The Top 10 Schools for Fashion Journalism, PR, Marketing and More

We’ve narrowed down the 10 best schools to put you a few steps closer to your dream career in fashion--think fashion journalism, merchandising, public relations, advertising, and much more.
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We’ve narrowed down the 10 best schools to put you a few steps closer to your dream career in fashion--think fashion journalism, merchandising, public relations, advertising, and much more.
fashion schools

Photo: Jason Mickle via Vaga Magazine

The fashion industry is attracting more would-be employees than ever now. Thanks to more perceived accessibility through (sometimes not-so-realistic) fashion reality shows and the proliferation of fashion related blogs, it’s an industry that’s in high demand. However, it’s also a notoriously difficult industry to break into, so you have to make yourself stand out. One of the ways to do that is to get a stellar education (that hooks you up with stellar internships).

We’ve already listed the 50 best fashion design schools in the world and the 20 best in the US, but we’re well aware that not everyone who wants to be in fashion wants to be a designer (like, say, all of us here at Fashionista). So we’ve narrowed down the 10 best schools to put you a few steps closer to your dream career in fashion--think fashion journalism, merchandising, public relations, advertising, and much more.

A few caveats

Obviously going to these schools won't guarantee your dream job in fashion--that takes a lot of internships and a hell of a lot of hustle (and a shining attitude!). But a degree from these schools is certainly going to put you at an advantage. And if you don’t or can’t go to these schools, don’t worry. We’ve heard plenty of stories (right here in our own office, as a matter of fact) of people coming from disparate educational and career backgrounds and landing themselves a fashion gig. But you still have to work your ass off, so better to go to a school that will support that.

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The Schools

This is not a ranking; we’ve listed the schools in no particular order. That’s because we’re not exactly comparing apples to apples here. Some schools have strong journalism programs while others excel at prepping you for a career in PR. While some have a specific fashion focus, many don’t. You don’t necessarily need to go to a school that has the word “Fashion” in its name to pick up the skills and experience you need to work in the fashion industry.

The Methodology 

We spoke to people in the industry, researched the schools’ specialties and strengths, and looked at their ability to help with internship placement (which is key to employment) to come up with this list. We also used hard data from LinkedIn as a benchmark, which helped us figure out if there was a higher concentration of grads from a certain school at some key fashion companies. If you see a notation that looks like this:

Condé Nast (3% of 2,000 employees)

it means that of 2,000 employees of Condé Nast who are on LinkedIn, 3% of them went to University X. This data is just to give you an idea of where grads get hired, nothing more.

A Word on Companies and Famous Grads: 

The lists we provided of where grads get hired are by no means comprehensive--again, they’re just meant to give you an idea of your options. And the alumni lists for every single one of these schools is unbelievably impressive--senators, Nobel Prize winners, authors, actors. But we just tried to highlight a select few fashion industry notables as examples.

So without further ado, we present our list, which you can view in full here. Click through to start your career!

Additional reporting by Tyler McCall

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FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (FIT)

Location: New York City

Average Tuition: $1,987- $7,245/per semester depending on major and residency

Applicable programs: (Both associate and bachelor degrees are offered in various programs) •Advertising and Marketing Communications •Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing •Direct and Interactive Marketing •Entrepreneurship for the Fashion and Design Industries •Fashion Merchandising Management •International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries •Production Management: Fashion and Related Industries •Technical Design •Textile Development and Marketing •Graduate programs in Global Fashion Management and Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management

Career Services: •Lifetime job search assistance •Job fairs, an online job board, and on-campus recruiting in the student's last year •Workshops and co-sponsored presentations with other departments including the library and writing center.

Of Note: •The Museum at FIT (run by director and chief curator Valerie Steele) is world-renowned. •There is a pre-college program for middle school and high school students. These are held on Saturdays and Sundays during the school year, and Mondays-Thursdays during the summer. •Students in the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology represent the US in the World Retail Congress every year, usually placing very high in the rankings. •The tuition is one of the most reasonable around, even for non-New York residents. •FIT grads are well-represented across a spectrum of fashion jobs.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: •Condé Nast (4% of employees) •Saks (4% of 4,000 employees) •Bergdorf Goodman (11% of 300 employees) •Barneys (7% of 700 employees) •Macy’s (2% of 21,000) •Vogue (4% of 450 employees) •BPCM PR (4% of 60 employees) •Plus: Bloomingdales, Hearst, MTV, L’Oreal, Tiffany & Co., The Jones Group, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, and VF Corporation.

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Many designers, from Michael Kors to Calvin Klein. •Nina Garcia, Candy Pratts Price, Robert Verdi, Joe Zee, Ken Downing, and Fashionista’s very own Dhani Mau

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FASHION INSTITUTE OF DESIGN AND MERCHANDISING (FIDM): 

Location: Los Angeles, CA (campuses in Irvine, San Diego, and San Francisco) Average Tuition: ~$26,000/year (depends on major) Applicable Programs: •Both AA’s and BA’s are offered. •Apparel Industry Management •Beauty Industry Merchandising & Marketing •International Manufacturing & Product Development •Merchandise Product Development •Visual Communications •Bachelor of Science in Business Management

Career Services: •On-campus recruitment •Career Center helps students find part-time jobs in the appropriate field •Alumni have access to job postings and career counselors.

Of Note: •Its library is the largest fashion library on the West Coast. •They have summer programs for high school students. •The school has hosted Project Runway, HGTV’s Design School, and The Hills. •Tim Gunn, the CEO/Chairman of Bloomingdale’s, and the president/CEO of Forever 21 are on the advisory board.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: •Saks Fifth Avenue (1% of ~4,000 employees) •Barneys {2% of ~700 employees •Nordstrom (2% of 10,000+ employees) •Nordstrom Product Group (5% of 724) •PR companies •Many grads start their own companies (stylists, etc)

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Lauren Conrad •Monique Lhuillier •Pamela Skaist-Levy (Juicy Couture founder)

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PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN

Location: New York City

Average Tuition: $39,280/year

Applicable Programs: •Bachelor of Business Administration in Design and Management •AAS Fashion Marketing •BFA Communication Design •MA Fashion Studies

-Other Noteworthy Courses and Programs: The Design and Marketing of Luxury Goods, a decade-long collaboration with Columbia Business School, enables students to work in teams to develop concepts for some of the world’s leading luxury goods companies. Students receive rare access to the CEOs and top executive staff of these programs (also open to the AAS programs and other BFA programs at Parsons). Fashion Campus NYC and Fashion Draft NYC are programs that Parsons has developed with the NYCEDC to help students interested in launching careers in the business side of the fashion industry.

Career Services: •One-on-one advisors •Job and internship fairs •Resume review/critique and interview preparation •Panel discussions (recent topics include Basics of Freelancing, Fashion Careers, and Salary Negotiation) •The Career Services blog is well done, and a great place to find information.

Of Note:Business Week has named the BBA program one of the best of its kind. •Cecilia Dean, co-founder of Visionaire magazine, is on the faculty for the BFA in Communication Design.

Companies That Have Hired Grads:Vogue (3% of 450) •Elle (3% of 270) •Bergdorf Goodman (4% of 300) •Barneys (2% of 700) •Saks Fifth Avenue (1% of 4000) •Plus: Christian Louboutin, Eileen Fisher, Ralph Lauren, Marchesa, Elle, Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Forever 21, Alice and Olivia, J Crew, Luxottica, Versace, Estee Lauder, Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel, Lane Crawford

-Notable Alum/Former Students: Julia Restoin Roitfeld; Ashley Abess (founding business partner, Chris Benz)

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NEW YORK UNIVERSITY (NYU)


Location: New York City

Average Tuition: $41,614 

Applicable programs: •BS in Media, Culture, Communication •Multiple liberal arts/science options •Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Career Services: •One-on-one, very personalized. •There were nine Career Fairs during the 2011-2012 academic year and additional industry expos.

Of Note: •There’s a Fashion Business Club. •They offer fashion industry-specific programs (past ones include “Attire for Successful Hire”, NYU Fashion Week (a week long speaker series featuring industry experts), Faces of Fashion. •The Gallatin School received $2.5million from the Guess Foundation to establish a visiting professorship in fashion and fashion business.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: •Condé Nast (4% of 3,500 employees) •Hearst (4% of 1,200) •Vogue (6% of 450) •Starworks (PR)(10% of 90 employees) •Saks (1% of 3,900) •Bergdorf Goodman (3% of 300 employees) •Barneys (3% of 700 employees) •Ford Models (2% of 600 employees) •Plus: Macy’s,Bloomingdale's, Urban Outfitters,TJX Companies,Ralph Lauren, Lord & Taylor, JCrew, Saks, Abercrombie, Victoria's Secret

Placement Information (provided by school): •4% of 2011 graduates report working in the Fashion/Retail industry. (10% report working in Communications/Marketing/Public Relations/Publicity—some of these positions may be fashion related) •Average reported starting salary for graduates entering fashion/retail: $45,560 •There are currently 375 active postings for fashion-related positions on NYU CareerNet. •Employers within the fashion industry conducted 176 interviews on campus this academic year.

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Multiple fashion company ceo/cfo’s •Christy Turlington •Candace Bushnell •Tom Ford •The Olsens! (OK, they didn’t graduate)

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PENN STATE 

Location: University Park, PA Average Tuition: $16,000 (but this varies widely depending on major and residency) Applicable Programs: •Various programs (including advertising/PR programs, journalism, media studies and integrated programs) at the College of Communications and College of Arts & Architecture.

Career Services: •Drop-in counseling. •Seasonal career fairs. •There's a large online "Career Network." •The College of Communications has hosted a large career event for the past nine years in NYC called "Success in the City" which dozens of recruiters (like Hearst and multiple PR companies) attend.

Of Note: •Advertising students finish highly placed in region-wide competitions (in 2011 they did a campaign for JC Penney to try to reposition the brand for the 25- to 34-year-old audience.) •There’s a student run life and style magazine called Valley Magazine. •It’s close enough to NYC that the school can help facilitate internships with magazines and companies there. •The WSJ listed it as the number one school chosen by recruiters for its "bright, well-rounded students...with the core competencies we desire."

Companies That Have Hired Grads: Elle (2% of 275 employees) •BPCM Public Relations (6% of 60 employees) •Macy’s (1% of 21,300 employees) •Plus jobs/internships at: Glamour, Hearst, Armani Exchange, boutique PR firms

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Jayne Jamison (VP and publisher of Seventeen) •Margaret Carlson, Time magazine’s first female columnist •Various clothing company CEO’s

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FORDHAM UNIVERSITY 

Location: New York City

Average Tuition: $39,000/year

Applicable programs: •Communication and Media Studies (includes Journalism) •Marketing/Business (Gabelli School of Business)

Career Services: •Alumni mentorship program -On-campus recruiting •Support for resume writing, interview skills, networking •The Gabelli School of Business has a separate career center, and features time with industry executives and field-specific advising •Career Services partners with Fashion for Philanthropy, a highly active on-campus group, to host a Fashion Panel & Networking Event (this year’s features reps from Longchamp, Intermix, Lord & Taylor, Swarovski, Allure magazine and Ann Taylor.)

Of Note: •Fordham is a Jesuit university. •The fashion blog has a really informative “Intern Diary” feature. •Fordham is home to the Fashion Law Institute, the world's first fashion law center.

Companies That Have Hired Grads:Elle (2% of 275) •PR Consulting (5% of 60 employees) •Plus:Kenneth Cole, Ann Taylor

Notable Alum/Former Students: •A former Burberry CEO •Lana Del Rey

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RUTGERS

Location: Three campuses in New Jersey

Average Tuition: $10,104-$22,766/year depending on major and residency

Applicable Programs: •Journalism and Media Studies •Communication and Information Studies

Career Services: •The highly regarded journalism department has its own internship program and helps place students in media outlets in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia markets. •Communications majors have access to internships at MTV, TV talk shows, publishing companies, and more. •There’s a robust online job board, and allows you to search jobs by major, in addition to the usual resume/cover letter/interviewing assistance.

Of Note: •The WSJ’s SmartMoney mag ranked Rutgers #6 in the nation and #1 in the Northeast for value. •Forbes and US News & World Report both ranked it most diverse university in the US.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: •Conde Nast (1% of 3,500 employees) •Hearst (2% of 1,200 employees) •Starworks (PR) (3% of 90 employees) •Barneys (2% of 730 employees)

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Mark Ecko •Many CEOs and award-winning journalists •Michele Promaulayko, EIC of Women’s Health (formerly at Cosmopolitan)

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SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY

Location: Syracuse, New York

Average Tuition: $36,300

Applicable Programs: •Advertising •Broadcast & Digital Journalism •Magazine Journalism •Public Relations •Newspaper & Online Journalism •Undergraduate Retail Management

Career Placement Assistance: •There’s a center for digital media start-ups offering resources for entrepreneurs. •Drop-in career counseling hours •School/corporate partnerships (like with Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s) •Multiple career fairs

Of Note: •The SI Newhouse School of Public Communications accepts only the top students. Getting in here is a big deal. •There’s a center for digital media start-ups •A professor started Project Body Talk, a site for examining and talking about body image issues.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: •Condé Nast (1% of 3,500 employees) •Plus: Cartier, Avon, Harods, Elizabeth Arden, Macy's, Target, Tory Burch, Factory PR

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Betsey Johnson •Many journalists, broadcasters, people in entertainment

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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Average Tuition: $6,220- $18,794 depending on major and residency

Applicable Programs: •Communication Studies *Sweetland Center for Writing (can minor in writing, supports “new media”)

Career Services: •One of the more unique career services departments we’ve seen: they offer lots of hands-on assistance, encourage informational interviewing, and host events like a “Career Crawl” which is essentially speed dating (except substitute networking for dating) and "Immersion Excursions" which are field trips for college kids.

Of Note: •Has a great student run fashion magazine called SHEI •The school, despite being in the Midwest, has a strong NYC/East Coast pipeline, meaning there are alums from the school back east working in the industry, making it potentially easier to land jobs/internships through alumni networking. •Because it’s far removed from the East and West Coasts, you have to really WANT it and hustle to get the experience you need. But the academics are here and the Career Services department is very strong.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: •Saks, Hearst, various PR companies, Target, Ann Taylor •Students last summer did internships at Gucci, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Hearst, Conde Nast

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Jessica Kleiman, VP of Public Relations for Hearst Magazines •All industries are well-represented (including a lot of astronauts)

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BOSTON UNIVERSITY

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Average Tuition: $32,590

Applicable Programs: •Communication (you can major in Public Relations, Journalism) •School of Management

Career Services: •Frequent on-campus recruiting. •They host events like “Brand U” week, to help prepare for interviews—including resume help, mock interviews, and networking. •There’s a “Fashion & Merchandising” Alumni Association for networking post graduation.

Of Note: •Has the oldest PR program in the country. •PRLab is a student-run public relations agency on campus that gives them hands-on experience.

Companies That Have Hired Grads: [Ed.note: At press time we were still waiting for more hiring data from BU] •Condé Nast •Hearst •Multiple PR companies

Notable Alum/Former Students: •Lots and lots of Pulitzer prize winners •Mickey Drexler *Executives at Benetton and other apparel companies •Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy