Best Online Colleges for Fashion Degrees
Our comprehensive list of online schools offering fashion degrees includes 16 accredited online colleges and 52 online fashion programs the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to our comprehensive list, we rank the top 5 schools for online fashion degrees. Prior to enrolling in a fashion degree program, prospective students should verify that their chosen institutions are accredited. Accreditation helps to ensure students that their fashion program meets national academic standards and will equip them with the proper knowledge and skills needed to excel in their future positions.
Best Online Colleges Offering Fashion Degrees
The top online colleges offering fashion degrees can be found on this list. Each of these five schools offers online fashion degrees with an annual tuition under $12,000 and an academic strength score of 60% or higher. Framingham State University takes first place with the most affordable tuition, $5,015 annually for a master's in merchandising.
All schools considered for this ranking offer fully online fashion degrees at the bachelor's level or higher. View our methodology for more details.
|Rank||School||Annual Tuition||Academic Strength|
|#1 University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Annual Tuition $10,260||Academic Strength 72%|
|#2 Framingham State University||Annual Tuition $5,015||Academic Strength 61%|
|#3 North Dakota State University - Main Campus||Annual Tuition $8,847||Academic Strength 67%|
|#4 University of North Texas||Annual Tuition $11,198||Academic Strength 68%|
Online Fashion Degree Overview & Career Information
There are many degree options available to those who wish to pursue a career in fashion. An associate degree will take students two years to complete and will prepare them for entry-level positions in areas such as design, marketing, and buying. Students can take their education to the next level by entering a four-year bachelor's program. This will make graduates more competitive within the field. Participating in a master's program will help professionals become more skilled in their specialization, and takes on average two years to complete. Graduates holding a master's will be eligible for above entry-level and even leadership positions. It will also better prepare individuals who aspire to open their own business or fashion line. There are also certificate degree options available for those who don't want to commit to a full degree program. Earning a certificate will give graduates the skills needed to begin their careers at entry-level. Generally these programs take two years or less to complete.
Aspiring fashion professionals can seek an online associate degree in fashion design to kick-start their career. Students enrolled in an associate program can earn their degree in two years by completing 60-65-credit hours of study. Required coursework will include courses like fashion drawing, fashion textile survey, construction, color theory, pattern making, and fashion portfolio. In order to qualify for enrollment applicants must submit a high school diploma or GED equivalency. If the applicant has completed more than 24-credit hours of study at another institution they must also submit their college transcripts, which may be eligible for transfer.
A letter of intent may also be required explaining the applicants academic and career aspirations. Some distance learning schools may also require a creative assignment to be turned in with the student's applications to showcase their creative abilities. After completing an associate program graduates will be well prepared for entry-level positions as fashion designers buyers, sales managers, merchandisers, and fashion writers. Associate programs in fashion design can be found at community colleges, universities, vocational schools, and art schools.
Students looking to further their knowledge and skills will want to consider continuing their education and pursuing an online bachelor's degree in fashion design. Participants will typically be required to complete 120-132 credit hours to graduate with their bachelor's degree. Students will learn about the history of fashion and how it has impacted the modern industry. They will complete coursework that is well balanced giving participants equal education in both the creative and business side of fashion. Key courses include design, apparel construction, merchandising, textile, and knitwear. Students will also be introduced to the top computer software programs that are important within the industry and will be vital in the graduate's profession upon graduation.
Applicants applying for a bachelor's program in fashion design should first show a strong interest in fashion. Also required in the application process is a high school diploma or GED along with transcripts. If the applicant has attended college previously, their college transcripts will be required. Many schools will also ask for a portfolio to demonstrate the applicant's creativity and talents in design. Graduates who hold an online bachelor's degree will be ready for a variety of positions worldwide including retail buyer, textile designer, visual merchandiser, retail manager, and of course, fashion designer. Many fashion designers aspire to design their own fashion line but design jobs such as associate designer or head designer are also available at already established fashion houses. Online bachelor's programs in fashion design are offered at universities, design schools, and vocational schools.
Online graduate programs in fashion design are also available for professionals wishing to take their career to the next level and can be found at universities, art schools, and vocational schools. Master's programs can be completed in two years, which are comprised of 42-60 credit hours of coursework. Students enrolled in master's programs will take part in rigorous and advanced training in fashion design and development, forecasting and business trends, sketching and illustration, fashion promotion, computer-enhanced fashion design, multimedia communication for fashion, and fashion theory. Toward the end of the student's studies they will also need to complete a thesis as well as a field or teaching internship depending on the student's area of interest and career aspirations.
Applicants who are interested in furthering their education through a master's program must hold a bachelor's degree in fashion design or its equivalent. Two letters of recommendation from past professors, supervisors, or advisors who can account for applicant's level of commitment and creative nature will be required. A letter of intent must also be written and turned in by the applicant discussing their relevant professional accomplishments as well as their intended focus for graduate studies. Lastly, a portfolio and resume showcasing the design talents and professional history are necessary for admission into an online fashion design master's program. Graduates are well prepared to hold above-entry and leadership positions within the fashion industry both nationwide and globally. They can go on to work as independent designers, manufacture representatives, head buyers, textile specialists, product developers, and fashion directors. Graduation from an online master's program will also prepare and qualify professionals for teaching positions.
For aspiring fashion industry professionals who are looking to learn the basic fundamentals of fashion design without committing to a traditional degree program online undergraduate certificate degrees are also available. Certificate programs are generally comprised of 24-29 credit hours and take up to two years to complete. Key courses that students will participate in include fashion history, introduction to creative design, pattern drafting, fashion illustration, fashion and art, tailoring, and couture design.
Generally, schools offering online fashion design certificate programs will require a high school diploma or GED before granting admission to applicants. After completing all necessary studies students will be prepared for entry-level positions within their field. Positions in retail management, fashion design, fashion journalism, fashion merchandising, and buying will be available to graduates. Certificate programs can be pursued at art schools, community colleges, universities, and vocational schools. It should also be noted that most certificate programs would qualify as transfer credits to a degree program if the student plans to further their studies in the future.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Fashion Degree
Accreditation is important because it helps determine whether or not the institution is upholding high standards of quality. This should be considered by applicants before enrolling in an institution or program to ensure that they are going to receive an exceptional education. Students in need of federal financial aide will need to consider accreditation, as federal grants and loans are only available to students attending accredited institutions. The National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) is the main accrediting body for fashion and art based programs. NASAD focuses on the establishment of reasonable standards set for institutions to uphold in order to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for students to excel both educationally and professionally within the realms of fashion and visual arts. NASAD annually evaluates faculty, equipment, and curriculum in order to ensure that the highest quality of educational standards are being met and upheld by each institution accredited through the program. By choosing an institution or program accredited by NASAD fashion students can be sure that their needs will be met and that their background in education will be respected by potential employers within the workforce.
There are a variety of career options within the industry for aspiring fashion professions. The first key profession is fashion design. Fashion designers have the option of creating their own fashion line or working for an already established fashion house in which they will specialize in high street fashion, ready-to-wear, or haute couture. Typical day-to-day responsibilities include creating designs by hand or through computer programs, keeping up to date with current fashion trends, meeting with buyers and forecasters to develop new products, producing patterns for intended designs, overseeing production, and negotiating with customers and suppliers. Self-employed designers will also manage the marketing and financial aspects of their business. Fashion designers with a bachelor's degree are highly competitive over those who hold no degree. Most employers will also seek candidates with some sort of previous experience of working in a design studio.
Another popular profession is fashion buying. Fashion buyers work closely with different designers, wholesalers, and manufacturers to determine which fashion goods their store will carry each season. Responsibilities include keeping up with current fashion trends, attending trade shows and fashion shows to seek out the latest in design and textile, negotiating prices and deals with suppliers, making sure that stock is delivered on time, and monitoring the best selling items within the store to ensure availability for customers. Entry-level positions such as assistant buyer will require an associate degree or higher in fashion or related discipline such as business or marketing. Some retail experience is also preferred. The career ladder in fashion buying is also quite short as it can take as little as three to five years of experience to climb from assistant buyer to senior buyer.
- Admission Requirements. SCAD. Accessed August 12, 2016. https://www.scad.edu/admission/admission-information/graduate/admission-requirements.
- Fashion Business Online. Parsons School of Design. Accessed August 13, 2016. http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/fashion-business-certificate-programs/.
- Fashion Design (AAS). Parsons School of Design. Accessed August 11, 2016. http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/aas-fashion-design-programs/?show=program-curriculum.
- Fashion Design Certificate. Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Accessed April 2018. https://massart.edu/degree-programs/fashion-design-certificate.
- Fashion Design Programs. Baltimore City Community College. Accessed August 13, 2016. http://www.bccc.edu/Page/1582.
- MFA Fashion Design. Academy of Art University. Accessed August 12, 2016. http://www.academyart.edu/academics/fashion/online-degrees.
- MFA in Fashion Design. SCAD. Accessed August 12, 2016. https://www.scad.edu/academics/programs/fashion/degrees/mfa.