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Top 25 Private Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges in the US – 2016

Written by FS StaffMay 31, 2016

Our 2016 list of the Top 25 private Fashion Merchandising School Programs in the US. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 2% of schools considered)

Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 12,000 students enrolled in 40 areas of study and 70-plus minors and certificate programs. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, SCAD offers a variety of programs suitable for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah), a Minor in Fashion Marketing and Management, and MA (all campuses + eLearning) and MFA (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah) degrees in Luxury and Fashion Management. 

According to the school, “SCAD is the first art and design university to receive the Instructional Technology Council’s award for Outstanding Distance Education Program and the rank of Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching and Learning from the Sloan Consortium.”

Besides the opportunity to earn the MA online, students may participate in the Annual SCAD Fashion Show, and internships and study opportunities are plentiful at local, national, and international fashion companies.

2. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 5% of schools considered)

Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry. It is home to 25,595 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Department of Fashion, Product and Design & Merchandising, which 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. A Minor in Retail is also on the menu and “provides basic foundations in retail operations, buying and merchandise planning and e-commerce.” 

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 London, Paris, Florence, Prague, Reykjavik, Australia, Greece, Ireland, Spain and countries in Asia and Africa, and participation in the Annual Drexel Fashion Show. Students also have the opportunity to contribute to D&M Magazine and the recently launched online D&M Shop—a retail learning laboratory.  

3. Baylor University, Waco, Texas (top 10% of schools considered)

Baylor University was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas and it 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 six different majors. Programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers include a 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 students 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 Fashion Group International (FGI) Dallas Career Day, which takes place at the Apparel Mart.

4. LIM College, New York, New York (top 10% of schools considered)

Founded in 1939 as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM), LIM College is home to more than 1,500 students enrolled in associates and bachelor’s degree programs in five subject areas through four departments. The Departments of Fashion Merchandising and Visual Merchandising offer a variety of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. 

Offerings include AAS, Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS), and Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) degrees in Fashion Merchandising. Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees in Fashion Merchandising and Visual Merchandising are also on the menu. The Fashion Merchandising BBA offers a Retail Buying & Planning Track. Concentrations are available for any major and include Cosmetics, Digital Business Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Event Planning, Fashion Media, Fashion Publishing, Home Fashions, International Business, International Marketing, Responsible Business Practices, Retail and Merchandise Management, and Styling.

Program highlights include participation in the Annual Fashion Show, optional membership in the Fashion Show Production Club, the Fashion Styling Club and other organizations, and study abroad opportunities. Just a few past locations include France, Italy, Spain, Australia, China, and England. 

5. Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York (top 10% of schools considered)

Founded in 1929, Marist College is home to 6,474 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs and minors across 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. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 15% of schools considered)

Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school is home to 8,813 students enrolled in dozens of art and design programs across several schools. The School of Fashion offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including AA and BFA degrees in Fashion Merchandising and Fashion 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. 

7. Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 15% of schools considered)

Philadelphia University (PhilaU) was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School. The school is home to 3,200 students enrolled in more than 60 areas of study through the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, and the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts. 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 places such as London, Rome, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Dominican Republic, Scotland, New Zealand, and Denmark, 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 Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas (top 20% of schools considered)

Texas Christian University (TCU) was founded in 1873 as AddRan Male and Female College. It is home to 10,323 students enrolled 118 undergraduate areas of study, 53 master’s level programs, and 25 areas of doctoral study across 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, which features more than 2,500 items, and participation in the Annual Fashion Show. In addition, students will complete a 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. 

9. Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio (top 20% of schools considered)

Ursuline College was founded in 1871. It 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.

10. Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (top 25% of schools considered)

Founded in 1913, Mount Mary College is a women’s college with a student population of 1,385.  The school offers more than 30 undergraduate majors, nine co-ed graduate programs, and a variety of certificate programs across four schools including the School of Arts & Design, the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, the School of Natural & Health Sciences, and the School of Business. Programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers are offered through the School of Arts & Design. 

Offerings include a BA and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion Merchandise Management. Many fashion merchandising students choose the 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 internship opportunities, the chance to compete in regional, national and international competitions, access to workshops by global designers and retailers, volunteer opportunities with Fashion BOOT Camp for high school students, and the opportunity to participate in the New York-style Fashion Runway Show—CREO: Fashion, Art and Design Show. The show takes place each spring. 

11. Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington (top 25% of schools considered)

Founded in 1891 by the Free Methodist Church of North America, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is home to 4,175 students enrolled in 164 undergraduate majors, minors and concentrations, and 65 masters programs and concentrations, doctoral degrees, and graduate certificates across seven colleges schools. The College of Arts and Sciences: Division of Sciences houses the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), which offers BA degrees in Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design and/or Interior Merchandising. A Minor in Merchandising is also available.

Program highlights include easy access to a number of apparel company headquarters such as Nordstrom Product Group, REI, Eddie Bauer, and Union Bay, “strong connections” with the apparel industry, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) dual degree program, and study abroad opportunities in 15 countries. 

12. Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania (top 30% of schools considered)

Albright College dates back to the founding of Union Seminary in 1856. The school, which is home to more than 2,000 students representing 26 states and 18 countries, offers

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 or Design and Merchandising. A Combined Fashion Major with a Fashion Merchandising Track 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.

13. Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia (top 30% of schools considered)

Marymount University was founded in 1950. It is home to nearly 3,400 students enrolled in 60-plus programs across 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 abroad or with local companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Theory, Burberry, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s are also on the menu as well as the chance to compete in both national and international design competitions.  

14. Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania (top 35% of schools considered)

Mercyhurst was founded in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy. The school is home to more than 3,000 students enrolled in more than 50 undergraduate majors with 67 concentrations and eight graduate degree programs across dozens of schools and departments. The Walker School of Business & Communication is home to the Fashion Merchandising Department, which offers two 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 around world, and the opportunity to live and learn in New York City through the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Visiting Student Program. The FIT Program allows students to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst and an associate's degree from FIT. 

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.

15. Immaculata University, Immaculata, Pennsylvania (top 35% of schools considered)

Immaculata University was founded in 1920. It is home to a population of more than 2,850 students enrolled in more than more than 60 majors, minors, and pre-professional certifications, across several schools and dozens of departments. The Department of Fashion/Family & Consumer Sciences offers a number 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 Buying, Communication, Entrepreneurship, Graphic Design for Fashion, Marketing, Product Development, Public Relations and Journalism, or Visual Merchandising. 

Program highlights include the speaker series, two junior field experiences at companies such as Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Macy’s.com, JC Penney, GAP, Talbots, Ann Taylor Loft, and others, and a senior industry project which allows students to complete a real-world project with an emerging brand. Annual study tours to fashion capitals 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. 

16. Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois (top 35% of schools considered)

Dominican University was founded in 1901 as St. Clara College in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. The school relocated to River Forest, Illinois in 1922 and was renamed Rosary College. It expanded to become Dominican University in 1997 and today the school is home to around 3,700 students enrolled in more than 50 undergraduate degree programs and dozens of graduate, joint degree, and accelerated programs across several colleges and schools. 

The Rosary College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Apparel Design and Merchandising Department, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BA and a Minor in Apparel Merchandising. In addition, apparel merchandising students often minor in Business or Communications.

Fashion Merchandising program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, and study abroad opportunities in Paris and Milan.

17. Mount Ida College, Boston, Massachusetts (top 40% of schools considered)

Mount Ida College was founded in 1899. It is home to approximately 1,430 students enrolled in more than 30 areas of study 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 offers a BS in Fashion Industry Marketing & Management, which prepares aspiring fashion professionals for careers in the marketing, communication, promotion, merchandising, and visual design aspects of the fashion industry.  

Program highlights include the opportunity to participate in Boston Fashion Week and Mount Ida’s Annual Spring Fashion Show; internship opportunities at a variety of local and New York-based companies; an annual trip to New York City, and the opportunity to study abroad in fashion capitals such as Paris, London, Barcelona, and Milan. 

18. Meredith College, Raleigh, North Carolina (top 40% of schools considered)

Chartered in 1891, Meredith College opened its doors with just over 200 female students. Today, the school is home to nearly 2,000 students enrolled in more than 80 undergraduate programs and 16 plus 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.

Options include 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; the opportunity to work on window displays for local retail stores, and participate in a variety of fashion show events and competitions; participation in summer programs in Paris or Sansepolcro, Italy, and the opportunity to complete an internship with a top designer, retailer or magazine. Students have completed internships at Vogue, Michael Kors, Ella Moss, and many others.  

19. O’More College of Design, Franklin, Tennessee (top 40% of schools considered)

O’More College of Design was founded in 1970. It is home to more than 200 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; the opportunity to travel to New York and visit the Garment District, and networking opportunities with industry leaders like Kay Unger, Elaine Gold, Greenfield Clothiers, Nanette Lepore, Saks, Inc., Paper Magazine, Theory and top costume shops for Broadway Theater. Participation in the Annual O’More Student Fashion Show is also on the menu. 

Graduates of the Fashion Merchandising program have been hired by companies such as Dockers Footwear, Fruit of the Loom, Urban Outfitters, Disney Parks and Resorts, and VF—a $12 billion dollar apparel and footwear company whose divisions include Vans, Nautica, The North Face, Red Kap, Lucy and Reef. Graduates have also established successful businesses in the industry including House of Stella, Johnnie Q., Jamie and the Jones, Whimsy by Krista, and The Transatlanic blog.

20. St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota (top 45% of schools considered)

St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s) was founded in 1905. It is home to nearly 5,000 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, the option to combine the major with a degree in Small Business/Entrepreneurship or Apparel Design, and a second major/post-baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion Merchandising. 

Program highlights include study abroad opportunities in London or Paris and in 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.

21. Centenary College, Hackettstown, New Jersey (top 45% of schools considered)

Founded in 1867, Centenary College is home to more than 2,300 students enrolled in 21 bachelor’s degree programs, three associate’s degree programs, 27 concentrations, 18 minors, and a variety of graduate and certificate programs. The Communications and Fine Arts Department offers a variety of degree programs including a BFA in Design and Merchandising. According to the Department, “the program emphasizes buying, fashion show coordination, visual merchandising, and textiles. Students have the opportunity to plan and promote fashion products, design and use visual communication, and evaluate products.”

Other program highlights include shadowing experiences; field trips, which include working on runway shows and producing merchandising displays in stores; and collecting and distributing prom dresses for disadvantaged girls. Students also have access a variety of internships in New York, New Jersey, and at Disney world, they have access to Career Development advisors from freshman year until after graduation, and they have the opportunity to spend a semester or summer studying aboard in Italy, England, Ireland, or Korea. 

22. Lasell College, Newton, Massachusetts (top 45% of schools considered)

Founded in 1851, Lasell College is home to around 1,800 students enrolled more than 40 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. The Fashion Department offers several undergraduate programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including Fashion & Retail Merchandising and Fashion Communication & Promotion. Minors in both areas are also available. 

Program highlights include internship opportunities at companies such as David’s Bridal, Life is Good, Nine West, Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger, and Urban Outfitters; access to the Lasell Fashion Collection (LFC), which contains over two thousand items of clothing and accessories dating between the 19th & 21st centuries; participation in the Lasell Fashion Show: Runway, and Fashion Boot Camp. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad in Paris. 

23. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas (top 50% of schools considered)

Founded in 1881, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) is home to nearly 10,000 students, making it 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 merchandisers. 

Options include BA degrees in Fashion Management with a Concentration in Merchandising or Product Development. 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). 

24. Brenau University, Gainesville, Georgia (top 50% of schools considered)

Founded in 1978, Brenau University is home to more than 3,500 students enrolled in dozens of degree programs across six colleges and schools and an online division. The College of Fine Arts and Humanities houses the Department of Art & Design, which offers a BA in Fashion Merchandising. Program highlights include internship opportunities, study abroad experiences,  and participation in a variety of presentations, exhibits, and fashion show events. 

25. Fontbonne University, Clayton, Missouri (top 50% of schools considered)

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.