Our 2017 rankings of the top 10 fashion merchandising programs on the East Coast.
We define the East Coast as Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York
The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) houses the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology and the School of Art and Design, which offer several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. The School of Business and Technology is home to the “the largest and oldest degree program of its kind in the country,” says FIT. Degree options include BS and AAS degrees in Fashion Business Management.
The program prepares students for a career in fashion merchandising and features opportunities to learn about global merchandising strategies in classes in New York “and see them come to life in study abroad programs” in Australia, Florence, Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Rome. Students also have the opportunity to complete a five-week summer internship in London or complete one year of the BS program at FIT and one year at the Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy.
In addition to study abroad opportunities, all students may participate in the Internship program and the Annual FIT Fashion Show. Students have completed internships at major companies such as Ralph Lauren, Guess, Liz Claiborne, Nike, Macy's, Jones Apparel Group, Ann Taylor, JC Penney, Perry Ellis, Ross Stores, and Saks. Others have been hired by Ann Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Coach, GAP, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Victoria's Secret, and many others.
The School of Art and Design offers a BFA in Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design, and an MA in Exhibition Design. Noncredit Certificate programs include Fashion Styling. The Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design degree program is “the first and only one of its kind in the country,” according to FIT. Highlights include projects with industry partners such as Macy’s, Sony, Target, and Vespa, opportunities to work with Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Wildlife Conservation Society, New-York Historical Society, and many other nonprofit and corporate organizations, and the opportunity to display their work in major campus exhibitions.
All students may join the Merchandising Society, which operates the on-campus Style Shop. Per FIT, “students manage all store operations, including buying and developing products, visual merchandising, customer service, and sales.”
About FIT: The Fashion Institute of Technology was founded in 1944 and it is a member of the State University of New York system or SUNY. The school is home to more than 9,000 students enrolled in 37 majors and 12 certificate programs across five schools including the School of Art and Design, Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology, the School of Liberal Arts, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
2. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University is home to the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which houses the Department of Fashion, Product and Design & Merchandising. The Department manages the Design & Merchandising (D&M) program, which offers several degrees for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in D&M with Concentrations in Retail Buying & Merchandising, Fashion Product Development, Fashion Promotion & Special Events, Merchandising Technologies, and Design Management for Design & Merchandising. A Minor in Retail is also on the menu. The Minor program “provides basic foundations in retail operations, buying and merchandise planning and e-commerce.”
D&M program highlights include access to “studios and specialized labs” in the school’s URBN Center, access to the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC), study abroad opportunities in London, Paris, Florence, Prague, Reykjavik, Australia, Greece, Ireland, Spain and countries in Asia and Africa, and participation in the Annual Drexel Fashion Show. Students also have the opportunity to contribute to D&M Magazine and the recently launched online D&M Shop—a retail learning laboratory.
About Drexel: Drexel University was established in 1891 by Philadelphia financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel. The school, which began as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, is home to 25,595 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools.
3. LIM College, New York, New York
The Departments of Fashion Merchandising and Visual Merchandising at LIM College have a number of program offerings for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include AAS, Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS), and Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) degrees in Fashion Merchandising, and BS degrees in International Business, Visual Merchandising, and Fashion Media (beginning Fall 2017). A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Fashion Merchandising with a Retail Buying & Planning Track and a Visual Merchandising BBA are also available. Graduate offerings include Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degrees in Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management, Visual Merchandising, and Global Fashion Supply Chain.
Concentrations are available for all majors and include Cosmetics, Digital Business Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Event Planning, Fashion Media, Fashion Publishing, Home Fashions, International Business, International Marketing, Responsible Business Practices, Retail and Merchandise Management, and Styling. Program highlights include participation in the Annual Fashion Show, optional membership in the Fashion Show Production Club, the Fashion Styling Club and other organizations, and study abroad opportunities. Just a few past locations include France, Italy, Spain, Australia, China, and England.
About LIM: Lim College was founded by Maxwell F. Marcuse in 1939 as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM). The school, which became LIM College in 2009, is home to 1,500 students enrolled in associates and bachelor’s degree programs in five subject areas through four departments.
4. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware
The University of Delaware (UD) houses the College of Arts & Sciences, which is home to the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies. Program offerings here include a BS in Fashion Merchandising, an Honors BS in Fashion Merchandising, and a 4+1 program that allows undergraduate Fashion Merchandising majors interested in graduate study to complete the MS in Fashion and Apparel Studies in half the time. To enhance their degree, students may choose a Minor in Fashion History and Culture.
Program highlights include the opportunity to complete an internship at home, overseas, or both. Past students have completed internships in New York, Hong Kong, and other fashion capitals. In addition, the University of Delaware has a Visiting Student Program. This “cooperative arrangement between the University of Delaware (UD) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)” allows students to attend FIT for one year and apply coursework towards the BS program at UD. In addition, the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies introduced its very first Fashion Week this year. Students have the opportunity to participate in Fashion Week as well as the annual Synergy Fashion Group Student Fashion Show.
About UD: The University of Delaware was chartered by the State of Delaware in 1833. It is home to 23,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across seven schools.
5. Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce at Philadelphia University (PhilaU) houses two schools—the School of Design and Engineering and the School of Business. The School of Business offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Management (FMM). Students may choose two specializations from the following options: Buying & Merchandising, Fashion Apparel Production, Fashion Entrepreneurship, Fashion Material Insight & Innovation, Fashion Product Management, Fashion Retail Experience, Fashion Technology, Global Brand Marketing, and Integrated Fashion Communication.
Program highlights include internships with major companies such as Coach, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Tommy Hilfiger, Macy’s, Under Armour, The Limited Brands, and QVC, study abroad experiences in places such as London, Rome, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Dominican Republic, Scotland, New Zealand, and Denmark, and collaborative projects for companies such as Cotton Inc., Maidenform, Toys R Us, and Target. Students may also participate in the Annual Philadelphia University Fashion Show.
About PhilaU: Philadelphia University was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School. The school is home to 3,200 students enrolled in more than 60 areas of study through the College of Architecture and the Built Environment, the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, and the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts.
6. Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York
The School of Communication and the Arts at Marist College offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Fashion Merchandising with a Concentration in Fashion Promotion, Product Development, or Business. A Minor in Fashion Merchandising is also on the menu. All students may participate in the internship program, which offers the opportunity to work at companies such as Armani A/X, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Chanel, DKNY, Escada, MTV, Nordstrom, Polo and many others.
The School of Communication and the Arts encourages all students to complete two internships, which will give them a strong advantage when it comes to job opportunities. Fashion Program alumni have been hired by companies such as Ann Taylor, BCBG, Chanel, Donna Karan, GAP, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, MTV, Perry Ellis, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tahari, Tory Burch, and many more.
Other program highlights include Marist in Manhattan (NYC Internship Experience), participation in Fashion Inc. (club), Marist Fashion Magazine, and the Silver Needle Runway Show.
About Marist: Marist College was founded in 1929. It is home to more than 6,500 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs and minors across seven schools.
7. University of Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island (URI) is home to the College of Human Science and Services, which houses the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design. Program options here include BS and MS degrees in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design (TMD) with a Fashion Merchandising Concentration, a Certificate in Fashion Merchandising, and Minor in TMD. A double major in TMD and a “fashion” language, either French or Italian, is also on the menu.
Program highlights include internships with major companies and brands such as Gucci (New York), Nordstrom (Providence, RI), Donna Karan (New York), Marc Jacobs (New York), Rhode Island Design Center (Warwick, RI) and Green Envy (Newport, RI). Students also have the opportunity to study abroad in London, Paris (at Mod’Spe), Firenze, Italy (at Accademia Italiana), Barcelona, or other fashion capitals.
Summer Study at the Universite de la Mode in Lyon, France is also on the menu as well the New York Experience, the Winter Fashion Study Tour of London and Paris, access to the Historic Textile and Costume Collection and participation in the Annual Fashion Show.
About URI: The University of Rhode Island was chartered as the state's agricultural school in 1888. The school became the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1892, and the first class of 17 members graduated two years later. Today, URI is home to nearly 18,000 students enrolled over 80 majors across nine colleges and The Graduate School of Oceanography.
8. Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia
Virginia Tech University (Virginia Tech) is home to the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management (AHRM). AHRM offers a BS in Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management with a Fashion Merchandising and Design (FMD) major. Program highlights include internship opportunities with past companies such as Nordstrom and Anna Sui, the New York Fashion Study Tour, and the European Study Abroad program featuring stops in London, Paris, Rome, Florence, and other European fashion capitals.
Students also have access to the Oris Glisson Historic Costume Collection and Textile Collection, which features 5,000 items of historic significance dating from 1840 to the present, they may join the Fashion Merchandising and Design Society, and students may participate the Annual FMDS Fashion Show.
Virginia Tech Fashion Merchandising graduates have been hired by major companies and designers such as Oscar de la Renta, rue21, Lord and Taylor’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Michael Kors, and Jimmy Choo, HomeGoods, Haute Look, Victoria’s Secret, Target, and more.
About Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech University was founded in 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. It is home to more than 33,000 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across 10 colleges and schools.
9. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is home to the School of the Arts, which houses the Department of Fashion and Merchandising. The Department has more than 300 students enrolled in two educational tracks: the BA in Fashion Merchandising and the BFA in Fashion Design. Program highlights include optional membership in The VCU Stiletto Club, internship opportunities in the U.S. and overseas, and study abroad opportunities including Fashion in Florence, VCU Qatar, and options in Paris, London, Scotland, and more. Fashion students also have the opportunity to participate in the VCU Annual Fashion Show.
About VCU: Virginia Commonwealth University was established in 1838. It is home to more than 31,000 students enrolled in around 226 degree and certificate programs across 15 colleges and schools.
10. Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania
Mercyhurst University is home to the Walker School of Business & Communication, which houses the Fashion Merchandising Department. The Department offers two programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Fashion Merchandising and a Fashion Studies Minor. Program highlights include participation in the Mercyhurst Fashion Council, annual study trips to fashion capitals around world such as New York City, Paris, London and Milan, and the opportunity to live and learn in New York City through the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Visiting Student Program. The FIT Program allows students to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree from Mercyhurst and an associate's degree from FIT.
Internship opportunities in Boston, New York, and other cities are also on the menu as well as participation in a variety of campus-based fashion shows. Mercyhurst graduates have been hired by major companies such as Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Macy’s, Nine West, Levi Strauss and Co., Express, American Eagle, and others.
About Mercyhurst: Mercyhurst University was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1926. The school is home to more than 3,000 students (including 300 graduate students) enrolled in more than 50 undergraduate majors with 67 concentrations and eight graduate degree programs across dozens of schools and departments.