2023 Best Online Fashion Certificate Programs

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Discover the best online fashion certificate programs for 2023. Develop your fashion design skills and learn about marketing in the fashion industry.

Fashion certificate programs help creative individuals develop their unique and distinct fashion aesthetics and design visions.

Best Online Fashion Certificate Programs

You can learn how to analyze and develop fashion trends and stylistic ideas. There are many different online certificate programs in fashion that you can explore, some of which focus more on the business side of the fashion industry. In addition to fashion design and trends, these programs may also touch on merchandising, distribution, and marketing.

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Read on to learn more about certificate programs in fashion design and what they can entail.

Online Fashion Certificate Programs

Man taking Online Fashion Certificate

An online certificate program in fashion can benefit a range of students and professionals who are interested in the fashion industry. Some certificate programs focus on design fundamentals, while others also include courses on fashion merchandising and management.

Many of these programs require creativity and skill. For instance, depending on their career paths, fashion certificate graduates may design and create everything from T-shirts and sandals to evening gowns and wedding dresses. These certificate programs will often require students to work alongside fashion educators with extensive experience in the fashion industry.

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During a fashion certificate program, you may learn how to create wearable pieces of fashion from conceptual designs on a project-by-project basis. You can also learn how to satisfy potential customers by learning about market trends, socio-economic groups, and how culture, gender, and age play into fashion.

Some of the common subjects studied in a fashion certificate program include:

  • Fashion trends and forecasting
  • Product planning
  • Distribution and marketing
  • Fashion line product development
  • Fashion illustration
  • Sewing basics
  • Fashion design elements and principles

You can develop your planning, journaling, and garment construction skills as the program unfolds. In addition, you can define your sketching and crafting skills while developing fabric selection knowledge and a working understanding of computer-aided design software programs.

Some programs also explore how to communicate with management and sales executives, industry professionals, and suppliers. Ultimately, an online fashion certificate program can give you a foundation for launching or growing a career in the fashion industry.

Some graduates seek employment with clothing companies, design houses, or fashion boutiques. Others explore launching their own fashion design businesses. A fashion certificate can also help you qualify for entry-level roles such as associate fashion designers, pattern-makers, and fitting technicians.

Many graduates use their foundational skills and knowledge to pursue a degree in the field. A growing number of universities offer on-campus and online fashion merchandising degree programs.

Fashion Careers & Salaries

Fashion Certificate Careers & Salaries

The foundational skills that are taught in a fashion certificate program could apply to a range of industries and roles.

Graduates often pursue fashion retailing, merchandising, marketing, design, and manufacturing career paths. A certificate in fashion design or merchandising could also be a strategic foundation for further studies in the field.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some career paths related to fashion and design.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Fashion Designers $76,700
Buyers and Purchasing Agents $67,620
Interior Designers $61,590
Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers $60,320
Fine Artists, Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators $57,560
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers $45,250
Craft Artists $38,150
Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers $35,380
Floral Designers $33,160
Retail Salespersons $30,600

Some employers may require a bachelors or higher for some of the above roles. Overall, fashion is a growing industry.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of fashion designers is projected to grow by 3% over the next ten years. About 2,300 job openings are expected each year over this period.

Fashion Certificate Curriculum & Courses

students getting Fashion Certificate working on a group work

The specific curriculum you study during a fashion certificate program will depend on the school and its course structure.

There are a few common topics you could expect to study, though, if you choose this path. Here are some example courses:

  • Garment Repairs and Alterations: During this course, you can learn the skills and knowledge needed to make garment repairs and alterations to various clothing fabrics.
  • Fashion History: In this course, you can learn more about how fashion has evolved and shaped the fashion industry, society, and major events.
  • Fashion Conducts and Ethics: This course teaches you how to professionally and ethically conduct yourself in the fashion industry.
  • Textiles, Materials, and Equipment: During this course, you’ll learn fabric analysis, and you’ll evaluate and explore different fabrics and the latest developments in textile technology.
  • Design Concepts, Theories, and Research: You’ll explore different clothing styles and target markets to hone your design skills and apply them to create fashion collections.
  • Pattern Making and Garment Construction: This course teaches you how to turn 2D and 3D pattern drawings into different sizes.
  • Advanced Pattern Making and Cutting: This course teaches you advanced pattern-making and cutting skills to create complex fashion garments.
  • Illustration, Rendering, and Trade Sketch: During this course, you’ll learn how to illustrate your designs using various drawing and painting mediums for production.
  • Fashion Design Marketing: This course introduces fashion students to design marketing. It shows them how to define their market, their price range, and how to find wholesale buyers.
  • Fabric Styling: In this course, you’ll learn the ins and outs of fashion styling to better showcase your designs to target audiences.

You can look at the available coursework of various certificate programs to discover which program’s curriculum best aligns with your interests.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing for Fashion Certificate requirements

Unlike bachelor’s or master’s degree studies, fashion certificate programs often have fewer and less strict admission requirements.

Below are some common fashion certificate program entrance requirements:.

  • Personal essay (only some schools require this)
  • Age requirement of 18 years or older
  • Copy of high school or university transcript
  • Proof of English proficiency

Different schools can have different admissions conditions, but you can speak with a college admissions officer or browse a school’s website to learn what they are.

Fashion Design Certificate Programs Accreditation

University offering Fashion Design Certificate

When you’re exploring different fashion certificate programs, it’s strategic to prioritize ones that come from accredited schools. Regional accreditation is more widely accepted by employers because it is a marker for a student having studied an academically sound and rigorous program at a respected institution.

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Schools that hold accreditation typically have more benefits for students, and attending an accredited school can also be an eligibility requirement for financial aid opportunities. You can learn more about the accreditation process through the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Fashion Certificate Financial Aid

There are many fashion scholarships in the fields of merchandising and design, but the scholarship opportunities for certificate studies may be more limited.

Scholarships in this field are also competitive, and students often have to convince a committee to secure funding through fashion displays and competitions. One of the more popular scholarships for fashion students is the FIT scholarship.

Many individuals interested in a fashion certificate program also explore federal aid options. To see if you qualify, you can complete a FAFSA application. Common forms of government aid include student loans, grants, and work-study programs. A number of employers also offer tuition benefits to workers who are in school.

What Is a Fashion Design Certificate?

A team of Fashion Designers discussing

A fashion design certificate is designed for individuals interested in creative and professional training in fashion. This program teaches students the many technical and artistic skills needed to realize and develop their creative vision.

During a fashion design certificate program, you can learn how to design, market, produce, and sell your designs and creations to your target audience. Upon completing a fashion certificate, students often choose to either pursue an entry-level fashion industry career or continue their studies with a degree program.

Who Should Enroll in a Fashion Certificate Program?

Entrepreneur friends getting Fashion Design Certificates online

Choosing to undertake a fashion certificate program could be a step toward realizing your career goals.

Have a look below to learn more about who should enroll in a fashion certificate program:

  • Entrepreneurs looking for new income streams
  • Individuals interested in the design side of the fashion industry
  • Designers who are seeking a business background
  • Entrepreneurs who want to learn about garment construction before starting a company
  • Fashion professionals who want to expand their knowledge or advance their careers

A fashion certificate program could be beneficial for many types of students and professionals.

What Can You Do with a Fashion Design Certificate?

Buyer & Purchasing Agent discussing with boutique owner

Graduates can explore numerous industries and career paths with a fashion design certificate. For example, some students explore job opportunities with small or big fashion houses or retailers, work with local government, or become entrepreneurs.

Graduates can also seek opportunities in interior design, garment production, fashion merchandising, clothing design, and personal styling. They might pursue roles like fashion design associate, assistant technical designer, and fitting technician.

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The fashion design field is also experiencing growth, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 2,300 job openings for fashion designers each year over the next ten years.

What Skills Do You Learn in a Certificate in Fashion Program?

Fashion Designers doing creative research & sketches

In a fashion certificate program, you can learn many different skills centered around fashion and design. For example, you can cultivate foundational technical skills like sketching, sewing, concept development, draping, construction, textile selection, and patternmaking.

In addition, students could also learn how to:

  • Conduct creative research and use it to develop garments
  • Create fashion sketches from live models and model images
  • Create fashion illustrations and fashion flats
  • Modify and create an original pattern
  • Identify and work with various fabric types, trimmings, and sewing equipment
  • Apply the various techniques of design

These are only some of the additional skills students can learn when studying for an online fashion certificate.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Fashion Certificate Online?

Man taking Fashion Certificate Online

How long it takes to obtain a fashion certificate online will depend on the specific program requirements as well as your enrollment status.

Different online fashion certificate programs can require a different number of courses. For instance, some consist of as few as 4 courses, while others require around 11 courses. So, fashion certificate programs could take around 2 months to 9 months to complete with full-time enrollment. Enrolling part-time could add flexibility to your studies, but it will also take longer to complete your program.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Fashion Designer?

Fashion Designer taking client's measurements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s typical for fashion designers to hold a bachelors degree in fashion design or fashion merchandising. While most fashion designers obtain a bachelor’s degree, some choose to complete a fashion certificate first.

A certificate program could help you build foundational knowledge and design skills that are sometimes required in order to apply for fashion degree programs. A fashion certificate could also help you qualify for entry-level roles in the fashion industry.

Is a Fashion Design Certificate Worth It?

Fashion Designers checking out some fabrics

Yes, a fashion design certificate is worth it for many students. Earning a fashion design certificate can help you break into the design and fashion field.

Graduates work in various industries and work settings, including fashion, design, retail stores, clothing chains, and design houses. In addition to helping you qualify for entry-level fashion roles, a fashion certificate can also help you develop foundational skills that are required for bachelor degree programs in fashion design or merchandising.

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The fashion industry is also growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3% job growth is projected for fashion designers over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Certificates in Fashion Programs

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.

City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco campus

The City College of San Francisco offers a Certificate of Achievement in Fashion program partially online. Concentrations include Design, Illustration, Merchandising, Entrepreneurship, Merchandising, Styling, and Apparel Construction.

The program aims to teach a basis in design concepts, industry terminology, and technical and professional skills used in the fashion industry. Certificates can usually be completed within 4 semesters.

City College of San Francisco is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Cornell University

Cornell University campus

Cornell University offers a Certificate in Fashion Design Management program fully online. The program requires the completion of 4 courses, including Fashion Trends and Forecasting, Fashion Line Product Development, Production Planning, and Distribution and Marketing. Each course is typically 2 weeks long, and generally requires 3 to 5 hours of effort per week. The program may be completed in 2 months.

Cornell University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Mt. San Antonio College

Mt San Antonio College campus

Mt. San Antonio College offers a Fashion Retailing Fundamentals certificate program online. The program requires a total of 13 units, or 4 courses, including Introduction to Fashion, Fashion Retailing, Retail Buying and Merchandising, and Fashion Promotion. The curriculum commonly includes projects designed to simulate real-world scenarios.

Mt. SAC is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

School of the Art Institute of Chicago campus

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago offers a Fashion Certificate, with courses available both online and on campus. The completion of 6 courses is required. The program has 1 required course, Sewing Techniques: Fundamentals. After that, a choice of 4 studio courses and 1 elective is typically offered. The goal is that after completion of the program, a portfolio of work has been produced.

SAIC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

The New School

The New School campus

The New School offers a Fashion Design Certificate in both fully online and hybrid formats. The completion of 6 required courses and 2 electives is required. The curriculum focuses on project-based assignments with the aim of developing a portfolio. Video conferencing commonly allows for collaborative learning. The full program takes about 18 months to finish.

The New School is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Getting Your Fashion Certificate Online

student getting Fashion Certificate Online

You might consider getting a fashion certificate online if you want to hone your fashion and design skills. Having these foundational skills is sometimes a prerequisite for bachelor degree programs in fashion.

Completing a certificate program in fashion could also help you qualify for entry-level roles in the industry. There’s a variety of fashion certificate programs online to choose from. Many focus on various specializations, such as fashion design, fashion merchandising, and fashion management.

You can start investigating accredited fashion certificate programs today to find the one that’s right for you.

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Jason has a bachelor in English Literature from Loyola Marymount University with a minor in history. A life-long learner with a love of science, philosophy, and history, he works in career enrichment, professional development, and improved business practices.