Earning an Online Fashion Bachelor's Degree

Program, Career & Salary Information

Earning an online bachelor's degree in fashion prepares graduates for many roles in the field, from design to management and sales. Students in such programs learn about marketing strategies for apparel and accessories, the history of fashion, and supply chain management, among other topics. Online fashion degrees suit students who are detail oriented, creative, and strong communicators. Generally speaking, prospective students in this major ought to be able to adapt to diverse environments and serve various audiences with unique tastes.

Overview of a Fashion Degree

A bachelor's degree in fashion teaches students to identify fashion items that will attract certain audiences and to present visual cues that will encourage others to purchase their products. Fashion degree majors learn about many topics, including illustration, marketing strategies, supply chain management, and relationships between manufacturers and retailers.

Fashion markets are dynamic, and students learn about the seasons, cultures, materials, and colors that influence the latest trends. Since the industry's success relies on more than design, coursework also explores elements of marketing, purchasing, aesthetics, pricing, and quality.

Graduates who earn a bachelor's degree in fashion can take on careers as buyers, sales representatives, visual merchandisers, fashion designers, store and product planners, and vendor relations specialists. Students develop skills and knowledge to prepare for virtually any career in the fashion field.


Application Process

Applicants to online fashion programs may face different requirements depending on their college or university. However, students generally need to complete an admissions application and pay an application fee. Bachelor's programs also require students to submit their high school transcripts (or GED certificate), and many colleges and universities enforce minimum GPA requirements: usually between 2.0 and 3.0.

In addition to transcripts and applications, many institutions require applicants to provide supplemental materials, which may include an essay, letters of recommendation from professional or academic references, and a personal statement that explains a student's academic and/or career goals.

What Will I Learn?

Students pursuing an online fashion degree complete about 120 credits of coursework. A typical degree track includes roughly 40 credits of general education requirements, 30 credits of integrated core courses, 20 credits of major coursework, and 30 credits of major and free electives. Students may also need to complete an internship component.

Within the program, students explore fashion merchandising, the history of fashion and costume, merchandise managing strategies, strategic fashion management, and supply chains. Internships allow students to work in approved settings, encouraging learners to gain first-hand experience while connecting coursework to their internship duties. Having completed a successful internship can also help graduates stand out on the job market.

Fashion Merchandising

This course teaches students about the fashion procedures and principles used in selecting, planning, pricing, and selling fashion goods in catalogs, retail stores, and online. Course topics include assortment plans, merchandising systems, and inventory control methods.

History of Fashion and Costume

Students focus on fashion and costumes of particular places and times, learning how they express a period's attitudes, politics, history, and passions. Students may review silhouettes, textiles, design adaptations, shapes over time, geographical environments, political systems, and social structures.

Merchandise Managing Strategies

This course reviews the ordering and managing of merchandise regarding quantity and sizes. Coursework explores the relationship between manufacturers and retailers while considering techniques that influence profit, including the negotiations between vendors and fashion retailers.

Strategic Fashion Management

Students design fashion merchandise strategies for local apparel and fashion retailers, considering quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, exploring management issues, and reviewing opportunities for fashion retailers.

Supply Chain Management

This course teaches students effective supply chain strategies for global companies. It emphasizes how to integrate and plan components of the supply chain in a coordinated system. Students review models and concepts crucial to supply chain planning, such as key phenomena and tradeoffs.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Fashion?

While earning an online bachelor's degree in fashion, students complete rigorous coursework that prepares them for careers in many types of companies and positions. For example, fashion graduates can create and design aspects of fashion or they can focus on purchasing and merchandising.

Core Skills

Students pursuing an online fashion degree build upon their communication skills, learning how to function effectively in a team environment and collaborate with others to share ideas. Learners also cultivate their analytical and critical thinking skills, which they can use to come up with innovative ideas and designs. Students must be able to think outside the box and adapt to trends in the fashion world. Additionally, they must be able to identify their target audiences and adapt their designs accordingly.

Students develop their intuition during fashion programs by learning how to analyze products and alter designs to ensure profitability and success. They also learn how to market their designs by creating displays and producing fashion shows. Finally, fashion students must be able to pay close attention to detail so they can create quality products that will bring them success.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Graduates who hold an online fashion degree can pursue careers in a variety of industries. They can work as fashion designers, creating articles of clothing and accessories. Alternatively, they can pursue careers in higher management, such as art directors, and delegate tasks to other artists, photographers, and designers. The degree also prepares graduates to work as purchasing agents, focusing on vendors and overseeing retail store operations. Finally, graduates can find work as illustrators, creating artwork for specific projects.

Career Profiles


Fashion Designer

Annual Median Salary: $72,720

Fashion designers draw specifications and patterns for articles of clothing, considering design, color, methods of production, and material. They also promote their designs by displaying samples at meetings and fashion shows. Fashion designers should pay close attention to fashion trends and their target demographic.


Art Director

Annual Median Salary: $92,780

Art directors arrange concepts and design efforts for promotions through print, websites, and commercials. Art directors typically focus on the concept and delegate other elements of work to graphic designers, artists, and photographers. They may also approve and combine pieces of work to make sure final displays are arranged aesthetically.


Purchasing Agent

Annual Median Salary: $62,750

Responsible for evaluating suppliers on the basis of quality, price, and the speed of delivery of services and products, purchasing agents negotiate contracts on behalf of their organizations. They may also interview vendors and visit suppliers' plants and distribution centers to learn about prices, products, and services.


Retail Manager

Annual Median Salary: $45,080

These professionals are responsible for overseeing the operations of a retail store, including hiring and firing employees, setting and tracking retail goals and objectives, and planning specific or annual budgets. Retail managers also develop rapport and connect with customers and retail team members.


Illustrator

Annual Median Salary: $57,410

Illustrators develop artwork for specific projects. They may also design and use artistic software to change and improve artwork, interpret and research design and retail market trends, and produce finished illustrations for different products.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics / PayScale

Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Fashion?

A bachelor's degree prepares students for an array of entry-level careers in the fashion industry. However, for individuals interested in pursuing specialized or leadership roles, earning a graduate degree can help expand their skills and knowledge to fulfil advanced requirements. Master's programs allow students to explore the field in greater detail and broaden their career opportunities.

Although master's programs can help open up more job possibilities, workers do not necessarily need to pursue a master's degree to advance in the field. In many roles and at many companies, individuals can advance professionally with a bachelor's degree by accruing relevant experience. Students should research their target careers to determine the standard education requirements. They can also review salary differences between bachelor's and master's holders to determine if it's worth it to go back to school.

Accreditation for Fashion Bachelor's Programs

During their search for online fashion degree programs, students should pay attention to accreditation. At the institutional level, schools can be regionally or nationally accredited.

National accreditation is typically awarded to vocational or technical institutions. These schools may offer lower tuition rates than their regionally accredited counterparts. However, credits earned at nationally accredited institutions can be difficult to transfer and employers don't always recognize nationally accredited degrees.

Regional accreditation is usually awarded to colleges and universities that focus on providing a broader, liberal arts-based education. These schools tend to charge more for tuition, but it is easier for learners to transfer credits or pursue an advanced degree after graduation. Regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious.

Fashion Professional Organizations

Professional organizations allow students to access field-related information and network with other individuals working in fashion. Organizations often feature training seminars, exclusive job boards, and workshops relevant to the fashion industry. Joining these organizations and taking advantage of their resources can give professionals the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge.

Council of Fashion Designers of America
Founded in 1962, CFDA functions as a not-for-profit trade association of more than 450 American accessory and fashion designers. The organization aims to strengthen the success and influence of these designers in the global economy.


Fashion Group International
A global, nonprofit professional organization founded in 1930, FGI boasts more than 5,000 members in the fashion industry. The organization features chapters all over the world, including in England, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.


Fashion Industry Association
FIA helps fashion industry professionals network and collaborate to build local markets and create a culture of cooperative business.