An eye for fashion is certainly important for those pursuing a degree in fashion merchandising, but it's far from the only requirement. Fashion merchandising also requires attention to detail, creativity, mathematical ability, and strong communication and problem-solving skills. A fashion merchandising degree program can help students develop these skills so they can have a better chance of succeeding in the competitive fashion marketplace.
Choosing the Right Fashion Merchandising Degree
Students in fashion merchandising learn how to manufacture, buy, promote, and sell fashion items, from clothing and jewelry to cosmetics and furniture via online design degrees. Fashion merchandising degrees are offered at the following levels:
- Associate degree: Associate degrees in fashion merchandising require two years of full-time study and focus explicitly on the skills needed to begin a fashion merchandising career. They typically do not include general liberal arts coursework. Depending on the program, a fashion merchandising associate degree may be called an Associate of Art, Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Occupational Studies in fashion merchandising.
- Bachelor's degree: Fashion merchandising bachelor's degree programs combine fashion, business and liberal arts education. Earning a Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Professional Studies or Bachelor of Business Management degree in fashion merchandising requires four years of full-time study and many hands-on projects.
- Master's degree: A Master of Science in fashion merchandising is a graduate degree that allows students to focus intensely on fashion retailing, consumer behavior, marketing and/or management. A master's degree in fashion merchandising generally requires two years of graduate study and culminates in a final project or thesis.
What to Expect in an Online Program
Online degrees in fashion merchandising are available at each of the above levels. With online degree programs, students can take courses at their own pace, and, in some cases, earn their degree in less time than a traditional program. The online master's degree in fashion merchandising is especially convenient as it allows fashion professionals to advance their education while continuing to work.
As the fashion industry evolves, software programs play an increasing role in the design and merchandising process. Students in online fashion merchandising programs can use online business and marketing tools to participate in case study projects, share online portfolios and collections, and leverage the power of the web to track fashion and design trends.
Careers in Fashion Merchandising
Upon completing an associate or bachelor's degree in fashion merchandising, graduates often pursue the following careers:
- Fashion forecaster: Fashion forecasters research trends to predict what will be popular in the coming seasons. They work for clothing manufacturers and other fashion-related companies.
- Product developer: Product developers are experts in design and branding who develop clothing lines for apparel companies. They use their knowledge of trends, merchandising and design to reach consumers.
- Fashion editor: Fashion magazines rely on fashion editors to identify trends and write about what's new in fashion. These editors must stay current and choose pieces to feature in the magazine.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers in the fashion industry prefer to hire graduates of either two-year or four-year degree programs with knowledge of fashion trends, textiles and merchandising. Fashion is a competitive industry
Fashion merchandising at a glance:
- Key skills: Eye for trends, love of fashion, creativity, attention to detail, math ability
- Top industries: Clothing manufacturers, apparel companies, magazine publishers
- Top states for fashion design: New York and California