2020 Most Affordable Online Schools for Fashion Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 5/7/2021
2020 Most Affordable Fashion Bachelors Degrees Badge
By the OnlineU team | Updated 5/7/2021

An online degree in fashion might be a good fit for someone who is passionate about the theory, techniques, and history behind current fashion trends and wants to break into the industry. Fashion design—with a median annual salary of $75,810—is one potential career choice for graduates of fashion degree programs. A degree may also open doors to careers in production, marketing, selling, and promotion.

The following is a list of the top 9 most affordable online degrees in fashion design and merchandising. We also provide information about what to expect when enrolling in an online fashion program, including common courses, options for funding, and career opportunities available to graduates.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or see our Overall Most Affordable Colleges. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Southern New Hampshire University Online $9,600
# 2 #2 Old Dominion University $12,210
# 3 #3 Central Michigan University $13,454
# 4 (tie) #4 (tie) Johnson & Wales University-Online $14,850
# 4 (tie) #4 (tie) Lindenwood University $14,850
# 6 #6 Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design $16,058
# 7 #7 LIM College $17,515
# 8 #8 Fashion Institute of Technology $23,586
# 9 #9 Academy of Art University $28,890
#1
#1
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Annual Tuition: $9,600
Annual Tuition: $9,600

Southern New Hampshire University's (SNHU) online Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Management is a full-time program totaling 120 credits. Students will learn about fashion marketing, color and textile theory, consumer behavior, planning, and management, and will gain real-world experience through an internship in fashion merchandising. The curriculum also offers a business foundation with classes such as Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Business Law, and Marketing. Classes... are taught by industry experts.

Coursework is delivered asynchronously through the Brightspace learning management system. Students have 24/7 access to the platform and can complete assignments at their convenience but must adhere to deadlines. Course content typically includes discussion boards, papers, projects, and presentations. SNHU has frozen tuition rates through 2021 and offers scholarships, grants, and tuition discounts for active-duty service members (and their spouses). Students can earn up to 12 credits by testing out of college courses, and transfer students can apply up to 90 credits toward their degree. Distance learners have access to a writing center, tutoring and career services, academic advising, an online library, and more.

An admissions counselor will walk prospective students through the application process, which requires an online application, a transcript release form, and an attestation confirming high school graduation or GED. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis for the school's six 8-week terms.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 86,849
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 19,526
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
  • Phone #: (603) 668-2211

Example Classes: Global Sourcing and Apparel, History of Fashion and Costume, Merchandise Planning, Retail Sales Promotion, Strategic Fashion Management, Sustainability in Fashion, Textiles and Color Theory

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS Fashion Merchandising and Management
#2
#2
Annual Tuition: $12,210
Annual Tuition: $12,210
Annual Tuition: $12,210

Old Dominion University's (ODU) online Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising requires 120 credit hours and focuses on the planning, procurement, and marketing aspects of the fashion industry. Students will research target markets, evaluate business decisions, and learn how to meet the demands of both retailers and consumers. Students will also complete an internship to apply what they've learned in a real-world environment.

Classes are delivered online through Blackboard and include a mix of... synchronous and asynchronous learning. Coursework typically includes message boards, discussion rooms, assignments, and exams. Students can meet with their instructors during virtual office hours and have access to academic resources such as a student success center, free software, career and library services, and tutoring. Virginia residents receive a tuition discount, and active duty military students may also qualify for a reduced rate.

Students can apply online for the fall, spring, or summer semester; each has an application deadline. An enrollment coach will walk prospective students through the application process and help students with previous college experience determine how many credits will transfer. ODU has also partnered with the Virginia Community College System (along with other select institutions) to offer guaranteed admission and make the transfer process as seamless as possible.

  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 3,948
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,206
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (757) 683-3000

Example Classes: Fashion Consumer Behavior, Fashion Forecasting Market Trip, Fashion, Textiles, and Construction Analysis, The Foreign Fashion Market Trip, Visual Merchandising and Display, Web-Based Organization for Fashion

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising
  • Bachelor of Science in Occupational and Technical Studies - Fashion Merchandising
#3
#3

Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant (MI)
Annual Tuition: $13,454
Annual Tuition: $13,454
Annual Tuition: $13,454

Central Michigan University (CMU) offers two 120-credit online fashion merchandising degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising & Design (no minor required) and a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Fashion Merchandising & Design (requires a minor). Both offer concentrations in Product Development and Visual Merchandising and include hands-on projects and a final portfolio. Students use the latest technology to prepare them for careers in the industry. Some of the core courses include Apparel... Design Analysis, CAD for Apparel, and History of Western Dress.

Students will access courses, participate in lectures, submit assignments, take quizzes, and communicate with instructors and peers through Blackboard, which is available 24/7. Most courses are offered asynchronously, but some may meet at specific times. In addition to weekly discussions, students may be required to participate in discussion boards, group assignments, and projects. Students can earn up to 60 prior learning credits for education earned through work, training, and life experience. CMU also offers a payment plan, which breaks semester charges into interest-free monthly payments. Resources for distance learners include the writing center, tutoring, and an Online Student Ally, who has been trained to provide support and guidance.

Prospective students can apply online and will also need to submit official transcripts or GED test scores. A GPA of at least 2.0 is required.

  • Online Degrees: 6
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,326
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,485
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (989) 774-4000

Example Classes: 3D Printing and Fashion, Apparel Product Analysis, Dress and Culture, Experimental CAD, Fashion Retail Management, Textile Analysis

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Applied Arts in Fashion Merchandising & Design
  • Bachelor of Applied Arts in Fashion Merchandising & Design - Product Development
  • Bachelor of Applied Arts in Fashion Merchandising & Design - Visual Merchandising
  • Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising & Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising & Design - Product Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising & Design - Visual Merchandising
#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $14,850
Annual Tuition: $14,850
Annual Tuition: $14,850
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,070
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 682
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
  • Phone #: (401) 598-1000

Example Classes: Cases in Fashion and Retail, Merchandise Mathematics, Retail Executive Decision Making, Retail Industry Seminar, Textiles, The Business of Fashion

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS - Fashion Merchandising and Retailing
#4
#4

Lindenwood University

Saint Charles (MO)
Annual Tuition: $14,850
Annual Tuition: $14,850
Annual Tuition: $14,850
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1170
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 494
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,042
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (636) 949-2000

Example Classes: Advertising and Promotional Strategy, Computer-Aided Design I: Apparel Design, Fashion Business and Entrepreneurship, Global Business and Society, History of Costume from 1900, Principles of Microeconomics

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Fashion Business & Entrepreneurship
#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $16,058
Annual Tuition: $16,058
Annual Tuition: $16,058
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 851
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (303) 753-6046

Example Classes: Apparel, Couture Construction, Design Technologies, Sustainable Fashion, Textile Science, Textiles: Knits + High Tech

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design
#7
#7

LIM College

New York (NY)
Annual Tuition: $17,515
Annual Tuition: $17,515
Annual Tuition: $17,515
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Acceptance Rate: 93%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1130
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 176
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 126
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Phone #: (212) 752-1530

Example Classes: Digital Tools for Fashion Presentations, Fabric for Fashion, Fashion Merchandising Senior Capstone, Product Development and Merchandising, Retailing: Global and Omni, Sustainability and the Future of Fashion

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BBA in Business of Fashion
  • BBA in Fashion Merchandising
#8
#8
Annual Tuition: $23,586
Annual Tuition: $23,586
Annual Tuition: $23,586
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 80%
  • Acceptance Rate: 47%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 210
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 0
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Phone #: (212) 217-7999

Example Classes: Global Marketing, Global Sourcing, Import/Export Regulations, International Business Transactions, Microeconomics

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries
#9
#9

Academy of Art University

San Francisco (CA)
Annual Tuition: $28,890
Annual Tuition: $28,890
Annual Tuition: $28,890
  • Online Degrees: 7
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 59%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,911
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,298
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: WSCUC
  • Phone #: (800) 544-2787

Example Classes: Color Concepts for Fashion, Digital Techniques for the Fashion Business, Drawing for Fashion, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Sewing Techniques, Fashion Trend Analysis

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BA in Fashion Journalism
  • BFA in Costume Design
  • BFA in Fashion Marketing
  • BFA in Fashion Merchandising
  • BFA in Fashion Product Development
  • BFA in Fashion Styling

Can You Get a Fashion Degree Online?

Yes, students can earn an online fashion bachelor's degree, and the number of schools offering this degree online is expected to increase in the future. Some degree programs focus on the artistic side of fashion design, others focus on the business side of fashion marketing and merchandising, and a third category of programs combine the two. You may also find schools offering additional design-oriented concentrations, such as knitwear, children's clothing, accessories, and textiles.

Fashion Degree Quick Facts
  • Average Credits: 120
  • Average Duration: 4 years

Which Degree Is Best for Fashion Designing?

If you're considering a career in the fashion industry, it can be helpful to have a bachelor's degree. Most schools that focus on fashion design will offer programs that lead to a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Applied Arts, or Bachelor of Fine Arts. For those who are interested in the business side of the industry, fashion marketing and merchandising degree programs usually lead to a Bachelor of Science degree.

How Do You Become a Fashion Designer Online?

Studying fashion design online is similar to studying fashion on campus, except that you'll interact with your instructors and exchange feedback with peers via the internet. Using your own sewing machine and other creative materials at home, you'll take many hands-on courses that will help you develop your design skills and teach you about garment construction and manufacturing, known as fabrication. Other courses will provide you with an understanding of the fashion business and help develop essential communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills.

Online Fashion Courses

Online fashion design programs are designed to give students a solid foundation in the fashion industry. Often covering the entire process from design and production through distribution, programs may include many of the following:

  • Apparel Product Development: This course examines the creation and production of garments and other fashion products from start to finish. Students examine design trends and incorporate them into the design of their own products. Additionally, they learn how to choose and source the raw materials and plan for the manufacturing of their products.
  • CAD Fashion Design: In addition to courses on hand-drawn sketching and illustration, many programs teach students to use industry-standard technology—computer-aided design—in the design process. Coursework explains how to use CAD technology to turn design concepts into practical products, including digital specification sheets for their construction.
  • Fashion Buying, Merchandising, and Display: This course focuses on the retail end of the fashion industry. Students discover how to identify on-trend products that fit with their brands and gain a broad understanding of how to strategically promote and present these products to consumers.
  • History of Fashion: Many fashion design programs include a survey of fashion trends in Western history. Students learn about the types of garments that have been worn, why they were developed, and the terminology associated with fashion over the centuries.
  • Marketing and Promotion: A course on fashion marketing will explore all of the major aspects of promotion, pricing, and distribution, and will often use case studies to provide real-world examples. Students will learn how to develop and implement various types of media campaigns and other promotional strategies, such as fashion shows and product launches.

How Much Does a Fashion Degree Cost?

The most affordable online schools for aspiring fashion designers and marketers have an average annual tuition of $16,779. Several of them charge lower annual tuition fees for online programs than on-campus degrees, and some charge the same for both online and on-campus programs.

The most affordable online schools for aspiring fashion designers and marketers have an average annual tuition of $16,779.

Financial Aid for Fashion Students

Students aspiring to earn a fashion degree online have a number of options for paying for their education. In most cases, you'll start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. After the school(s) you've applied to receive this information, they'll let you know which types of financial aid are available to you.

The best types of financial aid don't need to be paid back. These include scholarships and grants offered by the federal government, your state, or the college you attend. There are also a few private scholarships for fashion students, such as the FSF Case Study Scholarship and CBC Spouses Visual Arts Scholarship. Many students also qualify for federal or private loans, but these can add significantly to the overall cost of earning a degree. Both types need to be paid back with interest, although federal loans typically offer lower interest rates so they are preferable to private loans.

Fashion Careers

In a recent survey of fashion industry insiders, 74% of professionals described themselves as satisfied or very satisfied with their careers, so an online degree in fashion may be the first step toward a fulfilling career. Fashion designers typically find opportunities to work for apparel manufacturers or retailers, or they may opt to start their own fashion design businesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for fashion designers is $75,810. Another popular occupation in this field is fashion buyer, which involves predicting upcoming trends, purchasing desired items, and making them available at prices that align with customer expectations. Other possibilities in the fashion industry include fashion merchandising management, marketing, production management, and journalism.

Is an Online Degree in Fashion Design Worth It?

A degree is not always necessary in the fashion industry, but many professionals do hold a bachelor's degree. As job growth for fashion designers is projected to decline by 4% over the next decade, it may be more challenging to gain employment, and earning a degree could increase these odds. To decide if an online fashion degree will be worth it for you, you should consider these factors alongside your own circumstances, including your current financial situation, motivations for earning a degree, and future goals.