Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2019 Fashion Design School rankings. Each year, we compile a list of the top list of the Top Fashion Design Schools and Colleges in the United States. Our definitive ranking of the top fashion design schools in the U.S. is based on factors like the schools’ admission data, graduation success, reputation and an extensive proprietary survey conducted with school & industry stakeholders. In addition to our Top 50 National rankings, we are happy to provide regional rankings as well.
Below you'll find the Top 10 Fashion Design Schools in the Midwest. We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Kent State University (top 2% of schools considered)
Kent State University was established in 1910 as a small teacher-training college named “The Kent State Normal School.” Today, Kent State University consists of eight campuses, with more than 27,500 students at its main campus (Kent) and more than 15,500 across the school’s other campuses. With a total student body of more than 43,000, Kent State University is the third largest university in Ohio and the 27th largest regional campus system in the nation. Kent State University campuses include Kent, Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem, Stark, Tuscarawas, and Trumbull.
Kent State University (also Kent, Kent State, and KSU) 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). The school offers 40 Associate degree programs at seven campuses, and 236 Bachelor degree programs at all eight campuses.
Kent’ College of Arts is home to The Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. The School offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising and a BA in Fashion Design. Fashion Design majors have two focus areas to choose from including Conceptual Design or Technical Design and Production.
Program highlights include the Annual Fashion Show and access to the KSU Museum costume collection, the 'TechStyleLAB', and the Fashion Library. Study Tours to Asia, Florence, Paris, and Hong Kong are also a significant component of the program as well as The Fashion School's NYC Studio, located in the NYC Fashion District. The NYC Studio provides full-semester academic programs for Kent State fashion students in the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms.
Iowa State University (top 4% of schools considered)
Iowa State University (ISU) was established in 1858 under the name Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. Located in the nation’s 2nd Best College Town (by the American Institute for Economic Research), Iowa State University has grown from several dozen students, a farmhouse, and 648 acres to a 1,795-acre campus with more than 100 buildings, eight colleges, two schools, and 27,000 students.
In addition to being one of the largest universities in the region, Iowa State University is listed among the top 50 public national universities by U.S. News & World Report (2013). ISU grants Bachelor’s Degrees, First Professional Degrees, Master’s Degrees and Ph.D. and Honorary Doctorate Degrees. The school is home to more than 750 student organizations and one of the top fashion programs in the Midwest.
Iowa State University’s College of Human Sciences, Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Department is home to the Fashion Program. The Department offers a BS, MS, and a Ph.D. in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design. Iowa State University is one of one of the few schools to offer all three degree levels to fashion majors, and a distance Ph.D. program for Apparel, Merchandising, and Design.
Other program highlights include access to the Department’s Textiles and Clothing Museum, an Annual Fashion Show, the opportunity to work on the Department’s award-winning fashion magazine—Trend, and Study Abroad experiences in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou, and Wuhan.
University of Minnesota (top 5% of schools considered)
Established in 1851, the University of Minnesota is home to more than 69,000 students, making it the largest university in the State of Minnesota. The school has five campuses including Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester). Twin City campus stretches across 1,150 acres in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and it features green spaces, historic architecture, and the scenic Mississippi River.
The University of Minnesota offers more than 180 programs throughout 19 colleges and schools. The College of Design is home to one of the country’s top fashion design programs. Offerings include BS Degrees in Apparel Design, Retail Merchandising, and Interior Design and MA, MS, and PhD Degrees in Design with an Apparel Studies Track. Minors in Retail Merchandising and Fashion Studies are also on the offered.
Enrollment in the Study Abroad program is not required, but the College of Design encourages it. Fashion students may participate in the program during their third year of study. Just a few destinations include Australia, Fiji, Italy, the Netherlands, and London. Students may also participate in global seminars, freshman seminars abroad, and the work, intern, and volunteer abroad program (non-credit).
University of Cincinnati (top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1819, the University of Cincinnati (UC) offered the first degree program via satellite, the first Bachelor’s Degree program in Nursing, and the first emergency medicine residency program. This innovative institution is situated on 473 acres described as a “world’s most beautiful campus,” and it is home to 41,970 students enrolled in 308 programs of study. Among them is the popular Fashion Program.
Offered through the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Fashion Design “includes a mandatory cooperative education component, where students work full-time in the fashion industry on alternating semesters.” This means, upon graduation, students will already have a year and a half of professional fashion experience on their resumes.
In addition to gaining valuable experience in the fashion industry, students have the opportunity to participate in the annual DAAPworks Fashion Show. “DAAPworks highlights the creative output of each year's graduating class,” at a sold-out event that is described as “the highest profile event of the year.” After the show, student creations may be displayed at the Reed, Meyers, or Sycamore Galleries of UC.
Kansas State University (top 11% of schools considered)
Established in 1863 as the country’s first operational land-grant university, Kansas State University is one of the region’s oldest academic institutions. Commonly called “K-State,” Kansas State University began with just 53 students, under the name Kansas State Agricultural College. Today, K-State has campuses in Manhattan, Salina, and Olathe, and it is home to more than 24,000 students, enrolled in more than 250 majors across nine colleges. The Graduate School offers more than 130 programs.
Forbes Magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News & World Report recognize Kansas State University as one of the best universities in America. K-State’s Fashion program is also recognized as one of the best. The College of Human Ecology, Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Apparel and Textiles and a BS in Interior Design. The BS in Apparel and Textiles includes specializations in Apparel Design and Apparel Marketing.
The Department also offers a resident MS Degree in Apparel and Textiles, and a distance MS Degree in Merchandising. Emphasis areas include Design, Product Development, Marketing, and Merchandising. The College of Human Ecology offers a resident Ph.D. Degree with a specialization in Apparel and Textiles.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (top 13% of schools considered)
Established in 1866 as the Chicago Academy of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. The School’s fine arts graduate program ranks in the top two of 220 programs by U.S. News & World report, and the National Arts Journalism Survey by Columbia University’s Art Critics says SAIC is "The most influential art school in the United States.” Many of the school’s other graduate programs (Painting and Drawing, Photography, Sculpture, and Visual Communication Design) rank in the top three by U.S. News & World Report.
Located in downtown Chicago, just steps from Lake Michigan, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is home to around 3,200 students, enrolled in more than 40 departments and areas of study. Fashion students have several areas of study to choose from including a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design, a BFA in Fiber and Material Studies, a Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion Body and Garment.
Located in the Sage Studios for Fashion Design “within a historic building designed by Louis Sullivan,” the Department of Fashion Design offers access to a Fashion Resource Center (“a hands-on collection of late 20th- and 21st-century designer garments representing extreme innovation”), as well as a faculty with both national and international experience and connections in the industry.
Upon graduating, Fashion students have had the opportunity to intern for international houses such as Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, and Vivian Westwood. Some graduates hold senior positions at Jones New York, Tommy Hilfiger, Levis, and Nike, while others design for Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs, Betsey Johnson, and more.
University of Nebraska (top 17% of schools considered)
On Feb. 15, 2012, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) celebrated the 143rd anniversary of its founding, making it one of the oldest universities in the Midwest. With a student body of more than 19,000, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is also one of the largest institutions in the region.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is home to more than 10 colleges, offering more than 150 majors. The College of Education and Human Sciences, Department of Textiles, offers a variety of majors including a BS in Textile Science, Textile and Apparel Design, Fashion Merchandising, and Textiles & Fashion Communications. Graduate programs include MA, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design. Focus areas for graduate programs include Merchandising, Textiles and Apparel Design, Textile Science, and Textile History and Quilt Studies.
Fashion students have access to outstanding facilities such as the Mary Mitchell Fashion Studio and Splinter Laboratory as well as opportunities to participate in the internship program. Internship sponsors include as Vera Wang, Nicole Miller, InStyle Magazine, Tahari, and more. Students also have access to the Robert Hillestad Gallery and the Historic Textile & Costumer Collection. Fashion students may participate in a number of Study Tours, which may take them to London, Italy, Paris, Prague, Shanghai, or Beijing. Summer Tours to New York City is also on the menu.
Michigan State University (top 18% of schools considered)
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) is the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions established under the Morrill Act of 1862. The school is home to more than 50,000 students from 82 counties in Michigan, all 50 states in the United States, and 133 other countries. MSU consists of 17 degree-granting colleges that provide more than 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study. The school also offers over 275 study abroad programs in more than 60 countries on all continents.
Within the College of Arts & Letters, Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) students can pursue a BFA or a BA in Apparel and Textiles. Per the Department, “the Apparel and Textile Design (ATD) program emphasizes creativity and experimentation that mingles design with art. Students combine fine art, couture and technical design to create original garments, which reflect an understanding of global issues such as sustainability and cultural dress.”
The BFA provides professional preparation in Apparel and Textile Design. The core of the program emphasizes aesthetics and creativity; two- and three-dimensional Apparel and Textile Design skills; design technologies; the historical and cultural aspects of dress and textiles; sustainable design; and the role of Apparel and Textiles in a global context.
The BA degree provides students with a foundation in art with fundamental skills in Apparel and Textile Design. It includes exposure to design technologies; sustainable design; Art History and Visual Culture; the historical and cultural aspects of dress and textiles; and the role of Apparel and Textiles in a global context. Two years proficiency in a foreign language is required.
Columbia College Chicago (top 21% of schools considered)
Columbia College Chicago has been involved in arts education for more than 120 years. Recognized as a “pioneer in arts and media education,” Columbia College Chicago was established in 1890 as Columbia School of Oratory. Today, the school is known as “Columbia” around the City of Chicago, and it is home to more than 12,000 creative students that live by the school’s motto: “esse quam videri”– to be rather than to seem.”
Columbia College Chicago offers more than 120 programs led by a group of faculty members that are all successful in their respective fields. The school awards BA, BFA, BMus, MA, MFA, and MAT degrees in the Arts, Communication, and Public Information fields. Fashion programs include a BA or BFA in Fashion Design, a BA in Fashion Business, and a BA in Fashion Studies.
Created in 2011, the Fashion Studies BA combines Fashion Design and Fashion Business into one program. Fashion Studies majors may complete part of the program in Los Angeles or Florence, Italy. All Fashion programs are offered through the Fashion Studies Department of the School of Fine & Performing Arts.
Stephens College (top 22% of schools considered)
Stephens College is a private women’s college situated on 86 green acres, just 120 miles from St. Louis and Kansas City. Established in 1833, Stephens College is the second oldest women’s college in the U.S. The school, which ranked 29th on the list of Best Regional Colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, offers more than 50 majors and minors.
The Stephens College Fashion Department has a variety of offerings and opportunities for aspiring fashion designers. Degree offerings include a BFA in Fashion Design and Product Development, a BFA in Fashion Communication, and a BS in Fashion Marketing and Management. Students can earn a Master's degree in as little as one year through the Department's Bachelor's + Master's Program. A Minor in Small Business or Small Business Ownership may benefit students on the entrepreneurial path. Any undergraduate program may be combined with a Master of Business Administration, Master in Strategic Leadership, or a Master of Education in Counseling.
Fashion Department highlights include 30+ visiting professionals each year, study trips to international fashion capitals, 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.