2024 Best Online Masters in Fashion Design Programs

By Stephanie Friedman
Updated on April 13, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
Ready to start your journey?
Explore the best online masters in fashion design programs. Enhance your fashion skills, creativity, and business acumen in this dynamic industry.

If you have a creative mind and love staying up to date on the latest fashion trends, you may enjoy pursuing a masters in fashion design. This type of graduate program can help you hone your skills and your fashion sense.

Best Online Masters in Fashion Design Programs

Some fashion masters programs are designed for experienced fashion professionals, while others are tailored to students and professionals from different disciplines.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Students from these types of programs may go on to pursue roles as fashion designers, but there are also many other positions in the industry. Professionals are needed in fashion merchandising, journalism, PR, advertising, education, leadership, and more.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Fashion Design Degree 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.

Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University offers an MFA in Fashion Design program online. Potential coursework includes Introduction to Fashion Design, Fashion Construction, Experiencing Culture, and Digital Design for Fashion. The program also typically requires a thesis and an internship, and may be completed in 6 semesters.

Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University offers a Master of Arts in Fashion Design and Technology in a hybrid program. The program aims to help provide a foundation in critical theories and trends and the practical application and problem solving involved in fashion systems. The full program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, and a fast-track option may enable completion in just 1 year.

Lindenwood University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Savannah College of Art and Design

The Savannah College of Art and Design offers an MFA in Fashion program online. The program typically requires a thesis and coursework such as Drawing and Illustration for the Fashion Designer, Multimedia Communication for Fashion, Fashion Materials and Structures, and more.

SCAD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University offers an online program for a Master of Science in International Fashion Design Management. The flexible 30 credit program uses a blend of virtual and on-campus instruction. Concentrations include Technology, Sustainability, or Fashion Design Entrepreneurship. There are also opportunities to study abroad.

Thomas Jefferson University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln offers an MA in Textiles, Merchandising, and Fashion Design program online. Concentrations include Apparel Design or Material Culture and Textile Studies. The program requires the completion of 30 to 36 credits, and internship and international study opportunities are often offered.

The University of Nebraska – Lincoln is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Online Masters in Fashion Programs

Man taking Online Masters in Fashion

Fashion master degrees cover all aspects of the fashion industry and its effects on the world. Some programs focus on fashion design, while others focus on the business side of the fashion industry.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

These types of degrees typically provide students with coursework in their specialization along with opportunities to practically apply their knowledge.

Online Masters in Fashion Design Programs

fashion designers with fashion design masters degree

Masters programs in fashion design are specifically focused on, of course, fashion and apparel design. They emphasize the history of clothes design along with modern technologies and trends.

These programs may be particularly beneficial if you’re looking to pursue a career as a fashion designer, fashion buyer, or fashion graphic designer upon graduation. This type of program enables you to expand on your skills in drawing, patternmaking, design technology, textile design, and more.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Fashion design masters programs don’t always cover foundational topics. So, it may be beneficial to have some sort of work experience or bachelors degree in fashion design or a related discipline before applying to these programs.

Graduate students in a fashion design program may get the opportunity to participate in internships and capstone projects. They may also get to create a portfolio of their work or gain experience with a school fashion show.

Online Masters in Fashion Merchandising Programs

People with Online Masters in Fashion Merchandising Degree

While programs in fashion design focus on the creative style and function of clothing, masters degrees in fashion merchandising cover the making of the clothes and the business side of the industry.

Designers may have the vision, but those with fashion merchandising knowledge have the tools to make it a reality. Since you can learn about the materials that go into designing clothing, these degrees can be beneficial for students who wish to pursue careers as purchasing managers or buyers upon graduation.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Graduates may also pursue creative and business roles in the fashion industry like operations managers, art directors, sales representatives, marketing directors, or trend analysts. Typically, these types of roles use more analytical and problem-solving skills.

Students in these programs often study textile production, product development, the psychological effects of clothing, and more. You may even take some engineering or analytics classes as part of your curriculum.

Fashion Careers & Salaries

Fashion Careers and Salaries

A fashion design masters degree can lead to a range of career paths, depending on your specialization. One popular career path for graduates is to work as a fashion designer. These professionals create clothing designs, evaluate fashion trends, and present their collections at trade shows.

Other careers in the fashion industry include fashion buyers, graphic designers, and fashion journalists. Graduates may also pursue roles in fashion publicity, such as advertising managers or public relations specialists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the medians salaries of potential careers associated with the fashion industry.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $133,380
Purchasing Managers $127,150
Art Directors $100,890
Fashion Designers $77,450
Buyers and Purchasing Agents $63,470
Public Relations Specialists $62,800
Career and Technical Education Teachers $61,160
Curators $60,110
Graphic Designers $50,710
Craft and Fine Artists $49,960

Some of these roles may require additional training or experience beyond a masters degree in fashion. Your work experience and undergraduate field of study may impact your job qualifications.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that several of these careers will grow faster than average over the next ten years. For instance, 10% job growth is projected for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, and 8% growth is expected for public relations specialists and managers.

Fashion Design Master’s Curriculum & Courses

students pursuing fashion studies masters program

The curriculum in a fashion studies masters program can vary from school to school, but here are examples of classes you may come across:

  • Figure Drawing I: You’ll learn how to draw human figures to eventually showcase your fashion designs on.
  • History of Art I: Ancient to Medieval: This class teaches students about the history of style as it’s seen in ancient civilizations’ art, including ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt.
  • Fashion, Arts, and Influence: You’ll learn about the global impacts of the fashion industry, including how it affects the environment and the economy.
  • 3D Design 1: This course teaches you how to create 3D designs using draping and garment construction tools and allows you the chance to practice.
  • Flat Pattern Design: You’ll learn foundational patternmaking methods used to create flat designs.
  • Presentation Techniques: This class dives into different methods for presenting your portfolio and other various ways of showcasing your work.
  • Digital Design for Fashion: You’ll learn how to use various design tools and technologies to create images that best represent your work.
  • Tailoring: This course covers fitting techniques and other methods to customize clothing to specific people.
  • Business of Fashion: You’ll learn about marketing, public relations, fashion merchandising, and other factors that make up a successful fashion business.
  • History of Modern Design: This class dives into the history of fashion and how that has formed the industry we see today.

In addition to classes like these, you may also get the opportunity to participate in internships or independent study as well as pick your own electives.

Fashion Design MFA Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing Requirements for Fashion Design MFA

The admissions requirements for masters programs in fashion design can vary, but here are a few you’ll typically encounter:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Personal essay
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation

These types of programs generally ask to see your resume because it’s common for applicants to have some professional experience in the field. Some programs also ask to see a portfolio, which can range from drawings to graphic designs to jewelry.

Some programs are designed more for experienced fashion professionals, while others are geared toward those who want to break into the industry.

Fashion Graduate Programs Accreditation

University offering Fashion Graduate Programs

When looking at schools for your graduate degree in fashion design, it’s strategic to consider schools that are regionally accredited. This label means that the school has met a series of academic quality standards determined by a third-party regional accrediting organization.

Having a graduate degree from a regionally accredited school can be beneficial when applying to jobs after graduation, as employers often trust and prefer accredited degrees. It can also be necessary to attend an accredited school if you are wanting to apply for federal financial aid.

To learn more, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Master in Fashion Design Financial Aid

If you’re looking into applying for financial aid to help with your masters program in fashion design, you can browse various options on the Federal Student Aid website.

Qualifying graduate students can apply for direct unsubsidized loans without having to show financial need. With these loans, your school will determine how much money you are eligible to receive, and students are responsible for paying all the interest.

You can also research scholarship opportunities from your school and professional organizations. Many employers also offer tuition benefits or tuition reimbursement programs to workers who want to further their education.

What Can You Do with a Master in Fashion Design?

Purchasing Manager & Fashion Designers discussing

It’s common for graduates to pursue roles as fashion designers, but that’s not the only career a masters in fashion design may help you work toward.

Professionals in the fashion design industry also work as purchasing managers, buyers, fashion journalists, graphic designers, public relations specialists, and advertising specialists, among other roles. Leadership roles in the field can include creative or design director, advertising, or marketing manager.

Some graduates even pursue teaching roles in fashion design or fashion merchandising. These can include postsecondary teachers or career and technical education teachers, depending on their subject of choice. Your background and degree specialization may influence your job qualifications.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Fashion Design Online?

Woman taking Masters in Fashion Design Online

Much like with a bachelor’s in fashion merchandising online, the timeframe for completing a masters degree in fashion design online varies based on students’ schedules, program credit hours, and program thesis requirements.

If you enroll in a program with no thesis required, you may be able to graduate in as little as 1 year with full-time enrollment, including taking classes during the summer. If your program has a thesis requirement, or if you enroll part-time or take summers off, it may take longer to complete your masters.

Most masters programs can be completed in 1 to 2 years with full-time study, but some fashion design programs take longer if they also require a significant amount of studio hours.

What’s the Difference Between an MA vs. MFA in Fashion Design?

While there is a lot of overlap between Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in fashion design, here are a few key differences between the two.

MA in Fashion Design MFA in Fashion Design
  • Focuses more on theories
  • Typically takes less time to complete
  • Is interdisciplinary
  • Emphasizes practical applications
  • Often takes longer to complete
  • Focuses on one subject

In general, MA degrees are broader and allow students to research and write about the subject at hand. MFA degrees typically allow students to practically apply their knowledge to try to help prepare them for a specific arts career once they graduate.

Is a Fashion Masters Degree Worth It?

Fashion Designers working together

Yes, a fashion masters degree is worth it for many students. Masters degree programs can focus on different aspects of the industry, such as fashion design and merchandising.

Job openings for fashion designers are projected to grow by 3% over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many jobs associated with the fashion industry, such as public relations specialists and marketing managers, will grow faster than average over the next ten years. Purchasing managers and art directors are expected to see steady growth as well.

Getting Your Master Degree in Fashion Design Online

student getting Master Degree in Fashion Design Online

A masters degree in fashion design online will cover advanced topics in history, culture, design, and technology to help you grow your expertise and professional qualifications in the fashion industry.

You can also pursue a fashion degree that focuses on other specializations, such as fashion merchandising. These programs can teach you about subjects like 3D design and tailoring while allowing you to hone professional skills like presentation and problem solving. You may also have opportunities to network with individuals in the industry.

To get started on your journey toward a masters degree in fashion, you can begin exploring accredited schools today to discover which program options are right for you.

Ready to start your journey?