A fashion merchandising degree program offers formal training in the creative, fast-paced field of fashion.
Fashion merchandising majors learn all about marketing, sales, operations, and product development as applied to fashion. If you’d love to work for fashion brands and retail stores, then a fashion merchandising degree might sound appealing.
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There are many career paths available for fashion merchandising majors, especially as developments like international trends, e-commerce, and social media drive the industry forward.
Online Fashion Merchandising Degrees
Fashion merchandising bachelor’s degree programs focus on the business fundamentals of the fashion industry. As a fashion merchandising major, you’ll likely delve into the entire fashion value chain, from research and design all the way to production, distribution, and marketing.
Fashion merchandisers typically handle several different tasks at the same time. Because of this, fashion merchandising degree programs tend to blend business know-how, analytical thinking, and creativity.
Fashion merchandising professionals may take on responsibilities like the following:
- Attending fashion shows to be aware of the latest trends
- Doing consumer research
- Coordinating orders directly with vendors and designers
- Keeping track of inventory with spreadsheets
- Deciding on the arrangement and style of the store
- Drafting budgets and marketing and sales plans
- Running advertising campaigns to bring in customers
Fashion merchandisers manage a lot of what’s going on behind the scenes, and they might even be responsible for more than one store at a time.
Fashion merchandising programs typically feature several business courses, such as management and marketing, alongside more specialized fashion classes on design and industry trends.
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Your classes will likely help you develop retail math skills and learn to use industry software for spreadsheets and basic accounting as well. Aside from deciding on price points, fashion merchandisers are on the lookout for emerging trends, which requires both a natural eye for fashion and logical data analysis.
Fashion merchandising majors often have to complete capstone projects that entail developing merchandising strategies. Alternatively, they may intern in actual fashion companies.
All in all, you’ll likely spend time on practical projects that can help prepare you for the fashion industry. By the time you graduate, you will have likely built up a portfolio that you can show to potential employers.
Due to the degree’s versatility, graduates may end up in various fashion-related roles, not only in merchandising and retail but also in styling, blogging, event management, and more. Some graduates even utilize their business knowledge to work in media, advertising, business development, and other diverse fields.
Fashion Merchandising Careers & Salaries
A fashion merchandising bachelor degree can help you qualify for a variety of jobs in fashion as well as other industries. Most fashion merchandising graduates pursue careers in fashion.
A straightforward career choice is to become a buyer or merchandiser. These professionals keep track of trends and choose which products to offer to customers. Buyers typically have the more hands-on role of coordinating heavily with vendors, while merchandisers usually focus more on running stores.
Other graduates go into account management and eventually retail management, where they might be in charge of an entire store. The fashion industry is fairly large, so fashion merchandising graduates can venture into other jobs too.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some careers in fashion merchandising and related sectors, along with their median salaries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers||$133,380|
|General and Operations Managers||$97,970|
|Market Research Analysts
|Buyers and Purchasing Agents||$63,470|
|Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives||$62,890|
|Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners||$49,470|
|Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers||$32,060|
Graduates may specialize in the more artistic side of the profession by working as designers or stylists. Others become fashion editors and writers. Event managers organize fashion shows and photoshoots.
The skills that can be gained from a fashion merchandising degree program are transferable to other industries. Graduates may work at event planning companies, advertising agencies, and magazine companies, just to name a few possibilities.
It’s common for fashion merchandising graduates to go into marketing and sales as well.
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Getting into a certain career, though, won’t guarantee a specific salary. When it comes to demand, the jobs with the highest projected job growth rates are market research analysts (22% ) and event planners (18%), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fashion Merchandising Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising typically features the following courses:
- Introduction to Fashion: This course gives an overview of the fashion industry and its main processes, from design conceptualization to manufacturing and retail.
- Business of Fashion: This class will give you the opportunity to dive into the economics and marketing behind fashion, which involves looking at various distribution strategies and doing case studies of successful brands.
- Retail Merchandising: This course provides training in the actual strategies used by retail fashion buyers for both online and offline stores, including finding vendors and making fashion forecasts.
- Math for Merchandising: This course trains mathematical problem-solving skills with the goal of teaching how to use them to maximize profit. Common topics in this class are calculating sales figures and reading basic financial statements.
- Consumer Behavior: This class provides opportunities to practice analyzing consumer decisions and explore how factors such as personality, culture, and lifestyle affect these decisions.
- Event Management: This course provides training in how to plan and implement fashion events, like exhibits, runway shows, expos, product launches, and corporate gatherings.
- Design for Fashion: This course explores the principles of design, such as color, texture, balance, order, and light, along with how to combine them when making apparel.
- Fundamentals of Textiles: This class covers vital information about textiles that fashion merchandisers need to be familiar with, such as different types of textiles and what they’re used for, industry standards, and sustainability considerations.
- Visual Merchandising: This course discusses how to effectively display fashion products and plan retail store layouts to give customers good shopping experiences.
- Marketing Principles: This business course discusses marketing practices in the fashion industry. It typically covers market research, public relations, branding, and online shopping.
Most programs also require the completion of an internship or a capstone project to graduate.
When applying for a fashion merchandising bachelor’s degree program, you’ll likely come across admissions requirements such as these:
- High school transcripts. These show your GPA along with your grades for individual classes.
- ACT or SAT scores (if required). Many schools still consider standardized test scores for admission, though not all schools require them.
- Recommendation letters. Past teachers and school counselors are the most common references.
- Personal statement. Schools will usually ask you to answer specific questions about your passions, goals, and interests.
Aside from these, you will likely need to submit a comprehensive application form, where you may also list your extracurriculars and achievements.
If you’re planning to study fashion merchandising, it’s beneficial to choose from accredited schools. Regional accreditation is the mark of a high-quality program.
Regional accreditation is awarded to a school only after a rigorous assessment by accrediting organizations. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has a list of recognized organizations along with accredited schools across the US.
If you attend an accredited school, your degree is likely to receive more recognition.
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Studying at an accredited school is seen more favorably by many employers, and it is also an eligibility requirement for government financial aid. Credits earned at an accredited school are also more likely to transfer to other programs.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
To reduce college fees, most students apply for financial aid. You can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This can determine your eligibility for several types of government financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study programs.
Fashion merchandising schools may also offer their own forms of financial aid. There’s typically a list of financial aid options on a school’s website. Some schools will ask you to complete the FAFSA first and then submit other application forms.
Another source of financial aid is scholarships from private and public organizations. Most of these are merit-based, with your grades and achievements as the main criteria. On the other hand, some are awarded based on financial need or even location.
You may have higher chances of being awarded a scholarship if you apply to ones that are limited to your area.
What Is a Fashion Merchandising Major?
Fashion merchandising majors focus on the main aspects of fashion businesses. This typically includes supply chain management, store operation, and fashion line creation.
A fashion merchandising program can give you the opportunity to learn the processes for launching and managing successful apparel stores. Beyond this, you’ll likely be exposed to the fashion industry as a whole, studying topics such as international marketing and social responsibility.
This course of study emphasizes working on real-life projects, so by the time you graduate, you’ll likely have fashion-related experience that you can present to potential employers.
What Can You Do with a Fashion Merchandising Degree?
A fashion merchandising degree allows you to develop both creative and business skills, so it’s possible to pursue a variety of jobs. Fashion merchandising graduates can be found in diverse roles across the fashion industry.
Your degree will likely give you the most experience in retail and merchandising. Graduates tend to work as store or merchandise managers, buyers, operations coordinators, and more. Another option could be to follow a more creative path with fashion design, fashion illustration, creative directing, and fashion consulting.
Some graduates turn to marketing and sales instead, with roles such as marketing specialists, account managers, and public relations specialists.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Fashion Merchandising Online?
A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising can generally be completed in 4 years of full-time study. Most online fashion degree programs have more flexible scheduling, though, with part-time or even accelerated tracks.
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A bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising usually consists of 120 semester credits. You might be able to finish it more quickly if you only have 8 week terms and study year-round. On the other hand, studying part-time will often extend your time to completion.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Fashion Merchandising Degree?
Here are some common careers among fashion merchandising graduates:
- Buyer and merchandiser. Fashion buyers curate which clothing products to get from retailers, while fashion merchandisers are more focused on overall store management.
- Fashion designer. Fashion designers create new designs for apparel and accessories while having a keen eye on trends.
- Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative. Sales representatives contribute to marketing strategies while dealing directly with fashion buyers.
Alternatively, fashion merchandising graduates may work behind the scenes in retail management or advertising and promotions.
What Does a Fashion Merchandiser Do?
Fashion merchandisers are in charge of stocking stores based on fashion trends and managing marketing and operations to maximize profits. They need a strong grasp of the fashion industry while being comfortable with analytics and decision-making.
Some major demands of fashion or apparel merchandising are planning which clothes to sell, coordinating with designers and manufacturers, and monitoring customer demand. Fashion merchandisers also maintain store inventory and may even plan store layouts and arrange appealing displays.
On top of this, fashion merchandisers may track business performance regularly, work with sales and advertising teams, and organize promotional events.
What’s the Difference Between Fashion Merchandising vs. Fashion Marketing?
Fashion merchandising has a broader scope than fashion marketing.
|Fashion Merchandising||Fashion Marketing|
Fashion merchandisers need to have a good understanding of fashion marketing since it’s an important aspect of the job.
Is a Fashion Merchandising Degree Worth It?
Yes, a fashion merchandising degree is worth it for many students. With a fashion merchandising degree, you can build up a portfolio and receive fundamental training, becoming better prepared to enter the fashion industry. Even as a student, you can get to know people who are already working in fashion.
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Beyond fashion, you can develop well-rounded skills that can be used in other industries, including logistics, sales, and management. Advertising and marketing is another potential field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting faster than average job growth for market research analysts.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Fashion Merchandising Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
The Academy of Art University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Merchandising. Coursework includes Color Science and Fabric Technology, Digital Techniques for the Fashion Business, Composition for the Artist, Social Media Data Analytics, and more.
Academy of Art University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Berkeley College offers a Fashion Merchandising and Management Bachelor of Business Administration.
Berkeley offers classes online and at multiple campus locations. Students in the program can take classes such as Fashion Textiles for Apparel and Home, Merchandise Planning and Buying, Product Development, and more. Internships are also available.
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At Central Michigan University, students can major in Design with a concentration in Fashion Merchandising. The degree can be earned on campus or online. The program offers a summer course in Paris. Students also have opportunities to gain real-world experience through Central Michigan’s corporate partnerships.
Admission is available on a rolling basis.
Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Fashion Institute of Technology offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in International Trade and Marketing. It is designed to be convenient and flexible for working students.
The program’s faculty members have real-world industry experience. The curriculum covers fashion law, business strategies, international finance, marketing research, and more. Prospective online students apply through the same process as on-campus students.
The Fashion Institute of Technology is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Indiana State University offers an online program for a BS in Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising. Students in the program are given opportunities to participate in internships and networking opportunities.
Coursework includes Fundamentals of Apparel Design, Evaluation of Ready-to-Wear, Digital Technologies in Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising, Global Sourcing Strategies, and more.
Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Johnson & Wales University offers a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Retailing. The program is 100% online. Most courses are 8 weeks long, though a few are 16 weeks long. Class sizes average fifteen students.
Courses include Retail Executive Decision Making, Cases in Fashion and Retail, The Business of Fashion, and more.
Johnson & Wales Univerisity is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Liberty University’s online Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising program can typically be completed in 3.5 years. Courses are 8 weeks long and include Retail Merchandising, Digital Drafting I, Fashion Industries and Markets, and Elements of Fabric.
Students can pursue a general degree or a specialization in Creative Design or Fashion Writing.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
LIM College offers a BBA in Fashion Merchandising. Students in the program are required to complete academic coursework and internships. The program is designed to develop students’ creativity and analytical and business-oriented perspectives.
Courses include Applied Concepts in Merchandising, Digital Tools for Fashion Presentations, Fabric for Fashion, and Sustainability and the Future of Fashion.
LIM College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Lindenwood University offers an online program for a BS in Fashion Business and Entrepreneurship. The program provides networking and internship opportunities. Students are required to take one practicum course every semester.
Potential students can apply by filling out an application and submitting official transcripts. Additional materials may be required for those with a GPA below 2.0.
Lindenwood University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Old Dominion University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising (Occupational and Technical Studies). The curriculum covers how to conduct marketing research, analyze data, and formulate business strategies. The program also includes an internship.
Some classes have regular live meetings at set times, and others do not.
Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers an online program for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. Courses include History of Fashion, CAD Pattern Making, Sustainable Fashion, and more.
Students in the program are given the opportunity to develop a professional portfolio and are provided with a sewing machine and a dress form.
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Sacred Heart University offers a BS in Fashion Marketing and Merchandising.
Internships and study abroad opportunities are available. Coursework includes Material Culture in History, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Buying, Digital Advertising, and more. Some courses are available in the evenings so that students can work or intern during the day.
Sacred Heart University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Sam Houston State University offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising. Both degrees can be earned 100% online. Classes are each just 7.5 weeks long. A 200 hour internship is required, and students are provided leads for securing an internship position.
Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Savannah College of Art and Design offers a BFA in Fashion Marketing and Management. The program is available online and at two different campus locations. The curriculum covers supply chain management, trend forecasting, and product promotion.
SCAD provides assistance with resume development and portfolio building.
Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online program for a BS in Fashion Merchandising. Courses are taught by industry experts, and there are no set class meeting times. Students in the program are required to complete internships to gain real-world experience.
SNHU uses a rolling admissions process. Potential students can apply throughout the year for any term. There are six terms each year, each of which is 8 weeks long.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Getting Your Bachelor of Fashion Merchandising Degree Online
Fashion merchandising is a beneficial major for those who love fashion and want to get more involved in the business side of the industry.
A fashion merchandising degree program can give you exposure to the ins and outs of fashion and help you develop a better idea of what career you want to pursue after you graduate.
A growing number of schools are offering distance learning options, so there’s a variety of online fashion merchandising programs from accredited colleges that you can explore. Since you’re not limited by distance, there are more opportunities than ever for you to study fashion merchandising and go after your career goals.