Fashion Design Programs for International Students

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liberal arts
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By Sakina Taher
Published on August 23, 2023

Discover the top degree programs in fashion design, develop in-demand skills, and explore diverse career opportunities in the fashion industry with Shorelight universities.

What is fashion design? Fashion designers introduce and innovate new styles for clothing, accessories, and footwear. They combine their creativity, knowledge of global fashion trends, and understanding of the human body to take design ideas from sketch to reality. A career in fashion design can involve illustrating concepts, sourcing and selecting fabrics and materials, creating clothing prototypes, and overseeing the production process.

The fashion industry is a major contributor to the global economy and is expected to grow 9.36% by 2027. This creates strong job opportunities for aspiring fashion designers and other fashion industry professionals. 

Fashion design careers require a high level of creative skill and understanding of design principles, as work often involves producing aesthetically pleasing designs that are also functional. Whether you aim to work for a design house, fashion brand, or run your own fashion label, taking courses in fashion design can build a strong creative skill set, including an eye for detail, communication and problem-solving skills, and the ability to work under tight deadlines. Fashion design courses build a solid foundation for careers in fashion, where you can inspire and influence the way people dress from the runway to everyday life. 

If you’re interested in studying fashion design, let’s first take a closer look at the career pathways you can pursue.

Types of Fashion Design Careers

Taking a sketch to the runway (and/or store) involves a lot of work that extends beyond the design itself, encompassing marketing, sales, and business development. 

Careers in Fashion Design

Courses in fashion design can offer insights into the creative and technical aspects of creating patterns and clothing designs. These subjects are popular among students who want to take their style ideas from original concept to production, as fashion design courses provide training in fashion illustration, patternmaking, technical drawing, and computer-aided design. Some popular career pathways open to fashion design majors include:

  • Creative director

  • Fashion designer

  • Graphic designer 

  • Stylist

  • Textile designer

Careers in Fashion Merchandising

Fashion merchandisers work with designers to create clothing designs tailored to target audiences and determine the price of products and how many to sell. In 2020, 2,366 students graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising, making it the most popular merchandising degree option in the US. 

As a fashion merchandiser, you will work in business and marketing roles specific to the fashion industry. Some careers to consider with a degree in fashion merchandising include:

  • Account manager

  • Marketing specialist

  • Merchandise consultant

  • Retail buyer

  • Store manager

  • Visual merchandiser

Careers in Fashion Technology

Fashion technology is a field of fashion design that studies the chemical and material properties of both manmade fabrics and natural fibers to produce different types of clothing, from sustainable wear to specialized sports gear, among other types of attire. Studying fashion technology can be a good career option if you love fashion, but are more interested in the technical aspects of producing apparel. 

Some popular career options for fashion technology majors include:

  • Fashion coordinator

  • Fashion merchandiser

  • Quality control manager

  • Technical designer

In the fashion industry, your skills can vary depending on the type of career you intend to pursue, but it is important to have a strong professional network and an understanding of fundamental technical, mechanical, and interpersonal skills. Shorelight universities give you the opportunity to develop these core skills while you build valuable connections with experts, participate in industry showcases, and get hands-on experience by working on design projects.

Let’s now take a look at several Shorelight universities with fashion design programs for international students.

Shorelight Universities with Programs in Fashion Design

Shorelight universities offer a variety of fashion design programs, fashion courses, and design electives that can build specialized skills related to the design, production, and sales of fashion apparel and accessories. These programs are designed to equip you with the practical skills, industry knowledge, and real-world experience needed to work toward a successful career in the fashion industry.

Belmont University

Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the O’More College of Architecture & Design at Belmont University is ranked among the top 50 fashion design schools in the US. The university’s state-of-the-art facilities and small class sizes provide students with personalized instruction from industry professionals, creating a comprehensive learning environment for aspiring fashion designers. There are many unique and career-building experiential learning opportunities, including Belmont’s annual fashion show, which allows students to build their portfolios, showcase their work, and connect with industry talent.

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design — The BFA program in fashion design prepares students for career success through real-world learning opportunities that combine business, design, and technology. The curriculum offers a collaborative, mission-based approach: students create meaningful projects and build their professional network through study abroad and internship opportunities. 

Heriot-Watt UK

Heriot-Watt University UK is the eighth-oldest higher education institution in the UK, pioneering education in design and innovation for more than 200 years. Fashion design courses are taught at the Scottish Borders Campus, which lies close to the heart of Scotland’s rich textile industry, famous worldwide for its traditional tartan, cashmere, tweed, and knitwear designs. At Heriot-Watt, students have a unique advantage of learning everything from global high-street fashion to Scotland’s textile heritage, all while having access to top-tier design and production facilities.

  • Bachelor’s in Fashion — The BA in fashion program provides a creative, academic approach toward learning UK-based and global fashion trends within fully equipped apparel workshops, spacious studios, and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) suites. The program also gives students the chance to study outside of Europe for a full academic year.

  • Master’s in Fashion and Textile Design — This program takes an interdisciplinary approach toward design, management, and innovation in the fashion and textile industry. The course can be taken part time or as a nine-month postgraduate diploma program, and includes a series of well-resourced workshops and a collaborative industry project.

Heriot-Watt Dubai

Heriot-Watt University Dubai, ranked #235 in the QS World University Rankings, has a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students representing 105 nationalities. The research-focused British higher education institute in the UAE provides cutting-edge fashion programs taught by industry experts to give students the skills needed to succeed in a fashion career.

  • Bachelor’s in Fashion Branding and Promotion — The fashion branding and promotion program integrates fashion communication, marketing, branding, and management in a highly personalized curriculum. Students can access maker labs, photography studios, design suites, and fashion workshops, including opportunities to collaborate with high-end industry brands on live projects.

  • Master’s in Design Management — This program offers a deep dive into courses such as design thinking, sustainable design and management, design technology, marketing, and project management. Students learn how to do product valuations through a hands-on professional learning curriculum with expert designers.

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management offers a four-year degree program in retail management with a mandatory internship.

  • Bachelor of Science in Retail Management — The program gives students an in-depth understanding of ecommerce and sales strategy to market new design trends and create engaging customer experiences. Students can also become members of the National Retail Federation and build their professional network by connecting with local distributors, while also accessing internship and work opportunities with retail giants like Amazon, Belk, Target, and Zappos.

  • Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Digital Innovations — Students gain a broad knowledge of the fashion business, from fashion product analysis to visual merchandising. The experiential learning curriculum offers opportunities to participate in behind-the-scenes field trips, join exclusive work opportunities, study abroad, and register for industry showcases and events. 

Career Pathways for Fashion Design Majors

According to Euromonitor, the global fashion market is one of the most important industries for driving global market value and generating employment. With the rising popularity of the apparel industry, aspiring fashion designers can find lucrative job opportunities across merchandising, sales, and marketing. 

Here’s a look at the salary potential of fashion design careers in key markets such as the US, Brazil, China, and India.

Fashion designer

Starting Salary in the US

Starting Salary in Brazil

Starting Salary in China

Starting Salary in India

Technical designer

Starting Salary in the US

Starting Salary in Brazil

Starting Salary in China

Starting Salary in India

Sources: Payscale,

If you are looking for a career that’s creative yet challenging, fashion design can be the right fit for you! Courses in fashion design can expand your creative ideas and enhance your skills in communication, teamwork, and planning, which can be applied across a wide range of careers. Fashion industry roles can also create opportunities to travel and collaborate with talented designers, helping you grow your professional network and learn from other cultures. 

By pursuing a degree at a Shorelight university, you can work towards becoming a successful fashion designer with support every step of the way, from when you start applying all the way to your graduation. From application assistance to finding the best fashion design programs and internship opportunities, you can access our student support services and prepare yourself for a fulfilling career within a dynamic fashion industry.

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