From the near-abstract art of high fashion design to the historical replicas of Renaissance theater costuming, from the polished tribute of professional cosplay to the advertising prowess of fashion marketing, the world of fashion is alluring to many. Though this field may seem out of reach for those who don't live in a bustling major city, you don't have to live in New York or Los Angeles to attend some of the country's top fashion schools. You can earn associate, bachelor's or even master's degrees in fashion from the comfort of your home through distance learning, and we're here to tell you some of the best places to do it.
Featured Online Colleges for Fashion in 2018
After analyzing a range of data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we selected five colleges offering online programs in fashion to feature on this page. You can learn more about the methodology we used to create our list at the bottom of this page.
Academy of Art University
Berkeley College-Woodland Park
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-Los Angeles
Southern New Hampshire University
The New School
Degree Overview: Fashion
For students who linger for hours in clothing stores or know 10 ways to wear a simple dress, a career in fashion can be a dream come true. But making that dream a reality takes more than great fashion sense: it takes a solid professional education in the field to land that dream job. You might be asking, "What can a school possibly teach me that I don't already know about fashion?" To help answer that question, this section highlights the coursework usually found in online programs for fashion and the skills you may find yourself learning from that work.
Online Fashion Courses
People often think only of fashion design when considering a potential major at colleges with online fashion degree programs. Certainly, fashion design is a glamorous field, popularized by movies and reality TV shows. But in real life, the industry benefits from a wide array of activities, including fashion merchandising or marketing, textile design, apparel industry management, manufacturing, fashion journalism and more. Plus, many students may opt to focus their studies on a particular type of clothing, such as shoes, jewelry, denim, knitwear or theater costumes.
Online programs for fashion typically lead to associate or bachelor's degrees, though a handful of schools may offer graduate programs. Though specific coursework depends on the major, many programs offer similar courses across the board. These may include:
- Color and design theory
- Computer-aided design (CAD)
- Fashion sketching
- History of costume fashion
- Textile fibers and fabrics
- Fashion marketing
- Fashion buying
- Product development
Whether it's an associate or bachelor's degree program, the program generally will culminate in creating a portfolio that students can take into the professional world to showcase their style and technical expertise. Online bachelor's degree programs in particular may more heavily emphasize use of CAD or other computer skills, provide a broader theoretical foundation in the history and philosophy behind fashion, and delve more into marketing and management than associate programs.
Career-Related Skills to Develop
Of course, students are likely expecting to strengthen their artistic ability through a fashion program, whether they are studying design, merchandising and marketing, product development or other related subject. However, students may hone more than just their creativity while earning an online education for fashion. Some of the more important skills that can be picked up from such a program include:
- Computer skills: That's right: fashion professionals need to be able to bring their designs to life with not just fabric, but with computers as well! For most work in the fashion world, students will need to utilize technology to bring their ideas to market, through CAD as well as graphic editing software and certain machinery for manufacturing.
- Effective communication: Whether they're conveying instructions to sewists about garment construction, working on teams to design or package products, managing a staff of retailers, writing up a fashion critique or presenting a marketing strategy, the ability to communicate effectively is crucial in fashion.
- Making decisions: Fashion is an industry filled with style and individuality, and in this industry, fashion professionals can bet money that they will be exposed to lots of (often conflicting) opinions, products and methods for doing things. Through their degree programs, students should gain confidence in their knowledge and talent, giving them the security to quickly and effectively make decisions without being unnecessarily influenced by others.
- An eye for details: Quality of fabrics and stitching, careful measurements, slight variance in color… whether you're a designer, a merchandiser, a manufacturer of clothing, a buyer or some other fashion professional, being detail-oriented is a must.
Fashion Career Outlook
From the clothing people wear to the crafts they use to decorate their homes, the creativity of fashion workers can be seen everywhere on a daily basis. This page explores the work of these professionals and what it takes to be successful in these visionary types of careers.