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Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges in the Midwest – 2015

Written by FS StaffJune 29, 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 fashion merchandising programs in the Midwest. 

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

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

Iowa State University was established in 1858. Also known as “Iowa State” or “ISU,” Iowa State University is home to nearly 35,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs through 10 colleges and schools. The College of Human Sciences is home to the Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management (AESHM) Department, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Offerings include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Apparel, Merchandising and Design (AMD). The MS program offers a non-thesis option with a specialization in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design and the PhD program is available on campus and in distance hybrid format that requires just one or two short on-campus summer coursework sessions. A Minor in Apparel Merchandising and Design is also on the menu as well as a Certificate in Merchandising.

In addition to a variety of program offerings, Apparel, Merchandising, and Fashion merchandising students have access to The Historic Costume and Textile Collection, which features more than 9,000 historic and ethnic textile and dress items. They also have access to the Textiles and Clothing Museum, which houses The Mary Alice Gallery, the Donna Rae Danielson Textiles and Clothing Conservation Laboratory, and The Textiles and Clothing Collection Storage. The museum features more than 9,500 items.

Students also have the opportunity to study in “major market areas” such as New York or Chicago, they may assist in the production of the Department’s publication—TREND magazine, they may participate in a variety of international study programs in Europe, and all students have the opportunity to participate in ISU’s Annual Fashion Show.

2. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Kent State University was founded in 1910. Also known as “Kent State” or “KSU,” Kent State University is home to 27,500 students enrolled in 300+ degree programs through dozens of colleges, schools, and departments. The College of the Arts is home to The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising (the Fashion School). The Fashion School offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising.

All fashion merchandising students are eligible to participate in the Fashion School's Annual Fashion Show—FS2 Visionnaire, as well as New York Fashion Week and 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.

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

The University of Minnesota (U of M) was established in 1851. Home to more than 69,000 students, U of M offers more than 400 degree programs through 17 colleges and schools. The College of Design is home to the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Degree offerings include a BS and a Minor in Retail Merchandising. A Degree in 3 program is also on the menu. The program allows students to complete the Retail Merchandising program in three years. The program offers a General Track and an Apparel Track.

Fashion merchandising 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 participate in 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. 

4. University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

The University of Missouri was founded in 1839. Home to nearly 35,000 students, the school offers more than 280 degree programs through 15 colleges and schools. The College of Human and Environmental Sciences (HES) is home to the Department of Textile & Apparel Management (TAM). The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BS in Textile & Apparel Management with several Tracks for merchandisers including Apparel and Merchandising, and International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising. A Minor in TAM is also on the menu.

Program highlights include access to the Missouri Historic Costume and textile Collection (MHCTC), which features more than 5,500 artifacts, the New York Study Tour, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences. Study abroad locations have included India and El Salvador, and TAM has a partnership with Study Abroad Italy (SAI), which offers fashion-based programs in Florence, Milan and London.

5. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Established in 1870, The Ohio State University (OSU) is home to nearly 65,000 students enrolled in more than 350 programs through more than a dozen colleges and schools. Within OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology, the Department of Human Sciences offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

The Department offers a BS in Human Ecology, Fashion and Retail Studies with a Specialization in Merchandising or Product Development, an MS in Consumer Sciences with a Specialization in  Fashion and Retail Studies, and a PhD in Consumer Sciences with a Concentration in Fashion and Retail Studies.

Program highlights include participation in the Fashion Production Association, the opportunity to volunteer at the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences from China to Thailand. Students will also benefit from the Fashion and Retail Studies Speaker Series with past guests such as Ed Razek, executive producer of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and chief marketing officer of Limited Brands, and Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's Inc.

Finally, all students have the opportunity to travel to New York City to attend the National Retail Federation's annual student event, which offers networking opportunities with retail professionals and the chance to meet with recruiters that do not recruit at OSU.

6. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas State University was founded in 1863. Also known as “Kansas State” or “K-State,” Kansas State University is home to more than 24,300 students enrolled in 250+ undergraduate majors and options, and more than 150 graduate study programs (including graduate certificates). Kansas State houses nine colleges and a graduate school. The College of Human Ecology is home to the Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design.

The Department (in conjunction with Great Plains IDEA) offers a distance MS in Merchandising. Program highlights include mandatory internships, faculty-led study tours in the U.S. and abroad, and an annual public exhibition of student work.

7. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) was chartered in 1869. It is home to nearly 25,000 students enrolled in dozens of programs through 10 colleges. The College of Education and Human Sciences (CHES) houses the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design (TMFD), which offers a wide variety of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Merchandising and Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design/Communications. Graduate offerings include MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design. A Graduate Certificate in Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design is also on the menu.

Program highlights include biennial juried student exhibitions, study tours and international experiences in New York, Paris/Milan, London/Paris, Paris/Prague, Shanghai, Beijing, and more, and internship opportunities with major companies such as Vera Wang, Tahari, Nicole Miller, and InStyle Magazine. Students also have the opportunity to display their creations at the Biennial Student Runway Show.

8. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

Ohio University was founded in 1804 and it is home to nearly 39,000 students. The school offers more than 250 programs through 11 colleges. The Patton College of Education is home to the Department of Human and Consumer Sciences (HCS). The Department offers several options for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a B.S.H.C.S. and a Minor in Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development.

Program highlights include internship opportunities, study tours to New York City and abroad, access to learning tools such as the historic costume collection, and participation in Ohio University Fashion Associates: Annual Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show.

Graduates of the Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development program have secured positions with major corporations, manufacturers and design companies such as The Limited, Inc., Gap, Federated Department Stores, Mercantile Stores, Walmart, Kohl’s, Target, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Bugle Boy, Halston, Betsey, Johnson, and many others.

9. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana

Founded in 1820, Indiana University (IU) is home to a population of more than 114,000 students, eight campuses, and more than 20,000 faculty and staff. The school houses 15 colleges and schools that offer more than 180 majors, 330 degree programs, and more than 190 master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs. The Kelley School of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Apparel Merchandising & Interior Design offer several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Department offerings include a BS and a Minor in Apparel Merchandising. The Kelly School of Business offers a Business Minor for Apparel Merchandising Majors. 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 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.

10. Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mount Mary University was founded in 1913. This women’s college is home to nearly 1,500 students enrolled in more than 30 undergraduate majors, nine graduate programs (co-ed), and a variety of certificate programs through four schools. Programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers are available through the School of Arts & Design.

Offerings include a BA and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion Merchandise Management. Some fashion merchandising students opt for a Minor in Entrepreneurship to enhance their degree or to prepare them to start their own fashion business. The Minor is available through the School of Business.

Program highlights include access to the latest industry technology in the classroom and labs, the opportunity to participate in the Annual Student Designer Fashion Show, and internship opportunities. Past fashion students have had the opportunity to compete in regional, national and international competitions. Workshops by global designers and retailers are also on the menu. In addition, all merchandising students have the opportunity to volunteer with Fashion BOOT Camp for high school students.