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Shoe Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Shoe designers create patterns, choose materials and propose the overall look of footwear. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in fashion design are the most commonly awarded degrees for prospective designers, but concentrations in shoe design or minors in accessory design are also typical.

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Individuals interested in shoe design should attend a school with an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree program in fashion design. Many programs offer elective courses or concentrations specific to shoe design and construction, others may offer an all-inclusive accessory design minor.

Ten Schools with Shoe Design Programs

There are many art and design schools, fashion institutes and universities that can provide a foundation of knowledge in shoe design. Below are some of the most reputable.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*
The New School New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's $43,813
Fashion Institute of Technology New York, NY 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's $5,230 in-state; $14,230 out-of-state
Woodbury University Burbank, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $36,408
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private for-profit Associate's $29,930
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Post-baccalaureate Certificate $43,960
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Savannah, GA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $34,970
Kent State University Kent, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,012 in-state; $18,212 out-of-state
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Providence, RI 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $45,840
Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $46,586
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $48,791

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when selecting a fashion design college or program:

  • Colleges that offer accounting, product development, line building and management courses will help students interested in launching their own businesses after graduation.
  • Designers creating for a specific market, such as men, women or children's footwear, should seek schools with complimentary course offerings.
  • Choose programs that teach and utilize computer-aided design (CAD); professional designers use this system in every aspect of shoe creation.
  • A college that provides internships and contacts with current business professionals can help students get the hands-on experience they'll need to make and distribute footwear.

Associate's Degree in Fashion

A 2-year associate's degree program in fashion or accessories design may include coursework in shoe design. Relevant courses cover topics like shoe pattern drafting, CAD and footwear construction. These programs commonly lead to an Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion

Associate's degree credits may transfer or serve as prerequisites for a bachelor's degree program in fashion design. Applicants may need to demonstrate proficiency in software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, or submit a portfolio. Qualifying students explore various areas of fashion and accessories design. Students typically graduate in four years. A senior project and internship may be required.

When considering associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in fashion design, prospective shoe designers should take a look at available concentrations and internship options. They might also want to ensure curricula provide training in business and the computer-aided design technology related to the industry.

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