Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2023 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.”
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.
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.
Central Michigan University, MI
Established in 1892, Central Michigan University (CMU) opened with just 31 students attending classes in several rooms above an office in Downtown Mount Pleasant. Today, CMU sits on a 235-acre campus, it has more than 50 locations across North America, and it offers more than 200 academic programs across eight colleges. CMU’s student body has also grown to an impressive 27,000 students.
The College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) at Central Michigan University (CMU) is home to the Center for Merchandising and Design Technology (CMDT). The Center offers several competitive programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include BA, BAA, and BS degrees in Apparel Merchandising and Design (AMD), an MS in Apparel Product Development and Merchandising Technology, and an Apparel Product Development and Merchandising Technology (APDMT) accelerated Dual Master’s degree. The accelerated program takes just 5 years to complete. A Minor in Apparel Merchandising and Design is also on the menu.
Program highlights include an internship program that offers the opportunity to work at both national and international companies; industry partnerships with Reebok, Brooks Brothers, and Malden Mills, and membership in The Fashion Association of Merchandising and Design (FAMD). FAMD is a student organization that sponsors the program’s Annual Spring Fashion Show. Although not required, students are encouraged to take advantage of CMU’s Study Abroad program. Past Study Abroad locations include Hong Kong, London, and Paris.
Eastern Michigan University, MI
Established in 1849, Eastern Michigan University EMU is home to around 23,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across five colleges, an honors college, and a graduate school. With a large student population, an 800-acre main campus in Ypsilanti, and additional sites in sites in Detroit, Flint, Jackson, Livonia, Traverse City, EMU is one of the region’s largest schools. The school, which features an art walk, galleries and more, is just 10 miles east of Ann Arbor, 40 miles west of Detroit, and 20 minutes from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The College of Technology-Department of Apparel Textiles and Merchandising (ATM) at EMU offers BS and MS degrees in Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising. Concentrations include Fashion Merchandising, Textiles, and Fashion Design. Students looking to enhance their education and career opportunities may also consider the PhD Concentration in Textiles.
Program highlights include internship opportunities and field experiences at local, regional, and national companies, participation in Fashion Markets, and access to state-of-the-art design, testing, and weaving labs. Fashion Markets features trips to domestic and foreign markets and the internship program has provided work experiences at Kenneth Cole, DKNY, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aldo, H&M, Guess, Kenneth Cole, Art Van, Target, K-Mart, and more. Many interns have also obtained permanent positions at these popular designer boutiques and retailers.
Illinois State University, IA
Illinois State University (Illinois State) was founded in 1857 as Illinois State Normal University (ISNU) for the purpose of training teachers to work in Illinois schools. It is Illinois’ first public university. When the school opened, it had just 43 students. Today, Illinois State offers 39 masters, two specialist, eight doctoral, and 67 undergraduate programs in more than 188 fields of study to more than 21,000 students. Illinois State University houses six colleges and 34 academic departments.
Programs for aspiring fashion designers are available through the College of Applied Science and Technology, Department of Family & Consumer Sciences. Options include a BA or BS in Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) with a Fashion Design or Fashion Design and Product Development Option. Program highlights include study tours inside and outside of the United States to locations such as New York and California, as well as various locations in Europe, and participation in the Fashion Design and Merchandising Association’s (FDMA) annual fashion show.
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.
University of Missouri, MO
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.
Stephens College, MO
Stephens College, located in Columbia Missouri, was founded in 1833 and is currently home to around 700 female students enrolled in more than 20 programs. It is the second oldest women’s college in the country and continues an unwavering dedication to women's undergraduate education. The college consists of four schools including the Schools of Design, Health Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Performing Arts.
The School of Design offers degree programs for aspiring fashion designers: including a BA in Apparel Studies and a BFA in Fashion Design & Product Development. Academic concentrations are available within Apparel Studies, Event and Convention Management, Fashion Communication, Fashion Design and Product Development, Fashion Marketing and Management, Graphic Design Communications and Integrated Marketing Communications.
Program highlights include study trips to international fashion capitals, the opportunity to intern at companies such as Escada, Cosmopolitan, Baby Phat, and WWD, and participation in The Collections Annual Fashion Show (est. 1944). Past jurors have included supermodel Karlie Kloss and alumna Brianne Ratliff ’03 from Armani Exchange. In addition, students have access to the School of Design Historic Costume Museum and Research Library, which consists of more than 13,000 pieces and designer garments. Bill Blass, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Valentino are just a few.
University of Minnesota, MN
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.