Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2019 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 merchandising design 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 overall National rankings, we're happy to provide category rankings as well. Below you'll find the Top 20 Private Fashion Merchandising Schools in the U.S.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (TOP 1% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) was founded in 1969. It is home to 5,300 students, 300 faculty members, and an advisory board that includes “industry giants” such as Fred Segal, Diane von Furstenberg, Tim Gunn (of Project Runway, Filmed at FIDM), and Emanuel Ungaro. Four Southern California campus locations, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Irvine make the school an attractive place to study fashion as well.
The school offers 26 creative majors leading to an AA, BA or BS in the areas of fashion, graphics, interior design or entertainment. Degree programs for aspiring fashion designers include a BA in Design, a BS in Apparel Technical Design, and AA degrees in Fashion Design, Fashion Knitwear Design, Jewelry Design, Merchandise Product Development, and Textile Design. Associate of Arts Advanced Study Programs (ADV) programs include Advanced Fashion Design, Film and TV Costume Design, Footwear Design, International Manufacturing & Product Development, Menswear, and Textile Production and Development.
In addition to a wide variety of program offerings, fashion students can collaborate on special ‘Industry Partner Projects’ with brands like Nike, Murad, Athleta, Signal Snowboards, Lacoste, GUESS, and TOMS. Part-time work and internships with companies like J Brand Jeans, Stila, Topshop, Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, and Adidas are an integral part of the curriculum. There are also annual study tours that will take students to fashion capitals such as New York, Paris, London, Rome, Milan, and more. Students may also participate in the annual DEBUT Runway Show.
Lim College (TOP 2% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
LIM College was founded by Maxwell F. Marcuse in 1939 as the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (LIM). The school, which became LIM College in 2009, is home to ~1,800 students enrolled in associate, bachelor’s & master's degree programs in several fashion-focused majors.
There are a variety of programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include Associate in Applied Sciences (AAS), Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS), and Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees (BBA) in Fashion Merchandising, and Bachelor of Science degrees (BS) in International Business & Fashion Media. Bachelor of Business Administration (BBAs) in Visual Studies, Marketing, Management, & the Business of Fashion are also available.
Graduate offerings include Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degrees in Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management, Fashion Marketing, the Business of Fashion, and Global Fashion Supply Chain Management.
Among the minors offered are: Beauty, Digital Business, Event Planning, Fashion Styling, Interior & Home Concepts, Photo Styling & Set Design, Digital Design & Photography, Global Studies, and Sustainability.
Program highlights include participation in the Annual Fashion Show, optional membership in the Fashion Show Production Club, the Fashion Styling Club and other organizations, and study abroad opportunities on 4 continents.
Savannah College of Art and Design (TOP 4% OF SCHOOLS BEING 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.
Drexel University (TOP 5% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Drexel University was established in 1891 by Philadelphia financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel. The school, which began as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, is home to 25,595 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Department of Fashion, Product and Design & Merchandising.
The Department offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BS and an MS in Fashion Design. Students may enhance their degree by opting for a Minor in Retail. Administered by the Design & Merchandising (D&M) program, the Minor “provides basic foundations in retail operations, buying and merchandise planning and e-commerce.” A BS in D&M is also on the menu.
Fashion design students also have access to “studios and specialized labs” at the school’s URBN Center, they have access to the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC), and students may enroll in the study abroad program which may take them places such as London (London College of Fashion), England, and Florence. In addition, students may submit their creations to national and international competitions each year, and upon completion of the program, they have the opportunity to show their final collections in the Department’s Annual Fashion Show.
The 2018 show will be held at the headquarters for Urban Outfitters. The show runs to two separate audiences and features designs this year from 34 separate designers; and the show is collaboration with several other Drexel University departments.
Marist College (TOP 9% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Marist College was founded in 1929. It is home to more than 6,500 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs and minors across seven schools. The School of Communication and the Arts offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BFA in Fashion Design and a BS in Fashion Merchandising with a Product Development Concentration. The Marist College Fashion Program is pleased to offer a Masters of Science degree in Global Fashion Merchandising in collaboration with Mod-Spe Paris, the Fashion Business School.
Short-term studies to Europe and Asia, and full semester abroad studies in London, Paris, Florence & Hong Kong round out the students education. Fashion Design majors may also earn their degree in Florence, Italy or choose a Minor in Merchandising or Product Development.
Marist's strength in internship placement, and unusual depth of internship opportunities, derives from our close proximity to New York City. In the fashion capital of the world, students have access to a wide variety of work environments. Fashion students have completed internships at companies such as Michael Kors, BCBG, Chanel, Harpers Bazaar, Macy's, Nordstrom, Ross Stores and Ralph Lauren and the Silver Needle Runway Show.
The School of Communication and the Arts encourages all students to complete two internships, which will give them a strong advantage when it comes to job opportunities. Fashion Program alumni have been hired by companies such as Ann Taylor, BCBG, Chanel, Donna Karan, GAP, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, MTV, Perry Ellis, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tahari, Tory Burch, and many more.
Baylor University (TOP 12% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Chartered in 1845, Baylor University is currently home to 16,787 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across nine colleges and schools. The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences houses the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences, which offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel Design & Product Development as well as a BS in Apparel Merchandising.
The Apparel Design program provides a “diversified educational experience, encompassing academic excellence in a Christian environment that prepares students to enter the apparel industry profession.” The program also offers the opportunity to participate in the Annual Baylor Fashion Show, which takes place at the end of spring semester each year. Field experiences are on the menu as well and may include trips to Dallas Market, Studios of Apparel Designers, Apparel Manufacturing Firms, and FGI Dallas Career Day, which is held at the Apparel Mart.
The Apparel Merchandising program at Baylor focuses on developing skills, including communication, analytical thinking, teamwork, and ethical behavior. These skills help graduates as they apply management, marketing theory and business principles to the global apparel industry.
Thomas Jefferson University (TOP 18% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
In 2017 Philadelphia University leadership decided to merge with Thomas Jefferson University (PhilaU), another local Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Institution. The new combined school is simply called Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson University was founded in 1824 and Philadelphia University was founded in 1884. Both were ahead of their time and focused on the importance of experiential learning. The new Jefferson was established on July 1, 2017 as a result of the merger of these two renowned universities.
Within Jefferson, remains the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, Kanbar was retained as a legacy college from the days of PhilaU, and still is home to two schools — the School of Design and Engineering and the School of Business. The School of Design and Engineering offers a number of undergraduate and advanced degree programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include BS degrees in Fashion Design, Textile Design, and Textile Materials Technology, MS degrees in Global Fashion Enterprise, Textile Design, and Textile Engineering, and a PhD in Textile Engineering and Sciences.
Program highlights include internships with companies such as Vogue, Betsey Johnson, Tommy Hilfiger, Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch, and study abroad opportunities in London, Rome, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Dominican Republic, Scotland, New Zealand, and Denmark. Students also have access to PhilaU’s Historic Textile and Costume Collection as well as “specialized space for individual programs including, engineering labs, fashion design studios, textile studios with state-of-the-art machinery, and industrial design studios.” The Textile and Costume Collection features “museum-quality garments, accessories, and textiles as sources of design inspiration for the modern-day design and product-development process.”
University of Incarnate Word (TOP 20% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) was established in 1881 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Home to nearly 11,000 students, UIW is the largest Catholic university in Texas and the fourth-largest private university in the state. The school houses nine colleges and schools that offer more than 100 majors.
UIW is home to the School of Media and Design, which houses the Juren Sullivan Center for Fashion Management (FMGT). Program options include a BFA degree in Fashion Design a BA in Fashion Management with concentrations in either Fashion Merchandising or Fashion Product Development. Both concentrations allow students to obtain a minor in Business Administration. Another alternative is BA in Fashion Studies.
FMGT highlights include internship opportunities in San Antonio and the surrounding areas, study abroad experiences at sister schools such as London College of Fashion, Tainan Fashion School in Taiwan, and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and participation in the annual fashion show—The Cutting Edge (est. 1980).
Mount Mary College (TOP 22% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Founded in 1913, Mount Mary University is a women’s college with a student population of just over 1,400 students. The school offers more than 30 undergraduate majors, nine graduate programs, and a variety of certificate programs across four schools including the School of Arts & Design, the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, the School of Natural & Health Sciences, and the School of Business. Programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers are offered through the School of Arts & Design.
Offerings include a BA and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion Merchandise Management. Many fashion merchandising students choose the Minor in Entrepreneurship to enhance their degree or to develop the skills they need to start their own fashion business. The Minor is available through the School of Business.
Program highlights include internship opportunities, the chance to compete in regional, national and international competitions, access to workshops by global designers and retailers, volunteer opportunities with Fashion BOOT Camp for high school students, and the opportunity to participate in the New York-style Fashion Runway Show—CREO: Fashion, Art and Design Show. The show takes place each spring.
Academy of Art University (TOP 22% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school, which had a 2016 fall enrollment of 7,959 students, offers dozens of programs in the areas of art and design. The School of Fashion at Academy of Art offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Undergraduate offerings include an AA in Fashion, a BFA in Fashion with an Emphasis in Fashion Design, Textile Design, or Knitwear Design, BFA degrees in Fashion Product Development and Costume Design, a Certificate in Fashion, and an Online Award of Completion in Fashion Design. A BA degree in Fashion Journalism is also offered. Graduate offerings include MFA degrees in Fashion, Costume Design, Fashion Product Development, Knitwear Design, Textile Design & Fashion Merchandising and Management.
According to the Academy, fashion students have access to facilities that feature “the same leading-edge equipment and resources that top fashion houses enjoy.” Internship opportunities are also available as well as the opportunity to participate in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City and the Annual Graduation Fashion Show in San Francisco. According to the Academy, “the show has been heralded as the ‘Fashion Week of San Francisco’ by both local and national members of the fashion industry.
Graduates of the Academy of Art University have been hired at major companies such as Gap, Kate Spade, Levi Strauss & Co., Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, and many others.
Miami International University Art & Design (TOP 23% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Miami International University of Art & Design (MIU) is one of The Art Institutes, a system of nonprofit schools throughout the United States. It was originally established in 1965 as The International Fine Arts College. Today the school is home to more than 2,000 from over 60 countries and offers programs in the areas of Design, Fashion, and Media Arts. Located in downtown Miami, a modern, cosmopolitan and multicultural city it offers students an unprecedented opportunity to explore, participate, and contribute to their life experience. MIU encompasses a diverse population and provides a live medium in which you can expand your culture and knowledge.
Programs for aspiring fashion designers include AA degrees in Fashion Design, AA in Accessory Design or a BFA in Fashion Design. Alternatively MIU offers those with more interest in the business of fashion either an AA or a BA in Fashion Merchandising. All students have access to Miami’s thriving fashion scene and campus amenities such as multiple studios, 20 computer labs and classrooms, lecture rooms, a library and media center, an 800 square foot Main Gallery, student lounges, and a top-rated Career Services Department. The Department, which hosts a quarterly job fair, attracts some of the best local, regional, and nationwide companies.
Seattle Pacific University (TOP 24% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Founded in 1891 by the Free Methodist Church of North America, Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is home to 4,061 students enrolled in 219 academic programs across six colleges and schools and Seattle Pacific Seminary. The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) houses the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), which offers a BA in Apparel Merchandising and a Minor in Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising.
Program highlights include easy access to a number of apparel company headquarters such as Nordstrom Product Group, REI, Eddie Bauer, and Union Bay, “strong connections” with the apparel industry, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) dual degree program, and study abroad opportunities in 15 countries.
Woodbury University (TOP 25% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Founded in 1884 as Woodbury’s Business College, Woodbury University began “in one room in a storefront in the historic center of Los Angeles.” Today, Woodbury University sits on a 22.5-acre campus in Burbank, California, with an additional campus in San Diego. The school is the former home of Helen Gurley Brown (Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan for 32 years) and the current home to more than 1,500 students enrolled in more than a dozen undergraduate majors and six graduate programs. Just a few offerings include Animation, Filmmaking, Game Art & Design, Interior Architecture, Media Technology, and Fashion Design.
The Fashion Design program at Woodbury is offered through the School of Media.Culture & Design. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Fashion program highlights include the annual Woodbury Fashion Show (open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors), access to the Fashion Study Collection (more than 6,000 pieces, some dating back to the early 1800s), local “lectures, museums, galleries, and exhibitions exploring a variety of topics including social and cultural issues,” and Summer Study Abroad experiences. Past destinations include London, Turkey, Antwerp, and Paris.
Dominican University (TOP 28% OF SCHOOLS BEING 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.
Marymount University (TOP 28% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Founded in 1950, Marymount University Marymount is the only Washington, DC-area university offering a Fashion Merchandising program. The school is home to 3,369 students enrolled in 60-plus programs across four schools including the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education & Human Services, the School of Business Administration, and the Malek School of Health Professions. The Fashion Merchandising Program is part of the School of Arts & Sciences. Options include a BA and a Minor in Fashion Merchandising. Some students choose to pursue a Minor in Business Administration, Communication, or Fashion Design to enhance their degree.
Program highlights include study abroad experiences in places such as France, Italy, Japan, China, Australia, participation in Fashion Club and the Annual Portfolio In Motion Fashion Show, and the opportunity to work on “Real World Projects” that allow students to complete projects for major companies such as Cotton Inc., Top Shop, and Nordstrom. Internship opportunities abroad or with local companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Theory, Burberry, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdale’s are also on the menu as well as the chance to compete in both national and international design competitions.
Johnson & Wales University (TOP 29% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is home to more than 17,000 from nearly 100 countries. JWU students are enrolled in more than 40 programs in the areas of Arts & Sciences, Business, Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Technology, and Education. Established in 1914, Johnson & Wales University has a main campus location in Providence, Rhode Island, with additional campuses in North Miami Florida, Denver Colorado, and Charlotte North Carolina. Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte is home of the school’s College of Business, Fashion Merchandising & Retail Marketing program. The program leads to a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Students can customize the degree program by choosing Concentrations in Advertising, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Human Resources Management, Marketing Communications, or Operations Management.
In addition to the option to customize the program, students are encouraged to participate in JWU’s internship and Study Abroad programs. Students may travel to places like New York, Paris, Asia, and other sites in Europe. Companies such as ABC Television, DKNY, Ann Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Cox Communications Inc., Neiman Marcus, and more have hired JWU Fashion Merchandising and Retail Marketing graduates.
New York University - Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (TOP 30% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development is a private university located in New York City, NY and is the secondary liberal arts and education school of New York University. Established in 1890, the Steinhardt School offers bachelor’s master’s, advanced certificates, and doctoral degrees in applied psychology, art, education, health, media, and music. Over 2,500 undergraduates are enrolled and with more than 3,300 graduate students, Steinhardt is the largest graduate school in NYU.
Steinhardt offers a Master of Arts in Costume Studies as well as a dual master’s degree combining Costume Studies and Library Science. Costume Studies includes courses in exhibition and museum topics, art theory and criticism, and decorative arts, as well as plenty of fieldwork and research. Faculty teach courses in costume and textile history, and expose students to unique collections of costumes and accessories at leading institutions throughout New York. Graduates of the MA Costume Studies and Library Science dual degree may find careers as specialists/scholar-librarians in academic and research institutions, or as archivists in libraries, museums, publishing houses, and fashion companies.
In addition to their regular coursework, students will complete an internship as part of their graduate program. Past internships have been offered at prestigious cultural institutions in New York including the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the New-York Historical Society. Internship coordinators assist in securing internships with respected museums, fashion designers, design firms, magazines, and more. Steinhardt is proud that their highly sought after students are able to gain practical experience, valuable professional contacts, and a unique perspective on possible careers in the art world via these one of a kind internships.
Clark Atlanta University (TOP 31% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
Clark Atlanta University (CAU) was founded in 1865 as Atlanta University—the nation’s first African-American graduate school. In 1988, Atlanta University joined forces with the nation’s first private, liberal arts college for African-Americans—Clark College (1869). The name was changed to Clark Atlanta University and the school became the nations oldest graduate institution serving a predominantly African-American student body.
Clark Atlanta University is now home to nearly 4,000 students, enrolled in 38 academic programs. CAU awards Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees, and it is the largest and only coeducational undergraduate institution in the Atlanta University Center to grant Doctoral Degrees. Clark Atlanta University’s Department of Art is home to several Bachelor’s Degree programs for aspiring fashion designers and merchandisers. Department offerings include a BA in Fashion Merchandising with Concentrations in Design and Merchandising.
All fashion students will take Retail Management, Fashion Show Production, and CFAS 480—the Internship Program. Although not required, the Department “encourages students to consider studying in a foreign country as part of an overall education experience.” The Study Abroad option is available during the third year of study (Fall semester). Students can take up to 15 credit hours abroad in places such as Milan, London, Paris, Florence, and Provence.
St. Catherine University (TOP 36% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s) is home to approximately 4,786 students enrolled in around 120 programs across two campuses—St. Paul and Minneapolis. Founded in 1905, the University houses several schools and 100 academic departments. The School of Business and Professional Studies offers a BA or BS in Fashion Merchandising with a required Business Minor. The Program is offered as a major and a second degree. Students may combine the major with a degree in Small Business/Entrepreneurship or Apparel Design, or a second major/post-baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion Merchandising
Program highlights include 10- to 21-day study abroad experiences in London, Paris, Florence, and India, study in NYC, participation in St. Kate's Annual Katwalk Fashion Show, a paid Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP), optional membership in St. Kate’s Fiber Arts Club, access to Katies Entrepreneur Organization (KEO), and internship opportunities. Past students have completed internships at American Girl, BCBG, New Look Retailers in London, and many others.
Meredith College (TOP 37% OF SCHOOLS BEING CONSIDERED)
The School of Education, Health & Human Sciences at Meredith College is home to the Fashion Merchandising and Design Program. Options for aspiring fashion designers include a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Design with a Merchandising or Design Concentration. Minors in Fashion Design and Merchandising are also available. Program highlights include an experiential learning environment, summer study abroad in Paris or at Meredith’s permanent location in Sansepolcro, Italy, and access to a variety of internship opportunities. Students have interned at Michael Kors, Ella Moss, Vogue Magazine, and more.
About Meredith College: Chartered in 1891, Meredith College opened with just over 200 women. Today, the school is home to a co-ed population of nearly 2,000 students from more than 33 states and 39 countries. The school offers more than 100 programs across four schools including Arts & Humanities, Business, Education, Health & Human Sciences, and Natural and Mathematical Sciences.