Successful fashion merchandisers are tastemakers and trendsetters. They know what you'll want to wear a year from now and the steps to take to make sure you can have it. They work with major manufacturers and designers, develop fashion marketing campaigns and retail sales strategies, direct manufacturing and feel as at home along the runway as they do negotiating contracts and developing new products. Earning a degree in fashion merchandising will prepare you for a range of jobs, from marketing a designer's line to owning and operating your own retail location.
Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
The fashion merchandising degree program at FIT is the largest of its kind in the U.S. FIT, in Manhattan, offers a full suite of academic programs that can prepare you for a career in the fashion industry. Students can earn associate, bachelor's or master’s degrees in fashion merchandising. FashionSchools.org, which provides information about fashion careers, school and trends, ranks FIT as the best fashion merchandising college, while Fashionista, an independent fashion news site, ranks FIT as second-best.
Parsons, The New School for Design
With a list of famous alumni that reads like a fashion who’s who -- Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs, for example -- no wonder Fashionista lists New York's Parsons as the best fashion merchandising college in the U.S. Parsons helps its students get their work in front of retailers and corporations. Along with offering degrees in fashion merchandising, it also offers an online option for earning a certificate in fashion merchandising.
Kent State University
Ranked the second-best fashion merchandising program by FashionSchools.org, and the fourth-best by Fashionista, Kent State University’s fashion design and merchandising program may be the crown jewel of Midwestern fashion design schools. Kent State, in Ohio, offers courses in developing and marketing fashion goods, forecasting and promoting fashion trends, merchandising for apparel manufacturing and retail operations.
Located in Philadelphia, Drexel University offers its fashion students classes in design and merchandising and fashion design. It also has a robust study-abroad and internship program for its students. FashionSchools.org ranks it third in the country while Fashionista ranks it eighth.
Around The Country
In California, Fashionista and FashionSchools.org ranks Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles as the 13th-best fashion merchandising school in the country, while San Francisco's Academy of Art University comes in at number 5 on Fashionista's list and at number 14 on FashionSchools.org's list. In the South, Auburn University, in Alabama, comes in seventh, and the University of Georgia comes in at number 17 on the FashionSchool.org list. Texas claims spots 11 and 12 on the FashionSchools.org, with the University of Texas and Baylor University respectively. In the Pacific Northwest, Oregon State University is number four on the FashionSchools.org list and 16 on Fashionista's list.
When picking a college or program, consider its accreditations. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design offers accreditation to degree- and non-degree-granting colleges and universities. To gain accreditation, institutes must meet several standards. They must offer a range of courses, have trained faculty members, and provide an environment to support education and training. Most schools make information about accreditation available on their websites or in program literature.
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design: Handbook
- Fashion-Schools.org: Top 75 Merchandising Schools in the US
- Fashionista: Top 20 Fashion Schools in the US
- Fashionista: Top 20 Fashion Schools in the US -- The Full List
- Parsons The New School for Design: Fashion Business Online
- Academy of Art University: What is Fashion Merchandising?
- International Academy of Design and Technology
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.