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March 31, 2009


New York is the heart of the American fashion world and a great place to study the industry. Design and fashion degrees are often important for design jobs, as well as for potential entrepreneurship. The city's three leading fashion schools are the Parsons School of Technology, The Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Pratt Institute (located in Brooklyn). These schools funnel graduates into entry-level positions at the top design studios/houses. Furthermore, each school has a year-end fashion show, which is always well attended by industry insiders looking for fresh talent. And New York City isn't the only New York option. "I earned my degree at Syracuse in upstate New York," says an assistant designer. "And I can't think of a better school."


Parsons, which reached a ripe age of 102 in 1999, is a division of the New School for Social Research. Renowned for a conceptual, artistic style, famous alumni include Donna Karan. "Parsons students routinely explore the new ideas driving industry, popular culture, the fine arts and the mass media."


The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is known for its emphasis on the mechanics of clothes design and construction. Its status as a campus of the New York state university system makes it slightly more affordable to the aspiring fashion virtuoso. In fall 1999, FIT opened on-line offerings, including courses through the State University of New York Learning Network. The new program includes courses in advertising and marketing communications, fashion design, and manufacturing management.~


Pratt, founded in 1887, is known for a cross-disciplinary approach. Primarily an art school, Pratt sees only a small percentage of its student body studying fashion.

Looking Outside of the Big Apple

Rumor has it that New York City is the only place for fashion. And while New York is inarguably a fashion bastion, not all is ripe and juicy in the Big Apple. Fashion openings are extremely competitive in New York City as well as low-paying. Sometimes, a fashion career counselor confesses, it's better to start your career elsewhere. After all, you can always come back. "NYC may be the fashion capital of the world, but the truth is, companies outside of the city pay more because they need new talent. Besides, if you work with a large company, you can always relocate."

Certainly not a dull place when it comes to duds, the West Coast is also home to top fashion schools, most notably the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Costa Mesa, California and the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Aside from these fashion hotspots, there are also excellent design programs at many colleges and universities on both coasts - and in between.


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