Clothing Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Clothing design schools offer programs under a variety of names, including apparel and textile design, fashion design and clothing design. Clothing design programs are part of both 2- and 4-year colleges. When selecting a school for clothing design, students often take into account the types of degree program offered, specializations within clothing design, the institution type and costs.

Selecting a Clothing Design School

One of the first things to consider when selecting a clothing design school is the applicant's desired level of academic involvement. Students more interested in tailoring mechanics and garment construction may find that 2-year clothing design programs suit their needs. Often, 4-year programs are more focused on style and design elements of clothing and include more theoretical and historical coursework.

Credentials offered by 2-year institutions include certificates and Associate of Arts degrees. Certificate programs are usually limited to basic construction, sewing and tailoring techniques. Associate degree programs cover a wider variety of fashion design and construction information and also include general education requirements.

Students earning bachelor's degrees in clothing design can graduate with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Science degrees, depending on the school. All clothing design bachelor's degree programs include coursework on the fashion industry, textiles, apparel design and construction. BFA programs tend to place a heavier emphasis on the art and design aspect of fashion. Students earning clothing design bachelor's degrees may also be able to pursue areas of concentration within their degree programs. Examples of focus areas include menswear, children's clothing and sportswear.

Some clothing design students want to take coursework in additional areas related to fashion design, such as jewelry and accessory design or shoe design. Not all clothing design schools offer these courses. Students seeking a career in retail or management may augment a program in clothing design with courses in merchandising. They should select a school that offers these courses.

Location can also impact one's choice of clothing design school. Students who want to stay close to their current home may have more success finding a 2-year clothing design program, depending on where they live.

Many students must take the reality of cost into account when choosing a clothing design school. Clothing design degree programs at 2-year schools are often less expensive than 4-year programs. Clothing design programs often also require lab or facility fees, equipment fees and material costs. These extra costs vary by school and may impact a student's choice of clothing design college.

Largest Fashion and Apparel Design Schools by Student Enrollment

College/UniversityStudent Population Institution Type
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities51,1404-year, public
Houston Community College System48,1692-year, public
Michigan State University46,5104-year, public
City College of San Francisco34,8682-year, public
University of North Texas34,8304-year, public
American River College34,610 2-year, public
Santa Ana College33,9162-year, public
Virginia Commonwealth University32,0444-year, public
Santa Monica College31,4042-year, public
Mt. San Antonio College30,0262-year, public
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus29,617 4-year, public
Texas Tech University28,4224-year, public
El Camino Community College District 27,098 2-year, public
Long Beach City College26,9272-year, public
Iowa State University26,8564-year, public
Palomar College26,8052-year, public
El Paso Community College25,8182-year, public
Orange Coast College24,7422-year, public
San Diego Mesa College23,0592-year, public
Kent State University - Kent Campus22,9444-year, public

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