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Handbag and Purse Design Schools in the U.S.

Handbag and purse designers create handbags and purses for accessory and apparel manufacturers and retailers. Find out more about educational options for individuals who want to pursue this profession.

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Aspiring designers of accessories like handbags and purses can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in fashion design or a closely related field. Relevant programs are available at four-year universities around the country.

Schools with Handbag and Purse Design Related Programs

Here are a few colleges and universities that offer degrees in fashion that may help train aspiring handbag designers:

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,158 (in-state)
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's & Doctoral $13,790 (in-state, undergraduate), $15,844 (in-state, graduate)
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,560 (in-state)
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,388 (in-state)
University of North Texas Denton, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's and Master's $9,730 (in-state, undergraduate), $5,450 (in-state, graduate)
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,772 (in-state)
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $11,000 (in-state)
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $8,028 (in-state, undergraduate), $4,858 (in-state, graduate)
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $7,736 (in-state, undergraduate), $8,130 (in-state, graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for schools that offer training in handbag and purse design:

  • Prospective students should look into the school's studio design facilities in order to make sure that they will have access to high quality construction materials, industry-standard equipment and up-to-date computer software applications.
  • It can be helpful to look into internship opportunities offered by the school to make sure that they are available in settings that enable students to focus specifically on handbag and purse design.
  • Prospective students may want find out if schools host fashion shows where students can exhibit their work, which can lead to professional networking opportunities.
  • Students may want to find out if the school offers study abroad opportunities in fashion hubs, like Paris or Rome.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

At the bachelor's degree level, students can enroll in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) that covers fashion design. Students learn about the artistic, functional and economic considerations that go into the development of apparel and accessories. They also get hands-on training designing and constructing prototypes through studio-based courses. Graduates may be required to submit a final thesis or capstone project prior to graduation.

Master's Degree Programs

In Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion Design programs, students take advanced courses that focus on the artistic aspects of the field, such as sketching, illustration and using computer technology in the design process. These programs culminate in a thesis base on a collection and exhibition of creative work. Alternatively, students may pursue a research-based Master of Science (MS) in the field that allows students to conduct independent investigations of fashion industry-related topics, like sustainability and consumer behavior. There are also non-thesis MS options that focus primarily on the business of the fashion industry. Some programs include an internship in the field.

Doctoral Degree Programs

PhD programs that cover fashion design, apparel studies and/or merchandising give students the chance to write a research-based dissertation in a subject of interest related to handbag and purse design. Some programs focus more specifically on fashion industry research, while others emphasize the study and development of better apparel materials. Students may be required to complete a teaching practicum prior to graduation.

Students wanting to start a career designing hand bags may get their start through formal education in fashion design. There are a number of schools that offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field, and applicants may want to seek a school that offers opportunities to work with real-world designers.

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