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BFA in Fashion Design & Merchandising: Degree Overview

A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design and Merchandising program allows students to explore the processes involved in creating and selling fashions.

Essential Information

Students in BFA programs explore topics in fashion illustration, apparel design, textile design and merchandise coordinating. From the initial sketch to the finished garment, future fashionistas have the opportunity to become proficient in all phases of clothing design while working with the same equipment, materials and computer software used in the industry.

At the end of the program, aspiring designers may be required to submit a professional-level portfolio that highlights their skills and talents, as well as complete a capstone project. Enrollment is open to high school graduates and GED holders.


Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising

Students complete fundamental classes in color theory, fashion design elements, sewing, fashion design history and drawing. Throughout the program, they examine advanced topics in accessorizing, fashion show promotion, web design and business law. A combined fashion design and merchandising program also teaches students how to make and market clothing for the fashion-conscious consumer. Fashion design and merchandising coursework may include the following:

  • Tailoring and draping
  • International retailing
  • Fashion analysis
  • Fashion sketching
  • Apparel production

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), an associate or bachelor's degree in fashion design is usually the minimum requirement necessary to work in the industry. Graduates work in design firms, wholesalers, manufacturers or stores as:

  • Fashion designers
  • Fashion stylists
  • Assistant buyers
  • Visual merchandisers
  • Retail managers

Salary and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for fashion designers was $63,670 in 2015. During the 2014-2024 decade, employment growth of 3% is expected. According to Payscale.com data from October 2016, depending on their level of experience, retail managers can earn anywhere from $37,875 to 51,282, visual merchandisers an earn between $21,298 and $48,712, and assistant buyers can earn between $30,297 and $74,378.

Continuing Education

Graduate programs in fashion and interdisciplinary studies allow serious design students to further their knowledge of clothing, textiles and fashion management. Graduate degree programs may include Master of Arts in Fashion and Textile Studies, Master of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Society and Master of Arts in Fashion Studies.

BFA programs in fashion design and merchandising are multidisciplinary, combining fundamental business studies with artistic and technical training in clothing design and manufacturing. After earning this degree, graduates can seek entry-level work in the field or pursue a master's degree in a similar subject.


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