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Best Fashion Design Schools in the USA

ACAlpina ChariNov 16, 2023

Best Fashion Design Schools in the USA_ Courses & Fees

Fashion design is a creative and dynamic field that combines art, aesthetics, and functionality. The USA has a long and rich history of fashion design, dating back to the 18th century when dressmakers and tailors catered to the elite and fashionable classes. Today, the USA remains a dominant force and a diverse market in the fashion industry, with a wide range of styles, genres, and segments. From haute couture to streetwear, from sportswear to bridal wear, from luxury to fast fashion, the USA offers something for everyone. The USA is also home to some of the most influential and successful fashion designers in the world, such as Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Alexander Wang,  to name a few. The USA also became a hub for fashion media, education, and retail, with iconic publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, prestigious schools such as Parsons and FIT, and renowned stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Fashion design schools in the USA offer many benefits and opportunities for aspiring designers who want to learn from the best and make their mark in the world of fashion. 

Studying fashion design in the USA can provide students with a comprehensive and practical education that covers the technical, artistic, and business aspects of the field. Furthermore, studying fashion design in the USA can prepare students for the future of the industry, which is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing needs and expectations of consumers and society. In this article, we will look at some of the best fashion design schools in the USA, based on their reputation, curriculum, faculty, facilities, alumni, and outcomes. 

Overview of Best Fashion Design Schools in the USA 

No. of Programs 100+ 
No. of Universities  50+
Degrees Offered  BFA, MFA 
Duration of Study  Bachelors (4 years), Masters (2 years) 
Tuition Fees (2023/24) 40,000-50,000 USD

Why Study Fashion Design in the USA? 

Quality Education: Many US fashion schools are internationally recognized for their high-quality education, experienced faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities.

Diversity: Fashion programs in the US often provide a well-rounded education, covering various aspects like design, textiles, marketing, and business. This diversity can equip you with a broad skill set, essential in the competitive fashion industry.  

Innovation Hub: The US is a hotbed for creativity and innovation. Cities like New York and Los Angeles are global fashion capitals, providing exposure to cutting-edge trends, technology, and industry leaders.  

Networking Opportunities: Fashion schools in the US often have strong industry connections, offering internships and networking opportunities. These connections can pave the way for internships, mentorships, and even job opportunities. 

Employment Opportunities: There are many opportunities for students to work while studying in the USA. Students can also apply for a work visa after study in the USA. 

Cultural Exposure: The US is a melting pot of cultures. Studying fashion here allows exposure to diverse influences and perspectives, enriching your design sensibilities.  

Entrepreneurial Spirit: The US fosters an entrepreneurial environment. This can be advantageous if you dream of starting your fashion label or business. There are resources and support for budding entrepreneurs.  

Top Fashion Design Schools in the USA 

Parsons, The New School of Design 

Parsons School of Design is a prestigious institution that offers a variety of programs in art and design. It was founded in 1896 by the American impressionist painter William Merritt Chase. Parsons is part of The New School, a comprehensive university that integrates social sciences, humanities, and liberal arts with design education.  Parsons is widely recognized as one of the top design schools in the world, ranking among the top three globally and number one in the U.S. according to QS World University Rankings. Parsons has a strong reputation for producing influential and successful alumni, such as Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Tom Ford, and Anna Sui, among many others.  Parsons’ fashion design department is one of the most renowned and competitive in the industry. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and associate’s degrees, as well as continuing and professional education courses, in various aspects of fashion design, such as fashion design and society, fashion marketing, fashion studies, and fashion systems and materiality. Parsons’ fashion design department is known for its rigorous curriculum, cutting-edge facilities, and close collaboration with industry partners and mentors. Parsons’ fashion design department also hosts the annual Parsons Fashion Benefit, a gala event that showcases the work of the graduating students and honors the achievements of prominent figures in the fashion world.

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Fashion Design  4 years  55,588 USD 
MFA in Fashion Design  2 years  57,008 USD 

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Fashion Institute of Technology 

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is a public college in New York City that specializes in art and design education. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) and was founded in 1944. FIT offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as fashion, business, communication, and technology. FIT’s School of Art and Design has 17 majors, including fashion design, which is one of the most popular and prestigious programs at the college. The fashion design program offers an AAS and a BFA degree, as well as a MFA degree in collaboration with the School of Graduate Studies. The program covers all aspects of fashion design, from concept to production, and prepares students for careers in the global fashion industry. The program also provides opportunities for students to participate in internships, competitions, exhibitions, and fashion shows. FIT’s fashion design program is ranked as the #2 best fashion design school in the US by Fashionista in 2022. FIT’s fashion design alumni include Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Nanette Lepore, and Reem Acra. 

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Fashion Design  4 years  21,692 USD 
MFA in Fashion Design  2 years  23,586 USD 

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Pratt Institute 

Pratt Institute is a private university with its main campus in Brooklyn, New York. It was founded in 1887 by Charles Pratt, an industrialist and philanthropist who wanted to provide an affordable education to the working class. Pratt offers programs in engineering, architecture, fine arts, and design, among others  One of the most renowned programs at Pratt is fashion design, which defines fashion as cultural messaging through clothes. The program fosters the development of individual identity, creativity, and social responsibility among its students. Pratt fashion design students learn the technical skills of pattern making, draping, construction, and sketching, as well as the theoretical and historical aspects of fashion. They also have access to state-of-the-art facilities, such as 3D knitting machines, a textile dye garden, and digital media labs. The program also hosts an annual fashion show, which showcases the senior collections of the graduating students. The show attracts industry professionals, media, and celebrities, and often serves as a launching pad for the careers of emerging designers. 

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Fashion Design  4 years  55,575 USD 
MFA in Fashion Collection & Communication   2 years  59,520 USD 

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Rhode Island School of Design 

The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private art and design school in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1877 by a group of women who wanted to increase the accessibility of design education to women. Today, RISD offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs across 19 majors and enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate and 500 graduate students.  The Apparel Design department at RISD prepares students to become ethical leaders in the field who reimagine how apparel is made and what it can be. The department offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program that focuses on craftsmanship, sustainability, and cultural dialogue through fashion. Students learn to design and make garments that express their unique vision and voice, while also considering the needs and desires of the wearer. The department has a reputation for producing innovative and influential designers, such as Nicole Miller, Mel Ottenberg, and Todd Oldham. The department also showcases the work of its senior students in an annual fashion show that attracts attention from the industry and the media. 

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Apparel Design   4 years  58,690 USD 
MFA in Textiles  2 years  58,690 USD 

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Savannah School of Art and Design 

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a private, nonprofit art institution that was founded in 1978 to provide degrees in programs not yet offered in the southeast of the United States. SCAD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. SCAD has been ranked among the top art and design schools in the world.  SCAD’s fashion department offers undergraduate and graduate programs in fashion, fashion marketing and management, accessory design, fibers, jewelry, and luxury and fashion management. SCAD also offers a minor in sneaker design, the first of its kind in the United States. SCAD’s fashion students have the opportunity to collaborate with students from other disciplines, participate in annual shows and events, and learn from industry professionals and icons such as Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui, and Emily Adams Bode Aujla. SCAD’s fashion alumni have gone on to work for leading brands such as Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, and Alexander Wang. SCAD’s fashion department has been recognized as one of the best in the world by The Business of Fashion, Fashionista, and Fashion-Schools.org. 

Program Name  Duration of Study  Tuition Fees (2023/24)
BFA in Fashion  4 years  40,095 USD 
MFA in Fashion  2 years  41,085 USD 

Admission Requirements for Fashion Design Schools in the USA 

Bachelor’s Programs:  

  • Typically, you’ll need to provide your high school transcripts or their equivalent. English Demonstrate proficiency in English through tests like TOEFL (90) or IELTS (6.5). 
  • A strong portfolio showcasing your artistic and design skills is usually required. This portfolio might include sketches, designs, or any relevant creative work. 
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors. 
  • A personal statement outlining your interest in fashion design and your career goals. 

Master’s Programs:  

  • You typically need a relevant bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. 
  • Transcripts from your previous academic institutions. 
  • Similar to bachelor’s programs, demonstrating proficiency in English through tests like TOEFL (90) or IELTS (6.5) is required. 
  • A more advanced and comprehensive portfolio showcasing your design skills and experience. Letters of recommendation. 
  • A statement of purpose. 

Career Opportunities for Fashion Design Graduates 

Fashion design is a creative and competitive field that offers a variety of career paths for those who have a passion for style, aesthetics, and innovation. Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear, using their artistic vision and technical skills. They may work for fashion houses, brands, retailers, or manufacturers, or they may be self-employed and launch their own labels. Some of the common job titles for fashion designers are apparel designer, accessory designer, costume designer, footwear designer, textile designer, and technical designer. However, the competition for jobs is expected to be strong, as many talented and aspiring designers are attracted to the industry. To succeed as a fashion designer, one needs to have a portfolio of original and appealing designs, as well as skills in computer-aided design (CAD), sewing, draping, pattern making, and fashion trends. Additionally, fashion designers need to have good communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, as they often work with clients, suppliers, and other professionals in the fashion industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for fashion designers was 77,450 USD in May 2021. The lowest 10% earned less than 38,570 USD, and the highest 10% earned more than 149,010 USD. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the best fashion design schools in the USA provide high-quality education, excellent facilities, and career opportunities for aspiring fashion designers. These schools have accreditation, recognition, and reputation in the fashion industry, and offer diverse and comprehensive programs that cover various aspects of fashion design. By attending these schools, you can learn from experienced and renowned faculty, network with peers and professionals, and showcase your work at prestigious events and platforms. However, choosing the right fashion school can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider, such as the curriculum, the faculty, the reputation, the budget, scholarships, etc. Therefore, it is important to do some research before applying to any fashion design school and compare the different options available. We understand that such research can be daunting, especially in a large country like the USA. That’s why we are here to help you! Let our admission experts at OneApply, find the perfect fit for you. Book your free video call appointment right now! 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, many programs incorporate internships or real-world projects with industry partners to provide hands-on experience and networking opportunities for students.

Graduates can pursue careers as fashion designers, stylists, patternmakers, buyers, and product developers, or work in areas such as fashion marketing, and visual merchandising, or even start their own fashion businesses.

Yes, many schools offer scholarships or financial aid based on merit, need, or specific talents. There are also external scholarships and grants available for aspiring fashion designers.

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