Which Colleges Have Fashion Degree Programs in the Washington, DC Area?

Learn about fashion programs in the Washington, D.C., area. Get information about degrees available and admission and program requirements to make an informed decision about your education. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Fashion degree programs in and around Washington, D.C., can be found in both 2-year community college and 4-year university settings. In fashion design, you might earn a 2-year certificate or associate's degree, or you might choose to pursue a 4-year bachelor's degree in the field. Both an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree are offered in fashion merchandising through area schools, in addition. Select programs include practicums and internships to give hands-on experience in the industry. Keep reading to learn more program details.


Fashion Certificate Programs in or Around Washington, D.C.

Baltimore City Community College

  • Program: Certificate in Fashion Design
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time
  • Tuition: $3,112 per year for MD residents, $6,772 per year for nonresidents (estimated full-time cost for 2011-2012 academic year)
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or its equivalent (students without these credentials may enroll after they've completed 15 credits of college coursework)
  • Requirements: ACCUPLACER test, completion of PRE 100 course, computer literacy requirements
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 7,160 students (all undergraduate)
  • Address: 2901 Liberty Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
  • Phone: 410-462-8300

Baltimore City Community College's Liberal Arts, Education, and Public Services Division is located at the school's Liberty Campus in northwest Baltimore. The school offers a certificate program in fashion design, which requires between 43 and 46 credits to complete. Coursework includes apparel technology, computer-assisted pattern design, costume development, draping, flat-pattern design, tailoring, technical fashion illustration, textiles and visual merchandising.

Although the certificate requires the same two years of study as an associate degree, you may want to consider it if you do not want to pursue a degree, already hold one in another area or are a working professional looking to improve your skills. If you live in the Washington, D.C., area, Baltimore Community College is readily accessible through the MARC train service, a commuter rail system that operates between the city and Baltimore, MD.


Fashion Associate Degree Programs in or Around Washington, D.C.

Baltimore City Community College

  • Program: Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Design
  • Field of Study Option: Fashion retailing
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time
  • Tuition: $3,112 per year for MD residents, $6,772 per year for nonresidents (estimated full-time cost for 2011-2012 academic year)
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or its equivalent (students without these credentials may enroll after they've completed 15 credits of college coursework)
  • Requirements: ACCUPLACER test, completion of PRE 100 course, computer literacy requirements
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 7,160 students (all undergraduate)
  • Address: 2901 Liberty Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215
  • Phone: 410-462-8300

In addition to a certificate program, Baltimore City Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree with an option to specialize in fashion retailing. The degree program requires between 66-68 credits to complete, and with the exception of a few additional classes in drawing and fashion show production, coursework for the design degree is nearly identical to that of the certificate program.

Curriculum requirements for the retail option include topics in apparel buying and retailing, business management, marketing and advertising. The fashion design program can help prepare you for a career as an assistant, computer designer, fashion stylist, patternmaker or tailor. The retailing specialization may qualify you for a position in management or merchandising, fashion coordination, advertising, marketing or other related areas.

University of the District of Columbia

  • Program: Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Merchandising
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time
  • Tuition: $100.00 per credit hour for D.C. residents, $168.00 per credit hour for metro area residents, $283.00 per credit hour for nonresidents (as of 2012, excluding fees)
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Requirements: ACCUPLACER placement tests, proof of immunizations (for students 26 and younger), orientation session
  • School Type: 4-year, public; over 5,300 undergraduates, more than 200 graduate students
  • Address: 801 N Capitol Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002
  • Phone: 202-274-5800

As part of the only fully-accredited public college in the nation's capital, the University of the District of Columbia Community College offers more than 20 associate's degree and certificate programs, including an Associate of Applied Science in Fashion Merchandising. In this school-to-career program, you can learn how to plan, produce, promote, and sell fashion products; define and analyze consumer markets; design and use visual displays and presentations; and forecast trends.

The degree requires 62 credits to complete and includes individual and sequential coursework in fashion merchandising and marketing, clothing construction, retail buying and trend forecasting. A capstone course and an internship at a key fashion company are also part of the curriculum. As a result of the city's Creative Action Agenda, retail is a growing field in Washington, D.C., and, when you graduate, you may be qualified for an entry-level position as a retail buyer, purchasing manager, fashion product developer, fashion stylist, visual merchandiser or wardrobe consultant, to name a few of the many career possibilities.


Fashion Bachelor's Degree Programs in or Around Washington, D.C.

Howard University

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition: $19,150 per year (cost for 2011-2012 academic year, excluding fees)
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or its equivalent, high school GPA of at least 2.0, SAT score of at least 910, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, interview and/or questionnaire
  • Requirements: Portfolio with 12 slides of original artwork or graded research paper
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; over 6,900 undergraduates, more than 3,400 graduate students
  • Address: 2400 Sixth Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20059
  • Phone: 202-806-6100

The interdisciplinary fashion merchandising program at Howard University, offered through the Department of Art, is designed to give you a broad understanding of how apparel, fabrics and home furnishings are designed, produced and promoted in the United States and overseas. In addition to an introductory course in the fashion business, core classes include topics in African American dress, clothing, fashion illustration and textiles. Electives are offered in areas such as buying and merchandising, clothing construction, clothing and human behavior, historical and traditional textiles, fashion marketing, fashion retailing and fashion entrepreneurship.

As a merchandising major, you'll also be required to complete a 100-hour fashion retailing practicum and a 200-hour supervised internship with a fashion-related commercial business, nonprofit organization or government agency. The art department at Howard University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and completion of the Bachelor of Arts program may qualify you for any number of positions in the field, especially those in merchandising and management.

Marymount University

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts
  • Field of Study Options: Fashion design, fashion merchandising
  • Program Length: Four years, full time
  • Tuition: $24,900 per year (cost for 2012-2013 academic year, excluding fees)
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or its equivalent, high school GPA of at least 2.5, ACT score of at least 19 or SAT score of at least 900, one letter of recommendation, high school courses including four years of English, three years of math, three years of foreign language, three years of social studies and two years of science
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; nearly 2,300 undergraduates, almost 1,300 graduate students
  • Address: 2807 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22207
  • Phone: 703-522-5600

Located in Arlington, VA, and just minutes away from Washington, D.C., Marymount University is the only college near the nation's capital to offer degrees in both fashion design and fashion merchandising. In addition to fulfilling the school's liberal arts and university degree requirements, your core fashion design curriculum can include classes in apparel design, clothing construction, fashion illustration, textile design and product development. Courses in the fashion merchandising program could include fashion apparel buying, clothing analysis, fashion communication and planning and analyzing merchandise.

Both programs require a mandatory 3- to 6-credit internship that can give you the chance to work for a department store, a specialty boutique or a manufacturer. Some past internships have included assignments with companies like Betsey Johnson, Michael Kors, Saks Fifth Avenue, Anthropologie and Ralph Lauren. The highlight of the two fashion programs is the college's annual Portfolio in Motion show. A showcase for undergraduate work, the production is produced by fashion merchandising majors and serves as an opportunity for aspiring designers to enjoy one-on-one portfolio reviews with a major fashion designer.


Career Information for Fashion Students in Washington, D.C.

With a fashion degree, some of the careers you can pursue include fashion designer and fashion merchandiser. Fashion designers come up with ideas, create prototypes and choose colors, fabrics and embellishments for clothing, shoes and accessories. Fashion specialists who buy finished goods for resale are referred to as fashion merchandisers or fashion buyers.

While it's possible to obtain an entry-level position as a fashion designer without a formal degree, postsecondary education can help you acquire the technical skills you need to transform your ideas into marketable items of clothing. Although a high school diploma may be enough for a fashion merchandiser to get started in the field, some of the larger apparel companies may require a bachelor's degree.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2010, about 75% of all salaried designers were employed in either New York or California and around 30% were self-employed. Between 2010 and 2020, the BLS predicts little or no change in the overall employment of fashion designers. However, over the same time period, designers in apparel manufacturing were projected to see a 58% decline in jobs, while those working for specialized design services could see a 40% increase in job opportunities. During the same decade, the BLS also predicted that wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products, would see slower-than-average job growth of nine percent.

The 40 fashion designers working in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area earned an average annual salary of about $41,000, as of May 2011. In the same region and reporting year, there were 1,670 wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products, earning a mean annual salary of around $63,000.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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