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Top 75 Fashion Merchandising Schools in the US

Written by FS StaffMay 9, 2013

In preparing this list, we reviewed the program offerings of over 200 schools in the US that offer fashion related programs. Our goal with this list is to give students who are interested in fashion merchandising a starting point by which they can identify the schools that offer fashion merchandising specific programs. 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. More info on our criteria.


11. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York Top 1% of schools reviewed
The Fashion Institute of Technology says, “Our campus is Manhattan.” Current students and alums agree. The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, which offers access to everything a fashion student could ask for—boutiques, fabric stores, art galleries, cafes, and more. Described as “a nexus of art and architecture” by Travel + Leisure, FIT’s Chelsea location is just one reason fashion students flock here.

Established in 1944, Fashion Institute of Technology offers a wide variety of academic programs that will prepare students for more than 30 career fields. Depending on the program, graduates will receive an Associate’s, Bachelors, or Master’s degree. Fashion programs include Fabric Styling, Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising and Management, Marketing for the Fashion Industries, Jewelry Design, Menswear, Fashion and Related Industries, Textile Development and Marketing, and Textile/Surface Design.

FIT’s Fashion Merchandising program is the largest degree program of its kind in the country. In addition to AAS and BS options, students may enroll in a five-week summer internship in London or a Study Abroad program in Australia, London, Hong Kong, Paris, Rome, or Florence. All Fashion Merchandising students are eligible to join the Merchandising Society, which enhances “members college experience by exposing them to all facets of the fashion industry.”

22. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio Top 1% of schools reviewed
Kent State University (KSU) celebrated its 100th birthday in 2010. Over the past 100+ years, the school has grown from a small teacher-training college called "The Kent State Normal School" to an eight-campus system, with more than 27,500 students. KSU campuses include Kent, Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem, Stark, Tuscarawas, and Trumbull.

Kent State University is third largest university in Ohio and the 27th largest regional campus system in the nation. The school ranks among the top 90 public universities in the country and Times Higher Education (a London-based higher education magazine), ranked Kent State University as one of world’s top universities in its annual World University Rankings (2010-2011).

KSU offers 40 Associate degree programs at seven campuses, and 236 Bachelor degree programs at all eight campuses. The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, College of Arts, offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising. The program covers development and marketing of fashion goods, fashion forecasting and promotion, fashion theory, management and buying, merchandising for apparel manufacturing, and retail operations. Kent State also offers a BA in Fashion Design with a focus in Conceptual Design or Technical Design and Production.

3. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Top 5% of schools reviewed
Drexel University was established in 1891 by financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel. It is a private, research university with four campuses—Center City, Queen Lane in East Falls, Philadelphia, Drexel at BCC in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and Drexel Sacramento in Sacramento, California. Just a short 10-minute walk away is Philadelphia’s downtown neighborhood, the Center City District, where students will find an abundance of art, retail, and entertainment opportunities.

Like many New York art and design schools, Drexel University is located in the center of it all. Like many art and design schools across the country, Drexel University also has several excellent Fashion program leading to a Bachelor of Science (BS). The school also offers 70 other Bachelor's programs, over 75 Master’s programs, over 30 Doctoral programs, more than 45 Graduate-Level Certificate programs, and one Associate's program.

Fashion students may choose between the Design & Merchandising BS and the Fashion Design BS. Drexel offers a Study Abroad program at the London College of Fashion during students’ sophomore year as well as the opportunity to complete an internship at popular retailers, brands, and corporate offices throughout the region. For students interested in exploring the program prior to applying, Drexel invites potential students to live on campus for two and “explore the fields of Fashion Design or Design & Merchandising, hands-on.”

44. Oregon State University, Corvalis, Oregon Top 5% of schools reviewed
Oregon State University (OSU) is Oregon’s top public research university. It is the only university in the state to hold Carnegie Foundation’s top designation for research institutions as well as the Foundation’s Community Engagement classification. Established in 1868, OSU is home to 12 colleges, 15 Agricultural Experiment Stations, 35 county Extension offices, the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center in Newport, and OSU-Cascades in Bend, OR.

Located just 90 miles from Portland, Oregon State University is home to more than 26,000 students from all 50 states and 89 countries. The school offers 200+ undergraduate programs and more than 80 graduate programs. The School of Design and Human Environment offers BS degrees in Merchandising Management, Apparel Design, and Interior Design. The School also offers an MA, MAIS (Master of Arts in International Studies), and a PhD in Design and Human Environment.

The Merchandising Management program prepares students for careers in Retail Management, Visual Merchandising, Fashion Editing, Buying/Merchandising, Market Trends, Market Research, and Product Development. The program also prepares students to become Entrepreneurs.

5. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware Top 5% of schools reviewed
The University of Delaware (UD) has thousands of successful alumni, but among the most successful are Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. Other notable alumni include Suzanne Thomassen-Krauss, senior textile conservator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (Ms. Thomassen-Krauss led the 14-year project to conserve the Star-Spangled Banner), Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Established in 1743, the University of Delaware (UD) is home to more than 21,000 students. UD offers 147 Bachelor degree programs, 119 Master degree programs, 54 Doctoral programs, 15 Dual Graduate programs, and three Associate programs. The University of Delaware Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies offers an AAS in Fashion Merchandise Management and a BS in Fashion Merchandising.

UD Fashion Merchandising students may also consider the 4+1 Program, which allows undergraduate Fashion Merchandising majors to complete the master's degree in Fashion and Apparel Studies in half the time. Other fashion programs include a Graduate Certificate in Socially Responsible and Sustainable Apparel Business, an MS in Fashion and Apparel Studies, a BS in Apparel Design, and a Minor in Fashion History and Culture.