Shoe Design School and College Program Information

Footwear design is a specialty field within fashion design that typically requires earning at least an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. Graduates learn creative and technical methods for creating shoe and boot patterns as well as business skills for marketing their collections.

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Many schools offer degrees in the broader field of fashion design and students may choose footwear design as major, although the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising does offer an Associate of Arts (A.A.) advanced study program specifically in footwear design.

Schools with Fashion Design Programs

These are ten schools with fashion design undergraduate programs, many of which include courses or specialization options in shoe design. Tuition data is provided for the 2015-2016 school year.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $29,930
The New School New York, NY 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's $43,813
Washington University St. Louis St. Louis, MI 4-year, Private Bachelor's $48,093
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's $43,318
Baylor University Waco, TX 4-year, Private Bachelor's $40,198
University of Delaware Newark, DE 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,520 for in-state/$31,420 for out-of-state
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's $10,002 for in-state/$28,804 for out-of-state
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's $13,560 for in-state/$36,360 for out-of-state
St. Catherine University St. Paul, MN 4-year, Private Bachelor's $35,500
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $48,791

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when selecting a fashion design school:

  • Earning a degree from an accredited school may be more appealing to potential employers than obtaining credentials from non-accredited institutions.
  • When deciding between associate's and bachelor's degrees, students need to know what they desire out of a program, such as length of studies, comprehensiveness of education, etc.
  • Students who want to specifically pursue shoe design should look for programs that allow specific concentrations within the broader field of fashion design.
  • For practical training, students should consider programs that include specific coursework in shoe design and those that have a dedicated shoe design studio or workshop.

Associate of Arts in Footwear Design

Most footwear design programs are offered through fashion design schools. Earning an associate's degree in footwear design takes two years and consists of coursework in both the creative and business side of the fashion industry. Classes may include footwear collection development, marketing strategies, and creative design, and computer aided drafting (CAD) software may be utilized as part of the program. Completion prepares graduates for several careers in the footwear fashion industry, including shoe designer, line builder, or product manager.

Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Fashion Design

Bachelor's degrees in fashion or fashion design may be offered by various colleges or art institutions. Generally, they take four years to complete and allow students to concentrate in some area of the industry, such as textile design, merchandising, or fashion design. Alongside major coursework, students need to complete general education and liberal arts requirements to fill out their degree. Master's degree programs, on the other hand, combines studio-based projects with research. Graduate students are also able to present their collection in runway shows which help in gaining work opportunities.

While footwear design degrees are uncommon, many schools offer undergraduate and graduate education in general fashion and apparel design fields. Students should consider programs that cover footwear and shoe design and those that offer specializations to help them prepare for prospective employment in the fashion industry.

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