Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2020 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.
Iowa State University
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.
University of Minnesota
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.
Kent State University
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.”
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.
University of Missouri
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.
University of Nebraska
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.
Ohio State University
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.
Kansas State University
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.
Michigan State University
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) is the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions established under the Morrill Act of 1862. The school is home to more than 50,000 students from 82 counties in Michigan, all 50 states in the United States, and 133 other countries. MSU consists of 17 degree-granting colleges that provide more than 200 programs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study. The school also offers over 275 study abroad programs in more than 60 countries on all continents.
Within the College of Arts & Letters, Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) students can pursue a BFA or a BA in Apparel and Textiles. Per the Department, “the Apparel and Textile Design (ATD) program emphasizes creativity and experimentation that mingles design with art. Students combine fine art, couture and technical design to create original garments, which reflect an understanding of global issues such as sustainability and cultural dress.”
The BFA provides professional preparation in Apparel and Textile Design. The core of the program emphasizes aesthetics and creativity; two- and three-dimensional Apparel and Textile Design skills; design technologies; the historical and cultural aspects of dress and textiles; sustainable design; and the role of Apparel and Textiles in a global context.
The BA degree provides students with a foundation in art with fundamental skills in Apparel and Textile Design. It includes exposure to design technologies; sustainable design; Art History and Visual Culture; the historical and cultural aspects of dress and textiles; and the role of Apparel and Textiles in a global context. Two years proficiency in a foreign language is required.
A top-ranked national university, Purdue boasts a competitive student-faculty ratio. While pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Apparel Design and Technology, design students may apply to attend a one-year program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The Purdue Fashion Association presents an annual fashion show that showcases student work. Tuition is $9,900 for Indiana residents and $28,702 for non-residents.