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 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 Public Fashion Merchandising Schools in the U.S.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Fashion Institute of Technology, NY
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.
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.”
Colorado State University, CO
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,
Auburn University, AL
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.
North Carolina State University, NC
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.
University of Delaware, DE
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.
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.
Delaware State University, DE
Founded in 1891, Delaware State University is a public university located in Dover, Delaware with a current enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate students. At DSU, interested students are able to explore the fashion industry through the College of Agriculture, Science and Technology where those in the Human Ecology department can engage themselves in the Textiles and Apparel Studies program. Students in this program have the opportunity to learn about retail functions, merchandising principles, forecasting trends, and textile selection.
Students are provided with many opportunities to participate in summer internships within the textiles industry and earn limited credit hours. Completion of the Baccalaureate degree is conferred upon completion of 125 credit hours. At the end of their enrollment, students must also concentrate in either Fashion Merchandising or Fashion Design.
The Textiles and Apparel Studies (TAS) program provides students with the chance to explore their industry through student fashion design competitions and other unique opportunities. The program also provides students with the chance to participate in field trips to fashion centers and fashion design showcases.
University of Georgia, GA
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.
East Carolina University, NC
East Carolina University’s College of Human Ecology-Department of Interior Design and Merchandising offers several impressive programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Options include a BS in Merchandising with a Fashion or Interiors Concentration and a Minor in Merchandising. Program highlights include student resources such as state-of-the-art design studios, textile labs, and a computer-aided-design (CAD) lab, Study Trips to fashion companies and apparel markets, and Study Abroad in places such as Paris, Argentina, Tokyo, Italy, Germany, and Mexico.
Merchandising graduates have accepted positions with major companies and publications such as Vogue, Valentino NY, Ann Taylor, Burberry, Kate Spade, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, H&M, Crate and Barrel, Gap, J. Crew, and more.
Established in 1907, East Carolina University (ECU) is one of 17 universities in the North Carolina State University System. When it opened, the school sat on just over 40 acres and it was home to just 174 students. Today, ECU is sits on more than 1,400 acres and it is home to 26,887 students enrolled in more than 150 programs across 20 colleges and schools.
Cal State - Los Angeles, CA
California State University – Los Angeles (Cal State LA or CSU LA) was founded in 1947 as Los Angeles State College. The school is home to nearly 28,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across eight colleges. The College of Arts & Letters is home to the Department of Art, which offers several programs for aspiring fashion merchandisers. Offerings include a BA in Art with an Option in Fashion and Textiles/Specialization Fashion Merchandising, MA and MFA degrees in Art with an Option in Fashion and Textiles, and an undergraduate Certificate in Fashion Retailing.
Program highlights include internship opportunities at places such as The Getty Center and Alternative Apparel Los Angeles, participation in the Annual Senior Fashion Show, access to International Programs with more than 50 universities in 18 countries, and participation in the Fashion Association of Design Students.
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.
University of South Carolina, SC
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.
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.
Florida State University, FL
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.
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.
California College of the Arts, CA
California College of the Arts (CCA) was founded in 1907. It is home to nearly 2,000 students enrolled in more than 30 degree programs. Options for aspiring fashion designers include BFA degrees in Fashion Design, Jewelry/Metals Arts, and Textiles.
Program highlights include CCA’s internship program, which offers the opportunity to work at San Francisco Bay Area companies such as Levi Strauss & Co, Athleta, and TEA Collection, the opportunity to participate in the Annual Fashion Show, and unique study abroad opportunities in places such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Italy.
Many CCA graduates have found success in the world of design. Some have started their own businesses, while others have landed positions with major companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew, Athleta, Forever 21, John Varvatos, Michael Kors, GUESS, Kate Spade, and many others.
Georgia Southern University, GA
Georgia Southern University (GSU) was established in 1906. The school sits on a 900-acre campus and it is home to more than 20,000 students. GSU offers 100+ programs throughout more than a dozen academic colleges.
Georgia Southern University’s School of Human Ecology of the College of Health and Human Sciences is home to the Fashion Merchandising & Apparel Design program. Students may choose the BS in Fashion Merchandising & Apparel with an Emphasis in Fashion Merchandising or an Emphasis in Apparel Design. Instruction includes “field experiences, internships, and study tours to the Atlanta and New York fashion markets.” Study abroad opportunities may also be available in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, St. Petersburg Russia, Waterford, and Scotland.
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.