Best Fashion Schools in the US: Aspiring fashion designers and merchandisers want to be sure they are selecting the best colleges out of the over 350 that are available in the United States.
Top-tier fashion design programs will, at the very least, provide students with practical, intensive experiences that give them a real sense of what it’s like to work in the field.
How does this appear? For some, it entails gaining access to tens of thousands of historically significant fashion items. Others may view it as a surefire opportunity to study abroad or study away, where they will have networking and collaborating opportunities.
The majority of the top fashion design schools place an emphasis on internationally renowned names and brands where students may refine their abilities and establish contacts.
The worldwide fashion market is predicted to develop at a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2020 to 2025 and reach $211.9 million by 2030, making careers in fashion lucratively promising in the ensuing ten years.
Fashion design colleges must not only keep up with the latest trends and cutting-edge technological advancements in a sector that is designed to change, but also act as the driving forces behind such innovations.
Read on to learn more about our selections for the top 10 fashion design programs in the country. With locations ranging from well-known fashion centers like New York City and Los Angeles to less well-known places like Corvallis, Oregon, and Newton, Massachusetts, these courses provide aspiring fashionistas with a wealth of opportunities.
How Long does it take to be a Fashion Designer?
There are many various ways to get started in the fashion industry. Remember that many of the top designers are self-taught; especially in the internet age, all it takes to succeed in the fashion industry is hard effort and a solid understanding of social media.
There are a few benefits to going the conventional path, though, including looking for an internship program or design colleges. Degree programs remove the guessing out of fashion design, and building a strong portfolio while in school that you can use when you start making an impact in the real world is frequently simpler.
But keep in mind that formal schooling to become a designer is costly, and you only get out of it what you put into it. No amount of time spent studying at the top design schools in Italy or the US will guarantee your success if you lack the talent to be a competent designer.
The majority of academic fashion design schools span between two and four years, however if you choose to work while you study, your official education may extend longer. After around five years of experience, successful designers who did not attend fashion school are typically ready to begin requesting positions at design firms, but choosing the self-taught path provides you the opportunity to revolutionize the fashion industry at your own pace.
You won’t be a designer even when you’ve finished school and landed your first job. A designer’s genuine worth is put to the test on the very first day of employment, and the process of being successful continues every day after that.
Best Fashion Schools in the US
Lasell University School of Fashion offers its students a wealth of chances for development.
Students perform a minimum of one internship with companies like Coach, Marc Jacobs, and Tommy Hilfiger during their academic career. Also, they have the exceptional chance to take part in the Paris Immersion Program, which involves traveling to Paris, working as interns during Men’s Fashion Week, and taking classes from professionals in the fashion industry.
The 3000+ objects in the Lasell Fashion Collection, which is available to students, are from more than 200 years of fashion history.
Through initiatives like the School of Fashion Starter Network, which is made up of academics, alumni, and experts from the fashion business wanting to help current students, Lasell students can anticipate receiving a ton of assistance.
Unlike other fashion schools, the yearly fashion show allows first-year students to display their creations (compared to schools that only host senior showcases). The fashion show is entirely run by students.
Lasell’s acceptance rate of 84% is encouraging for prospective students. The Common Application or Lasell Online Application, a high school transcript, a personal essay of no less than 250 words, and a letter of recommendation are required of applicants. SAT/ACT scores are not required.
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Tonian Hohberg founded FIDM in 1969, and it now offers more than 20 majors and degree programs in fields like digital marketing, beauty business management, clothing technical design, and master’s in business administration.
The university has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Sustainable Fashion Colleges in the World by the University Network and as one of the Top 10 Graphic Design Schools by College Magazine.
Given its stellar reputation, it is not surprise that FIDM, which has a 38% acceptance rate, is one of the list’s more exclusive institutions.
The teaching methodology at FIDM combines FIDM SuperLabsTM with Classroom Partner Projects, where students design products for actual brands while also building their individual portfolios.
Victoria’s Secret, Converse, Pixar, Levi’s, Disney, Nike, and Pacific Sunwear are a few of its corporate partners.
Many of FIDM’s most well-known former students will be familiar to readers, including Nikita Dragun and Lauren Conrad, a YouTube beauty celebrity and fashion designer.
Another FIDM alumna named Angelica Villegas worked as Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs’ Senior Art Director. Many of the contestants and winners on Project Runway began their careers there.
Official transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a two-page admissions essay, and a portfolio are needed for applications (which has different requirements based on the program the applicant is applying to study).
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SCAD, which was established in 1978, is the first institution in the United States to provide an MA in accessory design and the only institution in the entire world to offer an MFA.
Internationally renowned companies like Draper James, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and others have worked with fashion students.
Five disciplines qualify for a BFA. Their fibers program is the biggest of its kind in the United States, and students there have produced goods for Nike, NASA, Anthropologie, Macy’s, and Lilly Pulitzer.
The jewelry program is also among the best and biggest in the country, and students have collaborated on cutting-edge designs like Fossil, Zales, and The Limited.
SCADPro, the school’s in-house design studio that links current students with company leaders and industry professionals, is one of the driving forces behind SCAD’s exceptional industry networking.
Students advance to success in the fashion sector by having the chance to work with internationally renowned brands.
SCAD frequently tops lists of national rankings. The institution was recently ranked first in the Top Colleges Shaping the Future of Fashion list by Forbes, first in Art & Object’s ranking of the Best Art Schools, and fourth in Red Dot Design’s list of the top American universities.
Prizes from organizations like the American Advertising Awards, the European Product Design Awards, and others are routinely given to former students and current ones.
Even Heather Doram, an alumna, was selected to serve as the country’s national costumer!
The College of Business at Oregon State University offers an apparel design program that focuses on market- and consumer-driven design and prepares students for careers in the outdoor and sports industries. It guarantees proficiency in the fashion industry’s business, design, production, and marketing.
A lower-division pre-design program is also available, and it has requirements that certain courses be taken in the first and second years of college.
A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 in OSU coursework and pre-design classes is typically required for admission to the clothing design program, which is competitive and limited in terms of the number of students the faculty can accommodate.
The work in the applicant’s portfolio will demonstrate their proficiency with basic design concepts and techniques.
Students enroll in classes including Computer-Aided Design, Color Innovation, and Introduction to Entrepreneurship during their first and second years.
They might enroll in third- and fourth-year courses including Technical Sportswear Size and Fit, Consumer Behavior, and Managing Individual and Team Performance.
Students at Oregon State University now have access to sophisticated 3D design tools used by top sports and outdoor gear businesses thanks to a partnership between the university and Browzwear, a pioneer in design software.
Also, there are numerous scholarships available, as well as chances to study abroad in cities like Florence, Italy; London, England; and Seoul, South Korea.
The International Interior Design Association, National Retail Federation, Supply Chain Club, and Three-Dimensional Printing and Fabrication Club are just a few of the fashion-focused organizations.
It goes without saying that students in the garment design department have lots of chances for assistance and career advancement!
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In 2015, the school was ranked #6 among national universities for Value of Education by the Economist. It was founded in 1918 by the founder of the LA Times, Harrison Gray, Otis, and is now regarded as one of the most ethnically diverse private schools of art and design in the United States.
Students spend their first two years in the Foundation Studio, Creative Action courses, and liberal arts and science coursework at Otis, which is known for having one of the best fashion design programs in the country.
Life painting, writing in the digital age, and connections through color and design are all topics covered in foundational courses. Students are encouraged to develop original solutions for social and environmental problems in their community as part of creative action courses.
Students may enroll in courses including juvenile ergonomics, textile science, and the history of toys as part of the Liberal Arts and Science curriculum, which is organized around five themes: creativity, diversity, identity, sustainability, and social responsibility.
An online application, portfolio, 500-word personal statement, official transcripts, and evidence of English proficiency are required for admission to Otis College of Art & Design. SAT/ACT scores can be submitted by applicants but are not necessary for admission.
The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design was established in 1891 and named for alumna Antoinette Passo Westphal as a result of one of the largest private donations in school history.
Only a few years later, in 2009, the college was given its second-largest public philanthropic gift, this one valued at $25 million. This gift will be used to expand the college’s design programs with new buildings.
Westphal offers around 20 undergraduate degrees with specializations in areas like fashion design, interior design, and design & merchandising. The curriculum for its fashion design degree is studio- and boutique-based.
Students are immersed in practical, artistic encounters where they can design clothing for top business figures.
In the school’s co-op program, third-year students receive commercial studio/atelier training in addition to classroom instruction; they also complete a six-month internship working with well-known designers and companies in fashion-focused locations across the world. The Drexel Fashion Show marks the culmination of the four-year process.
Students have 24/7 access to the studio and other cutting-edge tools like laser cutters, 3D printers, trend forecasting software, virtual garment simulation, and automated knitwear machines at the URBN Center, where fashion design programs are hosted.
The Richard & Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, which includes more than 17,000 pieces of clothing and accessories from the past several centuries, is also kept at the URBN Center.
Fashionista.com placed Drexel’s fashion program eighth in the US and sixteenth overall, as well as third in the US for its design and merchandising program. In addition to Business of Fashion ranking them best overall, best in global experience, and best in learning experience, CEOWorld Magazine named them as the third-best fashion school in the world.
First American to triumph at the International Competition for Young Fashion Designers in Paris was a Drexel design student.
7. Pratt Institute (New York, NY)
The Pratt Institute, which was established in 1887, provides a BFA in fashion design.
Students are required to master a variety of abilities, including fluency in 2D and 3D construction processes, analysis of materials for sustainability, and creation of an authentic collection, according to the learning outcomes.
Classes like shape and form, knit structures, and drape and construct are typical choices for students. During their senior year of study, seniors must complete three credit hours of internship.
World-famous fashion stars and business leaders have graced the halls of the Pratt Institute, which Business Insider recently ranked as the sixth-best design school in the world.
Barbra Walz, a fashion photographer, Betsey Johnson, a fashion designer, and Jeremy Scott, the creative director of Moschino and the designer of apparel for numerous celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, and Madonna, are notable alumni.
First-year applicants must also include their official transcripts, an essay, the results of their English proficiency test, an optional letter of recommendation, an optional set of SAT/ACT test results, and a visual portfolio with 12–20 examples of their greatest work in addition to the Common App.
The portfolio may contain homework, independent work, or sketches. Together with the 12–20 required works, applicants must also submit 3-5 drawings made from actual observations.
8. The New School Parsons School of Design (New York, NY)
William Merrit Chase established Parsons in Greenwich Village and it was the first higher education facility to provide courses in fashion design, interior design, graphic design, and advertising.
A BFA in Fashion Design is available to students who want to concentrate on one of four areas: collections, fashion products, materiality, or systems and society.
At the conclusion of their fourth year, each student completes a thesis project that will be presented to professionals in the field and other graduate students.
All tracks start with the first-year curriculum, which includes courses in time, drawing/imaging, and sustainable systems.
Students may advance to visual communication, creative technical studio work, and introduction to fashion studies in the second year.
Before concentrating on their thesis in their final year, students take a choice of electives and advanced level courses in their third year.
Students at Parsons can anticipate working with premium businesses like Louis Vuitton, COACH, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others.
Fashion designers Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, and Donna Karan are among the school’s well-known alums.
Candidates must submit an application, an optional essay, two letters of recommendation, their portfolio, their official transcripts, and the Parsons Challenge in order to be considered.
The Parsons Challenge encourages students to create a new work that is inspired by a piece that is currently in their portfolio and to write a 500-word essay outlining the creative process. The portfolio is 8–12 uploads or slides that showcase fashion design work.
As the top fashion school in the world according to the QS Global University Rankings for Art & Design, Parsons is undoubtedly among the best.
The State University of New York created the Fashion Institute of Technology (often known as FIT) in 1944. (SUNY). Students can get a BFA degree with a focus on knitwear, sportswear, or intimate clothing, and all graduates complete an internship.
The route of study for each student is entirely determined by their area of interest; a student majoring in knitwear, for instance, might take a course as specialized as stretch fundamentals in their third and fourth years. Seniors have the chance to exhibit their creations at the FIT Future of Fashion display every year.
Students can anticipate becoming fully immersed in a wide range of subjects and experimenting with a huge variety of resources.
Around 50,000 clothing items and accessories from the 18th century to the present are on display at The Museum at FIT, including pieces by Balenciaga, Dior, and Chanel.
Nearly as many people have praised FIT as its clothing! They were recently chosen as the greatest fashion school in the world by CEOWorld Magazine, the best bachelor’s degree in advertising and the best bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising by Study.com, and the top school for fashion design on the list of the best value schools.
A competitive portfolio of three projects, consisting of 4–9 photos of a sewing project, 4–8 photos of fashion design artwork, and 3-6 photos of sportswear coordinates in which the applicant designs a jacket, shirt, pant, and skirt item, is required from applicants.
It should be clear that Kent State’s School of Fashion has a lot to offer aspiring designers given that it is ranked as the top fashion design school in the Midwest, the sixth-best fashion school in the United States, the fifth-best fashion graduate program in the USA, and one of the top 25 fashion schools worldwide.
In fact, all students do at least one internship throughout their time in the program, and all students go on a study-abroad trip to locations including Florence, Paris, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Around 5,000 of the school’s alumni are employed in the global fashion sector, which is something the institution can be proud of.
In addition to job opportunities, Kent State also provides first-rate facilities and cutting-edge fashion labs.
One of the largest fashion and design-focused collections in the country is housed in the Kent State University Museum, and the Fashion Library has more than 4,000 volumes and 40 periodical subscriptions on the topics of fashion, design, sustainability, and entrepreneurship.
One of the most appealing features of the school is the TechStyleLAB. In essence, it acts as a center for students to investigate and utilize digital manufacturing equipment like textile printers, laser cutters, embroidery machines, and even virtual reality.
The minimal GPA for prospective students should be 3.0, and they should aim for an updated SAT score of 1,060 or an ACT composite score of 21.
Students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in order to take part in their study-away trip, but it will be well worth it!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of jobs are there for fashion students?
Visual merchandising (clothing and beyond), store management, event planning, sales, tailoring, pattern making, costume design, wardrobe management, personal shopping, fashion styling, photography, modeling, and jewelry design are some of the other common occupations in fashion.
Are fashion institutes worthwhile?
Several studies have demonstrated that, while being highly expensive, a fashion degree may result in a successful profession and is unquestionably worthwhile. Long-term benefits may still outweigh any short-term costs, even if you must take out loans totaling $100,000 or more. Making ensuring you select the appropriate fashion career is crucial.
Which nation is the birthplace of fashion?
Italy tops the list of most trendy nations in the world. Italian designers like as Gianni Versace, Valentino Garavani, Roberto Cavalli, and Giorgio Armani are among the best names in haute couture. This decision is not especially shocking.
What program should I enroll in if I enjoy fashion?
Moreover, you can select a degree that focuses on a specific branch of fashion design, such as womenswear fashion design and technology, Menswear fashion design and technology, Sportswear fashion design.
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