Fashion Illustration Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Fashion illustrators -- more commonly known as fashion designers -- create drawings and images of apparel, accessories and shoes for catalogues, advertising campaigns, brochures, magazines, direct mail and other media. Programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Students who are interested in fashion illustration typically choose a major in fashion or apparel design. Relevant programs can be found at traditional universities and at dedicated art and design schools.

10 Schools with Fashion Illustration Programs

The following schools offer programs in fashion design:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition
(2015-16)*
University of Minnesota -Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,790 in-state, $22,210 out-of-state
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,560 in-state, $36,360 out-of-state
University of North Texas Denton, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $9,730 in-state, $19,090 out-of-state
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,772 in-state, $31,464 out-of-state
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus Cincinnati, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $11,000 in-state, $26,334 out-of-state
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's $8,028 in-state, $17,388 out of state
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $7,736 in-state, $20,856 out-of-state
Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,012 in-state, $18,212 out-of-state
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $48,791
University of Delaware Newark, DE 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate $12,520 in-state, $31,420 out-of-state

*Source: NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for schools for fashion illustration:

  • Students may want to look into the computer lab facilities at the school in order to ensure that they will have access to industry-standard design software.
  • Similarly, students should look into the school's studio art facilities to make sure students have sufficient time to hone their drawing skills, as well as access to apparel construction materials.
  • It can be helpful to find out about the internships offered through the school, which can provide hands-on experience and may lead to jobs in the field.
  • Prospective graduate students who are considering research-focused programs should find a school with faculty members with whom they share research interests who may act as thesis or dissertation advisors.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in fashion design offer a basic introduction to the fashion industry. Students learn about basic visual design concepts and how materials are used to construct apparel. They may also take courses in life drawing or model visualization. In addition, students must fulfill general education requirements prior to graduation.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in apparel or fashion design provide a more extensive introduction to the fashion design field for undergraduates. In addition to drawing techniques, students also learn about patternmaking, sewing and draping. Students are often required to complete and internship within the fashion industry, and they may have the chance to study abroad in order to explore international fashion. While most programs take four years to complete, some are available in accelerated three-year formats.

Master's Degree Programs

At the graduate level, Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in fashion design are commonly available. Students take advanced courses in a wide range of fashion-related topics, including fashion illustration, and they complete an internship and a final thesis prior to graduation. Alternatively, students may pursue a research-focused Master of Arts (MA) degree in fashion studies, which allows students to take theoretical coursework in the field and write a thesis on a theoretical aspect of fashion illustration.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctoral degree programs covering fashion illustration are rare, but some schools allow students to pursue a PhD in fashion design. Like MA programs, PhD programs give students the opportunity to conduct research relating to fashion illustration. These programs culminate in a dissertation and defense.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs allow students to study fashion design without committing to a full degree program. Most take one year or less to complete, and some offer online coursework. Relevant course offerings for students who are interested in fashion illustration include design sketching and color theory.

Students who are interested in fashion illustration can find both undergraduate and graduate-level programs in fashion design. Students should consider the school's facilities and the curriculum of the program when choosing between educational options.


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