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Top 10 Fashion Design Schools in the South - 2018 Rankings

Written by FS StaffJune 15, 2018 is excited to bring you our 2018 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 South. We define the South as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

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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1. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 3% of schools considered)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. The school, which is home to nearly 11,000 students from close to 50 states and 115 countries, offers 40 majors and 60-plus minors. 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 are regular participants in national design contests like Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition. In 2018, at the 27th annual competition, out of 270 qualified submissions SCAD students took home the top two prizes.
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. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (top 5% of schools considered)

North Carolina State University (NC State) has been in existence since 1887. The school is home to nearly 34,000 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. The schools embrace of innovation is apparent in their increasing inclusion of online study options for students.

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, Hong Kong, Australia and India.

3. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama (top 10% of schools considered)

Auburn University, based in Auburn Alabama, was established in 1856.  In 1872, the school became the first land-grant college in the South. Today, the school is home to a nearly 30,000 students, enrolled in more than 140 degree options across 13 colleges and schools.  Within the university, the College of Human Sciences has the Department of Consumer & Design Sciences (CADS).

CADS offers a BS in Apparel Merchandising, Design and Production Management with an Apparel Design and Production Management Option (BS-APDP).  For those aspiring students they also offer graduate degrees including both Master of Science as well as Ph.D. in Consumer and Design Sciences.  There’s even a Accelerated BS/MS program with specialization areas in design of interiors and apparel.

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. CADS curriculum takes an integrated approach to studying apparel throughout the production supply chain and provides students with the education and experiences to become a valued member of firms throughout the apparel and related industries. In addition to academics, the program supports entry level placement in the apparel industry as well as advancement throughout the graduates’ career.

4. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina (top 15% of schools considered)

Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Bryan School of Business at the University of North Carolina (UNCG) is home to the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS).  Clothing and textiles have been a part of UNCG’s history since its beginning in 1892 and has a long and interesting history through the years.

Today CARS offers B.S., Masters and PhD degrees in Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies.  Concentrations are available in Apparel Design or Global Apparel and Related Industry Studies. A Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (PBC) in both areas or in Global Apparel Supply Chain Management is also available

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 (top 20% of schools considered)

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.

LSU offers a BS in Textiles, Apparel & Merchandising (BS TAM) with a Concentration in Apparel Design, Textile Science, or Merchandising.  The curriculum provides an integrated, multi-functional academic experience.  Textile and apparel students focus on the design, development, and marketing of products and are encouraged to develop a broad based problem solving perspective through synthesis of concepts, course work, and work experiences. 

On the graduate side, TAM offers both 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 (top 20% of schools considered)

The Department of Clothing, Textiles and Interior DesignThe Apparel and Design program at the University of Alabama prepares students for entry-level work in the fields of apparel and textiles, including design, production, and management. The curriculum teaches the traditional body of knowledge through studio classes as well as art and design history courses. University of Alabama’s fashion retailing program is tailored for individuals interested in fashion merchandising and management in the retail industry.  Students with a focus in international retailing have the option of taking additional coursework to complete a general business minor.

The University offers a Bachelor of Science in Apparel & Textiles with two concentrations in Fashion Retail and Apparel Design. Over the course of the program, students both manually and digitally create an original line for a specific target market, articulate the design philosophy underlying the line, execute the pattern work, and prepare the technical flats and specification package for the line items.

In their senior year their senior year, students will complete an internship with a regional or national retailer, manufacturer, or buying office. Typical internship sites include New York City, Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte, and Birmingham.

7. Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi (top 25% of schools considered)

Mississippi State University was established February 28, 1878 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. The school is home to 21,622 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.”

Each summer FDM faculty lead intensive study abroad tours to New York, London, Paris, Milan, Florence, Rome, and/or Venice. These unique learning opportunities allow students to experience different cultures while building their personal global network with fashion industry professionals. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of fashion show events and showcases.

8. GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY (top 25% of schools considered)

Georgia Southern University (GSU) was established in 1906. The school sits on a 900-acre campus and it is home to more than 20,000 students. GSU offers 100+ programs throughout more than a dozen academic colleges. 

Georgia Southern University’s School of Human Ecology of the College of Health and Human Sciences is home to the Fashion Merchandising & Apparel Design program. Students may choose the BS in Fashion Merchandising & Apparel with an Emphasis in Fashion Merchandising or an Emphasis in Apparel Design. Instruction includes “field experiences, internships, and study tours to the Atlanta and New York fashion markets.” Study abroad opportunities may also be available in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, St. Petersburg Russia, Waterford, and Scotland.

9. Miami International University of Art & Design, Miami, Florida (top 25% of schools considered)

Miami International University of Art & Design (MIU) is one of The Art Institutes, a system of nonprofit schools throughout the United States.  It was originally established in 1965 as The International Fine Arts College. Today the school is home to more than 2,000 from over 60 countries and offers programs in the areas of Design, Fashion, and Media Arts.  Located in downtown Miami, a modern, cosmopolitan and multicultural city it offers students an unprecedented opportunity to explore, participate, and contribute to their life experience. MIU encompasses a diverse population and provides a live medium in which you can expand your culture and knowledge.

Programs for aspiring fashion designers include AA degrees in Fashion Design, AA in Accessory Design or a BFA in Fashion Design. Alternatively MIU offers those with more interest in the business of fashion either an AA or a BA in Fashion Merchandising.  All students have access to Miami’s thriving fashion scene and campus amenities such as multiple studios, 20 computer labs and classrooms, lecture rooms, a library and media center, an 800 square foot Main Gallery, student lounges, and a top-rated Career Services Department. The Department, which hosts a quarterly job fair, attracts some of the best local, regional, and nationwide companies.

10. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas (top 35% of schools considered)

Founded in 1871, University of Arkansas is the first public university in Arkansas. The school is home to more than 27,000 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 10 colleges and schools.

Bumpers College, School of Human Environmental Sciences offers two degree programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers—a Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences (BSHESC) in Apparel Merchandising and Produce Development (AMPD) and an MS in AMPD. Program highlights include guest lecturers from the apparel and textile industries, coursework in science, marketing, social science and liberal arts, human environmental sciences and specialized areas of business and art, and summer study tours of domestic and European fashion centers such as New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, and China. Students also have the option to join student organizations such as the Association of Apparel Merchandising and Product Development and Phi Upsilon Omicron.