Best Online Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising Programs of 2021

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August 25, 2021

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Many people dream of making a name for themselves in the fashion industry, and it's easy to see why. Fashion allows people to express themselves, explore their identity, and be creative. A bachelor's degree in fashion can lead to a variety of careers, including fashion designer, art director, and fashion editor.

Another potential pathway for fashion lovers is fashion merchandising. This career involves making key decisions at fashion companies about which clothes to display and sell. Students interested in a career in fashion should consider a degree in fashion merchandising. They can learn about textiles, marketing, and sustainability.

If a bachelor's in fashion merchandising program appeals to you, read on to learn more.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Fashion Merchandising Program?

An online bachelor's in fashion merchandising program may give students greater flexibility compared to an on-campus program. Distance learners can often study at their own pace and may save time by learning at home instead of traveling to campus. However, many fashion merchandising majors still need to participate in in-person internships.

An online bachelor's in fashion merchandising typically requires 120 credits and takes four years of full-time study to complete.

Earning a bachelor's in fashion merchandising can teach students the ins and outs of the fashion industry.

Earning a bachelor's in fashion merchandising can teach students the ins and outs of the fashion industry. Degree-seekers can learn how fashion brands and companies make decisions on which clothing pieces to feature in their collections. The degree also covers consumer behavior, planning for future fashion trends, and assessing merchandise quality.

Additionally, students can expect to exercise their math skills in fashion-related finance classes. Fashion merchandisers analyze past sales to determine what to purchase for future collections. They also use math to determine price points and promotions so they can reach the best profit margin for their company.

The curriculum often requires students to complete a capstone or final project. Students can use what they learned during their degree program to develop strategic merchandising plans.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Fashion Merchandising Program?

Textiles

Students taking this class learn about fibers, fabrics, yarns, weaves, dyes, and finishes. They study the differences between natural and human-made textiles in addition to scientific properties like tensile strength, moisture absorption, and elasticity.

History of Fashion and Costume

This course looks at how fashion has changed over time in different parts of the world and the social, cultural, and political significance of major trends. Students also may study how technology has changed fashion production.

Sustainability in Fashion

In recent years, the fashion industry has taken steps to become more sustainable. This course examines sustainability as it relates to labor and the environment within the industry. Students can also learn how fashion merchandisers make informed decisions about buying from green and ethical vendors.

Merchandise Planning

Merchandise planning requires a specific set of mathematical skills. In this course, students learn the calculations needed to create merchandise budgets by building spreadsheets to create plans for inventories, sales, and promotions. They also learn how to interpret financial statements by analyzing profit and loss margins. That information can be used to plan for merchandising decisions in the future.

Strategic Fashion Management

This capstone course gives students an opportunity to apply their cumulative knowledge of the fashion management industry. This includes planning, sourcing, distribution, marketing, and sustainability. Students may work on strategic management projects that incorporate all of these components for simulated or real fashion retailers.

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

A bachelor's in fashion merchandising can lead to a variety of jobs, including merchandise planners and buyers. Other potential career options include merchandise displayer, merchandising manager, and retail manager.

A bachelor's in fashion merchandising can lead to a variety of jobs, including merchandise planners and buyers.

The BLS projects that the number of jobs for buyers and purchasing managers and agents will decline by 7% from 2019 to 2029 due to increased automation and outsourcing. However, the number of jobs for merchandise displayers and window trimmers is projected to grow by about 2% from 2018 to 2028, according to Projections Central.

Find out more about fashion careers in general, and read about five common fashion merchandising careers below:

Career Paths

Merchandise Planner

These professionals work for companies, using marketing strategies to determine what merchandise to buy. They analyze past sales and future trends to make those decisions and establish price points and promotions. Merchandise planners need a solid understanding of finance to keep track of inventory and develop financial plans to increase profitability.


Buyer

When you walk into a clothing store, the pieces on display are not there by accident. Buyers working for fashion retailers strategically choose which clothes to buy from manufacturers. These professionals must understand developing trends. They also need to keep an eye on what pieces appeal to customers.


Merchandise Displayer

Merchandise displayers highlight a brand's best pieces. They style them so customers can imagine wearing those outfits themselves. These professionals design the floor setups of stores, create window displays, and create backdrops and themes to tie everything together.


Merchandising Manager

These professionals supervise the merchandising process at fashion brands and companies. They often oversee a team, implement strategies, and manage partnerships with vendors. Merchandising managers work at a supervisory level and keep an eye on the big picture.


Retail Manager

Retail managers run operations at clothing stores. They keep track of stock, manage staff, plan promotional events, and handle budgets and financial records. Retail managers implement procedures to make stores as profitable as possible.


Fashion Merchandising Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Fashion Merchandising Programs

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Central Michigan University View School Profile Mount Pleasant, MI

CMU's 120-credit bachelor of applied arts in fashion merchandising and design offers courses that can be taken online, on campus, or via hybrid learning. Students can choose their class format depending on their educational needs.

The curriculum allows students to get hands-on practice with 3D printers and virtual merchandising software. Learners can also take advantage of the Center for Merchandising and Design Technology, where they can test their prototypes with a body scanner.

Core courses cover apparel design and an introduction to textiles. Elective courses dive into more advanced topics, such as experimental CAD and 3D printing and fashion. A required internship allows students to gain experience at companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Target, and Louis Vuitton.

CMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Johnson & Wales University-Online View School Profile Providence, RI

JWU's online bachelor's in fashion merchandising and retail prepares students for jobs in management, merchandising, marketing, and public relations. The curriculum does not include any on-campus requirements, although learners can participate in in-person directed experiential education, internships, summer work, and study abroad programs.

Learners study the business side of the fashion industry through courses in managerial accounting, finance, and retail math. JWU also allows students to complement their majors with a minor in human resource management.

JWU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Southern New Hampshire University View School Profile Manchester, NH

SNHU's fully online bachelor's in fashion merchandising requires 120 credits. The program prepares learners for jobs as merchandising managers, retail fashion buyers, and corporate retail merchandisers.

Core courses include financial accounting, business systems analysis and design, and marketing. Elective courses delve into areas like information technology and graphic design. All degree-seekers participate in a 150-hour fashion internship as well.

The program strives for maximum flexibility for working professionals by delivering all coursework asynchronously and eliminating on-campus requirements. Transfer students can bring up to 90 credits with them when they enroll. As such, many students graduate in 1-2 years.

SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Fashion Merchandising Programs

Is a bachelor's in fashion merchandising worth it? true

A bachelor's in fashion merchandising can lead to lucrative jobs like merchandise planner or buyer. Professionals who gain experience can also become purchasing managers. Each of these positions pays median wages that are significantly higher than the median wages of all U.S. workers.

What can I do with a bachelor's in fashion merchandising? true

A bachelor's in fashion merchandising can lead to a variety of jobs. You may choose to pursue a career as a buyer or merchandise planner at a fashion brand. You also may strive to be a merchandising manager who supervises operations. Working as a merchandise displayer or retail manager at a store are also other options.

Are fashion merchandising majors in demand? true

The BLS projects a 7% decline in demand for buyers, purchasing managers, and agents between 2019 and 2029. However, the industry continues to evolve. Instagram, for example, has helped to change how many fashion merchandisers and marketers work. As such, there may be increased demand for digital-focused merchandising.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in fashion merchandising?

According to the BLS, buyers and purchasing agents earned a median annual salary of $66,690 in May 2020. Additionally, PayScale data showed that merchandise planners made an average annual salary of about $75,000, as of July 2021.

What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in fashion merchandising?

According to the BLS, the top 10% of buyers and purchasing agents made more than $112,170 per year, as of May 2020. For purchasing managers, the highest 10% earned more than $197,630.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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