Fashion Business Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Degree programs in fashion business or fashion merchandising blend business and art, preparing students for careers as fashion buyers, retail managers, and marketing representatives. Check out some of the examples of career options and job projections for sales managers.

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Essential Information

Curricula for fashion business programs include sales, marketing, accounting, management and advertising. Degree titles include Associate of Applied Science and Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising; certificates that take less time to complete are also available. Bachelor's degree programs may require an internship. Students should confirm any special prerequisites before applying for admission; in general, only a high school education is necessary for these types of programs.


Certificate in Fashion Merchandising

The shorter programs in fashion business or merchandising that result in a certificate are often available through community colleges. Certificates generally take two semesters to complete and can be applied to an associate or bachelor's degree.

Studies cover both the business and creative aspects of the fashion field. Fundamental skills such as writing and public speaking are included in this track. Course topics include:

  • Marketing
  • Retail management
  • Sales principles
  • Psychology
  • Visual merchandising

Fashion Business Associate Degree

By choosing to pursue an education in the fashion business, students will be equipped with tools to help them combine a love of fashion with savvy business skills. This arts-intensive career track will provide students with foundational knowledge that will allow them to progress towards a more advanced degree if desired.

This education path enables students to gain a solid understanding of business practices that are relevant to the fashion industry. Many schools include a practical component.

Classes introduce students to essential concepts of business, accounting and marketing through a combination of lectures and real world experiences. Typical coursework includes:

  • Business law
  • Consumer psychology
  • Market research principles
  • Statistics

Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Business

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in fashion business will have the opportunity to explore specialized courses of study related to their interests. Concepts such as how to successfully navigate contract negotiations and understand the reasons behind consumer buying behavior are taught. Most programs require students to participate in an internship program near the end of their coursework to ease the transition from classroom to career. Students may also have the ability to study abroad while earning credits towards their degree.

Many fashion business programs do not have any prerequisites beyond what is normally required as part of the college admissions process. However, since placement into some schools is very competitive, some require a minimum grade point average (GPA), permission from the department head, or an entrance exam to gain admission into the major.

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in fashion business will expand upon previous learned basic principles and focus on defined areas of study including:

  • Textile construction
  • Fashion analysis
  • Consumer trends
  • Societal elements of clothing
  • Purchasing principles

Popular Career Options

A certificate can lay the groundwork for a quick entry into the retail field. Possible job titles might include:

  • Sales associate
  • Fashion consultant
  • Fashion coordinator

Students with degrees find themselves able to enter into fast-paced careers within the fashion industry. Their degree program will enable them to navigate the constantly-changing business landscape with ease, due to their understanding of consumer culture and purchasing motivations. Successful graduates will find that their career choices may include:

  • Personal shopper
  • Self-employed professional
  • Merchandise planner
  • Fashion show coordinator
  • Retail store manager
  • Advertising director

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that sales managers were projected to see a 5% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. The median salary of first-line supervisors of retail sales workers was $38,310 in May 2015.

Degrees in fashion business are available at the certificate, associate, and bachelor's level, and can prepare students for work in sales, advertising, customer trends, or a variety of other fashion-related fields.

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