Fashion-Schools.org is excited to bring you our 2018 Fashion Design School rankings. Each year, we compile a list of the top list of the Top Fashion Design Schools and Colleges in the United States. Our definitive ranking of the top fashion 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 Public Fashion Design Schools in the U.S.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, New York (top 1% of schools considered)
The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) was founded in 1944. A member of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, FIT is home to more than 9,000 students enrolled in 37 majors and 12 certificate programs across five schools. They include the School of Art and Design, Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology, the School of Liberal Arts, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The School of Art and Design offers a number of fashion programs for aspiring designers of all kinds.
New in 2018, FIT was awarded accreditation of it’s business programs by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and programs. Less than 50% of US higher education institutions with business schools are accredited. Within FIT’s Baker School of Business and technology, programs in Marketing Communications, Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing, Fashion Business Management, Home Products Development, International Trade and Marketing for Fashion Industries, Production Management: Fashion & Related Industries, and Textile Development & Marketing all received accreditation.
Students may choose from multiple degree levels including the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, and MPS. In addition, FIT offers one- and two-year options for AAS students and credit and non-credit Certificates. An international option in Florence is on the menu for fashion design students pursuing an AAS degree, and an option in Milan/New York is available for knitwear and sportswear students pursuing a Baccalaureate degree. AAS degree programs for aspiring fashion designers include Accessories Design, Fashion Design, Illustration – Fashion and General Illustration options, Jewelry Design, Menswear, Textile Development and Marketing, and Textile/Surface Design. Baccalaureate (BFA and BS) degree programs include Accessories Design, Fabric Styling, Fashion Design (Children’s Wear, Intimate Apparel, Knitwear, Special Occasion, and Sportswear, and Knitwear options), Technical Design, Textile Development and Marketing, and Textile/Surface Design.
Graduate programs for aspiring fashion designers include an MA in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice and credit Certificate programs include CAD for Fashion Design - Art, Draping, Gemology, Haute Couture, Ladies Tailoring, Leather Apparel, Millinery, Patternmaking, and Performance Athletic Footwear. Minors are available in Ethics and Sustainability, and Fashion Studies, and Non-credit Certificates include Computer Essentials for Fashion Design, Fashion Styling, Wardrobe Technician and Costume Design Specialist, and Certified Technical Designer. All FIT Fashion Design students have the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, London, Milan, Nottingham, England, Melbourne, Australia, or Hong Kong. Students also have the opportunity to intern at local, national, or international companies, and all students may participate in the Annual FIT Fashion Show.
2. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (top 3% of schools considered)
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.”
3. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), Minnesota (top 5% of schools considered)
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.
4. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa (top 5% of schools considered)
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.
5. 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.
6. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado (top 10% of schools considered)
Founded in 1870 and located in Fort Collins, Colorado State University (CSU) is home to more than 33,000 students enrolled in over 150 degree programs across 14 colleges and schools. The College of Health and Human Sciences is home to the Design and Merchandising Program. Degree offerings for aspiring fashion designers include a BS in Apparel and Merchandising - Apparel Design and Production, and an MS in Design and Merchandising - Apparel and Merchandising. There is also a Minor concentration available in Merchandising. Students that pursue a B.S. in Apparel and Merchandising are all exposed to product design and development; promotion, distribution, and retailing; and consumer behavior in the global environments but specific concentrations are available in Apparel Design and Production, Merchandising as well as Product Development.
In addition, the College of Liberal Arts, Department of Art and Art History has several additional offerings for fashion students. Options include BA in Studio, BFA in Studio Art, MA, and MFA degrees with a Concentration in Fibers or Jewelry and Metalsmithing.
Apparel Design students have opportunities beyond on-campus academics as well. They have the opportunity to participate in the internship program and study abroad opportunities. Past design students have studied in Italy, France, Peru, Ghana, and Australia. Some have also participated in Semester at Sea, which typically enrolls more than 600 students from more than 250 colleges and universities. They also have the opportunity to work with artifacts and collections at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising (formerly the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection). Special collections include designer garments from Calvin Klein, James Galanos, Carolina Herrera, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, and Versace, as well as ethnographic holdings, and The Ruth Payne Hellmann Lace Collection, which features more than 1,500 pieces of historic lace and lacemaking tools.
7. Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama (top 10% 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.
8. University of North Texas, Denton, Texas (top 10% of schools considered)
University of North Texas (UNT) was founded in 1890 and is located just North of Dallas in Denton, TX. It is home to nearly 38,000 students enrolled in 103 bachelor's, 86 master's and 38 doctoral degree programs. The College of Visual Arts & Design offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers including a Fashion Design Pre-Major, a BFA in Fashion Design, an MFA in Design with a Concentration in Fashion Design, a Studio Art Pre-Major, and BFA degrees in Studio Art with a Concentration in Fibers or Metalsmithing and Jewelry.
Program highlights include an internship program that provides the opportunity to work at fashion houses in Dallas and Fort Worth as well as apparel companies in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and London. Many students can make early impressions on future employers by competing at national and international events, such as: Fashion Group International of Dallas' Career Day, The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Gap Inc.'s Design Your Future competition. UNT also offers an annual ArtWear fashion show that allows students to showcase your best creations as part of a juried exhibition. The show offers cash awards and serves as the senior exit review.
9. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio (top 10% of schools considered)
The University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) is home to over 40,000 students from over 100 countries and all 50 states in the U.S. There are 4 main schools within DAAP, including School of Design, School of Architecture and Interior Design, School of Art and School of Planning. DAAP offers ten undergraduate programs, nine graduate programs, five minors and seven certificates.
The School of Design is the focus for aspiring fashion designers. The Fashion Design program prepares students for a career in the world of fashion design and its related industries. Fashion designers communicate ideas by fashion sketching, fashion illustration, and through the creation of three-dimensional finished garments that may appear on the runways or in retail stores. Offerings include a BS in Fashion Design, a Master of Design, and a Fashion Design Studies Minor.
Students can direct their academic pursuits in either a direction toward Fashion Design (learn how to design and construct garments, thinking about form and function) or Product Strategy (learn whats required to design and create new product lines, working through the process of bringing consumer driven fashion goods to the marketplace.) In Fashion Design the curriculum includes a mandatory cooperative education component where students work full-time in the fashion industry on alternating semesters. In addition, all students have the opportunity to participate in the popular DAAP Fashion Show.
10. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas (top 10% of schools considered)
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.
11. University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware (top 10% of schools considered)
The University of Delaware (UD) was chartered in 1833 and it is currently home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across seven schools. Within the College of Arts & Sciences you will find the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies (FAS). The FAS department is home to approximately 400 undergraduate majors, split between studies in Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising. The department also offers minors in Fashion History and Culture, Fashion Management, and Sustainable Apparel and Textile Innovation. In the area of graduate studies, the department offers a Master of Science in Fashion and Apparel Studies with thesis and professional project options. There is even an online graduate certificate program Socially Responsible and Sustainable Apparel Business. This award winning degree addresses labor and environmental problems in the global supply chains for the apparel, textile, and footwear industries.
Program highlights include the opportunity to complete an internship at home, overseas, or both and the UD Visiting Student Program. This “cooperative arrangement between the University of Delaware (UD) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)” allows students to attend FIT for one year and apply coursework towards the BS program at UD. In addition, the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies introduced its very first Fashion Week this year. Students have the opportunity to participate in Fashion Week as well as the annual Synergy Fashion Group Student Fashion Show.
12. San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California (top 15% of schools considered)
San Francisco State University (SFSU) was founded in 1899 as San Francisco State Normal School. According to the school’s most recent enrollment report, SFSU is home to more than 30,000 students enrolled in more than 140 undergraduate and graduate programs, 17 credential programs, and 38 certificate programs across seven colleges.
The College of Health and Social Sciences is home to the Department of Family, Interior, Nutrition & Apparel (FINA) (formerly the Department of Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics), which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers.
Offerings include a BS in Apparel Design and Merchandising with an Emphasis in Apparel Design and an MA in Family & Consumer Sciences that can be developed around Apparel studies. Program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in the Annual Fashion Show, and study abroad opportunities in Italy, London, and Sydney.
13. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas (top 15% of schools considered)
Texas Tech University (TTU) was founded in 1923. It is home to more than 36,500 students enrolled in 300 degree programs across 10 colleges. The College of Human Sciences is home the Department of Design (DOD). The Department offers one program for aspiring fashion designers—a BS in Apparel Design and Manufacturing (ADM). Fashion students may also choose a minor to enhance their degree. Possible study areas include Art, Business, Retailing, Mass Communications, and Theater.
The fashion design bachelor's degree program includes a 180-200-hour internship where they place students with major apparel design companies in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and London. Additionally TTU boast the experience of using state of the art fashion design technology. Students design clothing with the aid of [TC]2 body scanners, state-of-the-art software, and other innovative technologies such as a3D OptiTex virtual design tool.
14. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri (top 15% of schools considered)
Missouri State University’s (MSU) main campus was founded in 1905. The state’s second largest university, MSU is home to more than 24,000 students, with a total of 26,000 system-wide. The school offers more than 180 undergraduate majors and 48 graduate programs across six academic colleges, the School of Agriculture, and the Graduate College.
The College of Business is home to the Department of Merchandising and Fashion Design, which offers one program for aspiring fashion merchandisers—a BS in Fashion Merchandising and Design with three-year and four-year options. Both options require completion of four credit hours’ worth of internship experience. In addition, all fashion students have the opportunity to study abroad in places such as London and Paris, and participate in the Annual Spring Fashion Show.
15. University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina (top 15% 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.
16. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas (top 15% of schools considered)
The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) opened in 1883. It is home to over 51,331 students enrolled (Undergraduate 40,168 /Graduate 11,163) in more than 500 degree programs and fields of study across 18 colleges and schools. The College of Natural Sciences, School of Human Ecology houses the Division of Textiles and Apparel, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers.
UT’s program offers multiple streams and specializations to students studying for their Bachelor of Sciences in Textiles and Apparel (TXA). The streams highlighted on their website include Stream 1 Apparel, Functional and Technical Design, Stream II: Merchandising and Consumer Sciences, and Stream III: Textiles and Apparel Honors (Dean's Scholars). The specializations offered include Apparel Design, Conservation, Functional and Technical Design, Merchandising and Consumer Sciences, Retail Merchandising, Textiles and Apparel Honors, Textile Conservation and Museum Studies. Graduate program offers an MS in Textile and Apparel Technology (MSTAT).
Program highlights include access to study abroad opportunities in places such as India and China, internship opportunities with major companies such as Anne Klein, Betsey Johnson, Coach, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Zac Posen, and the UT in NYC Program. The NYC program “brings apparel design, conservation and merchandising students together for a broad look at the apparel industry with an entrepreneurial focus.” Students also have the opportunity to participate in the annual fashion show and exhibition. Past sponsors have included Sephora Cosmetics, Cobalt Blue Hair Salon, and Tribeza.
17. Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana (top 15% of schools considered)
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.
18. Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas (top 15% of schools considered)
Texas Women's University (TWU) was founded in 1901 as The Girls Industrial College. It is home to co-ed population of 15,655 students enrolled in more than 150 programs across four colleges and a graduate school.
The College of Arts & Sciences offers several programs for aspiring fashion designers. Offerings include a BA in Fashion Design, a BA/BS Dual Degree in Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising, a BA/BBA Dual Degree in Fashion Design and General Business-Entrepreneurship, and a BA/BS in Fashion Design and Marketing. A Minor in Fashion Design or Fashion Merchandising is also on the menu.
In addition to a variety of programs that teach students how to design, produce and sell their own products, the School of Management offers internship opportunities at companies such as Aldo, BCBG Max Azria, Coach, Express, Michael Kors, and Nordstrom. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Montage Senior Fashion Show.
19. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska (top 15% of schools considered)
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.
20. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan (top 20% of schools considered)
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.