Fashion History Graduate Programs

Jan 12, 2019

While fashion history graduate programs are not very common, it is possible for students to study this field in a number of ways. Students will read about their options in greater detail, while learning about course requirements and admission standards.

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There are a few options for students who are interested in studying fashion history at the graduate level, though these programs are not particularly widespread. In the article below, we will cover some facts and information, including what types of programs exist, the courses students can expect to take, and typical admission requirements.

Information About Graduate Programs in Fashion History

Graduate programs related to fashion history are available at the master's level in fashion/textile studies or as doctoral degrees in human sciences with a specialization in material culture/textile studies. Many of these fashion and textile studies programs include a strong fashion history component or allow students to pursue fashion history through elective selection and independent research. These programs typically require students to complete a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation, in addition to coursework. Five classes that are commonly found in these programs are discussed below.

History of Fashion

These courses may address multiple time periods, a specific aspect of fashion, or a certain period of fashion history. Some possible topics include the development of styles in the West; the concept and meaning of the word fashion itself; and the role that fashion plays in society, the economy, and the arts. In addition, notable figures in the world of fashion throughout history may be discussed.

History of Textiles

In a textiles course, students may learn about the histories of how certain textiles were used and developed in different cultures and societies around the world. The course may cover the function of various textiles, as well as how they have been depicted and represented throughout history in the arts, and how they have played an important role in the economy.

Museum Theory and History

This type of class may include the history of museums as well as a more theoretical component. Students will learn about the role that museums play, how museums have contributed to societal styles and tastes, and the ways in which a museum determines what objects to collect and how to properly conserve them. This course may also cover various ethical questions related to the collection and display of cultural objects, including textiles.

World Cultures Expressed through Textiles and Fashion

This sort of course might explore how different types of dress and textiles vary from culture to culture over time. Students will learn about the dress of many groups, from nomadic peoples to urban communities. The course will focus on cultures from around the world, including those in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.

Thesis Preparation and Research

Because these programs may require a culminating thesis or dissertation, it is common that students must take a course that instructs them how to properly conduct research. In such a course, students will learn how to develop appropriate research questions and how to properly structure a thesis or dissertation. In particular, this course may focus on research in the fields of history, fashion, textiles and design. Specific research methods, like survey design, qualitative research, or mixed methods might also be addressed.

Admission Standards for Graduate Programs in Fashion History

To be admitted into a fashion history graduate program, students will need to submit an application file and check with each program to make sure they fulfill the prerequisites. In addition to needing at least a bachelor's degree by the time of admission, select programs may require that students have completed some previous courses in art history or foreign language. When applying to these programs, students will typically need to submit an application form, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or statement of purpose, and college transcripts. Additionally, some programs may require that students submit academic writing samples and GRE score results.

To summarize, students who would like to study fashion history at the graduate level can do so by enrolling in master's or Ph.D. programs in related areas, such as textiles and fashion. Many of these programs allow students to study fashion history through coursework and independent research.

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