Fashion design programs focus more on creative elements, providing courses in drawing and patternmaking, while fashion merchandising programs concentrate on the business aspects of fashion, such as buying and advertising. Both types of programs usually contain field experiences in which students can work to further develop their skills in professional settings. Students may need to submit design sketches in order to get accepted onto these programs.
Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Design
Fashion design majors learn about fabrics, colors, patterns and styles to develop original designs for consumers. Students in a fashion degree program learn the practical nature of fashion design through computer-aided design courses, internships and practical laboratory time. Often, students majoring in fashion design gain additional experience by participating in on-campus fashion shows.
Fashion design students work on developing a professional portfolio throughout their undergraduate training, which they can use for employment purposes. Courses typically taken by fashion design majors include:
- History of fashion
- Industry sewing and tailoring techniques
- Creative design applications
- Industry pattern drafting
- Professional design practices
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Bachelor's Degree in Fashion and Retail Merchandising
Where a fashion design major focuses on the artistic components of fashion, a fashion merchandising major concentrates on business. This degree may be offered through a college's business department or family and consumer sciences department. Students learn the psychology and economics of fashion. Fashion and retail merchandising majors learn all stages of fashion retail, from designing a product to delivering it to the consumer. Study abroad programs take fashion majors to retailing hotspots like London.
The B.S. in Fashion and Retail Merchandising programs gives students a general education foundation as well as a design business core. Fashion merchandising majors typically take part in professional work experiences. They may also take classes in:
- Retail advertising
- Retail operations
- Merchandising statistics
- Interior design
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a 4-year degree program in fashion merchandising can work for retail corporations, private shops and catalog companies. They may find employment as:
- Retail fashion managers
- Visual merchandisers
- Retail marketers
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Employment of fashion designers was predicted to grow by 3% for the years 2014 through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The same agency indicated that fashion designers earned $63,670 as an annual median salary in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
While majoring in fashion merchandising provides numerous employment opportunities, some graduates decide to continue their education. Bachelor's degree holders may go on to earn a Master of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Design or a Master of Business Administration.
A fashion-related degree can can open the door to a number of different careers within the industry, including fashion sales, retail, purchasing or marketing. Further education, such as a graduate degree, may help you advance in the field.