Courses in College to Become a Fashion Designer

by Fitzalan Gorman, Demand Media

Since the world of fashion is all about turning works of art into fashion statements, a career in fashion design requires innovation and creativity. If taking courses in fashion design interests you, look for programs that teach you about theory, drafting, construction and design. Many universities offer programs that combine in-depth design strategies with business knowledge, two necessities for today's fashion designers.

Associate Degree

Several colleges offer associate degree programs that are helpful if you are looking to become a fashion designer. An associate degree typically takes two years to complete. At the State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, for example, you can receive an associate degree in menswear, textile and surface design, or textile development. In their fashion design program, you can anticipate taking courses in sewing techniques, draping, model drawing and fashion art.

Bachelor’s Degree

The curriculum for fashion design typically falls under the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. It takes approximately four years to receive this degree. During your studies, you develop knowledge and skills that you can use in the fashion industry, such as design strategies, business competency and construction. For instance, at the International Academy of Design and Technology, students take courses in clothing construction, computer-generated apparel design and pattern drafting.


Several fashion design programs encourage students to complete an internship at a fashion house to help them gain hands-on experience, build confidence and meet people in the industry. At SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology, students must complete an internship at a leading fashion house, such as Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein. This provides professional work experience that develops a student’s competitive edge because it allows her to use classroom skills in the real-life demands and practices of the fashion world.


While you can pursue your career in the fashion world immediately after getting your degree, some schools offer advanced study options. In these programs, you can choose to concentrate your design knowledge more specifically in topics such as costume design, footwear, specialty fabrics or product development. At the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, you can take advanced classes that teach you how to conceptualize, create and present a runway show, how to launch a fashion brand and how to use market research to develop a concept, color story and fabric selection.

About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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