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Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges in the Midwest – 2016

Written by FS StaffJune 1, 2016

Our 2016 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, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) was officially established on March 22, 1858 as Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. The school is home to 36,001 students enrolled in 100 bachelor's degree programs, 112 master's degree programs, and 83 programs at the PhD level across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Human Sciences is home to the Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management (AESHM) Department. The Department 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 offered 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

Founded in 1910, Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) is home to nearly 29,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across 11 colleges and the School of Digital Sciences. The College of the Arts is home to the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising (The Fashion School) which offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising. The College of Business Administration also 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.”

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

Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota (U of M) is home to 30,500 undergraduate students and 16,300 graduate and professional students enrolled in more than 400 degree programs across 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, including a BS and a Minor in Retail Merchandising. 

A Degree in 3 program is also on the menu, which allows students to complete the Retail Merchandising program in three years. The program offers a General Track and an Apparel Track. Students may also enhance their degree by opting for a Minor in Fashion Studies. 

Fashion merchandising program highlights include access to The Wearable Product Design Center (WPDC), the Wearable Technology Lab, and the Human Dimensioning Lab, and the opportunity to participate in the 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 (MU) was founded in 1839 as the first public university west of the Mississippi River. It is home to 34,748 students enrolled in 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), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Programs include a BS in Textile & Apparel Management with Options in Apparel Marketing 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 

The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870 and it has an undergraduate population of 45,289 students enrolled in nearly 700 academic majors and specializations across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Education and Human Ecology is home to the Department of Human Sciences, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include 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. This major affair offers networking opportunities with retail professionals and the chance to meet with recruiters that do not recruit at OSU. 

6. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 

Indiana University (IU) was founded in 1820 and it houses 114,370 students, eight campuses, and more than 20,000 faculty and staff. 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. The Kelley School of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences- Department of Apparel Merchandising & Interior Design (AMID), offer several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS and a Minor in Apparel Merchandising, and 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. 

7. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 

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

8. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska

Founded on February 15, 1869, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is home to 25,260 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 12 colleges. The College of Education and Human Sciences (CHES) houses the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design (TMFD), which offers a variety of unique 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 TMFD is also on the menu. 

Merchandising 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.

9. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

Ball State University (BSU) was founded in 1918 and it is home to 21,000 students enrolled more than 170 majors, 88 master's degrees, 16 doctoral degrees, and four specialist programs across seven academic colleges. The College of Applied Sciences and Technology houses the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Fashion Merchandising and an MA or MS in Family and Consumer Sciences with a Fashion Merchandising Concentration. Students in the Merchandising program will complete the FCS common core and a Marketing Minor. 

Other program highlights include internship and study abroad opportunities, and participation in a variety of BSU fashion show events and showcases. 

10. Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio

Founded in 1871 by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, Ursuline College is home to 1,175 students enrolled in more than 25 majors through the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Professional Studies, and Breen School of Nursing. The School of Professional Studies offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BA, a Minor, and a Certificate in Fashion Merchandising.

The BA program offers a F.I.T. Track that allows students to spend their third year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The F.I.T. Track leads to an AAS. Other program highlights include access to the Historic Costume Study Collection, which features more than 3,500 pieces of 20th century American apparel and accessories, internship opportunities, and participation in the Annual Fashion Show.