Our 2017 rankings of the Top 10 schools on the West Coast for fashion merchandising.
We define the West Coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
Oregon State University (OSU) is home to the College of Business, which houses the School of Design & Human Environment (DHE). The School offers a BS in Merchandising Management. Students in the program have the opportunity explore the DHE Historic and Cultural Textile and Apparel Collection, which includes approximately 2,000 Euro-American and ethnic apparel pieces and other textile products. All undergraduates may participate in the internship program as well. Students have worked with major designers, brands and retailers such as Anna Sui, Columbia Sportswear, Nordstrom, and Fred Meyer.
About OSU: Oregon State University was founded in 1868. It is home to more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 280 degree programs across 11 academic colleges.
2. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
The School of Fashion at Academy of Art offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including AA and BFA degrees in Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Visual Merchandising, and Fashion Styling. Per the Academy, all fashion students have access to facilities that feature “the same leading-edge equipment and resources that top fashion houses enjoy.” Internship opportunities are also available as well as the opportunity to participate in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in New York City and the Annual Graduation Fashion Show in San Francisco. The show has been heralded as the "Fashion Week of San Francisco" by both local and national members of the fashion industry.
Graduates of the Academy of Art University have been hired by major companies such as Adidas, Chanel, Gap, Kate Spade, Levi Strauss & Co., Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, and many others.
About Academy of Art: Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school is home to nearly 8,000 students enrolled in dozens of programs in the areas of art and design.
3. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California
California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona) is home to the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture, Department of Apparel Merchandising and Management (AMM). AMM is one of 13 colleges that have been endorsed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).
The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in AMM with an option in Apparel Production or Fashion Retailing. A Minor and a Certificate in AMM are also available.
Program highlights include hands-on lab activities, industry tradeshows and visits, industry internships, and field and study abroad opportunities. Students have completed internships at major companies such as BCBG, GUESS, Nordstrom, Bebe, Forever 21, Quicksilver, Lucky Brand jeans, Disney, Hurley, True Religion, and many others. New York, London, Paris, Milan, Rome, and Florence are just a few of the places past AMM students have studied.
AMM students also have the opportunity to participate in industry competitions, the Annual Fashion Show, AM2—the product line developed by Apparel Production students, and ApparelScapes—AMM’s retail microbusiness established in 2001. According to Cal Poly, ApparelScapes “retails AM2 and BLDG45 branded clothing through its own retail venues on the campus.”
About Cal Poly: California State Polytechnic University was founded in 1938. The school is home to 23,717 students enrolled in hundreds of programs through eight academic colleges and the College of the Extended University.
4. Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, California
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) offers AA degrees in Merchandising & Marketing, Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing, and Apparel Industry Management, and AA Professional Designation degrees in Merchandising & Marketing and Beauty Industry Management. Per FIDM, “executives from companies like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Guess? Inc. visit regularly in classes that prepare grads for retail careers. Students have interned at companies like TJX, Halston, and BCBG and graduates leave the program with a portfolio of work that illustrates real world skills.”
In addition, all FIDM students have the opportunity to participate in the annual study tours program, which will take them to fashion capitals such as New York, Paris, London, Rome, Milan, and more. Students may also participate in the annual DEBUT Runway Show, which is streamed online and televised.
About FIDM: Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) was founded in 1969. It is home to 5,300 students, 300 faculty members, and an advisory board that includes “industry giants” such as Fred Segal, Diane von Furstenberg, Tim Gunn (of Project Runway, Filmed at FIDM), and Emanuel Ungaro. The school consists of four campuses with locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Irvine, California and it offers 26 creative majors leading to an AA, BA or BS in the areas of fashion, graphics, interior design or entertainment.
5. Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
The College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) at Washington State University (WSU) is home to the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT). The Department of AMDT offers a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, and Textiles with a Merchandising option. The Department also offers an MA in AMDT in collaboration with WSU’s Graduate School.
In addition to study abroad opportunities in more than 70 countries around the world, students have access to the third largest apparel and textile industry in the country and student chapters of two major industry associations—the International Textiles and Apparel Association (ITAA) and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC). Students also have the opportunity to participate in several campus events including exhibitions, design and merchandising competitions, and the popular Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show.
About WSU: Washington State University was founded in 1890 as Washington’s original land-grant university. The school’s main campus is located in Pullman, Washington, and it has regional campuses in Spokane, Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland), Vancouver, and Everett. WSU-Pullman is home to more than 20,000 students, enrolled 95 undergraduate majors and 85 minors, 120 graduate and professional programs, and more than 100 certificates and in-major specializations across 11 colleges.
6. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ (CTAHR) at University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) is home to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, which houses the Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) Program. Degree options for fashion merchandisers include a BS in Fashion Design and Merchandising with a Merchandising or Fashion Design Emphasis. A Minor in Merchandising is also available. Program highlights include optional membership in the Fashion Club and participation in the Annual Fashion Show.
About UH Manoa: The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) was founded in 1907. The school is home to nearly 19,000 students enrolled in more than 230 programs across 14 colleges and schools.
7. San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
San Francisco State University (SFSU) houses the College of Health and Social Sciences, which is home to the Department of Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics. The Department offers a BS in Apparel Design and Merchandising (ADM) with a Fashion Merchandising Emphasis. Program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, and study abroad opportunities in Italy, London, and Sydney.
About SFSU: San Francisco State University (SFSU) was founded in 1899 as San Francisco State Normal School. According to the school’s most recent enrollment report, SFSU is home to more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 140 undergraduate and graduate programs, 17 credential programs, and 38 certificate programs across seven colleges.
8. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) is home to the College of Health and Human Services’ (CHHS) Department of Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS), and the College of Business Administration. The Colleges offer several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BA in Family and Consumer Sciences with an Option in Fashion Merchandising, an MBA with a Specialization in Fashion Merchandising and Design, and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising. The MBA is a self-paced, 48-unit evening program designed for part-time, full-time, domestic or international students. An undergraduate degree in business is not required to enter this program.
Merchandising program highlights include the Annual Spring Fashion Show (coordinated by Fashion Merchandising Students), Fashion Study Tours of New York City and Paris, and seminars held at a variety of apparel manufacturing companies, retailers, textile design companies, and apparel design businesses. Study Tours of New York City are offered every January and July and tours of Paris luxury fashion industries offered every June. Study tours of Italy are offered in Winter Session. Fashion merchandising students also have the opportunity to visit museums and other “culturally unique sites.”
About CSULB: Established in 1949, California State University Long Beach is home to nearly 37,500 students. It is the third largest member of the 23-school California State University system. The school offers more than 300 programs across eight colleges.
9. California State University Northridge, Northridge, California
California State University Northridge (CSUN) is home to the College of Health and Human Development, which houses the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences. The Department manages the Apparel Design and Merchandising program, which leads to a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences with an Option in Apparel Design and Merchandising-Emphasis Apparel Merchandising.
Program highlights include access to the Historic Costume Collection, internship opportunities at The California Merchandise Mart, design showrooms, textile and apparel manufacturers, major department stores, museums, and textile testing labs, and networking opportunities through the student organization TRENDS. Students also have the opportunity to develop professional relationships through domestic fashion industry tours and organizations such as the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) and the Fashion Industry Association (FIA).
About CSUN: California State University Northridge was founded in 1958 as San Fernando Valley State College. The most recent enrollment figures show that school is home to nearly 45,500 students enrolled in 175 programs across nine colleges.
10. California State University - Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
California State University – Los Angeles (Cal State LA or CSU LA) is home to the College of Arts & Letters, which houses the Department of Art. Degree options here include a BA in Art with an Option in Fashion and Textiles/Specialization Fashion Merchandising, MA and MFA degrees in Art with an Option in Fashion and Textiles, and an undergraduate Certificate in Fashion Retailing. Program highlights include internship opportunities at places such as The Getty Center and Alternative Apparel Los Angeles and participation in the Annual Senior Fashion Show.
Students also have access to International Programs with more than 50 universities in 18 countries. In addition, all students have the opportunity to become members of the Fashion Association of Design Students.
About Cal State LA: California State University – Los Angeles was founded in 1947 as Los Angeles State College. The school is home to nearly 28,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across eight colleges