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Shoe Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Shoe designers create patterns and choose materials to make men's and women's footwear. Some may work for shoe manufacturers and design firms, but many are freelancers and owners of independent shoe businesses.

How to Select a Shoe Design School

Students who would like to study shoe design can find relevant programs at colleges of art and design, fashion institutes and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Program options
  • Course offerings
  • Computer-aided design training
  • Practical experience opportunities

Program Options

There aren't many schools and colleges in the U.S. that offer specific shoe design degree programs, but there are programs that provide shoe design as a concentration accompanying an associate's or bachelor's degree program in fashion design or accessories design. These programs appeal to shoe design students who also desire a broader background in other areas of the industry.

Course Offerings

Because shoe designers often start their own businesses, it's important to examine schools and colleges that teach students to run a business and market its collections. Candidates may want to investigate colleges that offer classes in accounting, product development, line building and management. Shoe designers create shoes for every demographic. People who want to design shoes for a specific market, such as children, women or men, should choose schools offering classes that focus on that specialty.

Computer-Aided Design Training

Since computer-aided design (CAD) is a crucial shoe design tool, students should select schools and colleges that provide instruction in this software and technology. Shoe designers use CAD systems in every aspect of shoe creation, including pattern grading, sole designs, die making, logo application, decorating and manufacturing cost calculations.

Practical Experience Opportunities

It's a good idea to choose shoe design schools that offer plenty of hands-on experience on campus. It's also worthwhile to pick shoe design colleges that provide internships and contacts that can help entrepreneurial graduates make and distribute footwear. Students can reach out to or work with shoe designers and manufacturers as well as shoe sales people and distributors.

Shoe Design Program Overviews

Associate's Degree in Fashion

A 2-year associate's degree program in fashion or accessories design may include coursework in shoe design. Relevant courses cover:

  • Materials
  • Sketching
  • Shoe pattern drafting
  • Computer-aided design
  • Footwear design and construction

These programs commonly lead to an Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion

Associate's degree credits may apply toward earning or serve as prerequisites for a bachelor's degree program in fashion design. Applicants may need to demonstrate proficiency in software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or submit a portfolio. Qualifying students explore various areas of fashion and accessories design, such as:

  • Computer-aided design
  • Advanced footwear design
  • Portfolio development

Students typically graduate in four years. A senior project and internship may be required.

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