas Career Day, which is held at the Apparel Mart.
5. Texas Women's University, Denton, Texas
Texas Women's University (TWU) was founded in 1901. It is home to 15,303 students enrolled in more than 150 programs across four colleges and a graduate school. The College of Arts & Sciences offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a 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. 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 its doors in 1883. The school is home to 50,950 students enrolled in more than 500 degree programs and fields of study across 18 colleges and schools. The College of Natural Sciences, School of Human Ecology houses the Division of Textiles and Apparel, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BS in Textiles and Apparel (TXA) with five fitting options for fashion designers and an MS in Textile and Apparel Technology (MSTAT). BS options include Apparel Design & Conservation - Apparel Design Specialization; Apparel Design & Conservation - Conservation Specialization; Apparel, Functional, and Technical Design, Retail Merchandising, and Textiles and Apparel Honors.
Program highlights include access to study abroad opportunities in places such as India and China, internship opportunities with major companies such as Anne Klein, Betsey Johnson, Coach, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Zac Posen, and the UT in NYC Program. The NYC program “brings apparel design, conservation and merchandising students together for a broad look at the apparel industry with an entrepreneurial focus.” Students also have the opportunity to participate in the annual fashion show and exhibition. Past sponsors have included Sephora Cosmetics, Cobalt Blue Hair Salon, and Tribeza.
7. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Founded in 1923, Texas Tech University was is home to more than 35,158 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). Fashion students may also choose a minor to enhance their degree. Possible study areas include Art, Business, Retailing, Mass Communications, and Theater.
Fashion program highlights include two annual apparel design contests including the Design Competition and the Senior Fashion Show, undergraduate research experiences in ADM, field trips to New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and other fashion capitals, and opportunities to submit entries to national and regional competitions such as Fashion Group International, Dallas Career Day, and the Denim Runway Project.
The program also includes a 370-400-hour internship. The Department often places interns with major apparel design companies in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and London. According to the school, these internships often lead directly to a job offer.
8. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas
University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) was established in 1881 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Home to nearly 10,000 students, UIW is the largest Catholic university in Texas and the fourth-largest private university in the state. The school houses nine colleges and schools that offer 100 undergraduate and graduate majors.
The School of Media and Design, Juren Sullivan Center for Fashion Management offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Options include BFA and MA degrees in Fashion Design and a BA in Fashion Management with a Concentration in Product Development. The BFA program allows students to minor in Business Administration and the MA program offers a Thesis Track or Collection Track.
Fashion program highlights include internship opportunities in San Antonio and the surrounding areas, study abroad experiences at sister schools such as London College of Fashion, Tainan Fashion School in Taiwan, and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and participation in the annual fashion show—The Cutting Edge (est. 1980).
9. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) was founded in 1936. The school is home to more than 1,100 on-campus and online students enrolled in 16 Bachelor’s Masters, and Certificate programs. Programs for aspiring fashion designers include the state’s only NASAD-accredited BFA in Fashion Design. Program highlights include Textile Science, Accessories, Design Technologies, Product Development + Management, CAD Production Patternmaking, Senior Portfolio + Fashion Show, Couture Construction, Sustainable Fashion, and Textiles: Knits + High Tech.
10. Wade College, Dallas, Texas
Wade College was founded in 1962 with only 10 students enrolled in day and evening classes in fashion merchandising and professional modeling, Today, the school is home to more than 200 students enrolled dual-major AA and BA degrees in Merchandising and Design with a wide range of Visual Arts specializations. Programs for aspiring fashion designers include an AA with an Emphasis in Design and Merchandising, and a BA with a specialization in Fashion Design or Merchandise Marketing & Management. All areas in the AA program feature electives that give each student "the opportunity to acquire specialized skills" in Fashion Design including sewing, drafting, draping, technical design and oversight of a collection.
Fashion program highlights include the opportunity to present a finished collection at the Wade College Professional Portfolio Critique, the opportunity to participate in design competitions and student shows throughout the year, and the opportunity to gain industry experience during markets at Dallas Market Center. Graduates of the Fashion Design program at Wade College are employed by companies including Bioworld Merchandising, Fossil Group, Haggar Clothing Co., In.Style Exchange, JCPenney Inc., Neiman Marcus, Treska, and Sharon Young.