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Top 75 Fashion Design Schools in the US

Written by FS StaffApril 28, 2013

Each day we receive emails from aspiring fashion designers asking us for advice as to which fashion design schools are the “best” in the US, a given state, or in a particular area of the country.  As such advice is difficult to provide on an individual basis, we have instead created this list of the Top 75 Fashion Design School Programs in the US.

In preparing this list, we considered over 200 schools in the US that offer fashion programs. Our goal with this list is to give fashion design students a starting point to identify programs of interest and to provide some insight as to the quality and quantity of fashion design programs available to them. In the end, choosing a college is one of life's biggest decisions and we endeavor to help students make an informed decision about the school they choose to attend.

The criteria we used in making this list consists of the following, in no particular order: academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the program and faculty, and geographic location.  The last factor is worthy of further explanation. As we researched schools and spoke with working professionals in the industry, it became increasingly evident that the location of a school matters in the fashion industry, perhaps even more so than in many other professions. For example, students who attend school in a fashion mecca such as New York City, or to a lesser extent in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Chicago (to name but a few) often have a distinct advantage over students in other parts of the country in terms of networking opportunities, internships, and career specific part-time work. Does that mean you must attend school in a "major" city to work in fashion? Absolutely not. It simply means that access to opportunity is one of many advantages worth considering when choosing a school. So keep in mind that we are taking geographic advantages into account in our rankings.

Like any list, ours is not perfect and is open for debate. There is no single opinion that trumps all when it comes to which school is the “best”. If there is anything we have learned in preparing this list it is that there are ten schools who think they are #1, thirty convinced they are Top 10, and another fifty who are certain they belong in the Top 20. And the truth is they all make a pretty strong case for inclusion.

Ultimately every student has different needs regarding the type and academic rigor of a fashion design program, campus culture, as well as cost, lifestyle, and career focus. Our hope is that this list is a starting point for students to discover the schools that are the best fit for them.

75. Brenau University, Gainesville, GA (top 35% of schools reviewed)
Originally founded in 1878 as a private college for the education of women, Brenau is now a diverse co-educational university with locations across Georgia but the Women’s College remains the cornerstone of the university. The university awards Bachelor Degrees in Fashion Design and Merchandising. Tuition is $10,900 per year.


74. Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY (top 35% of schools reviewed) 
Founded in 1824, Cazenovia College is an independent liberal arts college that has operated at its original site in the Village of Cazenovia for over 188 years. While earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, students can participated in a week-long fashion tour of New York City that takes place each spring. Students participate in a department fashion show and are required to complete a senior research project before graduation. Tuition is $27,550 per year.


7373. San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA (top 35% of schools reviewed) 
Located in an edgy and inspiring urban center, SF State University offers a Bachelor Degree in Apparel Design and Merchandising. Students learn the basics in garment construction and design, and have the opportunity to participate in a New York City study tour. Tuition is $3,220 for California residents, with an additional $372 per unit for non-residents.  


72. Texas Women’s University, Denton, TX (top 35% of schools reviewed) 
Texas Women’s University is a public university and the largest university that is primarily for women. The university awards Bachelor Degrees in Fashion Design and Merchandising. Students receive a fundamental liberal arts education plus the professional expertise and contacts necessary to begin a career in fashion.  Residents pay $172 per semester hour; non-residents pay $523 per semester hour.


71. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN (top 35% of schools reviewed) 
The university awards Bachelor Degrees in Apparel Design. Students can participate in study tours to New York City, Las Vegas, Dallas and various European cities. The department also hosts a student fashion design organization, which organizes guest speakers, community events and tours. Residents pay $287 per academic hour; non-residents pay $807 per hour.