20 Best Colleges for Fashion Design – 2024

April 17, 2024

best colleges for fashion design

Some major in fashion because they dream of one day seeing their creations on the runways of Milan. Others are interested in less glamorous aspects of the field such as retail management, costume design, or photography. Whatever your aim, many believe it essential to study in a fashion mecca like New York City. While powerhouse NYC schools like Pratt, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Parsons do indeed grace our list of top fashion colleges, there are many other stellar programs situated in more unassuming locales (i.e. Ohio). Industry-connected faculty, corporate partnerships, co-op programs, and practical skill-building are hallmarks of excellence in fashion design undergraduate schools.

On your way to earning a bachelor’s in fashion design, you’ll likely tackle coursework in visuals, fabrics, technology, sustainability, drawing, concepts, knitting, retail, branding, and much more.

Methodology 

Click here to read our methodology for the Best Colleges for Fashion Design.

Best Colleges for Fashion Design

Here’s a quick preview of the first ten fashion institutions that made our list. Detailed profiles and stats can be found when you scroll below.

1) The New School

2) Fashion Institute of Technology

3) Pratt Institute

4) Rhode Island School of Design

5) Savannah College of Art and Design

6) Kent State University

7) Drexel University

8) University of Cincinnati

9) Otis College of Art and Design

10) Virginia Commonwealth University

All of the schools profiled below have stellar reputations in the field of fashion design and commit substantial resources to undergraduate education. For each of the best colleges for fashion design, College Transitions will provide you with—when available—each school’s:

  • Enrollment
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Acceptance Rate
  • Median SAT
  • Median ACT
  • Retention Rate
  • Graduation Rate

We will also include a longer write-up of each college’s:

  • Academic Highlights – Includes facts like student-to-faculty ratio, average class size, number of majors offered, and most popular majors.
  • Professional Outcomes – Includes info on the rate of positive outcomes, companies employing alumni, and graduate school acceptances.
#1 Best College for Fashion Design
The New School

The New School

  • New York, NY

Academic Highlights: A 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio at the New School allows for 89% of course sections to enroll under 20 students. This means students in all academic programs receive a great deal of personalized instruction and attention. The most popular majors at the New School all fall under the umbrella of the visual arts (62%). A smattering of students also concentrate in computer science (11%), journalism (7%), liberal arts (6%), and English (4%).

Professional Outcomes: Within the first year after earning their bachelor’s degree, 82% of graduates have already found their first employment opportunity or elected to continue their studies. 70% of recent grads entered the working world and another 12% entered an advanced degree program. Employers of 15 or more alumni include the United Nations, JP Morgan and Co., Amazon, The New York Times, Meta, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • Enrollment: 7,208
  • Cost of Attendance: $85,668
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

#2 Best College for Fashion Design
Fashion Institute of Technology

Fashion Institute of Technology

  • New York, NY

Academic Highlights: FIT is a public institution that attracts students from 46 nations and offers programs in Art & Design, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Business and Technology. The most popular majors at the Fashion Institute of Technology are fashion merchandising (24%), fashion & apparel design (18%), communication management (16%), international marketing (16%), and design and visual communications (5%).

Professional Outcomes: 78% of those who earned a bachelor’s in 2022 were employed six months after graduation and 18% were looking for work. Most fresh alumni (85%) were employed by a company and 13% were freelancers. Employers of more than 100 FIT alumni include L’Oreal, Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, Nike, Amazon, Coach, Victoria’s Secret & Co., the Estee Lauder Companies, CHANEL, Louis Vuitton, and the Style Shop.

  • Enrollment: 7,872
  • Tuition: $6,170 (In-State); $16,750 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Retention Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%

#3 Best College for Fashion Design
Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute

  • Brooklyn, NY

Academic Highlights: There are 1,200 faculty members at Pratt Institute that provide instruction to 48 academic programs. An enviable 74% of class sections enroll fewer than 20 students. Overall, 65% of all degrees conferred fall under the performing arts umbrella with illustration, painting, photography, sculpture, game design, and cinematography and video production all on the menu. 20% of Pratt students earn architecture degrees and 10% study communication technologies.

Professional Outcomes: Looking at recent Pratt grads, 90% were gainfully employed or attending grad school within six months of earning their undergraduate diploma. Employers who scoop up Pratt alumni include Warner Media, NBC Universal, Gensler, David Zwirner, Apple, PepsiCo, IBM, and LVMH. Further, 78% of graduates are satisfied with their occupation and 85% report that their job is relevant to their field of study.

  • Enrollment: 3,702
  • Cost of Attendance: $80,993
  • Median SAT: 1330
  • Median ACT: 30
  • Acceptance Rate: 45%
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 76%

#4 Best College for Fashion Design
Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design

  • Providence, RI

Academic Highlights: The student-to-faculty ratio at RISD is just 9:1 which means students get a ton of personalized attention from their professors. The average class size is just 15 students. Among the most popular majors are architecture, cinematography and video production, painting, sculpture, illustration, and computer graphics. In total, there are 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for students to choose from.

Professional Outcomes: Recent graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design found their next positive career/educational step at a 97% clip. Companies hiring RISD grads include Athleta, Citigroup, Chewy, Deloitte, Coach, Barefoot Books, the New York Times, Nickelodeon, NVIDIA, NASA, Fidelity, Google, Paramount, Reebok, and West Elm. 46% of recent grads earned more than $40,000 as a starting salary.

  • Enrollment: 2,044
  • Cost of Attendance: $85,986
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Mid-50% ACT: 28-34
  • Acceptance Rate: 19%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 89%

#5 Best College for Fashion Design
Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

  • Savannah, GA

Academic Highlights: Savannah College of Art and Design offers more than 40 programs of study and close to half of all classes enroll no more than 19 students. The most commonly pursued degrees are Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics, and Special Effects (21%), Illustration (14%), Digital Communication (13%), Cinematography and Film Production (9%), and Fashion/Apparel Design (6%).

Professional Outcomes: A tremendous 99% of SCAD graduates report being employed or engaged in further study within ten months of graduating. Further, 91% state that they are working in a field/position related to their area of study. Many alumni are self-employed but sizable numbers also obtain employment with Amazon, Apple, Deloitte, Gensler, Google, Microsoft, Blizzard Entertainment, Epic Games, and Walt Disney Imagineering.

  • Enrollment: 13,622
  • Cost of Attendance: $65,574
  • Median SAT: 1240
  • Median ACT: 24
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%

#6 Best College for Fashion Design
Kent State University

Kent State University

  • Kent, OH

Academic Highlights: This Ohio-based public university has 42 undergraduate majors and 52 minors available along with 42 masters and 25 doctoral programs. Despite a mediocre 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio, a surprising 56% of class sections enroll fewer than 20 students. Registered nursing is the most popular major (11%), followed by psychology (7%), business (5%), fashion merchandising (5%), marketing, (3%), public health (3%), and criminal justice (3%).

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of leaving Kent State, 89% of graduates were employed or continuing education. Over 500 employers hired at least one 2022 graduate. The companies and organizations that employ the greatest number of alumni are: the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Sherwin-Williams, PNC, Amazon, Huntington National Bank, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, and Walmart.

  • Enrollment: 20,418
  • Cost of Attendance: $25,886 (In-State); $35,356 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1100
  • Median ACT: 21
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Retention Rate: 66%
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

#7 Best College for Fashion Design
Drexel University

Drexel University

  • Philadelphia, PA

Academic Highlights: There are 80+ undergraduate majors to choose from at Drexel and they offer a reasonable 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio with commensurately reasonable class sizes. Fifty-two percent of sections contain 19 or fewer students, and just a sliver under 9% of sections contain fifty or more. Looking at the number of degrees conferred by discipline, the big three at Drexel are business (25%), health professions (21%), and engineering (17%). Visual and performing arts (9%), and CS (8%) round out the list of majors with a sizable representation.

Professional Outcomes: One year after graduating, 97%, Dragons have arrived at their next destination; 81% were employed, and 13% had matriculated into graduate or professional school. The largest employers of Drexel alumni are Comcast, Merck, Vanguard, and Johnson & Johnson. The average starting salary for Drexel grads with a full-time job was $64,774. Drexel’s medical school acceptance rate was 60%, roughly 20 points higher than the national average. It offers an accelerated BS/MD program with its own Drexel University College of Medicine.

  • Enrollment: 13,881
  • Cost of Attendance: $81,508
  • Median SAT: 1330
  • Median ACT: 29
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

#8 Best College for Fashion Design
University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

  • Cincinnati, OH

Academic Highlights: More than 90 majors await you at the University of Cincinnati and it all unfolds with an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. There is a mix of small and large class sections: 32% have 19 or fewer students and 20% have 50% or more. The most frequently conferred degrees in 2022 were business (20%), health professions (14%), engineering (12%), biology (7%), the visual arts (7%), and computer science (6%).

Professional Outcomes: Looking at all graduating seniors in 2022, 83% had obtained employment within six months of earning their degree and 13% were continuing their education. The average starting salary earned was $53,761. Hundreds of Bearcat alumni can be found in the offices of GE Aerospace, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati Children’s. Fifth Third Bank, Medpace, Apple, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon Web Services.

  • Enrollment: 29,989
  • Cost of Attendance: $26,456 (In-State); $40,066 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1260
  • Median ACT: 26
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%

#9 Best College for Fashion Design
Otis College of Art and Design

Otis College of Art and Design

  • Los Angeles, CA

Academic Highlights: Established over 100 years ago, Otis College of Art and Design offers degrees in a number of creative fields including animation, environmental design, fashion design, the fine arts, game design and development, graphic design, illustration, product design, and toy design. All students also complete a liberal arts core and have the choice of 13 minors. Class sizes are generally quite small, with 82% enrolling fewer than 20 individuals.

Professional Outcomes: Within one year of graduating, an encouraging 90% of Otis grads are employed in graduate school and 84% have found jobs that are related to art and design. The average starting salary is $51,145, a very solid figure considering the academic fields of focus. Recent employers include Ten30 Studios, Mattel, BMW Designworks, Guess?, Levi’s, Riot Games, Walt Disney, and Venice Arts.

  • Enrollment: 1,268
  • Cost of Attendance: $69,615
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: 24
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%

#10 Best College for Fashion Design
Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Richmond, VA

Academic Highlights:  A large public institution with 200 academic offerings, VCU still manages to keep 48% of its class sections capped at an enrollment of 19 thanks to a manageable 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Popular majors include the visual and performing arts (12%), business (11%), psychology (10%), biology (9%), education (7%), and homeland security (7%). The university is highly rated for innovation, value, and its stellar nursing program.

Professional Outcomes: After earning their diplomas, 48% quickly landed their first job and 22% entered an advanced degree program. The top industries were healthcare, internet & software, higher education, government, and retail. Overall, 87% of grads were satisfied with their employment outcome and 78% remained in the state of Virginia. Massive numbers of alumni can be found in the offices of Dominion Energy, VCU Health, Capital One, CarMax, Deloitte, and Apex Systems.

  • Enrollment: 20,958
  • Cost of Attendance: $29,516 (In-State); $52,100 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1160
  • Median ACT: 26
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%

#11 Best College for Fashion Design
SUNY Oneonta

SUNY Oneonta

  • Oneonta, NY

Academic Highlights: The Oneonta branch of the SUNY system offers more than 100 majors, minors, and preprofessional programs. The student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1 and class sizes are a mix of small (20 or fewer students) and medium-sized (20-49 students ) sections; just 2% of courses enroll more than 50 students. Very few schools in the 2020s confer the greatest number of degrees in education, but SUNY Oneonta is one such institution. Next in popularity are the visual and performing arts, business, and journalism.

Professional Outcomes: SUNY Oneonta has a strong alumni network that has allowed it to send large numbers of graduates to companies/organizations such as the NYC Department of Education, Northwell Health, Regeneron, JPMorgan Chase & Co., IBM, Amazon, Citi, Morgan Stanley, NBCUniversal, ADP, Deloitte, and PwC. The majority of alumni have settled in Albany, New York City, Boston, Miami, and Washington, D.C.

  • Enrollment: 4,859
  • Cost of Attendance: $24,622 (In-State); $27,042 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1098
  • Median ACT: 24
  • Acceptance Rate: 73%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 77%

#12 Best College for Fashion Design
Marist College

Marist College

  • Poughkeepsie, NY

Academic Highlights: Marist offers 47 distinct bachelor’s programs but is ultimately a true liberal arts institution that requires its undergrads to complete a core curriculum. Marist has a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio—few sections are single-digit seminars or large lectures but 51% of sections are under 20 students. The School of Management and the School of Communication are quite popular as business (33%) and communication (15%) are, by far, Marist’s two most commonly conferred degrees. They are also among Marist’s strongest.

Professional Outcomes: Red Foxes strutting across the graduation stage from 2018-2022 went on to find employment or a graduate school home at a terrific 95% rate by the time they filled out their first-destination survey. Major employers of Marist alums include IBM, which presently employs close to 700 individuals, as well as JP Morgan Chase, EY, Macy’s, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, and NBC Universal Media. Turning to grad school results, recent students have gone on to attend a wide range of institutions including elite universities Cornell, Penn, Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford.

  • Enrollment: 5,475
  • Cost of Attendance: $70,715
  • Median SAT: 1280
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 63%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%

#13 Best College for Fashion Design
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

  • Boston, MA

Academic Highlights: All students at MassArt begin their undergraduate journey with a Foundation Year designed to give them the technical expertise to succeed in their major. Tiny classes are the norm at this institution with 89% of course sections enrolling 19 or fewer students. The most popular major is illustration (19%), followed by digital communication (15%), cinematography and film production (10%), painting (8%), and art teacher education (6%).

Professional Outcomes: 81% of MassArt grads work in a field that is related to their major and it’s a roughly 60/40 split between those who work for an employer versus being self-employed. The organizations employing the most alumni are the TJX Companies, Fidelity Investments, Boston Public Schools, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Apple, and Hasbro. Most stay in the Boston Area but significant numbers of alumni settle in New York City or Los Angeles.

  • Enrollment: 1,833
  • Cost of Attendance: $34,670 (In-State); $61,060 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%

#14 Best College for Fashion Design
Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago

  • Chicago, IL

Academic Highlights: More than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs await students at Columbia College Chicago as well as a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Overall, 65% of all course sections are relatively small, containing no more than 19 students. Almost 60% come to Columbia College Chicago for the visual and performing arts, but areas such as communication technologies (20%), journalism (10%), English (4%), and business (3%) are also common selections.

Professional Outcomes: Many graduates of the visual arts program are self-employed after graduation, but companies employing large numbers of Columbia College grads include Amazon, Apple, NBCUniversal, Live Nation Entertainment, Crate and Barrel, the Walt Disney Company, AbbVie, Google, Netflix, and FCB Chicago. Remaining in Chicago or another Illinois city after graduation is the most popular move, but there are plenty of alumni situated in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco as well.

  • Enrollment: 6,424
  • Cost of Attendance: $51,786
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%

#15 Best College for Fashion Design
Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University

  • San Francisco, CA

Academic Highlights: There are 100+ degree programs at the Academy of Art University, all in creative/artistic fields. The overall student-to-faculty ratio at this institution is 14:1, but no class size data is made available. The most commonly conferred degrees at this school are: animation, interactive technology, video graphics and special effects; Modeling, virtual environments and simulation; Digital arts, Cinematography and film/video production; and Computer graphics.

Professional Outcomes: As is typical for a school specializing in the artistic realm, starting salaries are on the low side. However, a solid number of alumni do end up working for organizations such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, Pixar Animation Studios, Nike, Blizzard Entertainment, Salesforce, Adobe, Microsoft, and Dreamworks. Most grads stay in the Bay Area but many also head to Los Angeles and New York City.

  • Enrollment: 5,363
  • Cost of Attendance: $52,006
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%

#16 Best College for Fashion Design
Thomas Jefferson University

Thomas Jefferson University

  • Philadelphia, PA

Academic Highlights: Offering 160+ undergraduate and graduate degrees combined with Philadelphia University in 2017. Sporting an excellent 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio, this private university keeps 59% of its class sections at under 20 students. 30% of all degrees conferred are for registered nursing, followed by family practice nursing (12%), health services (12%), allied health diagnostic (6%), architectural technology (4%), and fashion merchandising (4%).

Professional Outcomes: Shortly after earning their undergraduate degrees, 60% of recent alumni had already found their first job and 37% were pursuing an advanced degree. The top employers included JP Morgan Chase & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, Fox Chase Cancer Center, BLT Architects, and Thomas Jefferson Hospital. Graduate school enrollments included Hofstra, Temple School of Dentistry, University of Maryland, UPenn, and Penn State.

  • Enrollment: 3,771
  • Cost of Attendance: $60,889
  • Median SAT: 1210
  • Median ACT: 29
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 82%
  • Graduation Rate: 68%

#17 Best College for Fashion Design
Oregon State University

Oregon State University

  • Corvallis, Oregon

Academic Highlights: Across its 11 colleges, graduate schools, and Honors College, OSU offers close to 200 degree programs. While 28% of classes have fewer than 20 students another 21% of sections enroll more than 50 individuals. The three most commonly earned degrees are in engineering (17%) computer science (15%), and business (15%). Other popular areas of study are biology (7%), natural resources and conservation (6%), and the social sciences (5%).

Professional Outcomes: Large number of College of Business alums work at companies such as Nike, Boeing, Intel, Deloitte, Oracle, KPMG, and Adidas.  Including all majors, many others work for Amazon, Salesforce, Meta, Apple, Google, and NVIDIA. An impressive 67% of those applying to medical school are accepted, a figure far higher than the national average. Med schools where recent grads now attend include Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, and UCLA.

  • Enrollment: 28,905
  • Cost of Attendance: $28,866 (In-State); $51,642 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1260
  • Median ACT: 26
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

#18 Best College for Fashion Design
Baylor University

Baylor University

  • Waco, TX

Academic Highlights: Class sizes at Baylor generally range from small to medium, with 48% of sections containing fewer than 20 students and 76% enrolling fewer than 29. Far more Bears major in business/marketing (25%) than the second-place finisher, health professions (19%). Other popular academic pursuits are biology (12%) and communication/journalism (7%), both of which are very strong. The Hankamer School of Business is highly respected across the country.

Professional Outcomes: At the 180-day post-graduation point, those who earned their diplomas from Baylor had entered the world of full-time employment at a 50% clip, and 28% had entered a graduate or professional degree program. Large numbers of recent grads were scooped up by many of the most desirable employers in the country including Dell (19), EY (16), and Oracle (16). The average starting salary was $59k. Among recent grads, the most commonly attended graduate school was Baylor itself (125), followed by Texas A&M (12).

  • Enrollment: 15,213
  • Cost of Attendance: $69,970
  • Median SAT: 1320
  • Median ACT: 30
  • Acceptance Rate: 46%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%

#19 Best College for Fashion Design
California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts

  • San Francisco, CA

Academic Highlights: The core disciplines at California College of the Arts are architecture, design, fine arts, and humanities and sciences. The most commonly pursued degrees at this institution are in Animation, Video Graphics and Special Effects; Industrial and Product Design; Computer Graphics, Illustration, and Architecture. This school does not release any official data on class size, student-to-faculty ratio, etc.

Professional Outcomes: Many alumni live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Berkeley, or other California cities. Many others cluster in New York City, Portland, and Seattle. While a good number of California College of Arts graduates are self-employed, dozens work at Google, Apple, Adobe, Amazon, Meta, Salesforce, Microsoft, Nike, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

  • Enrollment: 1,249
  • Cost of Attendance: $79,021
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%

#20 Best College for Fashion Design
Columbus College of Art and Design

Columbus College of Art and Design

  • Columbus, OH

Academic Highlights: Undergraduates can pursue Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in the following disciplines: Animation, Comics & Narrative Practice, Fashion Design, Film & Video, Fine Arts, Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Architecture & Design, Photography and Product Design. There are also 18 minors available. With a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, CCAD students enjoy an immense amount of personalized attention from a faculty that is 100% composed of practicing artists or designers.

Professional Outcomes: 79% of recent grads experienced positive outcomes after graduation, and were either employed or seeking continuing education. 65% were employed in a field of study related to their degree within one year. Across all graduating years, the top sectors include arts and design, business development, operations, education, and marketing. Popular employers include the Columbus College of Art and Design itself followed by Bath & Body Works, JPMorgan Chase, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Nationwide. Many are also self-employed.

  • Enrollment: 1,009
  • Cost of Attendance: $60,800
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

We hope you have found our list of the Best Colleges for Fashion Design to be useful and informative as you continue your college search process. We also invite you to check out some of our other resources and tools including: