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Boot and Shoe Making Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Boot and shoe designers and fabricators work in an ever-changing environment of fashion trends and ergonomic advancement. Only a few schools in the United States offer specific shoe design programs; thus, training and experience might come from a broader fashion design program. Programs are offered at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's levels.

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Boot and shoe designers and fabricators work in an ever-changing environment of fashion trends and ergonomic advancement. It is important for interested individuals to pick the most appropriate programs to receive proper training when deciding to enter this field.

Schools with Boot and Shoe Making Programs

While not all schools offer specific shoe design programs, below are some of the most reputable.

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Types Tuition and Fees (2015-2016, undergraduate, in-state and out-of-state)*
Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's $20,340
University of California Davis Davis, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,951
$38,659
Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah, GA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $34,970
The New School New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's $43,813
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,047
Spokane Falls Community College Spokane, WA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $3,388
$8,726
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private for profit Associate's, Bachelor's $29,930
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $11,850
$23,670
Seattle Central College Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's $3,891
$9,083

Source: *NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Prior to choosing a training program, prospective shoe and boot makers should consider what type of shoes they want to make. Consider the following also when looking for boot and shoemaking schools:

  • Students should look for programs that offer practical, hands-on training in design, fabrication and fitting.
  • Some art and fashion schools offer opportunities and internships with larger design houses or shoe companies.
  • Students also might want to attend programs that employ faculty active in the shoe design or fabrication industry so that they can keep up with the latest trends and innovations.

Boot and Shoe Making Program Overviews

Certificate in Performance Athletic Footwear or Orthotics

Certificate programs in shoe and boot making are extremely rare in the U.S. Certificate programs tend to be specific to the type of footwear, such as athletic footwear. Students in these yearlong programs are expected to have strong sewing skills prior to being admitted. Orthotic-specific certificate programs often require students to have additional training in materials such as metal, plastic, wood and leather. The National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education provides a list of accredited and approved pedorthic courses and programs for prospective shoemakers.

Associate of Arts or Applied Science in Fashion or Footwear Design

Associate's degree programs in fashion or footwear design take one to two years to complete. Because footwear-specific schools may not be as easily accessible or located nearby, prospective students also might want to check into associate's degree programs in accessory design.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Accessory Design

Completing a 4-year BFA program includes taking courses in general art, such as drawing and composition, and art history, in addition to fulfilling general education requirements. Students in BFA programs also receive training in collection development, as well as participating in peer reviews and critiques.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion or Shoe Design

Although MFA programs in shoe design are rare, students who want more academic training and practice in development and design of shoes might want to consider a graduate program. Two-year graduate programs in fashion or a multidisciplinary MFA program involving fashion, textiles and business can boost a shoemaker's credentials and expertise. At the master's level, students have the flexibility to focus on their own interest in shoe making through additional studio time and a thesis project.

When selecting programs for boot and shoe design, it is important that individuals consider career goals, time commitment, and location. Programs are common at private and public schools at the for-profit and non-profit levels and could include work with textiles and the digital aspects of design.

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