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Top 10 Fashion Design Schools in the Southwest - 2014

Written by FS StaffMay 13, 2014

Our 2014 rankings of the Top 10 schools for fashion design in the Southwest US. 

We define the Southwest as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University (OK State) was established in 1890. The school, which sits on a 1,489-acre campus is home to more than 20,000 undergraduate students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 9 colleges. The College of Human Sciences houses the Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising (DHM)—home of the Apparel Design and Production (ADP) program. The ADP program is one of just 13 apparel programs in North America to be awarded American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) approval.

Degree options or aspiring fashion designers a BS in Apparel Design and Production (ADP), an MS in Design, Housing, and Merchandising (MS DHM), and a PhD in Human Environmental Sciences with a Specialization in Design, Housing, and Merchandising (PhD DHM). A Minor in Apparel Design and Production is also on the menu.

Program highlights include specialized courses such as Mass Production of Apparel and Related Products, Advanced Technology for the Apparel Industry, Advanced Apparel Design, and Heritage of Dress, the opportunity to intern with major designers and retailers such as BCBG, Victoria’s Secret, Liz Claiborne, Lands’ End, and Vera Wang, and Study Programs in places such as Paris, Berlin, New York, Dallas, and Mexico.

OK State ADP and DHM graduates have accepted positions at a variety companies and retailers such as DKNY, Dillard’s, Cabella’s, J.C. Penney, Red Engine Jeans in LA, Leota in NYC, and many others.

2. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) is home to 2 top-rated programs for aspiring fashion designers. The BS in Apparel and Merchandising features a Concentration in Apparel Design and Production and the MS in Design and Merchandising offers a Concentration in Apparel and Merchandising.

Program highlights include participation in special projects with the Denver Merchandise Mart—located just 65 miles away in the City of Denver, participation in the Textile and International Apparel Association Fashion Show, and internship opportunities with famous designers and brands such as Betsy Johnson, Diane Von Furstenberg, Miss Sixty, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Ralph Lauren; non-profit organizations such as Women in Progress and Ten Thousand Villages, and outdoor sportswear companies such as Crocs, Pearl Izumi, Sierra Designs, BornFit, and more.

Study Abroad experiences and internships are also on the menu. Past locations include Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris, Rome, Venice, Chile, New Zealand, and more. Although optional, CSU’s College of HHS strongly encourages all fashion students to participate.
Colorado State University also features an outstanding Career Services Department. It offers access to more than 7,000 full-time jobs and internship opportunities, it has hosted 12 career fairs and 10 networking events (which attracted more than 400 employers), and the school has coordinated 3,000+ on-campus interviews and it has more than 11,000 career advising appointments annually. Finally, according to the Department, 63 percent of CSU graduates secure their first destination plans by graduation day.

Colorado State University (CSU) was established in 1870. The school’s campus sits on nearly 5,000 acres, with an additional 4,600 acres for research centers, Cooperative Extension offices, and Colorado State Forest Service stations. The school has a main campus, a foothills campus, an agricultural campus, and a mountain campus (Pingree Park). It is home to 30,700 students enrolled in more than 150 programs across 8 Colleges, 6 Schools, an International program, and an Online Division.

3. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
The University of North Texas (UNT) College of Visual Arts & Design (CVAD) is home to the Department of Design. The CVAD-Department of Design houses the school’s top-rated Fashion Program. Degree offerings for aspiring fashion designers include BFA and MFA degrees in Fashion Design. Both programs offer internship opportunities with major local, regional, and national brands, access to the Texas Fashion Collection—a collection of more than 15,000 articles of historic clothing and accessories, and the opportunity to complete additional coursework in Accessories, Fashion Studio, and Fashion in New York.

According to CVAD, BFA graduates have landed design positions at key companies such as Dillards, Liz Claiborne, Fossil, Sag Harbor, Talbots, Tandy Brands, Panhandle Slim, Dickies, Gloria Vanderbilt, Nieman Marcus, Zales, and Calvin Klein. MFA graduates “typically progress into teaching at the college level.” Several recent graduates accepted “tenure-track positions in the Fashion Design Department at Kent State University.”

Established in 1890 as a normal and teacher-training institute, The University of North Texas was the first school to offer a jazz studies program, the first Bachelor's degree in
e-Merchandising, and the first Master of Science (MS) program in Merchandising—offered completely online. The school, now a Carnegie Classified Doctoral/Research University, sits on an 884-acre campus that accommodates 35,778 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 12 colleges and schools.

44. University of Texas-Austin, Austin, Texas
The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), College of Natural Sciences-School of Human Ecology is home to one of the region’s best programs for aspiring fashion designers. The Textiles and Apparel program features several options including a BS in Textiles and Apparel with Specializations in Apparel Design and Conservation, and a Master of Science in Textile and Apparel Technology (MSTAT). The Conservation Specialization is the only Textile Conservation program offered in the State of Texas.

Program highlights include unique Study Abroad opportunities in China and India, access to a collection of more than 6,000 textiles and apparel items, accessories and artifacts dating from 1820 to the 80s, internship opportunities at top fashion firms, and the Annual Fashion Show. The show allows students to showcase their designs and collections to more than 5,000 fashion designers and other industry professionals, peers, media, and more.

Apparel Design and Conservation students have accepted positions at Calvin Klein, Betsey Johnson, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Escada, Coach, Cosmo Girl, Vera Wang, Anne Klein, Rodarte, Zac Posen, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Cynthia Rowley, and many others.

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is the largest school in the University of Texas system. Established in 1883 with just a single building, 8 teachers, 2 departments, and 221 students, the school is also one of the largest public universities in the U.S. Home to more than 50,000 students, UT Austin sits on a 350-acre main campus and offers more than 170 undergraduate programs, more than 150 Master’s programs and 80+ Doctoral programs, across 18 colleges and schools.

5. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Texas Tech University’s College of Human Sciences is home to the Apparel Design and Manufacturing Program (ADM). Program highlights include a Senior Internship, a Design Competition and Senior Fashion Show, and an Annual Tour of New York or Los Angeles. The ADM program leads to a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Apparel Design and Manufacturing.
In addition to internships and annual tours of America’s top fashion centers, Texas Tech offers Study Abroad experiences in more than 70 countries including the Texas Tech Center in Seville, Spain, Florence, Australia, and more.

Texas Tech University began as Texas Technological College in 1923. It opened in 1925
with 6 buildings and modest student body of 914 students. Today, Texas Tech University is home to more than 30,000 students from all 50 states and 90 foreign countries. It houses 13 colleges and schools, 60+ academic departments, and well over 200 academic fields of study. Texas Tech is also the only campus in Texas that houses a major university, medical school, and law school.

6. Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Baylor University’s College of Arts and Sciences-Family & Consumer Sciences Department houses the Apparel Design & Product Development program. Offerings for aspiring fashion designers include a BA in Apparel Design & Product Management and a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education (BSFCS) in Apparel Design & Product Management.

Program highlights include competitive internships with top designers and brands such as Anna Sui, MTC, Betsey Johnson, Quick Silver, XOXO MTV, Haggar, and Rampage, inspiring Study Tours, and access to the Parker Design Center. The Design Center features the latest state-of-the-art apparel software, equipment, and technology, which is the largest collection of its kind in North America.

Study Tours are either 11 days or 21 days. The 11-day tours allow students to explore apparel manufacturing facilities, designer showrooms, and trend forecasting agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Twenty-one day tours feature travel to the fashion capitals of Europe such as London, Paris, Rome, and Milan.

Established in 1845, Baylor University is the oldest continuously operating university in the State of Texas. The school is home to 15,616 students from every state and more than 80 other countries. Baylor sits on a 1,000-acre campus on the Brazos River in Waco, Texas, and it offers 144 undergraduate programs, 77 Master’s programs, and 32 Doctoral programs across 11 colleges and schools. 

7. Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) is home to the Fashion Department at TWU. Housed within the Old Main Building (OMB)—the school’s original building, the Department offers a unique collection of programs for aspiring fashion designers. Options include a BA in Fashion Design, a BA and BS Dual degree in Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising, a BA and BBA Dual degree in Fashion Design and General Business-Entrepreneurship, a BA and BS Dual degree in Fashion Design and Marketing, and a Minor in Fashion Design.

Program highlights include the Annual Senior Fashion Show, access to state-of-the-art fashion design laboratories and industrial laboratory equipment, a Career Day event, and internships at top fashion retailers, brands, studios, and publications. Fashion students have interned at such as Rue 21, Aldo, Ann Taylor, Betsey Johnson, bebe, Dillard’s, Express, Michael Kors, Haggar, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Burberry, BCBG Max Azria, Bergdorf Goodman, Oprah Magazine, and Marie Claire Magazine.

Finally, TWU fashion students are invited to Career Day each year, which is held at the Dallas Market Center each spring. Sponsored by the Dallas chapter of Fashion Group International (FGI), Career Day features award segments, information presentations, and an additional fashion show highlighting designs from university students from more than 50 universities and community colleges throughout the Southwest, South, Southeast, and Midwest. 

Founded in 1901 as the Girls Industrial College, Texas Woman’s University (TWU) is now a
co-educational university with a student body of 15,000 students across several campuses in Denton, Dallas, and Houston.

8. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas
Established in 1881 as Incarnate Word College, the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) sits on a 154-acre campus just minutes from Downtown San Antonio. Home to more than 9,000 students, UIW houses 9 colleges and schools, and 4 professional schools that offer more than 100 majors. The School of Media & Design houses the UIW Fashion Department—home of the Fashion Program.

The Department offers a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Management with a Design Concentration (FDS). The program, which teaches students how to create and develop apparel, prepares students for careers in design (Stylist, Designer, Draper, Artist/Illustrator), production (Pattern Maker, Production Supervisor), and merchandising (Buyer). Students will also walk away with experience in the areas of entrepreneurship, promotion, and business administration. This is especially useful for students on the path to business ownership.

The University of the Incarnate Word has international campuses in Mexico and Germany. The European Study Center – Heidelberg, Germany and Centro Universitario Incarnate Word offer many opportunities for fashion students to study art and design abroad.

9. Art Institute of Dallas, Dallas, Texas
The Art Institute of Dallas was established in 1964 as the Dallas Fashion Merchandising College. The school is located in one of the state’s largest art and culture meccas, which has a metro population of nearly 4 million. The Art Institute of Dallas (AI Dallas) offers more than a dozen programs in the areas of Design, Media Arts, Culinary Art, and Fashion.

Offerings for aspiring fashion designers include AAS and BFA degrees in Fashion Design, a BFA in Fashion & Retail Management, and a Fashion Retailing Certificate. Program highlights include internship opportunities with local, regional, and national retailers, access to state-of-the-art studios and equipment, and college-sponsored housing.

10. Art Institute of Houston, Houston Texas
The Art Institute of Houston was established in 1965 as the Houston School of Commercial Art. The school is located in one of the state’s largest art and culture meccas, which has a metro population of more than 5.6 million. The Art Institute of Houston (AI Houston) offers more than a dozen programs in the areas of Culinary Art, Design, Media Arts, and Fashion.

Offerings for aspiring fashion designers include a BFA in Fashion Design, a BS in Fashion & Retail Management, and a Fashion Retailing Diploma. Program highlights include access to state-of-the-art studios and equipment, college-sponsored housing, and internship opportunities with local, regional, and national retailers.

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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