Schools with Fashion Design Programs: How to Choose

Fashion design students learn to create clothing, swimwear and couture styles. Graduates might work as fashion buyers, pattern makers, costume designers, fashion illustrators, stylists, production assistants or wardrobe assistants.

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Fashion designers usually hold bachelor's degrees in the arts, although individuals may also have a dual degree in business, fashion merchandising or marketing. Programs are available at 2-year community and trade colleges, though a 4-year college or university will have more intensive program offerings.

Ten Schools That Offer Fashion Design Programs

The following 2-year and 4-year schools offer programs in the field:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
American River College Sacramento, CA 2-year, public Certificate, Associate's $1,104 (In-state) $7,440 (Out-of-state)
California College of the Arts San Francisco, CA 4-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $43,708
City College of San Francisco San Francisco, CA 2-year, public Certificate, Associate's $1,598 (In-state) $7,554 (Out-of-state)
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $48,791
Fashion Institute of Technology New York, NY 4-year, public Associate's, Bachelor's $5,230 (In-state) $14,230 (Out-of-state)
Los Angeles Trade Technical College Los Angeles, CA 2-year, public Certificate, Associate's $1,220 (In-state) $7,016 (Out-of-state)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design Boston, MA 4-year, public Certificate, Bachelor's $11,725 (In-state) $31,225 (Out-of-state)
Otis College of Art and Design Los Angeles, CA 4-year, private, not-for-profit Certificate, Bachelor's $42,314
Pratt Institute - Main Brooklyn, NY 4-year, private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $46,586
The New School New York, NY 4-year, private, not-for-profit Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's $43,813

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Some considerations when seeking a fashion design program include:

  • Students should consider their career goals and the necessary degree to achieve them. Associate's degree programs are suited to students seeking career-entry and to working adults who want advanced training, while bachelor's degree programs provide a broad-based education and opportunities to experience the fashion industry first-hand through foreign study.
  • Students may want to seek programs located near the fashion centers of New York and Los Angeles, since these programs could provide regular visits from guest speakers in the fashion industry and field trips to commercially or culturally important sites.
  • Students should research whether a school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design to receive the necessary training for the field.
  • Students considering financial aid and scholarships may want to look at some schools that provide opportunities to compete for scholarships from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Associate's Degree in Fashion Design

Associate's degree programs in fashion design take 1-2 years to complete. Students learn the skills and processes of the fashion industry. Some programs offer internships or opportunities for students to compete in design contests.

Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Design

Bachelor's degree programs in fashion design may take 4 years to complete. Programs combine conceptual design with practical techniques. Students learn how to design, plan, produce and market clothing through lectures, demonstrations, internships, labs, one-on-one instruction, studio courses and juried reviews.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fashion design are available from 2-year and 4-year institutions. Potential students may consider things like school location, program accreditation and scholarship opportunities when making their decision on a school to attend.

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