Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2022 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.
Kent State University, OH
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.”
Iowa State University, IA
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.
Bowling Green State University, OH
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in 200+ programs across nine colleges. The school, which sits on a 1,338-acre campus just 30 minutes from Toledo, is home to the BGSU College of Education & Human Development-School of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). This multidisciplinary school offers nine programs, including the Apparel Merchandising & Product Development (AMPD) Program leading to a BS in AMPD.
Program highlights include small classes (AMPD is home to 270 students), new workshop and classrooms in the Gertrude Eppler Complex and a graduation requirement of two program options;. The first option is an AMPD Major with a Marketing Minor. Option two is acceptance and participation in the FIT Program (Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City). The FIT option allows students to study for one year at FIT NY in the areas of Advertising and Communications or Textile Development and Marketing.
BGSU faculty encourage students to visit domestic fashion hubs such as Columbus, Chicago, New York City and/or international hubs such as Paris, London, Milan, Tel Aviv and Sydney.
University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
The University of Missouri (MU) has a rich history. Established in 1839, MU was the first public university west of the Mississippi River. It is the only public institution in Missouri (and one of only 34 public universities in the U.S.) to be selected for membership in the Association of American Universities.
The University of Missouri offers more than 280 degree programs and more than 75 online degree options. The school, which sits on 1,250-acres (designated as a botanic garden), has attracted more than 33,000 students from 115 countries. Students interested in pursuing creative degrees can choose from majors such as sculpture, painting, fibers, graphics, and more.
Fashion marketing may choose the BS in Apparel Marketing and Merchandising program or the BS in International Apparel Marketing and Merchandising program. University of Missouri students may choose to study abroad in Florence, Italy, Belgium, or the Netherlands and internships are offered at Glamour Magazine, Elite Modeling Agency, Macy's, Victoria's Secret, Eli Tahari, and many others.
Columbia College Chicago, IL
Columbia College Chicago (Columbia College) is home to more than 10,000 students, making it the largest private, nonprofit arts and media college in the nation. Founded in 1890, Columbia College is also one of the oldest colleges of its kind in the region. The school offers more than 100 academic majors or programs across three schools including Fine and Performing Arts, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Media Arts.
The School of Fine and Performing Arts, Department of Fashion Studies offers BA and BFA degrees in Fashion Design, and a BFA and Minor in Fashion Business. Those on the entrepreneurial path may choose a double major in Fashion and Fashion Business, or a Fashion Major and Fashion Business Minor. Program highlights include a Semester in LA, internship opportunities and access to the school’s Fashion Lab, the Fashion Study Collection (FSC), and the Fashion Study Collection Research Center (workspace and archive). Students also have the opportunity to display their creations in the Fashion Studies Exhibition Windows on campus.
Indiana University, IN
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.
Kansas State University, KS
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.
The North Coast College, OH
(Formerly Virginia Marti College of Art & Design) The North Coast College is a small, yet accredited, college in Ohio focusing on a degree-for-all philosophy. If you crave a career in fashion design but lack the portfolio or experience to back it up then the NCC might be up your alley. If you do have a solid portfolio or experience they offer advanced placement. Their two-year program will teach you all the fundamentals of fashion, making it a solid option for a first-timer starting from scratch.
Ohio State University, OH
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.
Ball State University, IN
Ball State University (BSU) is home to the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, which houses the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). The Department has several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers including a BS in Fashion Merchandising and an MA or MS in Family and Consumer Sciences with a Fashion Merchandising Concentration. Students in the Merchandising program will complete the FCS common core and a Marketing Minor. A Fashion Minor is also available.
Other program highlights include internship and study abroad opportunities, and participation in a variety of BSU fashion show events and showcases.
About BSU: Founded in 1918, Ball State University is home to 21,000 students from 48 states, two U.S. territories, about 43 countries, and every Indiana county. The school offers around 190 majors and more than 100 graduate programs across seven academic colleges.