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Fashion Design Technology Career Training in San Francisco, CA

There are multiple schools in the San Francisco area that have fashion design technology programs. To find out which one is right for you, read an overview of the degree options and requirements at three colleges located within 30 miles of downtown.

San Francisco Fashion Design Technology Schools

Those seeking career training in fashion design technology in the San Francisco Bay Area have several local options, including the three colleges focused on in this article that are within about a half-hour drive of the city's center. Find out about the coursework and learning opportunities available at these institutions below. A table of facts and figures on the schools, along with some info on a few other college options, is provided as well.

  • City College of San Francisco enrolls over 26,000 students and offers certificate and associate's degree programs in fashion design. The campus is about four miles from the downtown area.
  • California College of the Arts is a smaller arts school, where students can earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. The school's San Francisco campus is just under two miles from downtown, while the Oakland location is roughly 12 miles away.
  • Situated about 24 miles from central San Francisco, Cañada College offers certificate and associate's degree programs in fashion design, with several specialization options.

Comparison of Schools

Get to know more about the profiled colleges in the table below. It has info on a number of areas ranging from school setting and student enrollment to graduation rates and costs.

City College of San Francisco California College of the Arts Cañada College
School Type 2-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 26,299* 1,927* 6,152*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large suburb
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $1,598 in-state; $9,010 out-of-state* $47,266* $1,360 in-state; $7,968 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2017) 59%* 77%* 55%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) N/A - Open admissions 64%* N/A - Open admissions
Retention Rate (2017) 72% for full-time students* 84% for full-time students* 66% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate 32% (Students began in 2014)* 61% (Students began in 2011)* 26% (Students began in 2014)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

City College of San Francisco

The City College of San Francisco is a 2-year public school offering more than 50 academic programs in over 100 career-oriented areas. Individuals can enroll in continuing education courses, career and technical training, academic programs or distance learning options. Most of the college's associate's degree programs prepare graduates for transfer to a 4-year university. Students can decide between certificate and associate's degree programs in fashion design.

Certificate of Achievement in Fashion Design

Offered by the school's Fashion Department, this 51-credit program typically takes two years to complete. Coursework is focused solely on fashion-related topics, and students can gain an understanding of design and technical principles. In addition to coursework, a part-time internship is necessary in order to complete this program.

Associate in Science in Fashion Design

This associate's degree program combines classroom instruction with an internship. Courses include fashion illustration, beginning and advanced apparel construction, textile analysis and computer-assisted fashion design. In addition to fashion-focused courses, students take a variety of general education classes to fulfill program requirements.

California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts offers 22 undergraduate and 11 graduate programs in the fields of fashion, design, architecture and fine arts. Established in 1907, the school has campuses in both San Francisco and nearby Oakland. The San Francisco campus, located in the Potrero Hill region, is home to the design departments, although all students complete first-year requirements at the Oakland campus.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design

Students begin at the Oakland campus, completing the school's first-year program. During this year, students work under the guidance of faculty members to complete academic and studio work in preparation for major-area studies. Portfolio development is emphasized, and portfolios are reviewed at the end of the year. After the first year, students take major courses in areas such as drawing, fashion illustration, media history and modern arts. The program can prepare individuals for work in a variety of fashion-related industries.

Cañada College

Cañada College is a public school located on the outskirts of Silicon Valley. The 131-acre campus offers a suburban setting with easy access to the San Francisco Bay Area. Students here can select from over 40 programs, including ones in fashion design.

Fashion Design Certificate

In this program, students can select a concentration based on their desired career paths and goals; these include fashion merchandising, technical (apparel oriented), theater costuming or custom dressmaking small business. Certificate programs range from 18-34 required credits, depending on which specialty is selected.

Associate in Science in Fashion Design

This 60-credit associate's degree program offers the same four focus options as the certificate program. Individuals in the merchandising track complete coursework in visual merchandising and business mathematics, while those in the technical concentration take courses in textiles, patternmaking and clothing construction. Theater costuming students take coursework in tailoring, historical costuming and the history of fashion. Students in the custom dressmaking specialty learn about fashion draping, entrepreneurship and fitting techniques. In addition to these fashion-focused courses, all students must satisfy general education requirements in communication, the arts, social sciences and ethnic studies.

Other Schools

Students interested in fashion design technology may also consider West Valley College. The school is located approximately 41 miles from San Francisco and offers Associate of Science programs in fashion design and apparel production. Another option within San Francisco's city limits is the University of San Francisco, located about two miles from the city center. While the university does not currently offer a fashion design program, it does have a more general undergraduate program in design.


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