Students can find undergraduate and graduate programs in fashion marketing, fashion merchandising, and apparel merchandising. The majority of associate-level degree programs take one to two years to complete and are offered by community colleges and fashion schools, which require that applicants hold a high school diploma or GED for admission. This also applies to baccalaureate program applicants, who may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores.
Admission to a graduate school requires applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and submit GRE scores. Master's degree programs prerequisites can also include a minimum number of credits in either marketing or fashion design, along with submitting a portfolio for review. All program levels may require co-op work experience, internships, field trips, and study abroad opportunities; graduate degrees may require a thesis paper to graduate.
Associate Degree in Fashion Marketing
A 2-year associate degree program provide hands-on fashion marketing experiences, including field trips, internships, capstone projects, and meetings with current industry professionals. Accelerated 1-year programs are also available, though they typically include less professional experience and general education coursework. Students in these programs complete basic business and fashion courses, such as economics, financial accounting, fashion merchandising, and retail management. Other topics covered include:
- Fashion analysis and forecasting
- Marketing and promotion strategies
- Visual merchandising
- Fashion market research
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Marketing
Although bachelor's degree programs in fashion marketing are available, fashion merchandising is the most common type of bachelor's program. These programs provide a comprehensive overview of purchasing and marketing strategies as well as fashion trends and analysis, textiles, and basic design. In addition to learning in the classroom, students participate in internships, field trips, trade shows, and cooperative work that provide professional experience and networking opportunities. Many fashion merchandising programs also offer study abroad opportunities, in which students can gain international fashion marketing and merchandising experience. Most programs include instruction in the following subjects:
- Fashion buying
- Fashion planning and budgeting
- Sales and retail management
- Computer aided drafting and design
Master's Degree in Apparel and Fashion Merchandising
An apparel and fashion merchandising master's degree program offers students the opportunity to perform in-depth study in fashion design and marketing. Students in these programs also perform research on the environmental, social, economic, or psychological elements of fashion and marketing. Most master's degree programs offer a flexible curriculum, allowing students to design a plan of study most relevant to their professional or academic goals. Many programs also require students to write and research a thesis, though non-thesis options are commonly available. Students typically complete courses in advanced textiles, apparel production, consumer behavior, and advanced marketing research. Other courses studied include:
- Social and psychological facets of fashion
- Apparel and garment analysis
- Economics and apparel markets
- Marketing and e-commerce strategies
- Research methods and statistical analysis
Popular Career Options
Students who graduate with an associate degree in fashion marketing are prepared for a number of marketing and retail management positions, such as fashion or retail buyer, visual merchandiser, showroom sales representative, and merchandising planner. Those with a bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising are qualified to work as fashion advertising and promotion managers, retail managers, apparel store managers, and fashion stylists.
A master's degree with a focus in fashion or apparel merchandising qualifies graduates for high-level positions in the business management or product development side of fashion marketing. Career opportunities are available as brand and merchandising managers, apparel and textile analysts, importing and exporting specialists, and fashion forecasters. Other career opportunities for fashion marketing graduates include fashion product developer, fashion trend analyst, fashion and apparel developer, retail buying executive, and merchandising and promotions director.
Continuing Education Information
Many careers in fashion marketing are dependent upon experience, and most students who earn a bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising gain sufficient experience to acquire a management position in fashion retailing or merchandising. While master's degree programs in fashion or apparel merchandising are available, many of these programs either offer coursework similar to that of an undergraduate degree program or more highly emphasize the research and development aspects of merchandising.
A master's degree with a focus in fashion or apparel merchandising is the highest professional degree for candidates interested in fashion marketing. However, students who are interested in research and development as they pertain to textiles and apparel production may go on to earn a doctoral degree in these fields.
Those looking to have careers in the field of fashion marketing can find programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's degree levels. Through coursework and practical experiences, graduates gain the skills needed to pursue work as fashion product developers, trend analysts, and more.