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Fashion Schools in Pennsylvania

Written by FS StaffAugust 5, 2013

Pennsylvania may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about fashion, but the Keystone State has plenty to offer in the world of fashion. First, the state is home to a variety of buzzworthy Fashion Weeks including Pennsylvania Fashion Week, Philly Fashion Week, Pittsburgh Fashion Week, and Harrisburg Fashion Week. Next,  fashionistas and fashion designers alike will find some of the regions busiest shopping and entertainment venues throughout the state's 10,000+ cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

In Philadelphia, you'll find Manayunk. Described as “artsier than Center City District,” which is home to big names in the industry like J. Crew, Express, and Nicole Miller, Manayunk is a national historic district that houses everything from chic denim boutiques to funky resale shops. Head to the Pocono Mountains region where you'll find more than 100 designers and name brand outlets. You will also find some of the trendiest fashions around at King of Prussia Mall (400+ stores) or Pittsburgh’s Strip District—the city's only historic market district.

In addition to unique shopping venues and a wide variety of Fashion Weeks, Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s top schools for fashion. These programs can help you develop the creative and technical skills needed to make it in the fashion industry whether you decide to hunker down in PA after graduation or head to New York in search of fame and fortune. Just a few of the state’s top schools for fashion are Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, Albright College in Reading, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania Fashion Schools

According to the latest figures by the Institute of Education Sciences (2013), Pennsylvania is home to 262 Title IV degree-granting institutions. This large collection of schools consists of traditional universities, technical schools, art and design schools, and more. Take a look at the list below to find out which schools are tops for aspiring fashion designers, and what they have to offer.

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising and Management

Mercyhurst University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Studies Minor   

Immaculata University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising   

Indiana University of Pennsylvania - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Merchandising, B.S. Interior Design

Drexel University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Design, M.S. Fashion Design

Moore College of Art and Design - Degrees Offered: B.F.A. Fashion Design, B.F.A. Illustration, B.F.A. Interior Design, Minor Fashion Design, Minor Textile Design, Minor Illustration, Minor Interior Design   

Philadelphia University - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Design, B.S. Fashion Merchandising and Management, B.S. Textile Design, B.S. Textile Materials Technology, M.S. Textile Design, M.S. Global Fashion Enterprise, M.S. Textile Engineering, Ph.D. Textile Engineering

The Art Institute of Philadelphia – Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Design, B.S. Fashion Marketing, Fashion Retailing Diploma, A.A.S. Fashion Design, A.A.S. Fashion Marketing, A.A.S. Visual Merchandising, A.A.S. Interior Design, B.S. Interior Design

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion Design, B.S. Fashion & Retail Management, B.S. Interior Design   

Albright College - Degrees Offered: Bachelor’s Fashion Design, Design & Merchandising, Merchandising, Costume Design; Co-Major Tracks Fashion Design, Merchandising, Costume Design

The Art Institute of York - Degrees Offered: B.S. Fashion & Retail Management, Fashion Retailing Diploma, B.S. Interior Design

More Programs to Consider:

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Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment and Salary Trends for Pennsylvania Fashion Designers

As of 2012, Pennsylvania was home to 210 salaried fashion designers. In 2006, the state was home to 360 salaried designers. While the number of salaried fashion designers has decreased over the years, salaries have increased. In 2006, the average salary for Pennsylvania fashion designers was $48,250. In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average salary of $60,890.

The Bureau projects a 10.4 percent increase in employment for fashion designers nationwide for the 2010-2020 decade. Average salaries are on the rise as well. In 2006, the annual mean wage for fashion designers nationwide was $69,270. A news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics dated March 29, 2013 states that the average mean wage for fashion designers today is $72,620 per year.

It is important to keep in mind that many fashion designers are self-employed. However, the Bureau does not collect data for these individuals. That said, self-employed designers might earn much less or much more than the national average. Some of nation’s top designers earn anywhere from the high six figures to tens of millions of dollars.

Many aspiring fashion designers often work in other related careers while training, developing their own lines, hunting for that perfect position, or just to get their foot in the door. A popular starting point is the merchandise display industry. The U.S. is home to 73,490 salaried merchandise displayers, up from 62,580 in 2006. They earn an average mean annual salary of $28,860, up from $26,550 in 2006. The highest paid merchandise displayers earn an average salary of $43,940 yearly and the lowest paid displayers average $17,940 per year.

Although the state experienced a drop in salaried employment for merchandise displayers, Pennsylvania still has a large merchandise display industry. The state is home to 1,680 merchandise displayers, averaging $29,350 annually. In 2006, the state was home to 1,930 merchandise displayers, averaging $23,700 per year.

While Pennsylvania has its fair share of mid-sized cities, graduates will find the most lucrative positions and opportunities in large cities. The state’s largest cities are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Erie. Harrisburg—the state’s capital, is worth exploring as well.

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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