Our 2014 list of the Top 20 fashion management school programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York
Established in 1944, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is Part of the popular State University of New York (SUNY). The school, which covers an entire city block, is home to more than 10,000 students and five schools that offer 43 majors leading to an Associate’s, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. The Jay & Patty Baker School of Business & Design is home to a large collection of programs for aspiring fashion managers.
Offerings include AAS and BS degrees in Fashion Merchandising Management (FMM) and Production Management, an MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, and AA degrees in Apparel Industry Management, Beauty Industry Management, Merchandise Product Development, and International Manufacturing & Product Development.
Students looking to take their careers to the next level might typically choose a second degree such as the BS in Business Management, the BA in Professional Studies, or the BS in Entrepreneurship for the Fashion and Design Industries.
Fashion Management program highlights include immersive study in areas such as Product Development, Buying and Planning, Fashion Management, and e-Commerce, and an endless number of internship and Study Abroad opportunities. FIT’s internship program offers the opportunity to work with companies such as Ann Taylor, Guess, Jones Apparel Group, Liz Claiborne, Macy’s, Nike, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Saks, and more.
2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was established in 1978. This top-rated art and design college consists of nine schools, offering more than 100 programs and seven degree types. Home to more than 11,000 students, SCAD has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. The Lacoste location offers dozens of courses, but it does not offer degree programs.
Program offerings for aspiring fashion managers include a BFA and a Minor in Fashion Marketing and Management and an MA or MFA in Luxury and Fashion Management. These programs are available at all (degree-granting) campuses. The Luxury and Fashion MA is also available online.
Program highlights includes access to Morris Hall, which spans a block in historic Downtown Savannah and consists of labs and lecture space for fashion management and marketing students, dedicated graduate studios, and a resource room with access to fashion books and magazines, fabrics research, and trend services such as the Peclers Paris Consulting Agency and Worth Global Style Network (WGSN).
Other highlights include participation in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC, mentoring opportunities with designers such as Zac Posen, Catherine Malandrino, and Chris Benz, and internship opportunities with major companies, designers, and organizations such as Betsey Johnson, Bergdorf Goodman, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, BCBG, Juicy Couture, Martha Stewart Living, Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, Upscale Magazine, and many others.
Finally, SCAD has one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country. Around 91 percent of alumni respondents reported being employed, pursuing further education or both within nine months of graduation.
3. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Established in 1865, Cornell University is home to more than 14,000 undergraduate students and 7,000+ graduate students from across the U.S. and 120 countries. The University houses 14 colleges and schools offering more than 80 formal major fields, 70 minors, and dozens of graduate and professional degrees. The school, which sits on a 2,300-acre campus, has graduate and professional units in New York City and Doha, Qatar and the recently opened Cornell NYC Tech Campus in New York City.
Cornell University's College of Human Ecology, Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD) offers several programs for aspiring fashion managers. Options include a BS in Fiber Science & Apparel Design with a Specialization in Fashion Design Management and a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Human Ecology. The Fashion Design Management program offers three options including Management and Marketing, Product Development, and Communications. MPS Concentrations include Apparel Design and Fiber Science.
FSAD highlights include internship and Study Abroad opportunities in Italy, Australia, England, Israel, and Spain, and a Semester at Sea. Students also have access to the National Textile Center and Cornell Costume and Textile Collection, and The Cornell Fashion Collective. The Collective is a student-run organization that produces a professional runway show that gives students the opportunity to highlight their fashion managements skills and collections.
4. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
Established in 1868, Oregon State University (OSU) sits on a 400-acre campus—less than 90 miles from Portland, and within 62 miles of the city centers of Eugene and Salem. Home to 27,925 students, OSU offers 200+ degree programs across 12 colleges, 15 Agricultural Experiment Stations, 35 county Extension offices, the Hatfield Marine Sciences Center in Newport, and OSU-Cascades in Bend, Oregon.
The Oregon State University College of Business-School of Design and Human Environment (DHE) offers several impressive undergraduate and graduate degree programs for aspiring fashion managers. Programs include a BS in Merchandising Management and MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Design and Human Environment (DHE). A Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) with a Concentration in Merchandising Management or Textiles is also on the menu.
Program highlights include access to the Historic and Cultural Textile and Apparel Collection, internship opportunities at local, regional, national, and international (London) retailers, and OSU’s prized Study Tour program. The Study Tour program features trips to New York City and MAGIC Market Week in Las Vegas. Also part of the program is the Architecture, Interiors, and Dress of Western Europe Tour where students explore the art, architecture, design, and fashions of London and Bath, England; Paris, and Florence and Rome, Italy.
5. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
Auburn University’s College of Consumer and Design Sciences offers several undergraduate and advanced degrees for aspiring fashion managers. Many of these programs combine elements of management, merchandising, and fashion design, but students have the option to focus in a specific area. Offerings include a BS in Apparel Merchandising, Design, and Production Management (BS-AMDP), a Master of Science in Consumer and Design Sciences Apparel and Interiors (MS-CADS), and a Doctor of Philosophy in Consumer and Design Sciences (PhD-CADS).
Focus areas for the BS-AMDP include Production Management, Apparel Merchandising, and Apparel Design.
Program highlights include Study Tours to Atlanta, New York and other cities, speaking events that feature professionals from the textile, apparel, and retailing fields and a ten-week professional internship during the final year of study. Students also have access to the Joseph S. Bruno - Auburn Abroad in Italy program. This semester-long program takes place in the small town of Ariccia, Italy located in the Alban Hills near Rome. According to Auburn, AU Study Abroad opportunities give students “a global perspective on international trade laws, fashion trends, and the impact of culture and economics on consumer preferences.”
Auburn University (AU or Auburn) was established in 1856. The University consists of 13 colleges and schools (and a graduate school), and it is home to more than 25,000 students. Auburn offers more than 140 degree programs from Agriculture to Graphic Design to Veterinary Medicine.
6. Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Established in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School, Philadelphia University (PhilaU)
sits on a 100-acre campus just 145 miles from New York, 30 miles from Trenton, New Jersey, and only 8 miles from historic Center City Philadelphia. Home to nearly 3,000 students enrolled in 60+ areas of study, PhilaU houses three colleges including 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 school is also home to the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, which offers an accelerated BS in Organizational Leadership. This program is also available online.
PhilaU’s Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce offers several other popular programs for aspiring fashion managers. Offerings include a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Management, an MS in Global Fashion Enterprise, and an Innovation MBA with a Concentration in Management or General Business. The Innovation MBA has an online option.
The BS in Fashion Merchandising and Management offers 10 “clusters” including Fashion Product Management, Fashion Product Development, Fashion Entrepreneurship, Global Brand Marketing, Buying and Merchandising, Fashion Retailing Experience, Fashion Technology, Integrated Fashion Communication, Fashion Material Insight and Innovation, and Integrated Fashion Communication.
Program highlights include participation in multiple fashion shows and events such as The Annual Fashion Show and student-run Pop-Up Stores, career workshops, and the opportunity to contribute to PhilaU’s fashion publication STYLELINE. Students also have access to internship and employment opportunities in Philadelphia and New York, and Study Abroad experiences in fashion capitals such as London, Paris, Hong Kong, and Rome.
7. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1890, Columbia College Chicago (CCC) is home to 11,000 students enrolled in more than 120 academic majors and programs. This includes a unique program for aspiring fashion managers. The BA in Fashion Business is a flexible program that, according to CCC, “allows room for students to “pursue interdisciplinary course options, a minor, or a double major.” Fashion Business/Fashion Design is a popular double major. A Minor in Fashion Business is also on the menu.
The BA in Fashion Business is available through the School of Fine & Performing Arts-Fashion Studies Department. Highlights include participation in the always sold-out Annual Runway Show, “Fashion in the Field” trips to New York City, Los Angeles, and Florence, Italy, access to the Garment Collection, the Research Collection and the Fashion Study Collection (FSC), which consists of more than 6,000 items. The Program also offers access to a state-of-the-art Fashion Lab and other facilities.
Columbia College is located in the heart of Downtown Chicago which offers easy access to the world famous Magnificent Mile (Mag Mile). This 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue is home to more than 460 retail stores and high-end designer boutiques (Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, and more), 275 restaurants, 60 hotels, and dozens of attractions.
8. LIM College, New York, New York
Established in 1939 as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM), LIM College consists of three academic buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Home to more than 1,500 students, LIM offers around 10 degree programs in areas such as Fashion Management, Fashion Merchandising, Visual Merchandising, and Fashion Marketing. Options for aspiring fashion managers include an MPS in Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management and an MBA with Concentrations in Fashion Management and Entrepreneurship.
Program highlights include professional development workshops, recruitment events, and a mandatory internship program. Students have interned with major companies such as Gucci, Harper’s Bazaar, Ann Taylor, Diesel USA, Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, Saks Fifth Avenue, Country Living Magazine, Prada, Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman, and many others. Graduates of LIMs Fashion Management programs work in areas from Brand Management to Systems Operations to Retail Management. They have accepted positions at many of the companies listed above as well as Tory Burch, Bloomingdale’s, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Lord & Taylor, and more.
9. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University offers a wide range of advanced programs for aspiring fashion managers through the school’s top-rated College of Textiles-Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) Department. Options include a BS in Fashion and Textile Management with three Concentrations including Fashion Development and Product Management, Brand Management and Marketing, and Retail and Supply Chain Management, and an MS in Textiles with a Concentration in Retail and Brand Management.
A unique PhD in Textile Technology Management is also on the menu as well as several Certificate programs including Textile Supply Chain Management, Textile Brand Management and Marketing, and Consumer Textile Product Design and Development. TATM highlights include social and networking events at design studios, retailers and fashion companies throughout the State of New York, internships with local and national companies, and participation in the famous Art2Wear fashion show. NC State is also the home of Project Runway contestant (season 12) and College of Design Assistant Professor, Justin LeBlanc.
Established in 1887, North Carolina State University (NC State University or NC State) sits on a 21,075-acre campus and it is home to more than 34,000, making it the largest university in the state. Located just minutes from bustling Downtown Raleigh, NC State offers 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 departments.
10. University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
The College of Human and Environmental Sciences-Department of Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) at the University of Missouri is home to several popular programs for aspiring fashion managers. Offerings include BS degrees in Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) with Tracks in Apparel Marketing and Merchandising or International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising. Students may also consider the Business, Entrepreneurship, or Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) Minor, or the Center for the Digital (CDiG) Graduate Certificate to enhance their education and career opportunities. A Digital Global Studies Undergraduate Certificate is also on the menu. TAM program highlights include internship opportunities, Study Tours, access to dozens of student organizations, and interaction with award-winning professors and industry experts.
Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri (MU or Mizzou) is the flagship campus of the University of Missouri System. The school sits on a 1,262-acre main campus and it is home to more than 35,000 students enrolled in 300+ degree programs through 19 colleges and schools.
11. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles, California
The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) prepares students for professional careers in Fashion, Entertainment, and Digital Media. Students also have the option to study management in many of these areas. Majors for aspiring Fashion Managers include Apparel Industry Management, Beauty Industry Merchandising & Management, and Merchandising Product Development. These programs lead to an Associate of Arts (AA) or an AA Professional Designation (AAD).
The AA Professional Designation is a 51-unit program for students that already hold a college degree. Also on the menu are a BS in Business Management and a BA in Professional Studies for students on the path to business ownership.
FIDM Merchandising program highlights include the Annual DEBUT Runway Show, domestic and international Study Tours to fashion capitals such as New York City, Paris, London, Rome, and Milan, and an excellent employment outlook. According to FIDM, “of the eligible graduates actively seeking work, over 90 percent of graduates in all majors and programs found employment within six months of graduation.”
Established in 1969, FIDM is home to 8,000 students enrolled in 22 creative majors leading to an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. Campus locations include Los Angeles (home of the famous LA Fashion District which features the largest selection of textiles and notions in the United States), San Francisco, Orange County (Irvine, America’s most fashionable city for 2012), and San Diego. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)-Los Angeles, has been the setting for Project Runway and it is currently the home of the latest Project Runway fashion competition Under the Gunn.
Several FIDM graduate students became contestants and finalists on Project Runway, and one—Leanne Marshall, became a winner (season five). In addition, several FIDM graduates have appeared on TV shows such as NBC’s Fashion Star and The Bachelorette.
12. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, Pomona, California
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona is home to the College of Agriculture-Department of Apparel Merchandising and Management. The College offers several programs for aspiring fashion managers. Options include a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Apparel Merchandising and Management (AMM) with a Fashion Retailing or Apparel Production Option. Emphasis areas include Fashion Design Management and International Apparel Management.
Program highlights include participation in the Annual Fashion Show, access to more than 4,000 apparel companies in the LA area (through relationships with the Department), and access to the latest high-performance materials, equipment, studios, software, and more. Students may also compete for a slot in optional (but highly recommended) Study Abroad Program. Each year, the Department sends a group of students to study in London. During the trip, students have the opportunity to intern at a variety of local studios, retailers, boutiques, and more.
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) is part of the 23-campus California State University System. Established in 1938, the school sits on a 1,438-acre campus
just 30 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. One of only two polytechnic universities in the State of California, Cal Poly Pomona is home to more than 23,000 students enrolled in more than 130 degree programs across eight academic colleges.
13. Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri
Established in 1833, Stephens College is the nation’s second oldest college for women. It sits on an 86-acre campus just 120 miles from St. Louis and Kansas City. The school offers more than 50 programs, including several popular programs for aspiring fashion managers and fashion entrepreneurs. The Fashion Department at Stephens College offers a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management and a BFA in Fashion Design and Product Development and a BFA in Fashion Communication.
Students may also earn a Master's degree in as little as one year through the Departments Bachelor's + Master's program. A Minor in Small Business or Small Business Ownership may benefit students on the entrepreneurial path. Students may combine any undergraduate program with a Master of Business Administration, a Master in Strategic Leadership, or any other program that matches their career goals.
Fashion Department highlights include 30+ visiting fashion professionals each year and participation in Stephens’ Annual Spring Fashion Show. Internships at companies such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Victoria's Secret, Baby Phat and WWD are on the menu as well as study trips to London, Rome, Paris, Sweden, and more.
14. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
The Department of Retailing at the University of South Carolina offers a BS in Retailing with Specializations in Retail Management and Fashion Merchandising. A Master of Retailing is also on the menu as well as a Minor in Retailing. Program highlights include paid Retail Management and Fashion Merchandising internships, Field Study in New York, Study Abroad in Paris, Florence, Venice, London, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and participation in USC Fashion Week.
Nearly all students receive permanent placement offers at the end of their internship.
Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina (USC) sits on a 570-acre main campus that accommodates 31,964 students enrolled in 324 unique degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (HRSM) offers one of the largest Retailing Programs in the nation. Home to 2,346 students, the College also offers 11 other programs across four departments and seven centers and institutes.
15. Art Institute of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California
The Art Institute of California-San Francisco was established in 1997. The school sits in the heart of San Francisco near Civic Center Plaza, art museums, shopping, an arts and crafts market and more. Home to around 1,600 students, the Art Institute of California-San Francisco offers around 25 programs in the areas of Design, Media Arts, Culinary Art, and Fashion. Offerings for aspiring fashion managers include BS in Fashion Marketing and Management. Some students choose the Fashion Retailing Diploma as a complement to the BS program.
Students have access to state-of-the-art studios and facilities, internship opportunities at local, regional and national companies, and access to an excellent career services center. According to the Institute, services include “individual and group advising, workshops, a Career Development Class, opportunities to network with industry professionals through The Art Institute of California—San Francisco Speaker Series, field trips to companies, Portfolio Show, career fairs, and networking events.”
16. The Art Institute of California-Hollywood, Hollywood, California
Established in 1991, the Art Institute of California-Hollywood is located in the trendy NoHo Arts District, which offers easy access to LA’s hot fashion scene. Just a few highlights include thousands of retail shops and designer studios, the renowned LA Fashion District, unique street fashions, and hundreds of design firms. The school is home to more than 2,300 students
In addition to the perfect location and a friendly population of more than 2,300 artists and designers, the Art Institute of California-Hollywood offers several top-tier programs for aspiring fashion managers. Offerings include BS in Fashion Marketing and Management and a Fashion Retailing Diploma. The Diploma is often completed as a complement to the BS program.
17. The Art Institute of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Established in 1997 the Art Institute of California-Los Angeles is located in the City of Santa Monica. The school occupies around 107,000 square feet of computer lab, design lab, classroom, library, and lounge space. The Art Institute’s convenient location places it in driving distance from thousands of retailers and boutiques, as well as the famous LA Fashion District. The District features 100 blocks of retail and wholesale businesses with apparel, The LA Flower District, Santee Alley – the famous Downtown open air bazaar; and the LA Fabric District, which has the largest selection of fabrics and notions in Southern California.
The Art Institute of California-Los Angeles offers Media Arts, Design, Culinary, and Fashion Design programs. Offerings for aspiring fashion managers include a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management and a Fashion Retailing Diploma. Many students complete the Diploma program to enhance the BFA program.
18. The Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago, Illinois
The Illinois Institute of Art offers Design, Culinary Art, Media Arts, and Fashion programs. Popular offerings for aspiring fashion managers include a BA in Fashion Marketing and Management and a Fashion Retailing Diploma. Students often complete the Diploma as a complement to the BA program.
Program highlights include access to renowned design, art, and shopping centers, membership in student groups such as Fashion Focused and the American Society of Interior Designers, exciting leadership workshops, and an impressive track record in the area of graduate employment. In 2011, 90.4 percent of available Fashion Marketing & Management (BS) graduates were employed in a related field within 6 months of graduation.
Illinois Institute of Art graduates have accepted positions at BCBG Max Azria, Chicos, Claire’s Neiman Marcus, Rag & Bone, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tip-Top Branding, White House Black Market, and many others.
Established in 1916 as The Commercial Arts School (and known as Ray-Vogue in the 1930s), The Illinois Institute of Art offers one of the best Fashion programs in the region. Accredited by Higher Learning Commission, the school is also one of the country’s first colleges of applied art and design. It has two locations in Downtown Chicago including the main campus at River North Point, which connects to one of the world’s largest design centers—Merchandise Mart, and the Loop campus, which is just steps from the city’s high-end shopping hub—The Magnificent Mile.
19. Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mount Mary University is home to four schools including the School of Arts & Design, the School of Humanities, the School of Natural & Health Sciences, and the School of Social Sciences, Business & Education. The School of Arts & Design at Mount Mary University is home to a variety of Fashion Design and Fashion Management programs.
Offerings for aspiring fashion managers include a BA and a Minor in Fashion Merchandise Management. The BA program prepares students for a variety of careers such as Visual Merchandise Manager, Retail Manager, Product Developer, Fashion Magazine Editor, Stylist, and many others. Other program highlights include annual trips to fashion capitals such as New York and Paris to explore textile and apparel museums, attend fabric fairs, and tour design studios, apparel showrooms, and shopping districts.
In Paris, students take classes at Paris American Academy, they meet with European designers and trend forecasters, and they participate in the Academy’s Runway Fashion Show. Back in the U.S., students have the opportunity to join student organizations such as the Fashion Association and Studio 455, they participate in the Mount Mary University Annual Fashion Show, and in regional, national, and international competitions.
Students on the path to starting their own boutiques, studios, or other companies may consider the BA in Business Administration or Business/Professional Communication, the Minor in Entrepreneurship, or a Certificate in Business Administration or Business/Professional Communication. These career-enhancing programs are available through the School of Social Sciences, Business & Education.
Established in 1913, Mount Mary University is home to 1,475 students from across the U.S. and abroad. The school, which sits in an 80-acre campus in Metropolitan Milwaukee, is just 92 miles from the nation’s third largest city—Chicago. Considered one of the tip schools in the region for aspiring fashion professionals of all kinds, Mount Mary University offers more than 35 academic programs from A-Z.
20. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas
The notable Juren Sullivan Center for Fashion Management is part of the respected School of Media & Design at University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). The Center offers a BA in Fashion Management with Concentrations in Merchandising or Design. Program highlights include participation in the Annual Fashion Show and coursework in Entrepreneurship, Promotion and Business Administration, which is especially useful for students on the path to business ownership.
Students have access to the Lila Bath Gallery, which allows students to assist with planning and execution of exhibits and programs, attend events that attract major fashion retailers, and interact with guest speakers and designers from the fashion industry. The University of the Incarnate Word also has international campuses in Mexico and Germany. Campuses include the European Study Center – Heidelberg, Germany and Centro Universitario Incarnate Word. This means, students also have many opportunities to study merchandising and design overseas.
Established in 1881 as Incarnate Word College, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) sits on a 154-acre campus just minutes from Downtown San Antonio. Home to more than 9,000 students, UIW houses nine colleges and schools that offer more than 100 majors.