Distance learning degree programs in fashion marketing, merchandising and management are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, and most can be completed entirely online or with minimal in-person requirements. Fashion design programs, however, cannot be offered completely online due to the hands-on nature of the work, but some online courses might be available.
Courses in online fashion programs usually include business instruction covering the principles of merchandising, marketing and retailing. On the creative side, students learn to recognize trends and gain perspective by studying the history of fashion. Internships may be required depending on program specifics.
Associate's Degree in Fashion
Students in an associate's degree fashion program learn retail principles, marketing techniques, trend forecasting and the basics of clothing design. Associate of Arts in Fashion programs are available online, but they generally require in-person studio work creating garments. Online associate's degrees also are available in fashion merchandising, marketing and management.
Program Information and Requirements
Fashion associate's degree programs require 60-90 course credit hours, which typically translates to two years of study. In most programs, these credits are divided equally between general education and fashion courses. Design-centered programs usually require students to create items of clothing in on-campus studios and are therefore not entirely online. Merchandising and marketing programs typically require no in-person work. Voluntary internships are offered through most degree programs.
Coursework often is delivered by e-mail, online video or DVD-ROM. A student may need specialized graphics software for design courses.
Students in fashion programs must complete general education courses in history, math, computer science and English. Through fashion courses, they learn to create, merchandise and market products or clothing, in addition to exploring store management and consumer behavior.
This course introduces students to methods used to predict future consumer demands and fashion trends. Students learn to source, price and purchase materials, garments and other items in anticipation of trend forecasts. Marketing plans and presentation of goods are included in coursework.
Students in this course investigate major national and worldwide fashion trends over past decades. The relationship between fashion and social, political and cultural changes is discussed. Coursework includes fashion's impact on film and literature.
This course teaches students cost and profit analysis, inventory planning and pricing strategies to promote and sell products in a retail environment. Students learn the calculations and psychological considerations stores use to determine what to charge for an item, in addition to where to place and how to arrange it.
Bachelor's Degree in Fashion
Students in bachelor's degree fashion programs learn retail marketing and merchandising techniques, chain store management and fashion event planning. Online degrees offered include a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising, Bachelor of Science in Fashion Marketing and Management and Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Marketing and Management.
Program Information and Requirements
Most bachelor's degree programs last four years and consist of 180 credit course hours. However, these programs could take as little as two years to complete if a student transfers credits earned in an associate's degree program.
Bachelor's degree fashion programs typically feature an internship at a retail store or apparel company, and some may require students to attend fashion events. All other coursework is delivered online, through DVD-ROMs or by e-mail. Specialized software may be needed for design courses.
In addition to fashion classes, students must complete a general liberal arts curriculum. Fashion courses focus on construction processes and fabrics used in designing clothing, business operations and management principles, and line production.
Students in this course learn about sources for data collection and calculations used to track and predict trends in the fashion industry. This course includes information on the importance of forecasting as well as the appropriate responses to unsuccessful forecasting.
This course introduces students to principles of management and different managerial styles used in retail settings. Students also learn to address common problems in retail, such as non-delivery of goods and theft. These topics may be split into several courses.
Fashion Events and Promotion
Students in this course learn to plan and execute fashion shows and designer expositions. Financing, media notice and public attendance are discussed. In some programs, students may be required to attend or participate in fashion-related events.
Graduates of associate's degree fashion programs can work as managers of retail stores. A store manager supervises salespersons, receives product deliveries and oversees general store operations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2015, store managers earned an average salary of $42,900 (www.bls.gov). A graduate can also work as a buyer; buyers choose the items a store will offer for sale, and determine how many of the item to buy to meet consumer demand and when to offer the item for sale. In May 2015, buyers earned an annual $59,270 on average. A final option for associate's graduates is to work as fashion designers. On average, in May 2015, fashion designers earned $73,180.
In addition to working as a buyer, designer or store manager, graduates of bachelor's degree fashion programs can work as promotion or marketing managers. Promotion managers are responsible for advertising and name recognition of clothing lines or products. According to the BLS, promotion managers positions are highly competitive and, in May 2015, paid an average yearly salary of $113,610. A marketing manager identifies the customer base for a product and develops a marketing strategy and pricing structure geared toward that group. In 2015, marketing managers earned an average salary of $140,660.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of bachelor's programs may continue their education and earn a Master of Business Administration or Master of Fine Arts in Fashion. These programs require 2-3 years of study and are available online.
Students can earn an online or hybrid associate's or bachelor's fashion degree that fits their schedule. Courses they will take include product development, fashion history, trend forecasting and management.