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 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. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa (top 1% of schools considered)
Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) was officially established on March 22, 1858 as Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. The school, which is home to 36,660 students from more than 50 states and 100-plus countries, offers 100 majors across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Human Sciences is home to the Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management (AESHM) Department, which offers 15 undergraduate majors.
Offerings for aspiring fashion designers include BA, MS, and PhD degrees in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design. A Minor is also on the menu. Program highlights include the opportunity to study in “major market areas” such as New York or Chicago, participation in a variety of international study programs in Europe, and the opportunity to help produce Trend Magazine—the completely student-run fashion publication. Students also have access to the interactive Textiles and Clothing Museum and possible internship opportunities at places such as Anna Sui, Rag & Bone, Fossil Group, Kohl’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, Elie Tahari, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and BCBG.
In addition, all students have the opportunity to display their creations at the campus-based Mary Alice Anderson Reinhardt Gallery and participate in ISU’s Annual Fashion Show—one of the largest student-produced fashion shows in the nation. In 2018, the show attracted over 2,500 guests, who viewed over 150 student designed garments. It was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Event of the Year award.
2. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (top 3% of schools considered)
Founded in 1910, Kent State University (KSU or Kent State) is home to more than 23,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The school offers 300 degree programs across 11 colleges and the School of Digital Sciences. The College of the Arts is home to the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, better known as “The Fashion School.”
The school offers BA and BFA degrees in Fashion Design, a BFA in Crafts (Jewelry and Metals or Textile Arts), an MA in Fine Arts (Fashion), and an MFA in Design/Technology – Costume Design. Minors in Accessories, Textiles, Costume Design Technology, and Fashion Media are also on the menu and the College of Business Administration 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: Alchemy; which most recently featured 96 single garments and 27 total collections. A total crew of nearly 300 people worked to put on the show. Students also participate in 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.
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.”
3. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Minnesota (top 3% of schools considered)
The University of Minnesota (U of M) was founded in 1851 in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). The school is home to nearly 63,000 students (system-wide), with 48,770 students at the Twin Cities campus.
More than 400 degree programs are offered across 17 colleges and schools. Among them is the College of Design, which houses the Department of Design, Housing and Apparel. The Department offers a BS in Apparel Design and MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Design with an Apparel Studies Track. A Fashion Studies Minor is also on the menu.
Students have the ability to participate in an annual fashion show, a right of passage among Apparel Design seniors. 2018 marks the show’s 50th anniversary. Every year it gives students a chance to put into practice the work they’ve been learning.
Apparel Design students have access to The Wearable Product Design Center (WPDC), the Wearable Technology Lab, and the Human Dimensioning Lab, as well as the opportunity to show their collections at the College of Design 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.
4. University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri (top 10% of schools considered)
Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri (MU or Mizzou) was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. It is home to 33,266 students enrolled in more than 300 degree and certificate programs through 15 colleges and schools. The College of Human and Environmental Sciences (HES) is home to the Department of Textile & Apparel Management (TAM), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers.
Undergraduate programs include a BS in Textile & Apparel Management with Options in Apparel Marketing and Merchandising, and International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising and a Minor in TAM. Graduate programs include an MS and a PhD 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.
5. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas (top 10% of schools considered)
Kansas State University (K-State) was founded in 1863 and has a four-campus system with the main campus being in Manhattan, KS. Manhattan is known as "The Little Apple" and has avibrant college-town atmosphere. K-State is home to more than 22,000 students enrolled in 250-plus undergraduate majors and options, and 150-plus graduate study programs, including graduate certificates.
Among K-State’s nine colleges and graduate school, The College of Human Ecology is home to the Department of Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design (ATID). ATID offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include BS and MS degrees in Apparel and Textiles, and a PhD with a Specialization in Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design.
The B.S. undergraduate apparel and textiles program is, “designed to inspire students to envision fresh new approaches to the global challenges facing every aspect of the apparel and textiles industry.” All apparel and textiles students complete the core professional curriculum and specialize in apparel marketing or apparel design and production. In addition, the Department features mandatory internships, faculty-led study tours in the U.S. and abroad, and an annual public exhibition of student work. Graduate offerings include a M.S. degree in Apparel and Textiles and a PhD with a Specialization in Apparel, Textiles, and Interior Design.
6. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (top 10% of schools considered)
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. The school is home to more than 66,000 students enrolled more than 485 majors and degrees across 15 colleges and schools. The College of Education and Human Ecology is home to the Department of Human Sciences, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Fashion and Retail Studies with a Specialization in Merchandising or Product Development, and an MS or PhD 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.
7. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana (top 15% of schools considered)
Indiana University (IU) was founded in 1820. It houses more than 114,000 students, eight campuses, and 20,000-plus faculty and staff. Students have access to more than 180 majors, 330 degree programs, and more than 190 master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs through 15 colleges and schools.
Within the School of Art, Architecture + Design offers fashion students either a BA in Fashion Design or a BS in Apparel Merchandising. The fashion design program offers a well-rounded education in the art, philosophy, theory, and process of fashion design in the 21st century. The curriculum addresses the design process and its relationship to the retail cycle, while also providing hands-on materials learning—including gaining knowledge of fibers, weaves, and finishes used in garment design. The BS in Apparel Merchandising is best suited for those interested in fashion and design but have an aptitude for business.
The program(s) highlight the ability to study abroad. IU students can travel for a semester to Paris where they examine European fashion markets, leading designers, and retailing practices. Paris, known for being a capital of high fashion, is an ideal location for this program.
8. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri (top 15% of schools considered)
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.
The College of Business is home to the Department of Merchandising and Fashion Design, which offers one program for aspiring fashion merchandisers—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.
9. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska (top 15% of schools considered)
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) was founded on February 15, 1869. It is home to nearly 23,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 12 colleges. The College of Education and Human Sciences (CHES) houses the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design (TMFD), which offers a variety of unique programs for aspiring fashion designers.
Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Textiles & Fashion Design, Textile Science, and Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design/Communications. Graduate offerings include MA, MS, and PhD degrees in Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design (TMFD). Aspiring fashion designers may concentrate their coursework in design-related areas such as Textile Science, Textile Design, or Apparel Design. Quilt Studies is another option as well as a Graduate Certificate in TMFD.
Fashion Program highlights include study tours and international experiences in New York, Paris/Milan, London/Paris, Paris/Prague, Shanghai, and Beijing, and internship opportunities with major companies such as Vera Wang, Tahari, Nicole Miller, and InStyle Magazine. Students also have the opportunity to show their creations at the biennial Student Runway Show.
10. Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois (top 20% of schools considered)
Dominican University is a private, not-for-profit institution that was established in 1901. It is home to more than 3,470 students enrolled in more than 100 programs. The school, which consists of 939,000 square feet of buildings, 5 residence halls, 2 theaters and a 70,000+ square-foot library, is just 10 miles from Downtown Chicago—home of the famous Magnificent Mile.
The Department of Fashion Design & Merchandising offers majors or minors in either Fashion Design or Fashion Merchandising. The fashion design program includes primary study in design, pattern making, research, appropriate fit and fabric selection, fashion trending, and illustration. It prepares students to work in the fashion design industry or as entrepreneurs in the design field. The fashion merchandising program appeals to the business oriented student that is interested in the fashion industry. Courses focus on retail buying, visual display, and other merchandising courses, students take coursework in business administration, economics, and art.
One of the Fashion Design program highlights, according to their website, is access to the latest computer-aided technology that is used to create textile prints, visualize them on garment designs in 3-D, and print on fabric. On the Fashion Merchandising side, the Retail Buying course gives students an opportunity to work at Style Max, a women’s apparel trade show at the Chicago Merchandise Mart.