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Top 10 Fashion Merchandising Schools in the South - 2018 Rankings

Written by FS StaffJune 19, 2018

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 South. We define the South as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas.

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. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama (top 3% of schools considered)

Auburn University, based in Auburn Alabama, was established in 1856.  In 1872, the school became the first land-grant college in the South. Today, the school is home to a nearly 30,000 students, enrolled in more than 140 degree options across 13 colleges and schools.  Within the university, the College of Human Sciences has the Department of Consumer & Design Sciences (CADS). 

CADS offers a BS in Apparel Merchandising, Design and Production Management with an Apparel Design and Production Management Option (BS-APDP).  For those aspiring students they also offer graduate degrees including both Master of Science as well as Ph.D. in Consumer and Design Sciences.  There’s even a Accelerated BS/MS program with specialization areas in design of interiors and apparel.

Apparel Design students have the opportunity to intern at local retailers and design houses as well as opportunities to study in New York (IQLA New York Study Tour) or abroad. Study abroad locations may include Italy, London, Fiji, Jordan, Peru, South Africa, and more.   CADS curriculum takes an integrated approach to studying apparel throughout the production supply chain and provides students with the education and experiences to become a valued member of firms throughout the apparel and related industries. In addition to academics, the program supports entry level placement in the apparel industry as well as advancement throughout the graduates’ career.

2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 5% of schools considered)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. The school, which is home to nearly 11,000 students from close to 50 states and 115 countries, offers 40 majors and 60-plus minors. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, SCAD offers a variety of programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Accessory Design, Fashion, Fibers, and Jewelry. The Fashion BFA, MA and MFA are offered at both the Savannah and Atlanta campuses, and the BFA is also offered at SCAD’s Hong Kong campus.

Students are regular participants in national design contests like Walt Disney Imagineering’s 27th Imaginations Design Competition. In 2018, at the 27th annual competition, out of 270 qualified submissions SCAD students took home the top two prizes.

Students may also earn their MA in Fashion online. According to the school, “SCAD is the first art and design university to receive the Instructional Technology Council’s award for Outstanding Distance Education Program and the rank of Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching and Learning from the Sloan Consortium.” 

Other Fashion Program highlights include participation in the Annual SCAD Fashion Show, and internships and study opportunities at local, national, and international fashion companies.

3. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (top 5% of schools considered)

North Carolina State University (NC State) has been in existence since 1887. The school is home to nearly 34,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 academic departments. The College of Textiles houses the Department of Textile and Apparel Technology and Management (TATM). The Department offers several unique programs for aspiring fashion designers. The schools embrace of innovation is apparent in their increasing inclusion of online study options for students.

Undergraduate offerings include a BS in Fashion and Textile Design and a BS in Fashion and Textile Management with a Concentration in Fashion Development and Product Management. Graduate offerings include both a Master of Textiles (MT) and an MS in Textiles. Design Specializations include Textile and Fashion Design, and Textile Technology.

TATM fashion students have access to spacious studios outfitted with the latest technology to design textile products and fabrics as well as prototypes. Students may also participate in TATM’s “study abroad-friendly” semester in their junior year, which prevents students from falling behind in their classes. Study abroad locations may include France, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Australia and India.

4. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina (top 10% of schools considered)

Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Bryan School of Business at the University of North Carolina (UNCG) is home to the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies (CARS).  Clothing and textiles have been a part of UNCG’s history since its beginning in 1892 and has a long and interesting history through the years.

Today CARS offers B.S., Masters and PhD degrees in Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies.  Concentrations are available in Apparel Design or Global Apparel and Related Industry Studies. A Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (PBC) in both areas or in Global Apparel Supply Chain Management is also available.

All CARS students have access to an Historic Costume Collection with garments and artifacts dating from 1776-2003, internship opportunities at major companies such as Anna Sui, Anne Klein, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Calvin Klein, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tommy Hilfiger, and a Global Experience program which offers the opportunity to study in fashion capitals such as Paris and London. Fashion students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual THREADS Fashion Show.

5. University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia (top 10% of schools considered)

The University of Georgia (UGA) was chartered in 1785, making Georgia the first state in the U.S. to charter a state-supported university. The school is home to 36,574 students enrolled in 170 majors and academic programs across 17 colleges and schools. The College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) is home the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors.

The Department offers a BS in Family and Consumer Sciences - Fashion Merchandising (BS FCS) optional specialties such as Product Development & Design, International Merchandising, or Merchandising and International Trade. A Fashion Merchandising Minor is also available and the Department encourages students to supplement their Fashion Merchandising degree with an Entrepreneurship Certificate to “successfully run” their own business. Graduate offerings include an MS in Merchandising & International Trade and a PhD with an Emphasis in International Merchandising.

Program highlights include the six-week London Study Abroad Program, Maymester programs that include 10 days in China and three weeks in Ghana, and optional membership in student organizations such as the Student Merchandising Association or the Fashion Design Student Association. Internship opportunities are available at retailers and brands such as Macy’s, Nicole Miller, Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, Escada, Marc Jacobs, Armani Exchange, Target and many others. Students may also participate in the annual UGA Fashion Week.

Graduates of the Merchandising programs at UGA have been hired by companies such as Atlanta Apparel Mart, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Boxercraft Inc., Diane Von Furstenberg, DDI Magazine, Macy's, Oxford Industries, Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, Warby Parker, and WWD & W Magazines.

6. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (top 15% of schools considered)

Florida State University (FSU) was founded in 1851. It is home to nearly 42,000 students enrolled in more than 275 academic programs through 16 colleges. Established in 1905 and home to nearly 3,000 students, the College of Human Sciences houses the Retail, Merchandising and Product Development Department (RMPD)—one of the largest programs of its kind in the U.S. The Department offers nearly 800 majors, including several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Retail Merchandising and Product Development, an MS in Clothing, Textiles and Merchandising with a major in Global Merchandising and Product Development, and a Graduate Certificate in Retail Merchandising.

The BS in Retail Merchandising and Product Development “integrates an understanding of design, textiles, and retail merchandising,” while the MS program prepares graduates to “serve in management positions in production, distribution and consumption areas.” The Certificate program “provides graduate level competency in retail store management and buying for academically talented students who are completing an undergraduate degree in merchandising.”

Other RMPD highlights include internship opportunities with more than 250 companies such as American Eagle, Macy’s, Burberry, and Escada, study opportunities in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, New York City, Orlando, Miami, or London, and participation in the Annual Fashion Show.

7. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (top 20% of schools considered)

Louisiana State University (LSU) opened its doors in 1860. The school is home to more than 31,500 students enrolled in over 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Agriculture, Department of Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising (TAM) offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers.

LSU offers a BS in Textiles, Apparel & Merchandising (BS TAM) with a Concentration in Apparel Design, Textile Science, or Merchandising.  The curriculum provides an integrated, multi-functional academic experience.  Textile and apparel students focus on the design, development, and marketing of products and are encouraged to develop a broad based problem solving perspective through synthesis of concepts, course work, and work experiences.

On the graduate side, TAM offers both MS and PhD Degrees in Human Ecology with Concentrations in Apparel Design, Textile Science, and Historical/Cultural Aspects of Textiles and Apparel.

Program highlights include optional membership in the Fashion Association at LSU (FALSU), access to state-of-the art facilities such as an apparel production lab, textiles testing and processing lab, and body scanning lab, and access to the LSU Textile & Costume Museum and Historic & Archaeological Textile and Apparel Research Laboratory. Students also have the opportunity to complete an internship and participate in the Annual Fashion Show.

8. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina (top 20% of schools considered)

The University of South Carolina (USC) was founded in 1801 as South Carolina College. The school home to 33,772 students enrolled in more than 250 academic degree programs through 16 colleges and schools.

The College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management (HRSM) offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Retailing with a Concentration in Fashion Merchandising, a Master of Retailing (M.R.), and an accelerated Bachelor/Master of Retailing.

Program highlights include two mandatory internships prior to graduation, participation in USC Fashion Week, access to organizations such as Retail and Fashion Merchandising Graduate Student Organization (RFMGSO), the National Retail Federation, and Fashion Board at USC. Students have the opportunity to attend Fashion Week in New York City and they have access to a wide variety of study abroad opportunities. For example, the College of HRSM has a global exchange program with the University of Aruba (UA), which allows students to study at UA for an entire semester.  Other study abroad locations include Paris, Italy, London, Macao-China, Punta Cana-Dominican Republic, China, Switzerland, and Germany.

9. University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky (top 20% of schools considered)

The University of Kentucky (UK) was founded in 1865. It is home to more than 30,000 students enrolled in more than 200 academic programs through 16 colleges and professional schools. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environment houses the School of Human Environmental Sciences which offers six undergraduate degree programs, four master’s degree programs, and a PhD in Family Sciences.

Through UK’s Department of Retailing and Tourism Management, fashion students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Merchandising, Apparel, and Textiles. Beyond the undergrad BS degree, graduate students can pursue a Masters of Science degree in Merchandising, Apparel, and Textiles.  Applicants for the MS program are expected to have an undergraduate degree in merchandising, apparel, and textiles or a closely related field.

UK offers an accelerated Masters for students currently enrolled and working toward their BS in Merchandising, Apparel, and Textiles.  Motivated students have the option to begin their graduate school education while still an undergraduate student! The University Scholars Program, as its called provides an opportunity to acquire a Master’s degree on a fast track.

Additional program highlights for BS students include the New York Study Tour, study abroad opportunities to places such as Paris, China, and the UK, and internship opportunities. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Fashion Show and the Target Project. The Target Project allows students to conduct research on the company’s retailing needs.  Program highlights for MS students include the option to choose a thesis or non-thesis track, access to assistantship and travel opportunities, and the opportunity to submit articles for presentations at the ITAA yearly conference. Graduate students also have the opportunity to study abroad.

10. Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky (top 25% of schools considered)

Established in 1906, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is a regional, coeducational, public institution located in Richmond, Madison County Kentucky. The campus is just 23 miles from Lexington-Fayette, KY, 87 miles from Louisville, KY, and 98 miles from Cincinnati, OH. The school is home to nearly 16,000 students, enrolled in more than 100 undergraduate degree programs. The school has one main campus, seven regional campuses, and five colleges.

The Eastern Kentucky University, College of Health Sciences, Department of Family & Consumer Sciences offers a BS in Apparel Design & Merchandising (BS ADM). Program highlights include studio and lecture courses, the opportunity to gain co-op experience, and participation in the Spring Fashion Show. The BS ADM program prepares students for careers in Fashion Marketing, Clothing Design, Retail Promotions, Merchandise, Buying, Quality Assurance, Visual Merchandising, and more.

In addition to the program highlights listed, the EKU website mentions that students have a variety of study abroad options such as exchange opportunities, joint programs, and third party providers. EKU has partnerships with Daegu Haany University in South Korea, Pontifica Universidade Catolica de Minas Gerais (Brazil), and University of Yamanashi in Japan, to name a few.