If you're planning to pursue a fashion career, start here.
Welcome to our 2018 Fashion School rankings.
From location to tuition to resources, there are a lot of factors to consider and compare when choosing a school — and not as much guidance available as there is for more "traditional" fields of study. That's why, since 2010, we've put together rankings of the best fashion schools culled from data and our own extensive surveys.
We kicked things up a notch this year, asking much more detailed questions of the nearly 4,000 students who took our survey, and of the colleges we ranked, to provide a more accurate, informative and — most importantly — helpful guide to choosing a fashion school.
As for our survey results, there were some overarching trends: Students tended not to be as satisfied with career counseling, job placement and financial aid, and many warned of heavy work loads and stressed the importance of time management skills. Responses also suggested that most schools excel in either academics or practical experience — but rarely both.
When reading the list, it's important to remember that every school has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. While one might be better for someone looking to start their own luxury ready-to-wear line (or work at one), another might be ideal for someone looking to design shoes for a mass retailer, while still another might be right for someone interested in merchandising or costume design. Similarly, one might be highly ranked across the board, but may not be the right location or have a feasible tuition price for you. Our list includes not only fashion trade schools, but also larger universities with reputable fashion programs. Some have only undergraduate fashion programs (which is what we focused on), while others offer graduate opportunities, as well (and those are still listed for your perusal). Some have more than a dozen different fashion concentrations available, while others have only one.
You can learn more about all of those attributes by clicking the link on each school name below. While we feel certain that these 25 schools have top-notch fashion programs, we prefer to think of this as a more of a helpful guide for students than a sweeping declaration that one of these schools is unequivocally better than another.
Here's what we took into consideration:
Annual tuition: Art and design schools are generally expensive, although tuition can vary drastically and, at many colleges, it increases each year. The number you see on each college's page does not include room-and-board and incidentals. While tuition is not the most heavily weighted category on our list of criteria, we did factor the cost into our rankings as it relates to the cost of living in the area where the corresponding school is located.
Famous and successfully placed alumni: Famous alumni are something that we consider, yes, but we also reward schools with great placement rates. Just because a school hasn't produced a marquee name (yet) doesn't mean it isn't good. Every single one of these schools has placed students in major fashion houses, commercial labels and other important fashion businesses. Behind every Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang is a talented support staff helping to ensure that everything runs smoothly. And getting paid good money to do it.
Student and alumni feedback: We surveyed thousands of past and present students about their experiences at each school. Given our location, we did receive a somewhat greater number of responses from U.S. students, but weighed the feedback accordingly. We also considered the quality of the faculty, the practical and business training on offer, resources, technology, social life, career counseling and financial aid options.
Also of note: We spent hours upon hours researching and reporting on these schools — each school name below links to a page detailing our findings. No list is entirely scientific, but it is objective. Keep this in mind if you don't see your favorite school here or disagree with the ranking your alma mater received.
The Top 25
Top photo: Courtesy of Istituto Marangoni