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Study Fashion Designing in the USA: Complete Course Details 2023

fashion designing in usa

With new trends, styles and fads rising, fashion designing is booming more than ever. Thus, if you’re planning to enter the fashion industry, there’s no time better than now. In addition to that, the United States is home to some of the best fashion universities that offer students top-notch education and global exposure. Students can access world-class faculties, cutting-edge tech, and the creative innovations of top experts. However, before you proceed, what should you know about pursuing fashion designing in the USA? Learn about the course structure, universities, curriculum, prospects and much more in our guide. 

Why Study Fashion Designing in the USA?

You may have decided to pursue a fashion design degree, but why should you pick the United States? There are several reasons why the United States is an ideal pick. We have listed below some of the top ones to help international students make an informed decision.

  • Several top universities and educational institutes conducting fashion design courses are located in the United States.
  • The US institutes have the best fashion technology and artistic education.
  • Students can choose from a plethora of fashion design degrees and courses, the one that aligns with their personal and professional interests the most.
  • Any degree in fashion designing in the USA has several specialisations, electives and minors, which allow students to gain exposure in many sub-fields as well.
  • Lastly, since the fashion industry in the US is rapidly evolving and has the power to influence the rest of the world, it is the best location to acquire your degree and give your career the proper headstart.

Top Universities To Pursue Fashion Designing In The USA

Deciding to study a fashion designing course in the USA is a wise decision, but it isn’t enough. Students must also explore the different educational institutes and determine which of them offer the facilities and opportunities that they need for their careers. Also, universities provide diverse programmes, courses and specialisations as well, which may differ from student to student according to their choices. Consider the following table to get an idea of the best fashion design universities in the USA. 

UniversityQS World Rankings
Fashion Institute of Technology101
Parsons School of Design3
Pratt Institute6
Rhode Island School of Design7
Savannah College of Art and Design16
School of the Art Institute of Chicago11
California Institute of the Arts51
Kent State University1001 – 1200
Academy of Art University105 – 115
California College of Arts48

Course Options

Fashion designing courses in the USA for international students involve a vast array of topics. Students learn every single skill set required to work in the fashion industry. Initially, in an undergraduate degree, the curriculum tends to cover the basics and foundational topics of fashion design. Some of these are listed here.

  • Basic Design Principles
  • Drawing, Colour Theory, Textiles
  • Design And Construction
  • Fashion Illustration
  • Textile Design
  • History Of Fashion
  • Business Of Fashion

Once students are equipped with these basics, a master’s degree in fashion design delves into deeper topics that will allow students to focus on specific skill sets. Here are the standard topics in any master’s curriculum.

  • Advanced Design Theory
  • Apparel Product Development
  • Fashion Trends And Forecasting
  • Advanced Garment Construction Techniques
  • Fashion Illustration And Visualisation
  • Sustainable Fashion
  • Marketing And Branding
  • Professional Development

Eligibility Criteria & Admission Requirements

As an international student pursuing fashion designing in the USA, you will be required to fulfil all the eligibility criteria and admission requirements. Unfortunately, since these differ from institute to institute, extensive and thorough research on the student’s part is necessary. Here is a list of the standard prerequisites for applying to any fashion institute in the United States.

  • Official academic transcripts of all previous degrees.
  • Scores of English proficiency tests
  • Scores of entrance exams
    – SAT or ACT for UG applicants
    – GRE for PG applicants
  • Work experience (may be optional)
  • Letters of recommendation (2 – 3)
  • Personal essay
  • CV/Resume
  • Portfolio
  • Financial documents
  • Visa documents

Application Procedure

Similar to the eligibility criteria and admission requirements, the application procedure for each university varies substantially. Thus, applicants must be thorough with the requirements and application process before proceeding. Here is a step-by-step guide to successfully applying to the different fashion designing colleges in the USA.

  • Explore the different universities and fashion design courses offered by them. Shortlist those that provide the optimal facilities and opportunities for career advancement.

  • Go through the universities’ official websites to verify their eligibility criteria and admission requirements. Compile a file of documents depending on these prerequisites.

  • Fill out their application form, depending on the given deadlines. Upload all the required documents, like portfolio, CV, transcripts, financial papers, letters of recommendation, and personal statement.

  • You may be required to pay an application fee. Some universities may conduct additional screening rounds like interviews or art tests to narrow their candidates down.

  • You may receive an offer letter or a conditional placeholder, depending on your application. Fulfil their requirements and ensure your seat at the university.

Cost Of Studying

Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash

Fashion designing in the USA, being an up-and-coming course, is quite expensive to pursue, especially for international students. Conducting thorough research on the overall cost of studying this course is equally important. The cost of studying includes two significant parameters – the tuition fee and the cost of living. Considering the first one, the average annual cost of attendance is around $46,096. The following table compiles the average tuition fee in some of the top colleges. 

UniversityAverage Annual Tuition
Fashion Institute of Technology$6,900 – $17,500
Parsons School of Design$53,000
Pratt Institute$54,000
Rhode Island School of Design$53,000
Savannah College of Art and Design$38,000
School of the Art Institute of Chicago$53,000 – $56,000
California Institute of the Arts$53,000 – $55,000
Kent State University$20,786
Academy of Art University$15,620 – $33,643
California College of Arts$33,800

Next, we move to the living expenses. The average annual cost of living in the United States is approximately $18,048. A detailed breakdown of how accommodation, commute, food, utilities, and groceries contribute to this figure is given in the table below.

ItemEstimated cost per month
Off-Campus Accommodation$525
On-Campus Accommodation$871
Food$572
Transportation$70
Utilities$180
Entertainment$48
Groceries$52
Clothes$102
Total Cost Of Living With Off-Campus Accommodation$1,504
Total Cost Of Living With On-Campus Accommodation$1,850
Annual Cost Of Living$18,048

Scholarships

As the previous section indicates, pursuing fashion designing in the USA is quite expensive. To ensure that no student’s education faces a hurdle because of the high burden of finances, several types of financial aid, like grants, awards, scholarships and bursaries, are available for students. A list of the most helpful fashion scholarships for international students is compiled in the following table.

Scholarships Amount AwardedDeadlines
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Scholarship Fund$25,000 to $50,000March 1 – May 19
Pride Foundation Scholarships$5000 to $12,000October – January 
The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Scholarships$1,250 to $6,070March 17
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Scholarships$100 to $10,000Flexible dates
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) ScholarshipsFrom $1,500 per yearFlexible dates
Dream in Color$5000 grantAround Spring
FSF Case Study Scholarship Competition$7,500 to $25,000October 16

Students must note that most scholarships are specific to the institute they are applying to. Moreover, each scholarship has different eligibility criteria and requirements. Thus, it is crucial to read through the official website of the university to get in-depth information about the scholarships, their application and disbursement.

Future Scope

Lastly, one of the most significant questions that every student has – what future scope does fashion designing in the USA have? Students can explore a number of different opportunities in this field. They can work on designing clothes and accessories or marketing and merchandising these products. Basically, studying fashion design opens up a number of possibilities to explore depending on the student’s interests.

The average salary of a fashion designer in the United States is around $69,317 per year. Along with this, there are several other job profiles that students can explore. The following table contains all these necessary details –

Job ProfileAverage Annual Salary
Fashion Designer$69,317
Textile Designer$66,590
Fashion Merchandiser$67,280
Fashion Buyer$67,640
Fashion Illustrator$50,370
Costume Designer$72,520
Fashion Stylist$53,580

It is worth noting that the average salary increases with experience and more skill sets. Thus, focusing on gaining more exposure, working part-time, and learning more techniques and skills pays off in the long run.

FAQs

Q1. Why study fashion designing in the USA?

Ans: The USA is home to several world-class universities and has a plethora of opportunities for international students to advance their careers. This makes it an ideal location to pursue fashion design.

Q2. How many years does it take to become a fashion designer in the USA?

Ans: Most fashion design undergraduate courses in the USA are four years long.

Q3. Which are the best fashion designing colleges in the USA?

Ans: Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and Savannah College of Art and Design are some of the top fashion schools worldwide. 

Q4. What are the job prospects for fashion designers in the USA after graduation?

Ans: The average salary of a fashion designer in the United States is around $69,317 per year. However, other than this, students can pursue other job profiles like Textile Designer, Fashion Merchandiser, Fashion Buyer, Fashion Illustrator, and Costume Designer.

Q5. Are there scholarships available for fashion design students at US institutions?

Ans: The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Scholarship Fund, Dream in Colour, FSF Case Study Scholarship Competition, and Pride Foundation Scholarships are some scholarships offered to international fashion students at US universities.

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Study Fashion Designing in the USA: Complete Course Details 2023

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