Fashion Merchandising Degree

Fashion Merchandising degree program at Harper College

Learn the business aspects of the fashion industry

Career options  Art icon


  • Fashion promotion
  • Merchandise display
  • Retail sales/management
  • Wholesale/retail buying

Take the first step toward a career in fashion merchandising with this 60-credit-hour degree program. You’ll receive an overview of all phases of fashion merchandising: not only the business aspects, but also the aesthetic and creative sides of fashion, such as visual merchandising, fashion forecasting and textiles. Study fashion history and trends, and explore their influence on our lives.

Harper College’s academic facilities simulate the professional atmosphere of the fashion industry. Gain real-world experience by participating in the annual Student Fashion Show, which features original student work. You’ll also work with Studio V, a professional student-run boutique offering locally designed apparel, jewelry, accessories, sculpture, art and other original pieces. A jury show allows you to showcase your work and receive critiques from industry professionals. You can also participate in the Harper’s Bizarre Fashion Club, along with dozens of other student organizations.

When you complete this program, you’ll be ready to explore career paths in various areas of fashion merchandising, including fashion coordinating, fashion promoting, fashion show production, fashion displaying, styling, sourcing, apparel quality assessment, retail buying, store managing and more.

AAS degree requirements

This 60 credit-hour curriculum provides all the phases of fashion merchandising, not only in business aspects, but also in aesthetic and creative sides of fashion, such as Visual Merchandising, Fashion Forecasting and Textiles. Students will study fashion history and trends as well as their influence on our lives. Students will also take courses in English composition, computer information systems, sociology and introductory psychology.

An educational background in fashion merchandising opens the door to various careers, such as fashion coordinating, fashion promoting, fashion show production, fashion displaying, stylist, sourcing, apparel quality assessment, retail buying and store managing.

F = Fall only course S = Spring only course U = Summer only course

FIRST SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 101 3 Communications

Description: Emphasizes the writing of expository prose. Introduction to the critical reading of nonfiction prose. IAI C1 900

Prerequisite: ENG 100 with a grade of C or better. Other placement options. ENG_Placement_Grid.pdf ESL students need one of the following options: ESL 073 and ESL 074 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 086 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 099 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 with required writing placement test score; or ESL 074 with required reading placement test score.

FAS 110 + 3 Program Requirement

Description: Introduces the elements of design and color in historical perspective. Surveys historical periods of time focusing on costumes. Examines the influences of social, political and economic forces on fashion in these periods.

FAS 112 3 Program Requirement

Description: Presents fashion merchandise through evaluation of fashion products. Develops awareness of construction, as well as workmanship and design elements, such as fabric, color, silhouette and taste.

GRA 101 3 Program Requirement

Description: Gives students an overview of the graphic arts industry. Covers various occupations including basic information for making career and education choices. Builds the foundation for continuing education in the graphic arts program. Includes historical, current and potential developments in the printing industry. Provides a comprehensive understanding of desktop publishing software and the steps related to producing printed materials.

MGT 111 3 Program Requirement

Description: Introduces the nature of business and the environment in which it operates. Forms of business ownership, introduction to operative and facilitating facets of business operation, management, marketing, accounting, statistics, business law, finance, investments, insurance and labor-management relations.

SECOND SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
ART 105 3 Humanities

Description: Introduces the visual arts with an emphasis on creating awareness of aesthetics, artistic concepts, media, theory and criticism. In addition, students will develop a critical understanding of art and build visual literacy. IAI F2 900

FAS 107 3 Program Requirement

Description: Studies basic design and color principles in development of creative fabrics. General analysis and identification of fabrics and employment of various methods such as weaving, printing and dyeing.

MGT 150 3 Mathematics

Description: Introduces arithmetic as a tool of business. Topics include fractions, decimals and percentages, computations of interest, bank discounts, depreciation, commissions, compound interest, payrolls and taxes and graph and chart design. Students must score satisfactorily on a mathematics placement test prior to registering for this course.

Prerequisite: Placement options. Math_Placement_Grid.pdf

MKT 106  S   3 Program Requirement

Description: Focuses upon the merchandising activities related to hardlines, apparel, and other softline merchandise. Examines the role and qualifications of the buyer and the influence of consumer preference. Includes budgeting by dollars and assortment, pricing strategy, managing assortments, the selection and promotion of merchandise, and the coordinator of merchandising functions and processes.

PSY 101 3 Social and Behavioral Science

Description: Investigates human and animal behavior with emphasis on the scientific nature of contemporary and classic psychological investigation. Emphasizes psychological theories, principles, and research applications. Introduces the divisions of the American Psychological Association. References biological processes, sensation, perception, learning, memory, thinking, emotional life, mental disorders, intelligence, aptitude, personality, development, daily life and everyday problems. IAI S6 900

THIRD SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
FAS 212  F   3 Program Requirement

Description: Studies the communication of design and methods of interpreting consumer needs and motivations. Explores the techniques of educating the consumer and promoting good design through visual display methods.

Prerequisite: FAS 112 with a grade of C or better.

FAS 220  F   3 Program Requirement

Description: Analyzes construction standards and techniques used in the ready to wear market at various prices and quality levels. Emphasizes standard terminology necessary to describe and evaluate apparel. Basic sewing and research serves as a foundation for garment classifications, assembly and production.

Prerequisite: FAS 107.

FAS 230  F   3 Program Requirement

Description: Focuses on the social, economic, political and psychological forces that influence fashion. Research, recognize, and analyze predictive lifestyle and business trends that affect retail merchandising and marketing decisions. Introduces methods of forecasting fashion trends. Communicates and presents the forecast through creation of industry-based presentation material using current digital software.

MKT 140  F   3 Program Requirement

Description: Focuses upon the principal factors of successful selling of goods or ideas. Examines buying motives, sales psychology, customer approach and sales techniques.

SPE 101 3 Communications

Description: Theory and practice of oral communications. Development of poise, confidence and skill in speech organization and delivery. Emphasis on frequent speaking, development of standards of criticism and selection and organization of material. IAI C2 900

FOURTH SEMESTER:

Number Course Title Credits Category
FAS 116 3 Program Requirement

Description: Studies an overview of career and employment possibilities in the fashion businesses and industries. Places emphasis on individual career path selections through interest testing and career counseling. (NOTE: Concurrent employment of ten hours or more in a fashion related field is required. Contact program coordinator for additional information.)

FAS 225  S   3 Program Requirement

Description: Defines global sourcing and provides an understanding of why and how companies participate in it. Explains how and where manufactured goods or components will be procured. Teaches that in today’s global soft goods industry, sourcing has become a major competitive strategy for both manufacturers and retailers.

FAS 229  S   3 Program Requirement

Description: Introduces various techniques and methods to sell fashion. Helps to synthesize a number of skills such as critical and creative thinking, negotiating, teamwork, delegating and communication skills. Students will gain recognition and be responsible for team effort that is involved in the production of a fashion show.

MKT 245 3 Program Requirement

Description: Focuses on marketing activities that will cover product planning, pricing strategies and promotional efforts including advertising, selling and sales promotions and distribution channel effectiveness.

Prerequisite: GRA 120 with a grade of C or better, or MGT 111.

Social and Behavioral Science1 3 Social and Behavioral Science

+ - This course meets the World Culture and Diversity graduation requirement.

1 - See full list of AAS General Education Electives.

Program learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • create visual presentations using design principles.
  • develop display techniques in merchandising.
  • describe the social, cultural and economic forces that determine the fashion of contemporary society.
  • recognize major fashion developments throughout history.
  • apply industry terminology in appropriate situations.
  • utilize basic marketing tools.
  • recognize individual strengths and how they apply to a chosen career path.
  • apply problem solving techniques in the workplace.
  • utilize successful communication skills in employment situations.

Related programs

Students interested in fashion merchandising may also be interested in:

Next steps

For more information about the Fashion Merchandising Degree program, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.