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Top 25 Private Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges – 2015

Written by FS StaffJune 28, 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 list of the Top 25 private Fashion Merchandising School Programs in the US. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Baylor University was chartered in 1845. It is home to more than 16,000 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs through nine colleges and schools. The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences houses the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences. The Department offers six different majors including one for aspiring fashion merchandisers—the BS in Apparel Merchandising.

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,” summer study tours, and internship opportunities at home 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 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 as well and may include trips to Dallas Market, Studios of Apparel Designers, Apparel Manufacturing Firms, and Fashion Group International (FGI) Dallas Career Day, which takes place at the Apparel Mart.

2. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel University was established in 1891. It is home more than 26,300 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.

3. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California

Academy of Art University was established in 1929. It is home to more than 18,000 students enrolled in dozens of art and design programs. The School of Fashion offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include AA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Fashion Merchandising, and AA and BFA degrees in Visual Merchandising.

According to the Academy, all fashion students have access to facilities that feature “the same leading-edge equipment and resources that top fashion houses enjoy.” Internship opportunities are also available as well as the opportunity to participate in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in New York City and the Annual Graduation Fashion Show in San Francisco.

According to the Academy, “the show has been heralded as the "Fashion Week of San Francisco" by both local and national members of the fashion industry. Graduates of the Academy of Art University have been hired by major companies such as Adidas, Chanel, Gap, Kate Spade, Levi Strauss & Co., Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, and many others.

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. Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, California

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) was founded in 1969. It is home to 7,000 students, 500 faculty members, and an advisory board that includes “industry giants” such as Fred Segal, Diane von Furstenberg, Tim Gunn (of Project Runway, Filmed at FIDM), and Emanuel Ungaro. The school consists of four campuses with locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Irvine and it offers 26 creative majors leading to an AA, BA or BS degree.

Degree programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers include AA and AA, Professional Designation degrees in Merchandise Marketing, Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing.

Program highlights include the opportunity to participate in the annual DEBUT Runway Show, which is streamed online and televised, annual study tours of fashion capitals such as New York, Paris, London, Rome, Milan, and internship opportunities. Students have completed internships with Anthropologie, Giorgio Armani, Warner Bros., Cartier, Chloé, Van Cleef & Arpels, and other major companies.  

6. Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Marist College was founded in 1929. It is home to nearly 6,400 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.

7. Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia University (PhilaU) was founded in 1884 as Philadelphia Textile School. It is home to 3,200 students enrolled in more than 60 areas of study leading to the bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees. 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.

8. Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas

Texas Woman's University (TWU) was founded in 1901 as The Girls Industrial College. It is home to more than 15,000 students enrolled in more than 150 programs across four colleges and a graduate school. The College of Arts & Sciences is home to the School of Management. The School offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include BS and Post-Baccalaureate degrees in Fashion Merchandising with several Emphasis options including Planning and Management.

Dual degree programs include a BA in Fashion Design/BS Fashion Merchandising, BS Fashion Merchandising/BBA Marketing, BS Fashion Merchandising/BBA Management, and a BS Fashion Merchandising/BBA Entrepreneurship. A Fashion Merchandising Minor is also on the menu.

In addition to a variety of programs for fashion merchandisers, 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 and the Global Fashion Study Tour of Paris.

9. Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia

Marymount University was founded in 1950. It is home to nearly 3,500 students enrolled in 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. 

10. Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas

Texas Christian University was founded in 1873. It is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in 200+ programs through eight colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts is home to the Department of Interior Design & Fashion Merchandising. The Department offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising.

Program highlights include off-campus study programs in Paris, New York, and Dallas, access to the TCU Costume Collection featuring more than 2,500 items, and participation in the Annual Fashion Show. In addition, students will complete 10-week supervised internship with companies such as Bergdorf Goodman, Chanel, Donna Karan, Escada, Fossil, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, and Zales.

11. Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania

Albright College dates its beginning to the founding of Union Seminary in 1856. The school is home to more than 2,000 students enrolled in more than 60 academic majors and programs. The Fashion Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BA in Fashion with Tracks in Fashion Merchandising and Design and Merchandising. A Fashion Merchandising Combined Major is also on the menu.

Program highlights include study abroad opportunities in Italy, France, the UK and South Korea as well as internship opportunities at companies such as Donna Karan, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Tiffany’s, and more. Fashion merchandising students also have the opportunity to participate in the Department’s Annual Fashion Showcase & Runway Show.

Graduates of the Fashion and Costume programs at Albright have been hired by companies such as DKNY, Macy’s, Berkshire Theater Festival, David’s Bridal, Anthropologie, and many others.

12. Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Founded in 1913, Mount Mary University is a women’s college with a student population of 1,475.  The school offers 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 develop the skills they need 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, and 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.

13. Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington

Seattle Pacific University was founded in 1891. It is home to more than 4,200 students enrolled in 200+ majors, minors, concentrations, certificate, and graduate programs through seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS): Division of Sciences is home to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS).

The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BA Merchandising or Interior Merchandising and/or Interior Design. A Minor in all areas is also on the menu. Students may also apply to the liaison program with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. FIT Specializations include Accessories Design, Advertising and Communication, Advertising Design, Manufacturing Management, Fashion Design, Fashion Buying and Merchandising, Jewelry Design, Textile/Surface Design, and Textile Development and Marketing.

Merchandising program highlights include travel abroad opportunities to places such as London, Paris, Florence, and Milan; possible internship opportunities at nearby companies such as Nordstrom Product Group, REI, Eddie Bauer, and Union Bay, and optional membership in Fashion Group. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Fashion Show. 

14. Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio

Ursuline College was founded in 1871 by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. It is home to 1,496 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 FIT Option that allows students to spend their third year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. 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.

15. Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania

Mercyhurst was founded in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy. The school is home to more than 4,300 students enrolled in 50+ undergraduate majors with 67 concentrations and nine graduate degree programs. Mercyhurst’s seven schools also offer a variety of post-baccalaureate and advanced certificates.

The Walker School of Business at Mercyhurst offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Fashion Merchandising and a Fashion Studies Minor. Program highlights include participation in the Mercyhurst Fashion Council, study tours of “Fashion Capitals” of the world, and the opportunity to live and learn in New York City through the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Visiting Student Program.

Internship opportunities in Boston, New York, and other cities are also on the menu as well as participation in a variety of campus-based fashion shows. Mercyhurst graduates have been hired by major companies such as Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Macy’s, Nine West, Levi Strauss and Co., Express, American Eagle, and others.

16. Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey

Montclair State University was established in 1908.  It is home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in nearly 300 majors, minors, concentrations, and certificate programs through eight colleges and schools. The College of Arts’ Department of Art and Design offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BA in Fashion Studies and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising.

Program highlights include access to new studio facilities for Fashion Studies, local and regional internship opportunities, and study abroad opportunities such as Montclair in Paris, Montclair in Italy, and Montclair in London. Students may also participate in the Annual Fashion Show.

17. O’More College of Design, Franklin, Tennessee

O’More College of Design was founded in 1970. It is home to more than 150 students enrolled in a variety of art and design programs through three schools including the School of Fashion, the School of Visual Design, and the School of Interior Design. The School of Fashion offers one program for aspiring fashion merchandisers—a BFA in Fashion Merchandising.

The curriculum prepares students for entry into the fashion industry and/or graduate study. Just a few course titles include Merchandising Planning, Fashion Textiles, Fashion Show Production, Visual Merchandising, Merchandise Simulation, Business and Portfolio Development, and Product Development and Design. Other program highlights include internship opportunities at area designers and retailers, and participation in the O’More Student Fashion Show.

18. Meredith College, Raleigh, North Carolina

Chartered in 1891, Meredith College opened its doors with just over 200 female students. Today, the school caters to a co-ed population of nearly 2,000 students. Meredith College offers over 80 undergraduate programs and more around 16 graduate and certificate programs through four schools and more than 20 departments. The College of Education, Health & Human Sciences houses the Department of Human Environmental Sciences, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Design with a Merchandising Concentration, and a Minor in Merchandising.

Program highlights include annual trips to the Garment District in New York City, the Apparel Mart in Atlanta, and the National Fashion Job Fair in Dallas, and participation in the summer program in Paris or Sansepolcro, Italy. According to the Department, students will also work on window displays for local retail stores, and participate in a variety of fashion shows and competitions.

19. Mount Ida College, Boston, Massachusetts

Mount Ida College was founded in 1899. It is home to more than 1,400 students enrolled in more than 30 degree programs through four schools including the School of Applied Sciences, the School of Design, the School of Social Sciences & Humanities, and the School Business. The School of Design is home the Fashion Program. Degree offerings for aspiring fashion merchandisers include a BS and a Certificate in Fashion Merchandising & Marketing.

Program highlights include a well-rounded curriculum featuring advanced courses that cover computer-aided design (CAD), technical design and production, business in the fashion industry, public speaking and presentation, and contemporary fashion trends. Students also have the opportunity to participate in Boston Fashion Week and in Mount Ida’s Annual Spring Fashion Show. Internships at a variety of local and New York-based companies are also on the menu as well as opportunities to study abroad in fashion capitals such as Paris, London, Barcelona and Milan.

20. Immaculata University, Immaculata, Pennsylvania

Immaculata University was founded in 1920. It is home to a population of more than 4,500 students enrolled in 100+ degree programs through two schools and dozens of departments. The Department of Fashion/Family & Consumer Sciences offers a large collection of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Offerings include an AS, BS, and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising, and a BS in Fashion Merchandising with a Minor in the following areas: Buying, Communication, Entrepreneurship, Graphic Design for Fashion, Marketing, Product Development, Public Relations and Journalism, and Visual Merchandising.

Program highlights include the speaker series and two junior field experiences at companies such as Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Macy’s.com, JC Penney, GAP, Talbots, Ann Taylor Loft, and more. Annual study tours to major fashion and design centers, such as New York City and Paris are also on the menu as well as participation in Immaculata’s Annual Spring Fashion Show and Expo.

21. Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois

Dominican University was founded in 1901. It is home to 3,470 students enrolled in more than 50 undergraduate degree programs and dozens of graduate, joint degree, and accelerated programs through several colleges and schools. The Rosary College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Apparel Design and Merchandising Department.

The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BA and a Minor in Apparel Merchandising. Many apparel merchandising students minor in Business or Communications as well. Program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, and study abroad opportunities. Dominican offers special apparel student-only options in Paris and Milan.

22. Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia

Clark Atlanta University was established in 1988 when Atlanta University (est. 1865) and Clark College (est. 1869) merged. The school is home to more than 4,000 students enrolled in more than 35 areas of study through the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Social Work. The School of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Art and Fashion. The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

Offerings include BA degrees in Fashion Design/Merchandising, Fashion Merchandising with a Concentration in Merchandising, and Fashion/Merchandising with a Concentration in Design. Programs highlights include internship opportunities with major retailers and brands and study abroad experiences London, Paris, Provence, Milan, Florence, and more. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Clark Atlanta University Fashion Show.

23. Fontbonne University, Clayton, Missouri

Fontbonne University was founded in 1923. It is home to more than 1,800 students enrolled in nearly 100 majors, minors, and graduate programs through several colleges and dozens of departments. The Bonnie and L.B. Eckelkamp College of Global and Professional Studies offers more than a dozen undergraduate, graduate and minor programs, including one program for aspiring fashion merchandisers.

The BS in Fashion Merchandising prepares students for a variety of careers in the global fashion industry. Just a few include Merchandiser, Merchandise Manager, Brand Manager, Product Developer, and more. Program highlights include internships at companies such as Chanel Boutique, Nordstrom, and Michael Kors, Fashion Study Tours of Dallas and New York City, and study abroad opportunities in London, France, Italy, and more.

Fashion merchandising students also have the opportunity to become involved in student organizations such as ODK, FAB, SGA, and Enactus, and all students may participate in the Annual Fashion Show. Graduates of the Fashion Merchandising Program at Fontbonne have bene hired by companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and many others.

24. St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Catherine University was founded in 1905. It is home to more than 5,200 students enrolled in more than 100 fields of study through the School of Business and Professional Studies, the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, and the School of Social Work. The School of Business and Professional Studies offers 24 undergraduate majors and minors, including several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include BA and BS degrees in Fashion Merchandising and the option to combine the major with a degree in Small Business/Entrepreneurship or Apparel Design.

Program highlights include study opportunities in London, Paris or NYC, participation in St. Kate's Annual Katwalk Fashion Show, the (paid) Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP), optional membership in St. Kate’s Fiber Arts Club, access to Katies Entrepreneur Organization (KEO), and internship opportunities. Past students have completed internships at American Girl, BCBG, New Look Retailers in London, and many others. 

 

Editor's note: On 7/28/15 we discovered that we had incorrectly labeled the Fashion Institute of Technology as a private school rather than as a public school. FIT is in fact a member of the State University system of New York. We have adjusted the rankings accordingly and we regret the error.