Popular Fashion Schools

Is attending a well-respected fashion school necessary for a career as a fashion designer or merchandiser?

models walking the runwayA degree from one of the top fashion schools can give you a solid foundation for career success, but here’s a helpful tip: A school doesn’t have to be one of the most popular to be a great choice, as long as it’s properly accredited, meets your personal criteria and has a reputable program in your area of study.

Although you might think that you’ll only be able to enter the field with a degree in fashion design or merchandising from one of the well-known schools, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know you do have other avenues to receiving a quality education that will prepare you to enter the fashion design field of your dreams.

We’ll look at schools in the U.S. fashion meccas, but first read on to learn about other fashion schools that offer a high-quality education, have accessible locations and don’t have the high competition factor to contend with.

What Are My Options Elsewhere?

Let’s take a look at two popular institutes that have convenient locations, are accredited, may cost less and may even offer online courses that allow you to work or attend to family while you go to school:

  • The Art Institutes: The Art Institutes have more than 50 locations that offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in fashion design, fashion marketing and fashion merchandising.
  • Sanford-Brown: The schools formerly known as the International Academy of Design & Technology have 10 campus locations as well as a virtual campus online. Students can earn associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in fashion design and merchandising.

Now let’s look at the well-known schools.

Where Are the Well-Respected Fashion Schools?

As you might expect, you’ll find a number of well-known fashion colleges in the industry hubs of New York City and California:

East Coast

  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
  • Parsons New School for Design, New York
  • Fashion Institute of Technology, New York
  • Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston
  • Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore

West Coast

  • Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles
  • Academy of Art University, San Francisco
  • California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland
  • Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles and San Francisco

Not all of the popular fashion schools are private colleges. Some universities also offer highly ranked programs in fashion design, such as the University of California at Los Angeles and New York University. Midwest residents will find excellent fashion design programs at Kent State University, the Cleveland Institute of Art and the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, as well as Northwestern University in Illinois. Meanwhile, the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia is considered not just one of the well-respected fashion colleges, but a great college of arts, period.

Choosing a Fashion Design College

When you’re trying to pick a college, don’t get paralyzed thinking you have to attend one of the well-known fashion schools. Besides college rankings, you need to consider your own needs, career goals and optimal learning environment.

  • Location: Location is important when you’re considering where to pursue your degree but not necessarily because the college is in New York or California. Other metropolitan areas may offer local fashion industry opportunities or have connections with the fashion world that enable you to meet top designers and apply for entry-level jobs and internships.
  • Program: The well-known fashion colleges might offer a wider curriculum than other schools, but a lesser-known college with a strong program in your area of interest can prepare you just as well for your fashion career. You’ll want the school to be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) or a regional accreditation agency.
  • Cost: If you can’t afford the program outright, a good set of financial aid offerings may still make it possible to attend. Properly accredited institutions will enable you to take advantage of a wider range of financial aid options, including federal student aid.

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