Our 2016 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, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. The school, which is home to more than 12,000 students, offers 40 areas of study and 70-plus minors and certificate programs. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, SCAD offers a 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.
Students may also earn their 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 as the East Alabama Male College. Today, the school is home to a co-ed student population of 27,287 students 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) has been in existence since 1887. The school is home to 24,015 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 an MS in Textiles. Design Specializations 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
The University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG) was established in 1891. It is home to more than 19,000 students enrolled in more than 170 academic programs across eight undergraduate colleges and schools, and The Graduate School. The Bryan School of Business and Economics is home to the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include BS, MS, and PhD degrees with a Concentration in Apparel Design or Global Apparel and Related Industry Studies. A Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (PBC) in both areas is also on the menu.
All 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) opened its doors in 1860. The school is home to more than 31,500 students enrolled in over 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 & Merchandising (BS TAM) with a Concentration in Apparel Design, Textile Science, or Merchandising, 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. Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi
Mississippi State University was established in 1878 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. The school is home to 20,873 students enrolled in more than 175 programs across 12 colleges and schools. The School of Human Sciences houses the Fashion Design & Merchandising program. Students in the BS program concentrate in one of two areas—Apparel Production & Design or Merchandising. The Apparel Production & Design curriculum “emphasizes the total design and production process from inception to finished product and its ultimate sale to the consumer.”
Program highlights include study abroad experiences, internship opportunities at local or overseas companies, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of fashion show events and showcases.
7. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Founded in 1831 the University of Alabama is Alabama's first public college. It houses 13 colleges and schools and is home to 37,100 students enrolled in more than 200 fields of study leading to the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree. The College of Human Environmental Sciences houses the Department of Clothing, Textiles and Interior Design, which offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel and Textiles (AT) with a Concentration in Apparel Design. An Apparel Retail Concentration is also available.
Program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, and the opportunity to showcase a collection at the Annual Birmingham Fashion Week.
8. West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
West Virginia University (WVU) is a public, land-grant institution founded in 1867. The school is home to 31,514 students enrolled in 353 majors across 14 colleges and schools. The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Design houses the School of Design & Community Development, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Options include a BS in Fashion, Dress & Merchandising, an MS in Design and Merchandising, and a Minor in Sustainable Design.
Fashion program highlights include internship opportunities at major design houses and retail establishments in fashion capitals such as Los Angeles and New York, the opportunity to study abroad fashion capitals such as London, Paris or Rome, study tours of textile, apparel, and retail industries through visits to historic costume collections, apparel firms, design showrooms, and retail establishments, and opportunities to participate in a variety of fashion show events.
9. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
The University of Arkansas (U of A) was founded in 1871 as a land-grant college and state university. The school is home to more than 26,000 students from all 50 states and 120 countries, and it offers more than 210 academic programs across 10 colleges and schools. Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences houses the School of Human and Environmental Sciences which offers two programs for aspiring fashion designers—a Bachelor’s degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development (AMPD) and a Master’s degree in Human Environmental Sciences with a Concentration in AMPD.
Program highlights include internship opportunities at companies such as Walt Disney, The Gap, J.C. Penney's Company, Inc., Wal-Mart, and Dillard's, domestic and international study tours in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, China, or Italy, and the opportunity to participate in the AMPD Benefit Fashion Show. Students may also be interested in joining the Apparel and Product Development Student Organization. According to the organization, “the club is a great opportunity to network in the fashion world.”
10. O’More College of Design, Franklin, Tennessee
O’More College of Design was founded in 1970. It is home to around 200 students enrolled in several programs through 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.