Today’s fashion industry is at a crossroads. Fast fashion, the industry’s moneymaker, is heavily criticized while sustainable materials are emphasized – and all of this under the persistent craving for novelty in wear and design.
Even working conditions in the fashion industry are undergoing a revolution. Whereas before, groups of designers would spend feverish hours in their studio, putting a collection together, now, online collaboration is the norm.
That is why more aspiring designers are looking for progressive courses closer to home, where they can learn all about the new trends towards sustainability and the economy in fashion.
In the United States, these are the best study opportunities.
Top University Fashion Programs
It should come as no surprise that one of the country’s top universities, Cornell, also boasts the country’s top four-year design program. For just under $59,000 per year, you can work towards either a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design Management or a Bachelor of Fashion degree.
What do you get for your money?
You will explore concepts related to emerging trends in fashion as well as fashion creation, explore the marketing and advertising sides of the industry, and discover developing technologies. Naturally, globalization and sustainability are common themes throughout the course.
If the storied Ithaca, New York campus feels a bit daunting, you might consider a university in Missouri – the Washington University in Saint Louis. Their Bachelor of Arts in fashion design addresses aspects of mass clothing production as well as teaching industry standards and how to stay ahead of current fashion trends.
The cost for their program is $56,300 per year for international students, and they offer several scholarships to offset the cost of studies.
For $20,000 less per year, you can enroll in the University of Wisconsin’s Textile and Fashion degree program. On the school’s Madison campus, the emphasis is on the cultural, environmental, and economic sustainability of fashion and textile art, with a look back over the history of fashion and toward contemporary design.
With its outreach projects, sustainable practices, and state-of-the-art design studios, this program is much more hands-on than other, more academically structured fashion degree plans.
Top Colleges for Fashion Design
In the US, the words college and university are often used interchangeably but their only similarity lies in both of them being institutes of higher learning. Colleges are generally limited to undergraduate degree plans while universities educate up to the doctorate level.
As you surely noted in our first segment, university costs can be pretty steep. Colleges offer an attractive alternative to students whose career plans don’t call for more than a Bachelor’s degree.
In that same spirit, some students question the value of focusing their studies on fashion design. That doesn’t mean they don’t want a career in fashion, only that they realize the chances of entering the rarefied circle of renowned fashion designers are slim and will take years of work – if it’ll happen at all.
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Rather than focusing exclusively on design study programs, they look for degree plans that will include a wider range of career possibilities.
In your search for such inclusive study programs, consider those that incorporate
- Computer-aided drawing or CAD
- other technology courses, such as those for slope creation and precision cutting
- Textile Science and advanced textiles production
- global sources for notions, accessories, and fabrics
- JDA – supply chain management software
Berkeley College in New York offers fashion merchandising and management programs online and in the classroom. Their courses are designed to prepare you for every aspect of working in the fashion industry, from product development to advertising and retail buying.
You may opt for their 2-year degree or expand your studies to four years, with the latter program covering international aspects of the fashion industry.
If you’ve already earned your four-year degree in fashion design but find you cannot gain any traction in the fashion world, you may pursue an additional 2-year degree to study business strategies that emphasize fashion merchandising and fashion retail sales.
Pierce College, located in Washington state, lists a series of courses that address both the business and artistic sides of fashion. There, you will study apparel design, textiles – their history and modern trends, and other specialized design classes.
Their most popular course is Fashion Design and Clothing Construction Analysis. The syllabus covers everything from design development to quality control at every step of the production phase. You’ll also learn about fashion design from a historical perspective.
The cost for college degree plans is generally lower than for university study programs but they usually include fewer amenities. Scholarship money is harder to come by, too.
As you comb through your prospects, be sure to research what will be available to you and, above all, make sure the school you sign on with is accredited.
You should also ask about their internships, career placement, and networking opportunities.
Other Top Design Schools
As well-attended study programs prove, fashion design is one of today’s hottest topics. There are far more avenues into fashion design than the few listed in this article.
Instead of enduring a lengthy university program, you could fast-track yourself into the industry by enrolling in FIT’s School of Art and Design. The Fashion Institute of Technology offers business courses as well as those for fashion designing so, if you wanted to broaden your career prospects, you follow both tracks simultaneously.
The Parson’s School of Design is a historic branch of New York’s The New School, a private research university that was founded in 1896. Parsons School of Design – which includes a School of Fashion currently ranks third on the QS World University Rankings list.
There are other, equally worthy schools for fashion design scattered throughout the US: the Savannah College of Art and Design, Rhode Island School of Art and Design, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising…
Whether learning privately in a not-for-profit institution or earning a degree in one of the US’s finest universities, your career in fashion design is easier to establish than ever before.