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9 September 2023

6 minutes read

Top Fashion Universities in USA: The Ultimate Ranking Guide for Aspiring Designers

The fashion industry, ever-evolving and always glamorous, remains a magnet for many. Whether it’s the allure of the catwalk, the hum of a sewing machine, or the dream of having your label, pursuing a career in fashion is a bold decision.

This decision becomes a defining moment when choosing where to study. The USA, a global fashion capital, houses some of the world’s best fashion schools. Here’s a curated list to guide every budding fashionista.

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Why Studying Fashion in the USA is a Game-Changer

The USA, known for its global impact across various sectors, holds a special place in the world of fashion. Cities like New York and Los Angeles aren’t just known for their iconic landmarks but also as the epicenters of fashion evolution, hosting events like the New York Fashion Week.

Studying fashion in the USA offers students an unparalleled education and a chance to be at the forefront of global fashion trends.

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The Criteria for Ranking the Best Fashion Schools in the USA

Before diving into the list of the best fashion schools, understanding the ranking criteria ensures an informed decision:

  • Fashion Design Program Depth: Comprehensive courses covering every facet of the fashion industry from design to merchandising.
  • Reputation in the Fashion Industry: Alumni success, industry partnerships, and recognition among the biggest fashion names.
  • Facilities and Practical Experience: Modern facilities, including sewing labs, design studios, and opportunities for real-world exposure like internships.
  • Global Perspective: Offering fashion design courses that promote global fashion studies, including opportunities to study abroad.

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York

When one talks about top fashion schools, FIT invariably occupies a top spot. Based in New York City’s fashion district, FIT offers a BFA in Fashion Design among many other degrees. The school prides itself on its industry ties and the annual fashion show featuring student designs.

FIT’s Global Fashion Impact

For international students and those looking to make a global mark, FIT provides a unique blend of practical experience and classroom teaching, emphasizing global fashion trends. The school often collaborates with international fashion houses, offering students a chance to work on real-world projects.

Parsons School of Design, New York

Another gem from New York City, the Parsons School of Design, often referred to as the New School for Design, holds a rich history in shaping the fashion world.

Unique Fashion Courses Offered

Apart from the traditional fashion design programs, Parsons offers courses in experimental fashion, fashion journalism, and fashion business, catering to various interests within the fashion domain. Their fashion design majors get the opportunity to showcase their work during the New York Fashion Week, a dream for many.

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Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

RISD offers a unique blend of art, design, and fashion. Their fashion program, although more compact than others, offers an intensive dive into the world of fashion design.

The Intersection of Art and Fashion

At RISD, fashion isn’t just about clothing; it’s an art form. Students here are encouraged to think outside the box, and the results are often avant-garde designs that push the boundaries of traditional fashion. Annual fashion shows here are more than just a showcase; they’re a testament to the innovative spirit of RISD.

Academy of Art University, San Francisco

This West Coast institution is known for producing some of the most innovative designers in the fashion world. With a focus on technological integration, the Academy stands out.

Embracing Technology in Fashion

The Academy of Art University believes in evolving with the times. Their courses often intertwine technology with fashion, teaching students not just to design but also to integrate tech innovations like wearables into their creations.

Kent State University, Ohio

Kent State might be a surprising addition to some, but its fashion school is among the top in the USA. With a holistic approach, students get a well-rounded education.

Fashion Business Management at Kent State

Apart from design, Kent State offers a comprehensive BS in Fashion Merchandising. This program delves into the business side of fashion, teaching students about retailing, buying, and global fashion business management.

Drexel University, Philadelphia

Drexel’s fashion program, part of the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, offers both BS and MFA degrees in Fashion Design.

Interdisciplinary Approach to Fashion

Here, fashion students have the opportunity to collaborate with other departments, infusing their designs with insights from fields like engineering and science. This interdisciplinary approach equips students with a unique perspective on fashion.

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

SCAD, with its campuses in both Georgia and Hong Kong, offers a global perspective on fashion, making it a top choice for many aspiring designers.

Global Fashion at SCAD

SCAD’s program in fashion design isn’t limited to one location. Students often have the opportunity to move between campuses, immersing themselves in both American and Asian fashion landscapes. This global experience sets SCAD apart.

University of Delaware

Rounding off our list is the University of Delaware, known for its program in fashion design and merchandising. Its well-balanced curriculum offers both design and business insights.

Holistic Fashion Education

Students here get a comprehensive understanding of the world of fashion. From creating designs to understanding the intricacies of fashion business management, the University of Delaware prepares students for every challenge in the fashion world.

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Career Prospects of Studying Fashion in the USA

1. Fashion Designer

Arguably the most sought-after role in the fashion industry, designers work on creating clothing, footwear, and accessories. Graduates from prestigious American fashion schools often find themselves working for top-tier fashion houses or even starting their own labels.

2. Fashion Merchandiser

A career in fashion merchandising involves understanding market trends, and consumer behavior, and ensuring that retail stores stock products that resonate with their target audience. Studying fashion in the USA equips students with both design insights and business acumen, making them fit for this role.

3. Fashion Journalist/Writer

With the booming digital media landscape, there’s a growing demand for fashion journalists and writers. These professionals cover everything from fashion events, to new collections, designer interviews, and more. Studying in the USA provides unparalleled exposure to major events like New York Fashion Week, giving a competitive edge to budding fashion journalists.

4. Fashion Illustrator

These artists combine their love for art and fashion by creating sketches and drawings, either for designers or fashion publications. With renowned art and design institutions in the USA, aspiring illustrators can hone their skills to perfection.

5. Stylist

Stylists play a crucial role in photoshoots, film sets, and celebrity appearances, curating outfits and accessories to create the desired look. The vast network opportunities available while studying in the USA allow budding stylists to connect with industry professionals, facilitating their growth.

6. Fashion Public Relations (PR) Specialist

Fashion PR specialists focus on managing the public image of brands, designers, or even individual products. From organizing events, and liaising with the media, to managing crises, this role requires a blend of communication skills and fashion knowledge.

7. Fashion Buyer

Buyers work for retail chains, making decisions about which products to stock based on market research, trends, and their understanding of the store’s target market. A fashion education in the USA ensures a deep understanding of global fashion trends, making its graduates preferred choices for this role.

8. Textile Designer

Focusing on patterns for fabrics, textile designers combine creativity and technical knowledge to produce designs that are both appealing and functional. The USA, home to many textile companies, offers numerous opportunities for these professionals.

9. Fashion Brand Manager

Brand managers are tasked with maintaining and enhancing a brand’s image in the market. This role requires a mix of marketing knowledge and a deep understanding of the fashion industry, both of which can be acquired from top US fashion institutions.

10. Sustainable Fashion Consultant

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With increasing awareness of environmental issues, there’s a surge in demand for professionals who can guide brands toward more sustainable practices. The USA’s forward-thinking approach to education ensures that its fashion graduates are well-versed in sustainable fashion practices.

The vast realm of the fashion industry presents an array of career opportunities for enthusiastic individuals. Studying fashion in the USA not only equips students with the necessary skills but also offers them a competitive edge in the global fashion arena.

Whether it’s working with a top fashion brand, pioneering sustainable fashion practices, or being the voice of fashion in media, the career prospects are as diverse as they are promising.


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Selecting the right institution to pave the path to a successful career in the dynamic world of fashion is paramount. The USA, with its rich fashion heritage and globally renowned institutions, offers unparalleled opportunities for aspiring designers.

From the bustling streets of New York City to the tech-inspired corners of San Francisco, every fashion school mentioned here brings its unique flavor to the table.

Whether you’re inclined towards the pure artistry of design, the intricacies of fashion business management, or the fusion of fashion with technology, there’s a perfect institution waiting for you.

Your passion, coupled with the right guidance from these top fashion universities in the USA, will undeniably turn your fashion dreams into reality. Embark on this exciting journey with confidence, knowing that you’re in the best hands the fashion world has to offer.

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Which US city is considered the fashion capital?

New York City is often regarded as the fashion capital of the US, hosting major events like the New York Fashion Week.

What criteria should I consider when choosing a fashion school?

Look for the depth of the fashion design program, reputation, facilities, and opportunities for real-world exposure.

Do US fashion schools cater to international students?

Absolutely! Many top fashion universities in the USA have programs and support structures specifically designed for international students.

Is practical experience important in a fashion design course?

Yes, real-world exposure through internships and collaborations with fashion houses provides invaluable experience for budding designers.

Can I study both design and business aspects of fashion?

Many schools, like Kent State, offer comprehensive programs covering both design and the business side of fashion.

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