Top School in Philadelphia for Becoming a Fashion Merchandiser

School and Ranking Information

Students seeking a fashion merchandising program in Philadelphia can choose from roughly six schools within a 25-mile radius of the downtown area. Based on rankings and program availability, the top schools in the Philadelphia area for fashion merchandising are Philadelphia University, Drexel University, and Immaculata University:

  • Winner: Philadelphia University ranked in the top 100 of northern regional universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. During the 2011-2012 school year, the university awarded more undergraduate degrees in fashion merchandising than the other profiled schools.
  • Runner-Up #1: Drexel University, the only nationally ranked school on the list, offers an undergraduate program in design and merchandising that includes a number of related concentrations.
  • Runner-Up #2: Immaculata University, which is just a little over 25 miles away from the city's downtown, offers an individualized bachelor's degree program in fashion merchandising with eight specialized minors.

School Comparison Chart

Category Philadelphia University Drexel University Immaculata University
Rankings (2013) 70th for regional universities (North)* 83rd for national universities* N/A*
Location Philadelphia, PA Philadelphia, PA Immaculata, PA (27 miles from downtown Philadelphia)
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $32,064 (undergraduate)** $36,090 (undergraduate)** $29,000 (undergraduate)**
Fashion Merchandising Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's degree** Bachelor's degree** Bachelor's degree**
Fashion Merchandising Degrees (all levels) Awarded in 2011-2012 65** 35 (fashion and apparel design)** 12**
Most Popular Fashion Merchandising Program in 2011-2012 Bachelor's degree (65 awarded)** N/A** Bachelor's degree (12 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 58%** 68%** 55%**
Noteworthy Study abroad options in Europe or Asia; internships in New York or Philadelphia Co-op placements have included those at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Urban Outfitters Junior-year field placements have included positions at, among other companies, Ann Taylor Loft, Nordstrom, JC Penney and the GAP

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator.

Winner: Philadelphia University

  • Ranked 15th among best value schools for regional universities in the North in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
  • 99% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012, according to NCES
  • Opportunity to participate in campus-based fashion shows, pop-up-stores and publications
  • Internships have included those at Anthropologie, Tommy Hilfiger and Under Armour

In 2013, fashion merchandising was one of the university's five most popular majors, according to U.S. News & World Report. The curriculum is a combination of business and apparel design courses, and students can also specialize in two of nine different areas.

To fulfill the business core, undergraduates take courses in accounting, marketing, economics, finance and management. Fashion merchandising requirements include topics in manufacturing, textiles and computer applications. Through the 3-course clusters, students can also pursue more in-depth studies in, among other areas, global brand or product management, buying and merchandising or retail.

In addition to the merchandising program, Philadelphia University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fashion design. New to the school is a Master of Science in Global Fashion Enterprise program that includes an internship and topics in marketing, product development and technology.

Runner-Up #1: Drexel University

  • Ranked the 3rd best up-and-coming school among national universities in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
  • 99% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012, according to NCES
  • Annual student fashion show
  • Offers a combined Bachelor of Science in Design and Management/Master of Business Administration

At Drexel's Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, undergraduate and graduate students can pursue programs in fashion design and/or merchandising. In particular, the school offers a Bachelor of Science in Design and Merchandising that requires 180 quarter-credit hours (120 semester hours) to complete and teaches future professionals how to create, market and distribute fashion products. To fulfill the elective requirements, students can choose from among five concentrations, including retail buying and merchandising or merchandising technologies.

Through the retail buying concentration, undergraduates are exposed to a variety of retail concepts and models. They also learn about the logistics, stocking, staffing and technology associated with different types of retail venues. Students who specialize in merchandising technology become familiar with front-end promotional strategies and back-end approaches to the research, production and distribution of fashion products.

Drexel also offers undergraduate and graduate programs in fashion design that include topics in fashion presentation. Unique to the bachelor's program is a 6-month, cooperative education experience, study abroad at the London College of Fashion and the chance to compete in national and international competitions.

Runner-Up #2: Immaculata University

  • 100% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid in 2011-2012, according to NCES
  • Immaculata has an overall student-faculty ratio of 10:1, according to NCES
  • Industry-based service learning projects

The fashion merchandising undergraduate program at Immaculata University, available through the Department of Fashion/Family and Consumer Sciences, can help to prepare students for careers in marketing, product development and visual merchandising. Under the direction of industry professionals, undergraduates can acquire a variety of creative and technical skills associated with design, merchandising and promotion.

The curriculum includes eight minor areas of study that allow aspiring professionals to tailor their degree plans and take classes in buying, communication, entrepreneurship and fashion graphics. In particular, students who pursue a minor in visual merchandising learn how to design and implement displays and become familiar with brand imaging and retail strategies.

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