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Fashion Design Technology Career Training in California

There are more than 35 schools within California that have fashion design technology programs. Read an overview of the ten largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Fashion design programs are abundant in CA, providing many options for industry hopefuls. Undergraduate certificate programs are offered in general fashion design as well as in such specialized areas as patternmaking and draping, costume design, runway design and fashion illustration. Fashion design associate degrees are also commonly available. Several programs integrate an internship experience to help develop students' practical knowledge and skills. Below are descriptions of educational options at the ten largest schools offering such programs in the state.


American River College (ARC)

Sacramento's ARC offers programs in which students can learn Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Gerber software for pattern making. Aspiring designers may choose to earn a 42-credit fashion design certificate or complete additional general education courses and electives to earn an associate's degree. Other departmental certificates are comprised of 12-16.5 credits and provide training in pattern making & draping, apparel construction, illustration or runway design.

City College of San Francisco

Located in San Francisco, this school provides a 51-credit certificate with training in areas such as computer-assisted design, illustration, apparel construction, digital illustration and pattern design. The associate's program is comprised of the same courses as the certificate program, but it also incorporates electives and general education requirements. A faculty of 13 members teach classes, and students in both programs complete a required 2-credit internship.

El Camino Community College District

Torrance-based El Camino College has certificate programs that require 12-42 credits in specialty areas such as fashion design and production, computer pattern-making technician, costume technician and fashion stylist. An associate's program in fashion design and production is also available, with training in the technical skills of sketching, clothing construction, computer illustration, pattern making and presentation techniques. The fashion faculty is comprised of one full-time member and ten part-time instructors.

Long Beach City College

This Long Beach school offers certificates in general fashion design, pattern maker and sample maker, which range between 25 and 58.5 credits. Technical class offerings include training in sloper manipulations, croquis design, advanced sewing and computer applications. The associate's program includes multiple levels of instruction in sewing and pattern making, as well as classes in textiles, production sewing, fashion design and computer applications.

Mt. San Antonio College

Walnut's Mt. San Antonio College has two levels of certificates. The first level consists of 18 credits and includes basic classes in clothing construction, textiles and computer-assisted drawing. The second level requires completion of the level I requirements, then delves further into illustration, pattern making and draping, and requires an additional 21 credits. The associate's program incorporates many of the same fashion courses, as well as studies in design product development and general education topics.

Orange Coast College

Costa Mesa-based Orange Coast College has certificates in design, production/product development, display/visual presentation and apparel construction requiring 23-45.5 credits, depending on the discipline. Students may study sewing techniques, computerized pattern systems, couture techniques, illustrating and exhibition design. The design, production/product development and apparel construction programs also require internships. To earn an associate's degree in any of the aforementioned areas, students also take such courses as fashion merchandising and complete general education requirements. Students can also pursue an 11.5-13 credit certificate in industrial sewing. The fashion facilities here include up-to-date technologies and equipment.

Palomar College

Situated in San Marcos, Palomar College offers a technical associate's program in fashion design, which includes classes in sewing, pattern making, computer-assisted design, tailoring and digital design, to name a few. Students also complete field studies and a cooperative education internship. In addition, they have the option to take a class in portfolio development. The 11 fashion faculty members provide instruction in both design and merchandising.

Saddleback College

At this school in Mission Viejo, students can choose from four occupational skills programs ranging from 7-17 credits in various specialty areas. Some of the classes students might take include dye processes, vintage fashion, corset construction, eco-friendly fashion and Southern CA fashion. An internship and/or cooperative work experience is also required.

In addition, students have the option to choose from two fashion design certificate programs that involve 36-48 credits. They can also build on a certificate by fulfilling the school's general education requirements and earning an associate's degree.

San Diego Mesa College

Located in San Diego, this school administers a 32-27-credit general fashion design certificate and a certificate in computer fashion technology requiring 31 credits. Students in both programs can earn an associate's degree in each subject by completing additional fashion-related courses and labs, general education requirements and a fashion work experience.

Santa Monica College

Situated in Santa Monica, Santa Monica College offers aspiring designers a 60-credit associate degree program in fashion design and merchandising. The faculty of eight members teach classes in areas such as apparel construction, fashion illustration and pattern drafting. Classes in fashion buying, tailoring and the history of fashion are also part of the curriculum.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Fashion Design Technology Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
American River College 2-year, public; large suburb Patternmaking and Draping Certificate,
Apparel Construction Certificate,
Fashion Illustration Certificate,
Runway Design Certificate,
Fashion Design Certificate,
Associate in Arts in Fashion Design
$1,104 (in-state); $7440 (out-of-state)*
City College of San Francisco 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design,
Associate in Science in Fashion Design
$1,598 (in-state); $7,554 (out-of-state)*
El Camino Community College District 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Computer Pattern Making Technician,
Certificate of Achievement in Costume Technician,
Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design and Production,
Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Stylist,
Associate in Science in Fashion Design and Production
$1,142 (in-state); $5,678 (out-of-state)*
Long Beach City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design,
Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design - Pattern Maker,
Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design - Sample Maker,
Associate in Arts in Fashion Design
$1,182 (in-state); $7,398 (out-of-state)*
Mt. San Antonio College 2-year, public; large suburb Fashion Design Level I Certificate,
Fashion Design Level II Certificate,
Associate in Science in Fashion Technologies
$1,348 (in-state); $7,960 (out-of-state)*
Orange Coast College 2-year, public; midsized city Certificate of Achievement in Design, Production/Product Development, Display/Visual Presentation or Apparel Construction,
Certificate of Specialization in Industrial Sewing,
Associate in Science in Design, Production/Product Development, Display/Visual Presentation or Apparel Construction
$1,184 (in-state);
$6,584 (out-of-state)*
Palomar College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate in Science in Fashion Design/Technical $1,338 (in-state); $7,078 (out-of-state)*
Saddleback College 2-year, public; large suburb Occupational Skills Award in Accessory Design, Basic Costume Construction and Sourcing, Fashion Technology or Sustainable Fashion and Social Entrepreneurship,
Certificate in Fashion Design or Advanced Fashion Design and Apparel Manufacturing,
Associate in Science in Fashion Design
$1,326 (in-state); $5,750 (out-of-state)*
San Diego Mesa College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Computer Fashion Technology: Design,
Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design,
Associate of Science in Computer Fashion Technology: Design,
Associate of Science in Fashion Design
$1,142 (in-state);
$4,670 (out-of-state)*
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Associate in Arts in Fashion Design & Merchandising $1,136 (in-state); $8,078 (out-of-state)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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