If you have an eye for style and a head for business, you might consider a fashion merchandising degree. Fashion merchandising students learn about the fashion industry from a business perspective.
You can study topics like supply chains, retail management, fashion history, and customer behavior. Colleges with fashion majors could help prepare students for potential careers as buyers, wholesale sales representatives, store managers, or fashion writers.
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If you’d like to explore avenues within the fashion industry, this could be the degree program for you.
Fashion Merchandising Degrees Online
Perhaps you’ve always loved clothes, shoes, and design. If you’re interested in connecting others to great fashion but are not sure that being a designer or a stylist is right for you, then you might consider working in fashion merchandising.
Merchandising deals with the buying and selling of clothes and other fashion goods. Fashion merchandising professionals work for manufacturers, designers, retailers, and other organizations involved in the world of apparel.
To get ready for a career in this field, you might study:
- Business law
- Color theory
- Consumer behavior
- Fashion technology
- Market research
- Retail operations
- Sourcing and logistics
There are a lot of business classes in fashion merchandising programs. Unlike general business programs, though, there are also quite a few courses that focus specifically on fashion and apparel topics.
Some fashion merchandising programs include internships, which could allow you to acquire skills and knowledge from an experienced fashion mentor. Internships can grow your industry network and provide clues about what sort of job you’d like to do after graduation.
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Fashion merchandising degree programs are available online, and they offer flexibility for students. Although you won’t be in the classroom with online studies, you can still complete a thorough curriculum, get to know classmates, and develop industry connections. Sometimes, you can even do a fashion internship online!
Retail experience can be a great asset to someone studying in a fashion merchandising program. Because online studies are designed to accommodate busy schedules, you may be able to hold a full-time retail job while going to school in your off-hours.
Your workplace experiences can complement your studies, and you may be able to put some lessons into practice right away. Some fashion merchandising majors go on to work for retailers as merchandise displayers, store managers, or purchasing agents. Manufacturers and wholesalers also need business-to-business salespeople and market analysts.
Getting a degree in fashion merchandising could also help you enter the publishing industry as a fashion writer or editor.
Fashion Design and Merchandising Careers & Salaries
Most graduates with a degree in apparel merchandising pursue a job related to sales. Some people get their start as retail sales workers or first-line supervisors of retail employees. Those jobs don’t usually require a college degree, but a bachelor’s in this field might help you fast-track to a position as a store’s department manager or general manager.
Being in charge of sales displays could be another job option in a retail store. Not all salespeople work in retail settings. With a fashion merchandising degree, some professionals also work for companies that make clothing or accessories. Their job might be to sell those goods to retail establishments. Managerial roles are available in that field too.
On the other side of things, retail companies need buyers and purchasing agents to coordinate with manufacturers and their sales agents. Buyers can play key roles in deciding which styles to sell during an upcoming season. With experience, they might become purchasing managers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for careers in sales is $30,600. Many of the positions open to professionals with a college degree in fashion merchandising have above average salaries, though.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Writers and Authors||$69,510|
|Market Research Analysts||$63,920|
|Buyers and Purchasing Agents||$63,470|
|Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives||$62,890|
|Fabric and Apparel Patternmakers||$58,650|
|Merchandise Displayers and Window Trimmers||$32,060|
Salaries above the national average for sales positions may depend on a variety of factors, including education and experience.
Studying merchandising in school could also help prepare you for a career in marketing. Market research analysts with a background in fashion merchandising might predict upcoming fashion trends and study how they’ll influence consumer behavior.
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Fashion merchandising is also closely related to apparel design and production. Your education may help you launch a career as a patternmaker or a fashion designer. In addition, some fashion merchandising majors go into publishing. They might become writers or editors for fashion magazines or websites.
Fashion Merchandising Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum
A fashion merchandising bachelor’s degree will typically consist of about 120 credit hours, including general education and major-specific classes. For the apparel merchandising major courses, you may take:
- Brand Management: You’ll study how both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores can create a brand identity and promote it across their social media channels.
- Consumer Behavior: Your studies in this class will cover the science of consumer decision-making and provide practical applications.
- Fashion Business Fundamentals: This introductory class will provide an overview of systems and terms used in the fashion industry and cover some fashion-focused career options.
- Fashion Sustainability: As the demand for eco-consciousness increases, you’ll explore methods of reducing environmental impact and leading green initiatives.
- History of Costume and Fashion: You’ll study how sociopolitical developments and artistic trends influenced fashion styles in various eras.
- Merchandise Planning: Purchasing professionals need to understand how to establish a long-term plan for acquiring products, keeping up with trends, and making a profit.
- Sales Management: This course prepares you to head up sales teams while taking into account factors like budgets, supply chains, and interpersonal dynamics.
- Supply Chain: The modern world is more connected than ever, so you’ll study what’s involved in sourcing materials, moving goods from one place to another, and keeping track of inventory.
- Textiles: You’ll explore both natural and synthetic fabrics, discuss manufacturing processes, and practice material selection.
- Visual Merchandising: You can learn how to share your fashion products with consumers through eye-catching advertisements and displays.
The curriculum can vary from school to school, and you may get to shape your course list with the electives you select.
How to Choose an Online Fashion Merchandising Degree Program
There are many colleges with fashion merchandising major online programs, so it’s necessary to narrow down your list and figure out where to apply.
Factors like these may help you decide:
- Accreditation. Regional accreditation is a top consideration when it comes to selecting a credible school.
- Curriculum focus. Some colleges have a more business-heavy curriculum, and others have a more fashion-focused curriculum. It’s strategic to figure out which approach is right for you and to select a college to match.
- Internships. Sometimes, an internship experience is considered an essential component of the program. You can take a look at what industry connections a school has and how internships are integrated into the curriculum.
- Price. A key factor is whether you can afford your studies. Financial aid can make a significant difference, but tuition can still be a necessary consideration.
- Schedule. You can check into whether you’ll ever need to attend live classes or come to campus. If so, it’s helpful to verify that those requirements will work with your availability.
- Student interactions. Building relationships can be a key part of a college program, so you may want to look into how interaction is built into the curriculum. In addition to discussion boards and group projects, there may be student clubs you can join.
As you consider how each school stacks up against your preferences, a few top contenders should come into focus.
Getting into fashion merchandising school starts with the application process. The requirements vary from one college to another, but common criteria include:
- Application form and a processing fee
- Essay or statement of your goals
- SAT or ACT scores (not required by all schools)
- Transcripts from high school and any previous colleges
Some schools require a minimum GPA from your previous studies—often 2.0 or 2.5. Schools may still grant admission to students with lower GPA scores on a provisional basis.
Fashion Merchandising Colleges Accreditation
Credible fashion marketing colleges tend to hold regional accreditation. If you want to earn a respected degree that’s appreciated by both colleges and employers, then it’s beneficial to attend a regionally accredited school.
Accreditation provides assurance that a college meets the standards that others expect from a school. It’s a sign that a school educates students well. Whether you’re trying to transfer credits, get into a graduate program, or secure a job, you may appreciate the confidence that a regionally accredited education provides.
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Schools and employers often place more faith in the abilities of applicants who received training at an accredited institution.
Fashion Marketing and Merchandising Licensure and Certifications
If you want to market yourself as a top contender for merchandising positions, you might consider pursuing industry certifications. The experience can grow you as a professional, and the credentials can improve your resume.
Those in retail can consider the National Retail Federation’s Retail Management Certification. While not specific to the fashion industry, this credential shows that you know how to run a store well. The American Marketing Association offers certifications for marketing professionals. Their options include Digital Marketing Pro and Professional Certified Marketer: Marketing Management.
If you work in business-to-consumer or business-to-business sales, Certified Professional Sales Person is another credential option to consider.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
The more help you can get with paying for your fashion merchandising degree, the better. Most students start the financial aid process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Your financial status, as reported on the FAFSA, will determine your eligibility for government assistance. You might qualify to receive grant money or a loan with a low interest rate. Both the federal government and your state may provide funds.
You can also look into scholarship money. The process usually involves submitting an application and being selected for the award. Scholarship programs are often associated with community clubs, memorial funds, and industry organizations.
The college you attend may provide scholarship money for some students too. Sometimes, the college application doubles as the school’s scholarship application, allowing you to be automatically considered for those funds. In addition, some employers offer tuition benefits for their workers.
What Is a Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree?
A fashion merchandising bachelor degree is an undergraduate degree track that deals with the buying and selling of clothing and other fashion goods, such as shoes and accessories.
This type of degree is often useful for people who want to work for retail companies, apparel manufacturers, or design houses. Fashion merchandising students study business and design. The business classes may cover marketing, budgeting, and management, while the design courses could address colors, textiles, and trends.
A bachelor’s degree is often considered a four-year program, and students earn about 120 credit hours before graduation. Online bachelors degree programs for this major are also available.
What Can I Do with a Fashion Merchandising Degree?
After getting their fashion merchandising degree, some professionals pursue work as sales managers. Sales managers may work in retail settings or oversee business-to-business sales teams. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales managers tend to earn between $61,090 and more than $208,000 annually.
Becoming a purchasing agent is another common career path. Most make between $38,430 and $111,200 each year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Plus, purchasing agents could try and work their way toward a promotion to management. Other job options in this field include window displayer, retail sales worker, patternmaker, or fashion journalist.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Fashion Merchandising Online Degree?
On campus, fashion merchandising bachelors degrees often take 4 years of full-time study. Online, the average length is often closer to 3.5 years. That’s because many online programs use accelerated class schedules and offer courses continuously throughout the year, including during summer.
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If you’re not sure about committing to a bachelors, a fashion merchandising associate degree could be an alternative. Those degrees usually take 2 years of full-time study. The courses may even count for transfer into a bachelors program. For busy professionals, a growing number of universities offer associates degree in fashion merchandising online programs.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Fashion Merchandising Degree?
Fashion merchandising schools prepare students for many retail jobs. For example, some graduates might work as merchandise displayers, first-line supervisors, or store managers. Some graduates become buyers or purchasing managers who determine what items a retail store will sell.
Another option for fashion merchandising professionals is to work as sales representatives who sell fashion products to stores. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives work for nondurable goods wholesalers. Other job options may include fashion writing, apparel design, market research, and patternmaking.
What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor Degree in Fashion Merchandising vs. Fashion Marketing?
In college, you might be able to pursue a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising or fashion marketing.
|Fashion Merchandising||Fashion Marketing|
While you’ll complete some marketing studies in a fashion merchandising program, a fashion marketing program will include a greater focus on that topic.
Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising Worth It?
Yes, a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising is worth it for many students. For some people, working in the fashion world is a dream career.
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a decline in the number of jobs for buyers and purchasing agents over the next ten years. Holding a degree may give you an advantage if you apply for one of those openings. On the other hand, employment for sales managers and purchasing managers is expected to increase by 7% and 6%, respectively (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Studying fashion marketing could help you capitalize on that trend.
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. The program aims to teach students the fundamental principles and skills of research, marketing, and product management in the fashion sector. Courses in the core curriculum cover topics such as fashion marketing, fabric technology, styling, and fashion trend analysis.
Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Berkeley College offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Merchandising and Management. The program is designed to help students learn how to harness their theoretical knowledge and research skills to drive sales. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. The curriculum covers essential concepts, like fashion textiles, merchandising, buying, product development, and retail management.
Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Johnson & Wales University offers a Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising and Retailing. It is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in management, merchandising, marketing, retail, or public relations. This 100% online program can typically be completed in 4 years. Each individual course is 8 weeks long.
JWU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising program at Liberty University is designed to prepare students for success in the dynamic and ever-expanding fashion industry. Housed in a fully online format, each class in the program’s curriculum is 8 weeks long. Students with qualifying credits are also able to transfer in up to 75% of their total required credits from outside institutions.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
LIM College offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Merchandising. The program is designed for students seeking careers that balance their mutual passion for business and fashion. The program offers a flexible learning format that features traditional and virtual class times, hands-on learning opportunities, and real-world exposure through outside internships.
LIM College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Miami International University of Art & Design offers a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising. The curriculum aims to teach students the full process of selling product, from design and production to branding and publicity. This 12 quarter program is offered fully online and puts special emphasis on the role of software and social media management in the fashion industry.
Miami International University of Art & Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Bachelor of Science in Occupational and Technical Studies for Fashion Merchandising at Old Dominion University is offered fully online. The program consists of 120 credits of in-class and creation time. Students are highly encouraged by the program to obtain internships in the fashion sector where they can exercise their new skills in professional settings as well.
Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Sacred Heart University offers a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Marketing and Merchandising. The program aims to teach students how to utilize business principles alongside creative talent in a variety of roles in the fashion sector. Courses cover key topics such as the history of fashion, fashion buying, brand marketing, and product merchandising.
Sacred Heart University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Sam Houston State University offers a Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising. The program aims to help students develop in-demand skills that will qualify them for entry-level positions in the fashion industry. Students are admitted in fall, spring, and summer terms and can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts or Science.
Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising at Southern New Hampshire University allows students with qualifying credits to transfer in up to 90 of their 120 required credits. This often makes it an ideal fit for transfer students. The program allows students to do their coursework 100% online, though they must also complete an internship to gain real-world experience.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Getting Your Fashion Merchandising Degree Online
Through a fashion merchandising bachelor’s degree program, you can gain design and business skills that can help you turn your passion for fashion into a career.
Online studies are a strategic option for many apparel merchandising students, and accredited online programs are credible and respected. Plus, many online programs can accommodate students’ busy schedules. Enrolling in a virtual college program could be your ticket to earning a degree while maintaining your work or life responsibilities.
You can start exploring online fashion merchandising programs today to see which one is right for you.