Fashion design is the art of applying design, aesthetics and natural beauty to clothing and its accessories. Cultural and social attitudes play a role. The fashion business is in a constant state of flux as trends change in women’s and men’s attire and accessories.

If you are curious as to what classes are in a fashion program, then you must be creative. Do you have the talent to turn imagination into fashion? Strong drawing skills are necessary for fashion, as designers need to be able to take a concept and get it down on paper. Do you have an eye for detail? Often the detail makes a product unique. Therefore, this skill is imperative, even if you are great at visualizing and drawing. These are all talents that most students want to develop during their studies.

Some independent designers are successful without any formal training. However, if you want to work for a large design house or report to leaders in the industry, you will want some post-secondary training to ramp up your skills (and your resume). Most hiring companies are looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in design and/or marketing.


Fashion is more than just design. It is about fabrics, marketing, aesthetics, trends, promotion, and more. Your Bachelor of Arts or Fine Arts degree should involve classes in these subjects. Here is a look at some of the typical courses selected from various bachelors’ programs.

History of Costume: A study of clothing for women, men, and children in the Western hemisphere from prehistoric times to the present.

Production Techniques: Studies the identification, analysis, and application of production processes and techniques involved in the mass marketing of fashion products, including creating specifications and costing.

Techniques of Pattern Design: Examines the techniques of drafting, grading, digitizing, and marker-making as per professional industry standards.

Menswear Design/Production: Provides an overview of the production of marketable menswear designs from concept to product. The class includes the design processes, analysis methods, and pattern making and construction techniques.

Computers in Fashion Design: The course focuses on the use of computer-based technologies for the development and production of advanced fashion designs.

There are degree programs that offer a Bachelor of Science in Apparel Design. This may be coupled with Merchandising. The curriculum in the science program has many of the same classes as an Arts or Fine Arts degree. Examples of classes in a science degree are:

Apparel Design-Draping: Explores three-dimensional design through draping. Draping for fashion design is the process of positioning and pinning fabric on a dress form to develop the structure of a garment design.

Apparel Construction: A study of the principles and concepts of garment assembly. Also covers pattern analysis, selection, fitting and technical construction processes.

Product Development: The study of design, merchandising, and quality assurance in the apparel and sewn products industry.


A science degree in fashion may place less emphasis on creativity and more on the construction of the clothing. Regardless of the degree type, it is beneficial to select a program that includes an understanding of the business aspect of fashion. Many programs have classes in finance, sales, and marketing. These are important if your ambition is to work independently or freelance.

Students who prefer a creative/design oriented program want to look for classes in texture, color, and fabric. For example, you will need to know whether a garment would work best in silk chiffon or another material. You will also need to know which combinations of colors will be most flattering on a piece of clothing.

More degree programs incorporate classes in computer-aided design (CAD). Most products today, from vacuum cleaners to apparel, start with CAD. You may encounter classes in which you receive training in industry appropriate CAD software in a project-based learning environment. Students use visual communication graphics for portfolio planning, community involvement, and industry-related research and application. Designers use 2D and 3D CAD in the creation and merchandising of each article of clothing or accessory from shoes to sunglasses.

The computer classes are beneficial for most jobs in fashion design. By reviewing job postings, you will see requirements for knowledge and experience with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. For example, a job posting for a handbag designer in New York City requires applicants to “be proficient in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel.”


The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported (May 2017) the job growth for Fashion Designers at only 3%. This represents a change in a meager 600 jobs. Not a bright future for aspiring designers, it seems. However, if you peruse major employment sites, such as Indeed, you see pages of jobs seeking graduates from fashion/apparel design or related programs. You may want to research job opportunities before committing to a degree in this discipline.