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Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges in the Midwest – 2017

Written by FS StaffJune 1, 2017

Our 2017 rankings of the Top 10 fashion merchandising programs 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.

1. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio 

The College of the Arts at Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) is home to the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising (The Fashion School), which offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising and a Minor in Fashion Media. The College of Business Administration at KSU also offers an MBA with a Concentration in Fashion Design and Merchandising. All fashion students are eligible to participate in The Fashion School's Annual Fashion Show (FS2: Crescendo) as well as a variety of international programs. According to the school, “study tours to Europe and Asia are offered on a regular basis.” Fashion capitals such as Florence, Paris, London and Hong Kong are often on the menu. 

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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In addition, The Fashion School has a studio located in New York’s Fashion District. According to the School, the NYC Studio “provides full-semester academic programs for Kent State fashion students in the Fall, Spring, or Summer terms. Guest students, studying fashion at their home school, may also attend the program during Summer Session.” 

About Kent State: Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) was founded in 1910 and it is home to more than 40,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The school offers over 300 degree programs across 11 colleges and the School of Digital Sciences. 

2. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Minnesota 

The University of Minnesota (U of M) is home to the College of Design, which houses the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel. Here, aspiring fashion merchandisers can earn a BS or a Minor in Retail Merchandising. A Degree in 3 program is also available. This program allows students to complete the Retail Merchandising program in three years and it offers a General Track and an Apparel Track. Students may also enhance their degree by opting for a Minor in Fashion Studies. 

Fashion merchandising program highlights include access to The Wearable Product Design Center (WPDC), the Wearable Technology Lab, and the Human Dimensioning Lab, and the opportunity to participate in the Annual Apparel Design Fashion Show. In addition, all students have the option to study abroad. Study abroad opportunities are available in Sydney, Australia; Florence, Italy; Amsterdam; Istanbul, Turkey; London, England, and Northern Ireland.  

About U of M: The University of Minnesota was founded in 1851 in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). The school is home to 63,000 students (system-wide) and it offers more than 400 degree programs across 17 colleges and schools. The Twin Cities campus is home to 48,770 of the school’s 63,000 students.  

3. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 

Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) houses the College of Human Sciences, which is home to the Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management (AESHM) Department. The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Apparel, Merchandising and Design (AMD). The MS program offers a non-thesis option with a specialization in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design and the PhD program is offered on campus and in distance hybrid format that requires just one or two short on-campus summer coursework sessions. A Minor in Apparel Merchandising and Design is also on the menu as well as a Certificate in Merchandising. 

In addition to a variety of program offerings, Apparel, Merchandising, and Fashion merchandising students have access to The Historic Costume and Textile Collection, which features more than 9,000 historic and ethnic textile and dress items. They also have access to the Textiles and Clothing Museum, which houses The Mary Alice Gallery, the Donna Rae Danielson Textiles and Clothing Conservation Laboratory, and The Textiles and Clothing Collection Storage. The museum features more than 9,500 items. 

Students also have the opportunity to study in “major market areas” such as New York or Chicago, they may assist in the production of the Department’s publication—TREND magazine, they may participate in a variety of international study programs in Europe, and all students have the opportunity to participate in ISU’s Annual Fashion Show. The production is one of the largest student-produced fashion shows in the nation. 

About Iowa State: Iowa State University was officially established in 1858 as Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. The school is home to 36,660 students enrolled in 100 bachelor's degree programs, 112 master's degree programs, and 83 programs at the PhD level across 10 colleges and schools. 

4. University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 

The University of Missouri (MU or Mizzou) houses the College of Human and Environmental Sciences (HES), which is home to the Department of Textile & Apparel Management (TAM). TAM offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Textile & Apparel Management with Options in Apparel Marketing and Merchandising, and International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising. A Minor in TAM is also available as well as MS and PhD programs in TAM. 

Program highlights include access to the Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection (MHCTC), which features more than 5,500 artifacts, the New York Study Tour, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences. Study abroad locations have included India and El Salvador, and TAM has a partnership with Study Abroad Italy (SAI), which offers fashion-based programs in Florence, Milan, and London. 

About Mizzou: The University of Missouri (MU or Mizzou) was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. Founded in 1839, the school is home to 33,266 students enrolled in more than 300 programs through 15 colleges and schools. 

5. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 

The Ohio State University (OSU) is home to the College of Education and Human Ecology, which houses the Department of Human Sciences (DHS). The Department has several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Fashion and Retail Studies with a Specialization in Merchandising or Product Development, and MS or PhD degrees in Consumer Sciences with a Concentration in Fashion and Retail Studies. 

Program highlights include participation in the Fashion Production Association, the opportunity to volunteer at the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection, internship opportunities, study abroad experiences from China to Thailand, and the opportunity to work with OSU’s fashion publication—Scarlette Magazine. Students will also benefit from the Fashion and Retail Studies Speaker Series with past guests such as Ed Razek, executive producer of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and chief marketing officer of Limited Brands, and Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy's Inc. 

Finally, merchandising students will have the opportunity to travel to New York City to attend the National Retail Federation's annual student event. This major affair offers networking opportunities with retail professionals and the chance to meet with recruiters that do not routinely recruit at OSU. Graduates of the program have been hired by companies such as Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, L Brands, Macy's, Anthropologie, Chico's and Abercrombie & Fitch. 

About OSU: The Ohio State University was established in 1870 and it is home to more than 66,000 students enrolled more than 485 majors and degrees across 15 colleges and schools. 

6. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 

Kansas State University (Kansas State or K-State) is home to the College of Human Ecology, which houses the Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design (ATID). The Department (in conjunction with Great Plains IDEA) offers a distance MS in Apparel and Textiles with a Specialization in Merchandising. Per Kansas State, the inter-institutional program “draws on the knowledge and expertise of graduate faculty and graduate courses from five universities” including Kansas State University, North Dakota State University, Oklahoma State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Nebraska. 

Program highlights include a mandatory internship, faculty-led study tours in the U.S. and abroad, and an annual public exhibition of student work. 

About Kansas State: Founded in 1863, Kansas State University (Kansas State or K-State) is home to more than 22,000 students enrolled in over 250 undergraduate majors and options, and 150-plus graduate study programs, across nine colleges and a graduate school. 

7. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 

Indiana University (IU) is home to Kelley School of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Apparel Merchandising & Interior Design (AMID). Programs available through the schools include a BS Apparel Merchandising and Minors in Apparel Merchandising and Business. Program highlights include internship opportunities, optional membership in the Retail Studies Organization (RSO), and access to the Sage Collection, which features more than 20,000 pieces. Students may take upper-level courses at The Indiana University Center for Art and Design Columbus (IUCA+D Columbus) and they may participate in a variety of IU fashion show events. 

About IU: Indiana University was founded in 1820. It is home to nearly 114,500 students enrolled in 180 majors, 330 undergraduate degree programs, and more than 190 master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs across eight campuses and 15 colleges and schools. 

8. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri 

Missouri State University is home to the College of Business, which houses the Department of Merchandising and Fashion Design. The Department offers a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Design with three-year and four-year options. Both options require completion of four credit hours’ worth of internship experience. In addition, all fashion students have the opportunity to study abroad in places such as London and Paris, and participate in the Annual Spring Fashion Show.  

About MSU: Missouri State University’s (MSU) main campus was founded in 1905. The state’s second largest university, MSU is home to more than 24,000 students, with a total of 26,000 system-wide. The school offers more than 180 undergraduate majors and 48 graduate programs across six academic colleges, the School of Agriculture, and the Graduate College. 

9. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is home to the College of Education and Human Sciences (CHES), which houses the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design (TMFD). The Department offers a variety of unique programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Merchandising and Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design/Communications. Graduate offerings include MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design. A Graduate Certificate in TMFD is also on the menu. 

Merchandising program highlights include biennial juried student exhibitions, study tours and international experiences in New York, Paris/Milan, London/Paris, Paris/Prague, Shanghai, Beijing, and more, and internship opportunities with major companies such as Vera Wang, Tahari, Nicole Miller, and InStyle Magazine. Students also have the opportunity to display their creations at the Biennial Student Runway Show. 

About UNL: The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was founded on February 15, 1869. It is home to nearly 23,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 12 colleges. 

10. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana 

Ball State University (BSU) is home to the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, which houses the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). The Department has several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Fashion Merchandising and an MA or MS in Family and Consumer Sciences with a Fashion Merchandising Concentration. Students in the Merchandising program will complete the FCS common core and a Marketing Minor. A Fashion Minor is also available. 

Other program highlights include internship and study abroad opportunities, and participation in a variety of BSU fashion show events and showcases.  

About BSU: Founded in 1918, Ball State University is home to 21,000 students from 48 states, two U.S. territories, about 43 countries, and every Indiana county. The school offers around 190 majors and more than 100 graduate programs across seven academic colleges.