As a retired Academic, Engineer, Scientist, and student counselor, parents expect me to know how to help them guide their young adults into a valuable education. I’ve been asked how to find the best fashion design schools.

The best fashion design schools are defined by their curriculum, their connections with the fashion industry, and their ability to nurture the talent of their students. Of course the best design schools do all that and provide such a broad and challenging curriculum that its graduates are in high demand.

After some research, and a long question and answer sessions with a professional designer, I’ve come to the conclusion that picking the best fashion design schools requires the same common sense approach as picking a college of engineering or architecture. The difference is that some of the best fashion design schools with the most successful programs are not part of traditional universities.

I had a very frank conversation with a faculty member at a highly respected design school. He actually teaches classes in manufacturing and fabrication methods. While listening to him, I came to another conclusion. Fashion design is a very serious and competitive business, with a rigorous skill set requirement. It is every bit as demanding as the engineering, and architecture fields with which I’m more familiar.

To find the best fashion design schools, look for a program that provides a well rounded set of courses in design fundamentals and skill development. Merchandising, manufacturing, and business practices should be a part of the curriculum also. Students should be required to learn to present and defend their ideas, as well as those of others to critical review and general presentation.

An internship requirement is a part of nearly all of the best design schools’ curriculums. It is important that the faculty has experience in multiple facets of the industry and that the school’s graduates obtain experience in the industry as part of their education.

Fundamentals include a solid set of courses that include classical and contemporary components of design, drawing, color, graphical design, materials, historical and critical clothing design. Skills developed should include drawing, practical design labs/challenges, patternmaking, constructing, and finishing.

Manufacturing, merchandising, and business concepts should be part of the curriculum throughout. The degrees available should include appropriate practical experience in the industry. A list of internships available and in process can be very enlightening. It seems to be one of the metrics by which design schools judge one another.

Choosing the school can hinge, also, on finding out the disposition of graduates. Do most enter the industry, advanced degrees, or unrelated fields? The best design schools offer the option to further refine study with a more specialized advanced degree, or they offer targeted degrees in areas of fashion design. For instance, at some schools, such as University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, specialized emphasis in textiles, industrial manufacturing, product development, merchandising, jewelry design, and manufacturing are options. Many of the best fashion design schools connected with traditional universities offer extensive advanced degree options.

Alternatively, traditional university is not necessarily the most desired option for every student. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising seems to have a curriculum that is at least as extensive, if not more so than almost any of the best fashion design schools connected with traditional universities.

The choices of educational direction all require a broad set of courses in fundamentals of design and skill development, then the student has the option of more than 15 different fashion industry related majors. This allows the student to steer toward a specialty earlier in their educational path. Their program includes extensive skill development and hands on courses where design challenges are rigorous.

As with all schools, Accreditation is important to the value of the obtained degrees and the transferability of educational credit to other institutions. Sometimes this can be a bit confusing, but it’s actually quite simple. If the school is recognized by the U. S. Department of Education then financial aid, grants, and loans can be obtained. The best fashion design schools have extensive financial aid options supported by industry also.

Now, I can truthfully say that the best fashion design schools are actually not the traditional four year colleges for the student that already has a strongly focused direction. I feel confident in recommending to parents that they use the same rigor as they would choosing any more traditional school and not to be biased against non-university programs.

Did you know:

According to US News and World Reports the following are the top 2010 National Schools offering Art majors

1.      Yale University – New Haven, CT
2.      University of Chicago – Chicago, IL
3.      Northwestern University – Evanston, IL
4.      Brown University – Providence, RI
5.      Rice University – Houston, TX

If you are interested in Top Fashion Design Schools, you may also be interested in finding more information on Top Performing Arts Schools, Top Audio Production Schools, Top Photography Schools and Top Visual Effects Schools. Feel free to browse these art school profiles and securely submit your information to request information.


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