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Graduate Degree Programs in Visual Merchandising Overview

Majors Overview March 4, 2016

This article talks about graduate degree programs in visual merchandising and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education options.

Graduate Programs in Visual Merchandising

The practice of arranging retail products in an attractive manner devised to increase sales is called visual merchandising. Few schools, if any, offer graduate programs that specifically emphasize visual merchandising. However, fashion merchandising master’s degree programs cover the subject.

Several topic areas relevant to the marketing and clothing industry are covered through Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) and programs in Fashion Merchandising. Specialization in an area such as consumer behavior, textile science, or apparel design is often available to students. Research and statistical methods employed in quantifying the effectiveness of merchandising and marketing techniques are in programs. Students also learn about the science and history of the fashion and textile industries.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to complete undergraduate courses in subject areas such as textiles, marketing, and chemistry before they are allowed to begin program coursework. Applicants for admission to many programs are also required to submit a statement of purpose, including employment aspirations and academic qualifications.


The emphasis of program coursework is on the theories underlying merchandising and marketing practices employed in selling retail products. A thesis project is completed to demonstrate original research into an aspect of the field. Core coursework may cover subject areas such as:

•Visual merchandising
•International Merchandising
•Merchandising management trends
•Merchandising research methodology
•Brand management
•Strategic advertising
•Online merchandising strategies

Career Options

Program graduates may pursue numerous job options in marketing and retail. Graduates are usually in charge of the visual merchandising of their store. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Merchandising expert
•Retail store manager
•Merchandise purchaser

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2014, merchandise displayers and window trimmers brought in an average annual wage of $29,530 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, these professionals are expected to see the best employment prospects in a retail trade.

Continuing Education Options

Program graduates who seek continuing education can enroll in a doctorate program in textile and apparel management. The emphasis of these relatively uncommon programs is on the practical skills employed in selling various types of goods, including furniture and clothing. These programs have a similar visual merchandising component as do master’s degree programs.

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