Our 2017 rankings of the top 10 fashion merchandising 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 our ranking criteria, click here.
1. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University is home to the Department of Consumer & Design Sciences (CADS), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Apparel Merchandising, Design and Production Management (BS-APDP) with an Apparel Merchandising option, an MS in Consumer and Design Sciences – Apparel and Interiors (MS-CAHS), and a PhD in Consumer Design Sciences (PhD – CADS). An accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s with a Merchandising option is also on the menu. The accelerated BS and MS programs may be completed in four terms.
Focus areas for the MS-CAHS and the PhD – CADS program include Consumer Behavior Interior Design, Functional and Creative Apparel Design, Retail Management, Product Development, Sustainability, Creativity, Forecasting and Trend Analysis, Emerging Technologies, and Multicultural and Global Markets.
All students have the opportunity to intern at local retailers and design houses as well as study in New York (IQLA New York Study Tour) or abroad. Study abroad locations may include Italy, London, Fiji, Jordan, Peru, South Africa, and many others.
About Auburn University: Auburn University was established in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College. Today, the school is home to a co-ed population of 28,290 students enrolled in more than 140 degree options across 13 colleges and schools.
2. University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
The University of Georgia (UGA) is home to the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), which houses the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors. The Department offers a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences - Fashion Merchandising (BS FCS) with optional Specialties such as Product Development & Design, International Merchandising, and Merchandising and International Trade. A Fashion Merchandising Minor is also available and the Department encourages students to supplement their Fashion Merchandising degree with an Entrepreneurship Certificate to “successfully run” their own business. Graduate offerings include an MS in Merchandising & International Trade and a PhD with an Emphasis in International Merchandising.
Program highlights include the six-week London Study Abroad Program, Maymester programs that include 10 days in China and three weeks in Ghana, and optional membership in student organizations such as the Student Merchandising Association or the Fashion Design Student Association. Internship opportunities are available at retailers and brands such as Macy’s, Nicole Miller, Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, Escada, Marc Jacobs, Armani Exchange, Target and many others. Students may also participate in the annual UGA Fashion Week.
Graduates of the Merchandising programs at UGA have been hired by companies such as Atlanta Apparel Mart, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Boxercraft Inc., Diane Von Furstenberg, DDI Magazine, Macy's, Oxford Industries, Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, Warby Parker, and WWD & W Magazines.
About UGA: The University of Georgia (UGA) was chartered in 1785, making Georgia the first state in the U.S. to charter a state-supported university. The school is home to 36,574 students enrolled in 170 majors and academic programs across 17 colleges and schools.
3. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a variety of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah), a Minor in Fashion Marketing and Management, and MA (all campuses + eLearning) and MFA (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah) degrees in Luxury and Fashion Management.
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.” Besides the opportunity to earn the MA online, students may participate in the Annual SCAD Fashion Show, and internships and study opportunities are available at local, national, and international fashion companies.
About SCAD: Savannah College of Art and Design was founded in 1978. The school, which is home to nearly 13,000 students from close to 50 states and 115 countries, offers 40 majors and 60-plus minors. In addition to the Savannah campus, SCAD has locations in Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France.
4. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Florida State University (FSU) is home to the College of Human Sciences. Established in 1905 and home to nearly 3,000 students, the College houses the Retail, Merchandising and Product Development Department (RMPD), which is one of the largest programs of its kind in the U.S. The Department offers nearly 800 majors, including several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Retail Merchandising and Product Development, an MS in Clothing, Textiles and Merchandising with a major in Global Merchandising and Product Development, and a Graduate Certificate in Retail Merchandising.
The BS in Retail Merchandising and Product Development “integrates an understanding of design, textiles, and retail merchandising,” while the MS program prepares graduates to “serve in management positions in production, distribution and consumption areas.” The Certificate program “provides graduate level competency in retail store management and buying for academically talented students who are completing an undergraduate degree in merchandising.”
Other RMPD highlights include internship opportunities with more than 250 companies such as American Eagle, Macy’s, Burberry, and Escada, study opportunities in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, New York City, Orlando, Miami, or London, and participation in the Annual Fashion Show.
About FSU: Florida State University was founded in 1851. The school is home to nearly 42,000 students enrolled in more than 275 academic programs through 16 colleges.
5. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NC State) is home to the College of Textiles, which houses the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM). The Department offers one program for aspiring fashion merchandisers—a BS in Fashion and Textile Management with Concentrations in Textile Brand Management and Marketing and Fashion Development and Product Management.
The program highlights study in the areas of Merchandising, Retail Buying, Consumer Trends and Behavior, Product Trends, Global Marketplace Dynamics, and Branding Strategies. Other program highlights include TATM’s “study abroad-friendly” semester in France, the Czech Republic, Australia, India or other location, and participation in a variety of fashion show events and showcases such as Threads Senior Collection, the Annual AATS Fashion Exposé, and FTD: Emerging Designers Showcase.
About NC State: North Carolina State University was established in 1887. The school is home to nearly 34,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 academic departments.
6. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina
The Bryan School of Business and Economics at University of North Carolina, Greensboro (UNCG) is home to the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS). The Department offers a BS in Retail and Consumer Studies or Global Apparel and Related industries, an MS in CARS with MS Thesis and Global Apparel Management (online) Concentrations, and a PhD in CARS.
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. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual THREADS Fashion Show.
About UNCG: The University of North Carolina, Greensboro was established in 1891. It houses eight undergraduate colleges and schools, and The Graduate School. UNCG serves more than 19,000 students enrolled in around 175 degree programs, with 100+ areas of study.
7. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
The College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (HRSM) at the University of South Carolina (USC) offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Fashion Retailing with a Concentration in Fashion Merchandising, a Master of Retailing (M.R.), and an accelerated Bachelor/Master of Retailing. Program highlights include two mandatory internships prior to graduation, participation in USC Fashion Week, access to organizations such as Retail and Fashion Merchandising Graduate Student Organization (RFMGSO), the National Retail Federation, and Fashion Board at USC.
Students also have the opportunity to attend Fashion Week in New York City and they have access to a wide variety of study abroad opportunities. For example, the College of HRSM has a global exchange program with the University of Aruba (UA), which allows students to study at UA for an entire semester. Other study abroad locations include Paris, Italy, London, Macao-China, Punta Cana-Dominican Republic, China, Switzerland, and Germany.
About USC: The University of South Carolina was founded in 1801 as South Carolina College. The school home to 33,772 students enrolled in more than 250 academic degree programs through 16 colleges and schools.
8. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The College of Agriculture, Department of Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising (TAM) at Louisiana State University (LSU) offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BS in Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising (BS TAM) with a Concentration in Merchandising, and MS and PhD Degrees in Human Ecology with a Concentration in Merchandising.
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 may complete an internship and participate in the Annual Fashion Show.
About LSU: Louisiana State University 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
9. Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi
The School of Human Sciences at Mississippi State University (MSU) is home to the Fashion Design & Merchandising Program, which leads to a BS. Students in the program concentrate in one of two areas—Merchandising or Apparel Production & Design. According to the School, “merchandising combines an overview of the fashion industry, consumer behavior, product development, planning, buying business operations and entrepreneurship.”
Other program highlights include study abroad experiences, internship opportunities at local companies or overseas, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of fashion show events and showcases. Students also have the option to choose a minor such as Fine Arts, Marketing, Theater, or Journalism to enhance their degree.
About MSU: Mississippi State University was established February 28, 1878 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. The school is home to more than 21,500 students enrolled in over 175 programs across 12 colleges and schools.
10. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
University of Arkansas is home to Bumpers College, which houses the School of Human Environmental Sciences. The School offers two degree programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers—a BS in Human Environmental Sciences (BSHESC)-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.
About University of Arkansas: University of Arkansas was founded in 1871 as the state’s first public university. The school is home to more than 27,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 10 colleges and schools.