Blending business with artistic skills, visual merchandisers set up and maintain retail displays. To obtain a position in this line of work, students should pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising.
Schools with Visual or Fashion Merchandising Programs
The following is a list schools that offer fashion merchandising programs. Tuition is based on the 2015-2016 school year:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|Houston Community College||Houston, TX||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's||$1,632, in-district; $3,360, in-state; $3,756 out-of-state|
|Central Michigan University||Mount Pleasant, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$11,850 in-state; $23,670 out-of-state|
|University of Arizona||Tucson, AZ||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$11,403 in-state; $32,630 out-of-state|
|University of North Texas||Denton, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$9,730 in-state; $19,090 out-of-state|
|University of Georgia||Athens, GA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$11,622 in-state; $29,832 out-of-state|
|Baylor University||Waco, TX||4-year, Private not-for-profit||Bachelor's||$40,198|
|Texas State University-San Marcos||San Marcos, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$9,348 in-state; $20,268 out-of-state|
|Louisiana State University & Agricultural & Mechanical College||Baton Rouge, LA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$9,714 in-state; $26,877 out-of-state|
|Texas Tech University||Lubbock, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$8,028 in-state; $17,388 out-of-state|
Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, Schools' websites
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School Selection Criteria
Visual merchandising requires graduates to have an in-depth knowledge of the retail industry, so here are some considerations to think about while selecting a school:
- It can be helpful to find out where graduates of the school have gone on to work, in order to get an idea of the kinds of companies that students might find jobs at in the future.
- Students should also ensure each programs is approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
- For students who are particularly interested in a specific subfield, such as store management or business administration, it can be helpful to find out if the school offers a concentration or minor in the topic.
- Students should find out if the school offers internship opportunities, which may help students build a portfolio and boost their chances of gaining employment.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
At the bachelor's degree level, students who are interested in visual merchandising can choose relevant majors such as fashion merchandising, retail management, fashion design or apparel merchandising. In these programs, students study fundamental business concepts, such as marketing and purchasing, and they gain experience with industry-standard business and design technologies. At some schools, students are required to complete an internship prior to graduation. In programs that focus more heavily on apparel design, students may also need to submit a final portfolio of their work.
Master's Degree Programs
Master's degree programs in fields such as fashion merchandising and retail management provide a more advanced education, preparing graduates for leadership positions in the fashion retail industry in the future. Specific courses in visual merchandising may be available. There are some programs that allow students to conduct supervised research, leading to a final thesis. Other programs culminate in a final internship and/or a capstone seminar.
With a variety of schools offering degrees in fashion merchandising and related topics, students should focus on programs that are NASAD-approved and offer relevant hands-on training opportunities. They may also consider particular specialization options or focus areas of specific programs.