Fashion Merchandising Degree Program Overviews

Fashion merchandising programs are commonly found at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Learn about various program requirements, courses, and specializations available, as well as career information and options to continue your education.

Essential Information

Students in associate's and bachelor's programs are educated in the critical components of buying and selling fashion apparel, which typically focus on merchandising, marketing, selling techniques, and apparel design. In addition to classroom instruction, these programs can include lab experiences, internships, and even trips abroad to help students gain insight into global fashion trends and merchandising strategies. Online programs may also be available from some institutions.

Many undergraduate degree programs only require applicants have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some programs require students to complete core academic courses or basic studies in fashion merchandising before applying to bachelor's degree programs. Those seeking more advanced studies might find opportunities through professional organizations in the fashion design or merchandising fields or in related graduate degree programs.

Associate's Degree in Fashion Merchandising

Associate of Applied Science programs in fashion merchandising provide students a comprehensive education in both the business and design aspects of fashion. Students learn about the selection and use of color in fashion, how to select visually pleasing apparel, and gain an understanding of how to market, sell, and promote apparel. Although degree requirements vary from institution to institution, associate's programs in fashion merchandising generally combine theoretical courses with applied laboratory experience, which can typically be completed within two years. Required courses cover:

  • Visual merchandising
  • Fashion design applications
  • French for the fashion industry
  • Textile brand management
  • Merchandising techniques
  • Trend forecasting

Bachelor's Degree in Fashion Merchandising

Students seeking in-depth training in the business and art of fashion can pursue bachelor's degrees in fashion merchandising. Degree programs educate students in different types of fashion trends. Many institutions offer specialized areas of concentration within bachelor's degree programs, such as fashion marketing, global manufacturing, product development, design and promotions. Topics frequently addressed in common required courses include:

  • Strategic merchandising
  • Inventory management
  • Fashion event planning
  • Brand management
  • Globalization in fashion
  • Fashion illustrations and media design

Popular Career Options

Completing an associate's degree program in fashion merchandising qualifies graduates to obtain professional entry-level employment in just about any area of the fashion industry including retail, design, and purchasing. Common job titles for graduates of fashion merchandising associate's degree programs include:

  • Fashion marketing associate
  • Assistant buyer
  • Showroom coordinator
  • Stylist
  • Assistant designer

Career Outlook and Salary Information

While graduates of fashion merchandising bachelor's degree programs have many professional options, two common career paths are fashion buying and fashion design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for retail buyers in the apparel industry was approximately $52,940 as of May 2015. The BLS ( also reported that fashion designers made a median yearly salary of $63,670 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Fashion merchandising associate's degree holders can often transfer many of their associate's degree credits to 4-year programs at universities and technical art or fashion schools. There are also numerous professional associations offering continuing education courses and conferences in specialized areas of interest throughout the fashion industry. Fashion retail is a common career path for graduates of associate's degree programs. These professionals can join the National Association for Retail Marketing Services. Professionals in the fashion design industry may also pursue continuing education opportunities via memberships in national, international or regional associations like the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Opportunities are also available in areas related to fashion merchandising, such as design or art.

Students in fashion merchandising programs learn to analyze, design, select, promote, and sell many different types of fashion apparel. Whether associate's or bachelor's level, these degrees can provide many opportunities for employment and educational advancement.

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