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Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools in the East - 2018 Ranking

Written by FS StaffJune 19, 2018
East Coast Fashion Merchandising School Rankings

Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2018 Fashion Merchandising School rankings. Each year, we compile a list of the top list of the Top Fashion Merchandising Schools and Colleges in the United States. Our definitive ranking of the top fashion merchandising schools in the U.S. is based on factors like the schools’ admission data, graduation success, reputation and an extensive proprietary survey conducted with school & industry stakeholders. In addition to our Top 50 National rankings, we are happy to provide regional rankings as well.

Below you'll find the Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools in the East.  We define the East Coast as Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Maine. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

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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1. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York (top 1% of schools considered)

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) was founded in 1944. A member of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, FIT is home to more than 9,000 students enrolled in 37 majors and 12 certificate programs across five schools. They include 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. The School of Art and Design offers a number of fashion programs for aspiring designers of all kinds.

New in 2018, FIT was awarded accreditation of it’s business programs by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and programs. Less than 50% of US higher education institutions with business schools are accredited. Within FIT’s Baker School of Business and technology, programs in Marketing Communications, Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing, Fashion Business Management, Home Products Development, International Trade and Marketing for Fashion Industries, Production Management: Fashion & Related Industries, and Textile Development & Marketing all received accreditation.

Students may choose from multiple degree levels including the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, and MPS. In addition, FIT offers one- and two-year options for AAS students and credit and non-credit Certificates. An international option in Florence is on the menu for fashion design students pursuing an AAS degree, and an option in Milan/New York is available for knitwear and sportswear students pursuing a Baccalaureate degree.

AAS degree programs for aspiring fashion designers include Accessories Design, Fashion Design, Illustration – Fashion and General Illustration options, Jewelry Design, Menswear, Textile Development and Marketing, and Textile/Surface Design. Baccalaureate (BFA and BS) degree programs include Accessories Design, Fabric Styling, Fashion Design (Children’s Wear, Intimate Apparel, Knitwear, Special Occasion, and Sportswear, and Knitwear options), Technical Design, Textile Development and Marketing, and Textile/Surface Design.

Graduate programs for aspiring fashion designers include an MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice and credit Certificate programs include CAD for Fashion Design - Art, Draping, Gemology, Haute Couture, Ladies Tailoring, Leather Apparel, Millinery, Patternmaking, and Performance Athletic Footwear. Minors are available in Ethics and Sustainability, and Fashion Studies, and Non-credit Certificates include Computer Essentials for Fashion Design, Fashion Styling, Wardrobe Technician and Costume Design Specialist, and Certified Technical Designer.

All FIT Fashion Design students have the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, London, Milan, Nottingham, England, Melbourne, Australia, or Hong Kong. Students also have the opportunity to intern at local, national, or international companies, and all students may participate in the Annual FIT Fashion Show.

2. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 5% of schools considered)

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. The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Department of Fashion, Product and Design & Merchandising.

The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BS and an MS in Fashion Design. Students may enhance their degree by opting for a Minor in Retail. Administered by the Design & Merchandising (D&M) program, the Minor “provides basic foundations in retail operations, buying and merchandise planning and e-commerce.” A BS in D&M is also on the menu.

Fashion design students also have access to “studios and specialized labs” at the school’s URBN Center, they have access to the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC), and students may enroll in the study abroad program which may take them places such as London (London College of Fashion), England, and Florence. In addition, students may submit their creations to national and international competitions each year, and upon completion of the program, they have the opportunity to show their final collections in the Department’s Annual Fashion Show.

The 2018 show will be held at the headquarters for Urban Outfitters. The show runs to two separate audiences and features designs this year from 34 separate designers; and the show is collaboration with several other Drexel University departments.

3. LIM College, New York, New York (top 10% of schools considered)

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 ~1,700 students enrolled in associates, bachelor’s & master's degree programs in several fashion-focused majors.

There are a variety of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include Associate in Applied Sciences (AAS), Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS), and Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees (BBA) in Fashion Merchandising, and Bachelor of Science degree (BS) in International Business & Fashion Media. Bachelor of Business Administration BBAs in Visual Merchandising, Marketing & Management are also available.

Graduate offerings include Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degrees in Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management, the Business of Fashion, and Global Fashion Supply Chain Managemnt.

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.

4. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware (top 10% of schools considered)

The University of Delaware (UD) was chartered in 1833 and it is currently home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across seven schools. Within the College of Arts & Sciences you will find the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies (FAS).  The FAS department is home to approximately 400 undergraduate majors, split between studies in Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising.  The department also offers minors in Fashion History and Culture, Fashion Management, and Sustainable Apparel and Textile Innovation.   In the area of graduate studies, the department offers a Master of Science in Fashion and Apparel Studies with thesis and professional project options.  There is even an online graduate certificate program Socially Responsible and Sustainable Apparel Business.  This award winning degree addresses labor and environmental problems in the global supply chains for the apparel, textile, and footwear industries.

Program highlights include the opportunity to complete an internship at home, overseas, or both and the UD 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.

5. Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York (top 15% of schools considered)

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. The School of Communication and the Arts offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BFA in Fashion Design and a BS in Fashion Merchandising with a Product Development Concentration. The Marist College Fashion Program is pleased to offer a Masters of Science degree in Global Fashion Merchandising in collaboration with Mod-Spe Paris, the Fashion Business School.

Short-term studies to Europe and Asia, and full semester abroad studies in London, Paris, Florence & Hong Kong round out the students education. Fashion Design majors may also earn their degree in Florence, Italy or choose a Minor in Merchandising or Product Development.

Marist's strength in internship placement, and unusual depth of internship opportunities, derives from our close proximity to New York City. In the fashion capital of the world, students have access to a wide variety of work environments. Fashion students have completed internships at companies such as Michael Kors, BCBG, Chanel, Harpers Bazaar, Macy's, Nordstrom, Ross Stores and Ralph Lauren and the Silver Needle Runway Show.

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.

6. Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia University), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 15% of schools considered)

In 2017 Philadelphia University leadership decided to merge with Thomas Jefferson University (PhilaU), another local Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Institution.  The new combined school is simply called Jefferson.  Thomas Jefferson University was founded in 1824 and Philadelphia University was founded in 1884. Both were ahead of their time and focused on the importance of experiential learning. The new Jefferson was established on July 1, 2017 as a result of the merger of these two renowned universities.

Within Jefferson, remains the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce,  Kanbar was retained as a legacy college from the days of PhilaU, and still is home to two schools — the School of Design and Engineering and the School of Business. The School of Design and Engineering offers a number of undergraduate and advanced degree programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include BS degrees in Fashion Design, Textile Design, and Textile Materials Technology, MS degrees in Global Fashion Enterprise, Textile Design, and Textile Engineering, and a PhD in Textile Engineering and Sciences.

Program highlights include internships with companies such as Vogue, Betsey Johnson, Tommy Hilfiger, Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch, and study abroad opportunities in London, Rome, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Dominican Republic, Scotland, New Zealand, and Denmark. Students also have access to PhilaU’s Historic Textile and Costume Collection as well as “specialized space for individual programs including, engineering labs, fashion design studios, textile studios with state-of-the-art machinery, and industrial design studios.” The Textile and Costume Collection features “museum-quality garments, accessories, and textiles as sources of design inspiration for the modern-day design and product-development process.”

7. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (top 20% of schools considered)

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) 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. The School of the Arts is home to the Department of Fashion and Merchandising which has over 300 students enrolled in two educational tracks: the Fashion Design (BFA) and Fashion Merchandising (BA).

Each year, the school offers the Summer Luxury Program where students have the opportunity to study the luxury industry through an intense four week program, including a two week stay in New York City.

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.

8. Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia (top 20% of schools considered)

Founded in 1872, Virginia Tech University more than 250 degree programs to more than 33,000 students across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Options include a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Design, a BS in Consumer Studies, and Minor in Dress, Culture, and Society. Fashion Merchandising and Design students will complete a core professional curriculum in apparel and textiles and specialize in Apparel Merchandising or Apparel Design and Production.

Fashion students will study product and promotion, product analysis, and business fundamentals, and complete three credits of action learning via study abroad, field study, independent study, or undergraduate research. The 18 credit hour Dress, Culture, and Society program highlights the study of clothing and dress within the global society, three credits of applied learning via field study, study abroad, or the New York Study Tour, and the option to complete an elective of their choice.

9. Framingham State University, Framingham, Massachusetts (top 20% of schools considered)

Founded in 1839, Framingham State University (FSU) was the first public teacher’s college in the country. Today the school is home 6,400 students enrolled in 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and professional fields.  The College of Arts and Humanities is home to six academic departments, including the the Fashion Design and Retailing Department (FDRD).

The department offers one program for aspiring fashion merchandisers—a BS in Fashion Design and Retailing.  Students may concentrate in either Apparel Design or Merchandising.  There are two Minors available as well, including Apparel Design or Museum Studies.  FSU is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

Program highlights include small class sizes and individual attention, state-of-the-art computer technology, “dynamic” merchandising and design opportunities, study tours, and business and industry partnerships. Students also have the opportunity to complete an internship. 

10. University of Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island (top 20% of schools considered)

The University of Rhode Island (URI) 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.

The College of Business, Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design offer several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options 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.