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Apparel and Fashion Design Degree Program Overview

Majors Overview April 11, 2015

Get information about Bachelor of Apparel and Fashion Design degree programs and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor of Apparel and Fashion Design Programs

While bachelor’s programs in fashion design offered at postsecondary schools typically include Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degrees, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees are also granted by some institutions. Students enrolled in the program learn about garment construction, fashion history, aesthetics, and design processes, including exploration of the latest fashion trends, creation of designs, construction of items of clothing, and participation in student fashion shows.

An important part of the curriculum involves hands-on training experience with professional apparel and fashion designers. Students assemble portfolios to showcase their design collections, which is necessary to market one’s talents to possible employers in the field.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma and some schools require submission of a portfolio that could help students with obtaining placement, enhancing their applications for competitive programs, which limit enrollments, and enabling consideration for scholarships.

Artistic samples, including fashion drawings, may be included in portfolios to showcase students’ knowledge and skill level. An associate’s degree in fashion design may have to be held by incoming students to some two-year bachelor’s program. Some schools may also include design and sewing tests as part of the application process.


Studio practice and coursework are devised to teach students skills aimed at preparing them for careers in fashion design. Students enrolled in some programs are allowed to focus on a particular aspect of fashion design, such as intimate apparel, children’s clothing, or knitwear. In others, the curriculum incorporates business knowledge, marketing, and merchandising. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Shoe design
•Computer applications
•Costume construction
•Garment construction
•Fashion history

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, negative job growth rate of three percent have been predicted for fashion designers (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, fashion designers brought in an average annual wage of $62,860 (BLS). Fashion designers are not projected to earn high salaries until they are established in the field.

Wages also vary by experience and employer. In May 2012, the highest paying employers included management of companies and enterprises, footwear manufacturers, and motion picture and video industries. These professionals could most commonly seek jobs with cut and sew apparel manufacturers and apparel wholesalers.

Continuing Education Choices

Those who graduate from the bachelor’s degree program may opt for continuing education by earning a graduate degree in fashion design, such as a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Fashion Design, with M.F.A. programs being the more intensive.

Graduate level programs help students with developing their skills in fashion illustration and construction, focusing on a specialty within the field and participating in independent study apart from conduct of research and study and prediction of trends. Completion of a master’s program would also benefit those seeking teaching jobs at the college level.

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