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Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges on the East Coast – 2015

Written by FS StaffJune 29, 2015

Our 2015 rankings of the top 10 fashion merchandising programs on the East Coast.

We define the East Coast as Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. 

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 member of the State University of New York (SUNY) family. Founded in 1944, FIT is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in 37 majors and 12 certificate programs through five schools. The School of Business and Technology and the School of Art and Design offer several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

The School of Business and Technology offers AAS and BS degrees in Fashion Merchandising Management. The AAS program offers one-year and two-year options. The BS program offers specializations in Buying and Planning, Product Development, and of course, Fashion Management. The program also features an international program in Florence and New York that allows students to one year of the BS program at FIT and one year at the Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy. Other study abroad options include Australia, London, Hong Kong, Paris, and Rome.

The School of Art and Design offers AAS and BFA degrees in Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design, and an MA in Exhibition Design. Non-certificate programs include Fashion Styling. The Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design degree program is “the first and only one of its kind in the country,” according to FIT. Highlights include projects with industry partners such as Macy’s, Sony, Target, and Vespa, opportunities to work with Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Wildlife Conservation Society, New-York Historical Society, and many other nonprofit and corporate organizations, and the opportunity to display their work in major campus exhibitions.

All students have the opportunity to intern at local, national, or international companies, and participate in the Annual FIT Fashion Show. Companies such as American Express, Ann Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Coach, GAP, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, New York Hall of Science, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Victoria's Secret, and many others have hired FIT graduates.

2. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware

Chartered in 1833, the University of Delaware (UD) is home to nearly 27,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs through seven colleges and dozens of schools and departments. The College of Arts & Sciences is home to the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies (FASH), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BS in Fashion Merchandising, an Honors BS in Fashion Merchandising, and a 4+1 program that allows undergraduate Fashion Merchandising majors interested in graduate study to complete the MS in Fashion and Apparel Studies in half the time.  

Fashion merchandising program highlights include participation in the annual fashion show and the opportunity to complete an internship at home, overseas, or both. Past students have completed internships in New York, Hong Kong, and other fashion capitals. In addition, the University of Delaware has a Visiting Student Program. This “cooperative arrangement between the University of Delaware (UD) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)” allows students to attend FIT for one year and apply coursework towards the BS program at UD.

3. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel University was established in 1891. It is home to more than 26,000 students enrolled in 200 degree programs through 15 colleges and schools. The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design is home to the Department of Fashion, Product and Design & Merchandising. The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BS in Design & Merchandising with concentrations in Retail Buying & Merchandising, Fashion Product Development, Fashion Promotion & Special Events, Merchandising Technologies, and Design Management for Design & Merchandising.

Program highlights include access to “studios and specialized labs” in the school’s URBN Center, access to the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC), study abroad opportunities in fashion capitals such as London, Prague, Greece, and Australia, and participation in the Annual Drexel Fashion Show. Students also have the opportunity to contribute to d&m Magazine, blogs and the recently launched online d&mShop.

4. LIM College, New York, New York

LIM College was established in 1939. It is home to more than 1,700 students enrolled in associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. The Departments of Fashion Merchandising and Visual Merchandising offer a variety of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Offerings include AAS, AOS, BBA, and BPS degrees in Fashion Merchandising and a BBA in Visual Merchandising. The BBA degree in Fashion Merchandising will have an option for a Retail Buying & Planning track beginning in Fall 2015.

Program highlights include required internships and optional participation in the annual Fashion Show, as well as membership in the Fashion Show Production Club, Fashion Styling Club, and many other student organizations. There are also many opportunities to travel or study abroad, including in London, Paris, China, Australia, Spain and Italy.

5. Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Founded in 1929, Marist College is home to 6,365 students enrolled in 77 programs through seven schools. The School of Communication and the Arts offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BS in Fashion Merchandising with a Concentration in Fashion Promotion, Product Development, or Business. A Minor in Fashion Merchandising is also on the menu.

Fashion merchandising students may participate in the School’s internship program, which offers the opportunity to work at companies such as Armani A/X, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Chanel, DKNY, Escada, MTV, Nordstrom, Polo and many others. Students may also participate in Marist in Manhattan (NYC Internship Experience), Fashion Inc. (club), Marist Fashion Magazine, and the Silver Needle Runway Show.

The School of Communication and the Arts encourages all students to complete two internships, which will give them a strong advantage when it comes to job opportunities. Fashion Program alumni have been hired by companies such as Ann Taylor, BCBG, Chanel, Donna Karan, GAP, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, MTV, Perry Ellis, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tahari, Tory Burch, and many more.

6. Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1884 as Philadelphia Textile School, Philadelphia University (PhilaU) is home to 3,200 students enrolled in more than 60 areas of study leading to a bachelor’s, masters or doctoral degree. PhilaU houses the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

The Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce houses two schools—the School of Design and Engineering and the School of Business. The School of Business offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Management (FMM). Students choose two specializations from the following options: Buying & Merchandising, Fashion Apparel Production, Fashion Entrepreneurship, Fashion Material Insight & Innovation, Fashion Product Management, Fashion Retail Experience, Fashion Technology, Global Brand Marketing, and Integrated Fashion Communication.

Program highlights include internships with major companies such as Coach, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Tommy Hilfiger, Macy’s, Under Armour, The Limited brands, and QVC; study abroad experiences in China, Paris, London, Milan, Rome and India, and collaborative projects for companies such as Cotton Inc., Maidenform, Toys R Us, and Target. Students may also participate in the Annual Philadelphia University Fashion Show.

7. University of Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island (URI) was chartered in 1888. It is home to 16,571 undergraduate and graduate students (Fall 2014) enrolled in more than 80 majors across nine colleges and The Graduate School of Oceanography. The College of Human Science and Services’ Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Offerings include an MS, BS and a Minor in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design (TMD). A Certificate in Fashion Merchandising is also on the menu as well as a double major in TMD and a “fashion” language — either French or Italian.

Program highlights include internships with major companies and brands such as Gucci (New York), Nordstrom (Providence, RI), Donna Karan (New York), Marc Jacobs (New York), Rhode Island Design Center (Warwick, RI) and Green Envy (Newport, RI). Students also have the opportunity to study abroad in London, Paris (at Mod’Spe), Firenze, Italy (at Accademia Italiana), Barcelona, or other fashion capitals.

Summer Study at the Universite de la Mode in Lyon, France is also on the menu as well the New York Experience, the Winter Fashion Study Tour of London and Paris, access to the Historic Textile and Costume Collection and participation in the Annual Fashion Show.

8. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. Home to more than 31,000 students, VCU offers around 226 certificate and degree programs through 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts is home to the Department of Fashion, which has more than 300 students enrolled in two tracks: Fashion Merchandising (BA) or Fashion Design (BFA).

Program highlights include optional membership in The VCU Stiletto Club, internship opportunities in the U.S. and overseas, and study abroad opportunities including Fashion in Florence, VCU Qatar, and options in Paris, London, Scotland, and more. Fashion students also have the opportunity to participate in the VCU Annual Fashion Show.

9. Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia

Founded in 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, Virginia Tech University is home to 31,000 students enrolled in 240 degree programs through eight colleges and a graduate school. The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management (AHRM) offers a BS in Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management with a Fashion Merchandising and Design (FMD) major.

Program highlights include internship opportunities with past companies such as Nordstrom and Anna Sui, the New York Fashion Study Tour, and the European Study Abroad program featuring stops in London, Paris, Rome, Florence, and other European fashion capitals. Students also have access to the Oris Glisson Historic Costume Collection and Textile Collection, which features 5,000 items of historic significance dating from 1840 to the present, they may join the Fashion Merchandising and Design Society, and students may participate the Annual FMDS Fashion Show.

Virginia Tech Fashion Merchandising alums work at a variety of major companies such as Oscar de la Renta, rue21, Lord and Taylor’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Michael Kors, and Jimmy Choo, HomeGoods, Haute Look, Victoria’s Secret, Target, and more.

10. Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia

Founded in 1950, Marymount University is home to nearly 3,500 students enrolled in more than 60 programs through four schools including the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education & Human Services, the School of Business Administration, and the Malek School of Health Professions. The School of Arts & Sciences offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BA and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising.

Program highlights include study abroad experiences in places such as France, Italy, Japan, China, Australia, optional membership in Fashion Club, participation in the Annual Portfolio In Motion fashion show, and the opportunity to work on “Real World Projects” that allow students to complete projects for major companies such as Cotton Inc., Top Shop, and Nordstrom. Internship opportunities are also on the menu as well as the chance to compete in both national and international design competitions.