Our 2015 rankings of the top fashion design schools in the South.
We define the South as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas.
For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 11,000 students enrolled in more than 40 areas of concentration in art and design, 60-plus minors, and three certificate programs. Founded in 1978, the school, has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. Course and major offerings at the Lacoste campus vary each semester.
SCAD offers a wide variety of programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Accessory Design, Fashion, Fibers, and Jewelry. The Fashion BFA, MA and MFA are offered at both the Savannah and Atlanta campuses, and the BFA is also offered at SCAD’s Hong Kong campus. Fibers is offered at the Lacoste campus for Spring 2016 and Fashion is offered in Summer 2016.
In addition to studying in the U.S. or abroad, students may also earn an MA in Fashion online. 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.”
Other Fashion Program highlights include participation in the Annual SCAD Fashion Show, and internships and study opportunities at local, national, and international fashion companies.
2. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
Auburn University was established in 1856. It has a student population of 25,912 enrolled in more than 140 degree options across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Human Sciences is home to the Department of Consumer & Design Sciences (CADS) which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers.
Programs include a BS in Apparel Merchandising, Design and Production Management with an Apparel Design and Production Management Option (BS-APDP), an MS in Consumer and Design Sciences – Apparel and Interiors (MS-CAHS), and a PhD in Consumer Design Sciences (PhD – CADS) with a fashion-related Focus in areas such as Functional and Creative Apparel Design, Sustainability, Creativity, or Product Development.
Apparel Design students have the opportunity to intern at local retailers and design houses as well as opportunities to study in New York (IQLA New York Study Tour) or abroad. Study abroad locations may include Italy, London, Fiji, Jordan, Peru, South Africa, and more.
3. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NC State) was established in 1887. It is home to 33,989 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 academic departments. The College of Textiles houses the Department of Textile and Apparel Technology and Management (TATM). The Department offers several unique programs for aspiring fashion designers.
Undergraduate offerings include a BS in Fashion and Textile Design and a BS in Fashion and Textile Management with a Concentration in Fashion Development and Product Management. Graduate offerings include both a Master of Textiles (MT) and a Master of Science (MS) in Textiles. Specializations for designers include Textile and Fashion Design, and Textile Technology.
TATM fashion students have access to spacious studios outfitted with the latest technology to design textile products and fabrics as well as prototypes. Students may also participate in TATM’s “study abroad-friendly” semester in their junior year, which prevents students from falling behind in their classes. Study abroad locations may include France, the Czech Republic, Australia and India.
4. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina
Established in 1891, the University of North Carolina, Greensboro is home to nearly 18,000 students enrolled in 79 undergraduate programs in over 100 areas of study, 72 masters programs, and 27 doctoral programs across eight undergraduate colleges and schools, and The Graduate School. The Bryan School of Business and Economics houses The Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS). The Department offers programs for aspiring fashion designers at all degree levels.
Fashion design students have their choice of a Bachelor of Science (BS), Post-Baccalaureate Certificate(PBC), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree with a Concentration in Apparel Design or Global Apparel and Related Industry Studies.
CARS students have access to an Historic Costume Collection with garments and artifacts dating from 1776-2003, internship opportunities at major companies such as Anna Sui, Anne Klein, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Calvin Klein, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tommy Hilfiger, and a Global Experience program which offers the opportunity to study in fashion capitals such as Paris and London. Fashion students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual THREADS Fashion Show.
5. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University (LSU) was founded in 1860. The school is home to more than 29,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Agriculture, Department of Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising (TAM) offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BS in Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising (BS TAM) with a Concentration in Apparel Design or Textile Science, and MS and PhD Degrees in Human Ecology with Concentrations in Apparel Design, Textile Science, and Historical/Cultural Aspects of Textiles and Apparel.
Program highlights include optional membership in the Fashion Association at LSU (FALSU), access to state-of-the art facilities such as an apparel production lab, textiles testing and processing lab, and body scanning lab, and access to the LSU Textile & Costume Museum and Historic & Archaeological Textile and Apparel Research Laboratory. Students also have the opportunity to complete an internship and participate in the Annual Fashion Show.
6. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The University of Alabama was founded in 1831. It is home to more than 36,000 students enrolled in more than 200 fields of study across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Human Environmental Sciences houses the Department of Clothing, Textiles and Interior Design. The Department offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel and Textiles (AT) with a Concentration in Apparel Design.
Program highlights include internship opportunities, the Annual Fashion Show, and the opportunity to showcase student designs at the Annual Birmingham Fashion Week.
7. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia
Georgia Southern University’s inaugural academic year began in 1908 with 15 students and four faculty members. Today, the school is home to 20,517 students enrolled in more than 250 programs across eight colleges. The College of Health and Human Sciences is home to the School of Human Ecology (SHE). The School offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers.
Offerings include a BS in Fashion Merchandising & Apparel Design with an Emphasis in Apparel Design and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising & Apparel Design. Program highlights include specialized training in areas such as Pattern Making, Draping Design, Manual and Computer Aided Design, and Fashion Illustration, field experiences, internships, and study tours to the New York and Atlanta fashion markets.
8. O’More College of Design, Franklin, Tennessee
O’More College of Design was founded in 1970 and it is home to more than 150 students. The college is home to the School of Fashion, the School of Visual Design, and the School of Interior Design. Program offerings for aspiring fashion designers include a BFA in Fashion Design offered through the School of Fashion. Program highlights include internship opportunities at area designers and retailers, and participation in the O’More Student Fashion Show.
9. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Middle Tennessee State University opened on September 11, 1911. It is home to more than 21,000 students (Spring 2015) enrolled in more than 240 degree programs across eight undergraduate colleges and The College of Graduate Studies. The Department of Human Sciences of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Options include a BS in Textiles, Merchandising, and Design (TXMD) with an Apparel Design Concentration, and a Minor in Textiles, Merchandising, and Design.
Textiles, Merchandising, and Design students have the opportunity to complete one or more internships and/or study abroad in places such as Europe, Latin America, Asia, and North Africa. Students also have the opportunity to showcase their designs at the MTSU Annual Fashion Show. Graduates of the TXMD program have been hired by major companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Dillard’s, DSW, Forever 21, Fruit of the Loom, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Talbots, Under Armour, West Elm, and many others.
10. North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina
North Carolina Central University was founded in 1909. It is home to 8,155 students enrolled in more than 150 programs across nine colleges and schools. The Department of Human Sciences is a member of the College of Behavioral Sciences. The Department offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences with a Concentration in Apparel Design.
The Apparel Design Program “focuses on principles of design, management, science, technology, and consumer behavior” says NCCU, and it features “internships, field trips, juried design competitions, apparel and furniture markets, trade shows, service learning projects and other extracurricular experiences.” Other highlights include optional membership in Fashion Inc. (a pre-professional student organization in the Textiles and Apparel area), and participation in the Annual Design Competition Fashion Show.