Degrees Needed for Fashion Careers

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A love of fashion, an eye for detail, sewing skills, creativity, the ability to work well with others, good communication skills, and the ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry are all extremely important if you're trying to obtain a fashion career. However, possessing these qualities alone may still not be enough for you to succeed in some of the careers that you may be considering. Some positions in the fashion industry require a college degree.

When considering a fashion job, the first step is to find out if a degree is necessary to qualify and, if so, which degree. Some fashion companies will hire you right off the street without any college education, but most require an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. After determining which type of degree you need, you must then choose a field to major in, such as art, business, fashion design, or marketing.

Different degree programs have different grade, test score, financial, time, course, and internship requirements. Make sure that you choose a degree program that you can get into, that you can afford, and that you have the time to complete.

Types of Courses

Most employers in the fashion industry will require you to prove that you have completed some basic courses in fashion design and/or obtained a fashion degree before you begin one of many possible fashion careers. The specific courses that you will be required to complete will vary from career to career and from school to school, but most schools will require you to take a similar set of courses.

An associate’s degree program in fashion design will usually require you to take courses in art history (typically one or two courses related to the history of art, costumes, or fashion);clothing or garment construction (typically two courses); computers (typically one course); drawing and/or fashion illustration; English composition (typically two courses); the fine arts (typically one course in art and one course in dance, music, etc.); the fundamentals of fashion design; French draping; math (typically one course in basic math and one course in algebra); pattern making (typically two courses, but sometimes three); tailoring; the science of textiles; and the social or behavioral sciences (typically two courses).

A bachelor’s degree program in fashion design will usually require you to take courses in advanced clothing or garment construction; advanced pattern making; colors; computer-aided design (CAD); ethnic and/or regional designs; fashion history; fashion theory; the fundamentals of 2-D and 3-D design (typically one course for each); the impact of clothing on society and/or the relationship between changes in clothing and changes in society; important concepts in fashion design; fashion show production; hats; marketing; merchandising; menswear; modeling; photography (typically one course, but sometimes two); portfolio design; product evaluation; and styling.

A bachelor's degree program will typically require you to take each of these courses in addition to the courses required for an associate's degree, but some of the bachelor’s programs do not have English, math, and/or social science requirements. You may also be required to complete some sort of project, thesis, or internship in order to receive your degree; many programs have special courses designed to help you complete these requirements for your fashion career.

A master’s degree program in fashion design will usually require you to take courses in advanced computer-aided design (CAD) and other fashion technology; advanced techniques used in fashion design; fashion dynamics; fashion marketing; fashion trend analysis; product management; textile design; and a series of 5 to 10 other courses in which you will design and construct garments and accessories that meet certain requirements, or redesign a garment or accessory to solve a problem. A master's degree program may also require you to create a portfolio, submit your designs to one or more fashion competitions, and/or write a thesis to earn your degree.

Associate's Degree

Degrees Needed for Fashion Careers

There are many types of associate's degree in fashion that you can pursue, each designed for a different type of fashion career.

An associate's degree in fashion design is intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level position in the design field, and it can help you become a fashion designer, a pattern maker, a sketching assistant, or another similar type of professional responsible for creating actual designs.

An associate’s degree in fashion merchandising, also known as fashion marketing or fashion merchandising management, is intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level or mid-level fashion career in the acquisition, marketing, and/or sale of fashion accessories and/or clothing. An associate's degree in fashion merchandising can help you become a fashion buyer, a fashion sales supervisor, a merchandise planner, a visual merchandiser, or another similar type of professional.

An associate's degree in fashion modeling is intended for individuals pursuing a fashion career that handles the way that fashionable clothing and accessories are displayed. An associate's degree in fashion modeling can help you become an assistant fashion photographer, a fashion advertiser, a model, a stylist, or another similar type of professional.

To obtain any of these degrees, you will have to meet a series of basic requirements and complete a one- or two-year program. Program requirements will vary, but most will require you to have a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) credential, average ACT scores, and an average high school GPA.

Bachelor's Degree

There are many types of bachelor's degrees in fashion that you can pursue, each designed for a different type of career in fashion.

A bachelor’s degree in fashion design is intended for individuals pursuing an entry-level or a mid-level position in the design field, and it can help you become a fashion consultant, a fashion designer, a fashion marketer, a visual merchandiser, or another similar type of fashion career that is responsible for creating and/or marketing designs.

A bachelor's degree in marketing is intended for individuals pursuing a mid-level fashion career in a marketing department or a marketing company, and it can help you become a fashion marketer, an independent fashion designer, or another similar type of fashion professional if you have some experience or a degree that is specifically related to the fashion industry.

A bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising, also known as fashion marketing or fashion merchandising management, is intended for individuals pursuing a mid-level or upper-level fashion career in the acquisition, marketing, and/or sale of fashion accessories and/or clothing. A bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising may help you become an advertising strategist, a marketing campaign manager, a visual merchandiser, or another similar type of professional.

To obtain any of these degrees, you will have to meet a series of basic requirements and complete a three- to four-year program. Program requirements will vary, but most will require you to have a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) credential, above-average ACT scores, and an above-average high school GPA.

Fashion Design and Merchandising - Kent State University Overview Bachelor's Degree

Master's Degree

A master's degree in fashion can open up a number of opportunities in a number of different careers in fashion. Most employers in the fashion industry consider a master's degree to be an indication that your skills far surpass those of most of the professionals in the field and are, as a result, willing to pay you more and offer you better opportunities if you have a master's.

A master's degree in fashion design is intended for individuals pursuing an upper-level fashion career in the design field, and it can help you become a chief designer, a design supervisor, a fashion show manager, or another similar type of fashion professional (as long as you have the appropriate amount of experience to go along with the degree).

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is intended for individuals pursuing a management fashion career in virtually any industry, and it can help you become a fashion show manager, a retail manager, or another similar type of fashion professional (as long as you have the appropriate amount of experience and another degree that is specifically related to the fashion field).

To obtain one of these degrees, you will have to meet a series of requirements and complete a one- or two-year program. Program requirements will vary, but most will require you to have a bachelor's degree, good GRE and/or GMAT scores, and a good GPA. It is also important to note that a master's degree is not always required for an upper-level fashion career; you may be able to advance into an upper-level position with a bachelor's degree if you have sufficient experience.

Curriculum Content of Master's Level Fashion Merchandising Programs in the U.S.

Continuing Education in Fashion Careers

If you're thinking about pursuing one of the many different careers in the fashion industry, you will probably need an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in fashion design, marketing, photography, styling, or another similar field. However, while a degree may be able to help you get the fashion job you're looking for, it may not be the only thing that you need to keep your job. Most employers in the fashion industry will want to make sure you are staying up to date with the latest trends and changes in the industry on a regular basis. Continuing education courses are designed to teach you about some of the latest design techniques, styles, trends, and changes in the fashion industry; these courses can be very helpful when you're trying to learn how the industry has changed since you left school. There are, however, a few things that you should remember about continuing education.

  • First, most fashion professionals are not legally required to hold a license and there is, therefore, no legal requirements to complete a certain number of courses. However, your employer (and/or the state that you're working in, if you're a stylist) may still require you to attend some continuing education courses, and you will need to complete these courses in order to keep your job.
  • Second, while a job may not necessarily require you to take continuing education courses, you may still want to take them anyway. Continuing education courses are typically a very effective way to improve your résumé. You may obtain a position or advance your career more quickly if your employer sees that you have put in some additional effort and learned some new skills to help you stay competitive in the field.
  • Third, there are a number of different places that offer continuing education courses; almost every fashion school will offer some of the courses that you need. You may be able to attend some courses at your local art school, college, university, technical school, or even through an online program. If you are required to take a continuing education course or want to take a course or two to build up your résumé, you won't necessarily have to go very far to find a program that has the courses that you need.

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