Master's degree programs in fashion studies teach students about the cultural and historical influences of fashion on society and prepare them for careers in fashion design, marketing and management. These programs combine global perspectives on fashion and art with practical business training. Students conduct independent research in a particular area of interest and complete a master's thesis prior to graduation. Most programs allow students to attend either full- or part-time.
Applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Some schools have minimum standards for undergraduate GPA and GRE scores. Students are also required to submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and in some cases, a portfolio. Foreign students must take the English section of the Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam.
Fashion Studies Masters Programs
Depending on the school, students are required to complete between 30 and 42 credit hours before they can graduate. Coursework covers topics like culture studies, fashion history and consumer behavior. Typical classes include the following:
- Apparel management
- Aesthetic theory
- Labor studies
- Environmental apparel
Graduates of these programs are prepared for multiple fashion-related careers, including the following:
- Fashion merchandiser
- Marketing manager
- Fashion writer
- Fashion designer
- Fashion consultant
Career Outlook and Salary Information
In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported median annual salaries of $63,670 for fashion designers and $128,750 for marketing managers. Employment for marketing managers is expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024, which is slightly faster than average for all occupations. For fashion designers, employment is only expected to increase by 3%, which is slower than average, due in part to a decrease in domestic apparel manufacturing.
Graduates interested in continuing education opportunities and professional certification can join the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS). This organization offers the Fashion, Textiles, and Apparel Competency assessment and industry certification. Continuing education opportunities are also provided by AAFCS through annual conferences and expos.
Overall, by earning a master's degree in the field, aspiring fashion industry professionals can gain the art and business skills they need to improve their employment prospects in an increasingly competitive field.