Fashion Studies Degree and Certificate Program Summaries

Oct 23, 2019

Fashion studies programs are offered at the certificate, bachelor's and master's levels through a number of colleges and universities in the U.S. Graduates often go on to become fashion designers.

Essential Information

Fashion studies programs include studies in fashion design and history, with additional studies in the business of fashion. Students learn about clothing construction, fashion marketing and advertising.

Certificate programs prepare students for entry-level or assistant positions, while bachelor's and master's program graduates might pursue careers in fashion design, consulting or journalism. Degree programs often include internship or thesis requirements. Program specializations are available at all levels, and some common ones include fashion merchandising, apparel design and production, and custom clothing and alterations.

Students must have obtained a GED certificate or a high school diploma to apply for either an undergraduate certificate or bachelor's programs in fashion studies.

Admission requirements for a master's program include a bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, a personal statement essay, résumé and satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Studies

The curriculum of an undergraduate certificate program is designed for students with little or no experience in the fashion industry. The program focuses on constructing and marketing apparel, purchasing of fashion products and emerging fashion trends. Coursework prepares students to create original designs and tailor clothing as well as integrating manufacturing and marketing skills to sell apparel to the public. Some certificate programs allow for concentrations in areas like fashion merchandising, apparel design and production, and custom clothing and alterations.

Common courses include:

  • Fabrication
  • Sewing
  • Draping
  • Apparel construction
  • Accessories

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Studies

The bachelor's degree program focuses not only on the creative side of fashion but also on the business side of the industry, with studies in production, marketing and merchandising. Students complete traditional classroom coursework and work in design studios where they gain hands-on experience working with fabrics, textiles and design materials. Students investigate cultural influences on fashion and textiles and learn to develop business models for products and designs. Other focus areas are consumer behavior, exporting and importing fashion materials and products and studies in advertising.

Common courses include:

  • Computer-aided drafting
  • Merchandising
  • Retail
  • Aesthetics
  • Garment structure

Master's Degree in Fashion Studies

Graduate degree programs in fashion studies are offered as Master of Science (M.S.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) programs. An M.A. in Fashion Studies is a research-intensive program that draws from subjects like art, film studies and anthropology, with a major focus on the influence of fashion on cultures and societies around the world. An M.S. in Fashion Studies is a business-oriented program and includes studies in sustainability, which teaches environmental responsibility in the design and packaging of design materials. Both programs require students to complete a graduate thesis project.

Common courses include:

  • Art studies
  • Branding
  • Design technology
  • Business practices
  • Globalization
  • Fashion design

Popular Career Options

Certificate graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in a number of areas in the fashion industry, including jobs at textile companies, design studios and apparel manufacturing companies. Career options for certificate graduates include:

  • Tailor
  • Costume designer
  • Assistant designer

Jobs in the fashion industry are wide-ranging for graduates of bachelor's and master's degree programs in fashion studies. Possible positions include fashion designers, marketing and merchandising positions, and other possible careers, such as:

  • Fashion journalist
  • Fashion consultant
  • Museum curator?

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that jobs for fashion designers would grow at a rate of 1% between the years 2018-2028. An estimated 25,800 people were employed in this profession in 2018 ( The median annual salary of a fashion designer in 2018 was $72,720.

Whether you choose an undergraduate certificate, a bachelor's degree, or a master's degree in fashion studies, you will be well prepared for both the creative and business sides of a career in fashion design.

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