How to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Online
A bachelor’s in fashion from an accredited school can prepare students for a versatile career in design and business. Emphasizing studies in marketing, trends, and consumerism, affordable online fashion schools provide students with a strong foundational knowledge of the fashion industry. Typically, fashion designers hold at least a bachelor’s degree and earn a generous average salary.
On this page, you can learn more about earning a fashion bachelor’s degree online, including program expectations, financial aid and scholarship options, and job and salary outlook for careers in fashion.
How Much Can You Make in a Fashion Career?
Although no degree can guarantee a certain salary or particular career outcome, several career options are available for those with a bachelor’s degree in fashion. Below, you can learn more about job growth across careers in the fashion industry, as well as the average salaries for professionals with a bachelor’s degree.
Median Annual Salary: $72,720
Job Growth (2016-2026): 3%
By studying design and fashion trends, fashion designers create clothing and accessory designs. They often work for a larger manufacturer or design label. Designers may utilize computer programs to create digital mockups of their designs, which then become physical products. Some designers may specialize in certain types of apparel.
Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents
Median Annual Salary: $67,600
Job Growth (2016-2026): -3%
Purchasing agents and buyers work with supply companies to provide the materials necessary for the products their company produces. They often interview suppliers and vendors for products and evaluate cost analyses to determine the best, most cost-effective options. Many department stores employ fashion buyers to select products to sell in the store.
Median Annual Salary: $92,780
Job Growth (2016-2026): 5%
Art directors create and implement visual concepts for print and digital publications. Art directors with a background in fashion may lay out advertisement spreads, choose photographs of clothing and models, and work alongside clients and designers to develop a full concept for print or a website.
Craft and Fine Artists
Median Annual Salary: $48,960
Job Growth (2016-2026): 6%
Fine artists create pieces of art in all forms, including painting, handmade crafts, sculpture, and clothing and jewelry design. Fine artists sometimes work in partnership with brands and design labels to create unique handmade products. They may also work independently, selling their work online or displaying it in museums and galleries.
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
Median Annual Salary: $132,620
Job Growth (2016-2026): 10%
Advertising and marketing managers work in the fashion industry to create advertising campaigns for products and companies. Increasingly, companies are hiring marketing managers to handle their online and social media presence, creating advertisements and posts for specific audiences and promoting goods and services.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
What you can expect to earn as a fashion designer will vary based on several factors, including geographic location, industry division, and job availability. For example, certain states like New York and California provide higher wages for fashion designers. Likewise, industries like motion pictures, apparel manufacturing, and merchant wholesalers offer different base salaries. The list below includes salaries and job growth data for fashion designers across all states.
What Courses Can Be Taken for an Online Fashion Degree?
A degree in fashion explores all aspects of the design process, including working with design software and sketching. Students also examine the manufacturing process, learning about each step from design to finished product. The list below includes sample courses offered in bachelor’s in fashion programs. However, keep in mind that actual courses vary from program to program, and you should check with individual schools for specific classes, electives, and requirements. Fabrics and Textiles
This course explores types of fabric and textiles used to create garments. Students explore how fabrics and textiles are created and learn about the process of selecting fabrics for designs. Fashion Drawing
Students in fashion may take multiple courses in fashion drawing, learning how to create mockups and hand-drawn designs for new garments and products. The course may include drawing with live models. Fashion Technology
This course provides an overview of the different software and hardware most often utilized in today’s fashion design industry. Students learn how to use digital rendering programs, and gain a better understanding of factory production. Apparel Construction and Sewing
Sometimes offered as multi-level courses, classes in apparel construction and sewing provide students with fundamental skills in garment sewing and assembly. Students learn to use sewing machines and practice various techniques. History of Fashion
Students explore fashion throughout time, analyzing trends and the historical contexts that created them. The course may also examine costuming and costuming traditions throughout history.
How to Choose the Best Online Fashion Program
When choosing an online fashion school, consider the school’s reputation, cost of attendance, degrees offered, individual program requirements, faculty, and programmatic accreditation. Keep reading to learn more about choosing the right online bachelor’s degree in fashion for you.
How should I choose my fashion courses?
Choose your courses based on the facet of the fashion industry that you would like to focus on. For example, if you want to assemble garments and work in production, you might take more courses in sewing, draping, and textiles. If you want to create clothing designs, you might consider taking more courses in fashion drawing and digital rendering.
How is earning a fashion bachelor's degree online different than a traditional on-campus program?
Accredited online fashion schools offer students a flexible path to earning their degree. Online programs allow students to complete most or all of their coursework through an online learning platform, with few on-campus requirements. Some online programs may require proctored exams or in-person internships or workshops that students must complete either on campus or at an approved testing location in their community. The quality of education is usually the same between online and on-campus options, and diplomas typically do not state whether the degree was earned online.
Will I have to complete an internship?
Some fashion programs may offer options for students to pursue internships in the field prior to graduation. These internships provide fashion students with valuable industry experience that can help bolster their resumes and prepare them to be competitive on the job market. Some on-campus programs may require an internship, but online programs are less likely to require one. If you wish to partake in an internship, seek out a program with options for online students.
What's the difference between a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of fine arts in fashion?
The differences between a bachelor of arts (BA) and a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in fashion primarily exist in the curriculum. Generally, BFA programs place a stronger emphasis on the artistic aspects of fashion design, like drawing, sketching, and graphic design. The BA and BFA may also have different general education requirements, with the BA requiring a broader liberal arts curriculum and the BFA emphasizing studies in the fine arts.
What should I look for in a program's faculty members?
Consider faculty members’ academic backgrounds, including where they earned their degrees and whether those schools have a good reputation for fashion design. Look into each faculty member’s experiences in the fashion industry, including design firms they may have worked with. You may also consider talking to current students in the program to learn about their experiences with faculty members.
Scholarships and Financial Aid for Fashion Programs
Funding a degree in fashion may seem like a daunting task; however, students can take advantage of funding options to help pay for their education. While student loans offer funding that learners must eventually repay, scholarships and grants provide students with money they will not need to pay back. The scholarships below pertain specifically to students hoping to pursue degrees in the creative arts and fashion.
The Pride Foundation, based in Washington state, provides a variety of scholarships for members and allies of the LGBTQ community. The Bill McKnight Legacy Scholarship specifically serves students in the northwest region of the U.S. pursuing degrees in art and design fields. Applicants must be enrolled in or plan to attend an accredited college or university. The award amount varies based on availability. Current and/or recent residents of the northwest region may apply.
The Epsilon Sigma Alpha Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit organization aimed at providing scholarship opportunities for college students, offers this endowment fund specifically for students seeking degrees in the creative arts, including fashion design. To apply for this $600 scholarship, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The endowment considers applicants based on academic merit, financial need, and service and leadership experience.
Clubs of America offers this scholarship to help college students across the country earn a degree in any major. All college students enrolled in an accredited institution may apply for this $1,000 award. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0. To apply, students submit a 600-word essay about their career aspirations and goals. Students may also submit YouTube videos.
The Make It With Wool competition, in association with the American Wool Council, offers this unique design competition for students in college-level fashion design programs. Participants must create an original apparel design using wool that meets specific measurement and material criteria. To enter, participants must be enrolled in a college-level fashion program. Participants submit a design portfolio documenting the design process. Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Students pursuing degrees in design may apply for this scholarship, provided by Vectorworks, an international design software company. Separated into two rounds, round one winners receive a $3,000 scholarship and advance to round two, where they may compete to win an additional $7,000. Applicants must submit a sample design using design software. To apply, applicants must be recent graduates of a design program or be currently enrolled in at least six credit hours.