10 Best Fashion Schools in Illinois in 2024 | How to Apply

Discover the top 10 best fashion schools in Illinois in 2023. Learn how to apply and explore the finest institutions offering fashion education and training at the best fashion design schools in Illinois. Start your journey towards a stylish career today!

Illinois boasts one of the Midwest’s oldest and most reputable fashion schools, with major cities like Chicago and Springfield.

You need a thorough knowledge of the fashion industry and a range of techniques and theories to succeed in this sector, whether you want to design swimwear for women, everyday apparel for kids, or work attire for men. Illinois schools can help with that.

Your professional aspirations and level of prior education will determine the type of schooling you receive.

If this is your first degree, you must decide between an associate’s degree program and a Bachelor’s degree.

To begin your journey in fashion design, this article enlists the best fashion schools in Illinois. Stay with us as we show you why they’re the best.

The table of content below shows you what we have in this article.

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Is Fashion Designing a Good Career Path in Illinois?

A four-year Bachelor’s degree program gives students a comprehensive, in-depth view of the fashion business. An Associate’s degree that lasts two years provides a broader perspective. 

A graduate school in fashion can be just what you need to advance your career if you currently hold a bachelor’s degree and have experience in the field—plan on completing at least 120 credits as a Bachelor’s degree student to graduate.

Most colleges require this in the form of an internship and the development of a portfolio, both of which play a big part in your post-graduation career options and professional connections.

In addition to your internship and portfolio classes, you may enroll in courses like:

  • Fashion Foundations
  • Garment Construction
  • Fashion Illustration
  • Clothing and Society
  • Contemporary Fashion
  • Flat Pattern Making
  • Pattern Making and Draping
  • Advanced Garment Construction
  • Pattern Grading
  • Digital Pattern Creation
  • Digital Textiles
  • Portfolio Development

How Much Does it Cost to Study Fashion in Illinois?

To pay for your education, you might choose to apply for a variety of financial aid programs. Look into regional groups and associations that assist the arts and fashion sectors in addition to school-specific initiatives. The Chicago Fashion Foundation Scholarship specifically helps Illinois fashion design students.

Be prepared to put in a lot of effort and work long hours to distinguish yourself from other aspiring designers once you graduate because the fashion industry is frequently seen as cutthroat. Although you can initially opt to work for a design firm, clothing retailer, or wholesaler, you might gain more industry experience.

The more experience you can gain in your early career years, the more you could be able to accomplish with your career in the future. According to O*Net (2016), the average yearly compensation for fashion designers is currently $64,000. Although job growth is not anticipated to alter considerably through 2023, focusing your search in big locations like Chicago may help you locate several options. 

Join professional organizations to network with experts in the field as you get your foot in the door. Fashion Group International of Chicago is a sizable Illinois organization that combines designers. Additionally, you can participate in fashion events and presentations like Fashion Focus Chicago.

Illinois has 15 fashion schools for aspiring fashion designers, merchandisers, and marketers. Illinois is home to the fashion capital of Chicago. Currently, 11 of these institutions are centered in or close to Chicago.

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Are there Fashion Schools in Illinois?

There are up to 15 fashion schools in Illinois. These fashion schools offer different degrees to the different fashion courses they offer.

The fashion schools in Illinois are:

  • Western Illinois University
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • Dominican University
  • Campus Maintenance Center
  • Harper College
  • Lincoln Land Community College
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • College of DuPage
  • International Academy of Design and Technology-Chicago
  • Northern Illinois University
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago
  • The Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg
  • Triton College

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Fashion in Illinois?

Associate’s degree programs in fashion design in Illinois are two-year courses that instruct students in fundamental, technical design abilities like tailoring, stitching, and fundamental fashion theories.

In-depth career training is offered via four-year bachelor’s degree programs that combine technical curriculum with creative and intellectual learning. Among the courses provided are those in fashion sketching, 3-D design, color theory, textiles, computer-aided design, fashion business, and portfolio presentation.

Fashion designers combine their technical and artistic skills to produce various apparel and accessories. In addition to creating unique items, designers regularly research the market to stay abreast of trends and forecast future fashions.

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How Much Do Fashion Schools in Illinois Cost?

In Illinois, the average cost of tuition is $18,062. But at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, tuition is only $7,635. Each school offers a wide variety of fashion scholarships.

For instance, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale offers the Jean S. Rendleman Home Economics Scholarship, the Sue Ridley Fashion Design, Merchandising Award, and the Fashion Design & Merchandising Scholarship.

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What are the Requirements of Fashion Schools in Illinois?

It might be challenging to break into the fashion industry because it is constantly developing and changing.

Fortunately, many top-notch fashion schools can help you start a career in fashion. A fashion degree might be right for you if you have exceptional taste and like to be creative.

Getting into a fashion school is challenging because many programs have low acceptance rates. Every fashion school is different and has its prerequisites for admittance.

You must prepare for the application procedure if you determine that fashion school is a perfect choice. You must gather all requirements and perform research which includes:

  • Submit your school transcripts or GED
  • Complete an application form
  • Pay an application fee
  • Write an admission essay
  • Submit SAT or ACT scores
  • Submit recommendation letters
  • Show your portfolio

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What are the Best Fashion Schools in Illinois?

Are you looking for the best fashion schools in Illinois? Here are the best fashion schools in Illinois and some information about them:

1. College of DuPage

A student can acquire the knowledge and abilities required to create a fashion product from conception to completion by earning a degree in fashion design. Careers in the fashion business can range from designing clothing to working as an entry-level modification specialists. Many of our graduates continue on to 4-year colleges to earn their bachelor’s degrees. A minimum of 64 credits must be completed for this degree in general education, program requirements, and electives.

Students who enroll in the College of DuPage’s fashion department learn crucial entrepreneurial, merchandising, and fashion design skills. People can find a place to cultivate their creativity, learn about aesthetics, and comprehend theoretical facets of fashion design in fashion merchandising and design. 

Students develop these skills by enrolling in classes in various topics, such as CAD, clothing building, pattern making, draping, and tailoring.

Through courses on design concepts, fashion illustration, motivation, marketing and merchandising, history of costume, and textile principles, fashion majors can comprehend the significance and scope of the industry.

As of 2011, the College of DuPage offers the following degrees:

  • A.A.S. Fashion Design
  • Certificate Fashion Design
  • A.A.S. Fashion Merchandising
  • Certificate Fashion Merchandising
  • Certificate Fashion Entrepreneurship

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

Courses in clothing construction, flat pattern design, fashion illustration, history of costume, and fashion for business prepare students in fashion design, merchandising, and entrepreneurship for careers as professionals in the workforce. By participating in a fashion show developed by students, fashion majors can also improve their understanding of how fashion shows are produced.

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2. Columbia College Chicago

Fashion photography, fashion journalism, fashion entrepreneurship, fashion design, and fashion retail management are just a few of the components of the fashion industry included in the Columbia College Chicago programs in fashion design and fashion retail management. Students majoring in fashion receive a liberal arts education in a flexible setting that encourages student cooperation and hands-on learning.

As of 2011, Columbia College Chicago offers the following degrees:

  • B.F.A. Fashion Design
  • B.A. Fashion Business
  • B.A. Fashion Design

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

All junior or senior-level students are expected to do an internship. Interns frequently land jobs at prestigious fashion magazines and big-name national retailers.

Students participating in the Florence study abroad program offered by Columbia College Chicago through American Intercontinental University will increase their understanding of fashion design and retail management. 

Another benefit to fashion majors is networking with professional faculty members specializing in service learning, textile surface design, small business consulting, and cultural attire.

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3. Dominican University

The apparel and merchandising department’s primary objective is to help students develop their creative thinking capacity while allowing them to learn about the theoretical and aesthetic aspects of clothing and fashion. To train students to be ethical and humane professionals in the fashion industry, the fashion program works to instill these values in them. Various courses are available at Dominican University to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to the fashion industry.

As of 2011, Dominican University offers the following degrees:

  • B.A. Apparel Design: Fashion Development/ Surface Design/ Dress and Textile Studies Option
  • B.A. Apparel Merchandising

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

All Senior or Junior level students must complete an internship program. Major national retail businesses are where most internships are placed. Studying abroad in Paris, London, Ghana, Rome, Milan, Florence, or China will help students learn more about fashion design and clothing.

Professional faculty members with expertise in topics like originality in clothes design, cultural facets of wear and textiles, and artisan sustainability are accessible for networking on campus.

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4. Illinois State University

Students enrolled in Illinois State University’s garment design, and merchandising programs are prepared for careers in various worldwide textile, apparel, and merchandising industries, including fashion trend analysis, production creation, promotion, distribution, wholesale, and retail.

Attending fashion tours abroad in Florence, London, and Paris or off-campus in the US in New York and Los Angeles can help fashion students deepen their understanding of clothing, design, and retailing.

As of 2011, Illinois State University offers the following degrees:

  • B.A. Apparel Design
  • B.S. Apparel Merchandising
  • B.A. Apparel Merchandising
  • B.S. Apparel Design

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

The junior or senior-level internship program is required for all garment merchandising and apparel design majors.

Most interns participating in the Internship of Dreams Program are often placed with large national retail companies.

Fashion students can study abroad through Illinois State University’s twice-yearly tour to London, New York, and Los Angeles inside the US. 

Students have access to networking opportunities and specialized knowledge from professional faculty members in various fashion, design, and garment-related fields, such as management and consumer behavior, research methodologies, apparel product development, and social responsibility.

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5. International Academy of Design and Technology—Chicago

The International Academy of Design and Technology—Fashion Chicago’s design and merchandising management program adopts a thorough approach to design and management, giving students a chance to work on original projects that incorporate all phases of design or management, from conceptualization to consumer analysis.

A general business education with a concentration on fashion merchandising is provided to majors in merchandise management, preparing them for careers in merchandising, management, or as entrepreneurs.

As of 2011, the International Academy of Design and Technology—Chicago offers the following degrees:

  • B.F.A. Fashion Design
  • A.A.S. Fashion Design
  • A.A.S. Merchandising Management

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

All students must complete a senior-level internship program. Students majoring in fashion design and merchandising can also better understand their professions by taking part in an American Intercontinental University study abroad program for credit, which offers fashion programs in London and Paris. 

For more information on various facets of fashion design and merchandising management, such as fashion design construction, merchandising, and fashion show production, students can get in touch with expert faculty members.

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6. International Academy of Design and Technology—Schaumburg

The fashion department at the International Academy of Design and Technology—Schaumburg offers individuals the chance to gain a broader education by taking business, complex design, and construction courses with specialty fabrics, manufacturing, quality assurance, entrepreneurship, and original design collections. 

This is in addition to instructing students in design and construction fundamentals. Fashion majors develop marketable skills in computer-generated design, pattern drafting, and product data management using the most recent technologies. Students can combine several academic programs to design a curriculum that best suits their interests.

As of 2011, the International Academy of Design and Technology—Schaumburg offers the following degrees:

  • B.F.A. Fashion Design

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

Before graduating, all senior-level majors must complete an internship program. Students can participate in an InterContinental University study abroad program to gain practical fashion design expertise.

Additionally, fashion students can network with qualified professors with merchandising, fashion show production, and fashion design construction expertise.

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7. Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s textile, clothing, and merchandising curriculum aims to give students the information and abilities necessary for jobs in fashion merchandising in the apparel textile industry.

The socioeconomic aspects of product merchandising, commercial skills, and a solid understanding of textiles and apparel are all imparted to students.

As of 2011, Northern Illinois University offers the following degrees:

  • B.S. Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

Every senior or junior majoring in fashion must complete an internship program. Interns frequently land jobs at well-known national retail businesses in and outside Chicago. The Northern Illinois University Study Abroad Program is available to students who want to participate in a study abroad program.

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8. Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s fashion department aims to provide aspiring fashion industry professionals with a foundational education in design and merchandising.

The fashion program’s design and merchandising specialties allow students to develop employable skills and knowledge in a collaborative setting.

These subject areas complement a foundational curriculum created to give students a solid academic foundation for success in the fashion business.

Students should develop strong management abilities because the fashion design and merchandising curriculum is fast-paced, with frequent assignments and deadlines, and they will work on several projects simultaneously.

As of 2011, Southern Illinois University Carbondale offers the following degrees:

  • B.S. Fashion Design
  • B.S. Fashion Merchandising

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

Majors in fashion merchandising are needed to complete internships. Interns typically work for well-known national retail chains.

Students can also receive practical knowledge by participating in the study abroad program for fashion merchandising, design, or similar subjects offered by Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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9. Western Illinois University

The Western Illinois University fashion merchandising program trains students for careers in the fashion merchandising business, which offers more job options than fashion design.

Students pursue various courses to get ready for employment in merchandising, including an introduction to fashion design, as well as topics like social/psychological elements of clothing, costume history, visual merchandising, global fashion concerns, and buying.

As of 2011, Western Illinois University offers the following degrees:

  • B.S. Fashion Merchandising

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

Senior-year internship programs are a requirement for all majors. Previous interns typically found jobs at prestigious fashion journals and major national retail chains.

Students may also benefit from the study abroad program at Western Illinois University, which provides on-campus counselors to assist students in organizing journeys with transferable courses.

Students currently have the chance to network with qualified professors specializing in retail, marketing, entrepreneurship, and textiles.

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10. William Rainey Harper College

The creative and technical facets of the fashion industry are taught to students of fashion design and merchandising.

Industrial sewing techniques, weaving, patternmaking, illustration, CAD, Textiles, and Fashion Arts are highlighted in the design curriculum.

Promotions, forecasts, visual merchandising, marketing, and retail merchandising are just a few topics that majors in merchandising thoroughly understand.

As of 2011, William Rainey Harper College offers the following degrees:

  • A.A. Fashion Design
  • A.A. Fashion Merchandising

A B.S. degree typically takes four years to complete, an M.S. degree often takes two years, and a Ph.D. program typically takes two or more years.

Students can go on tailored travels and participate in a study abroad program American Intercontinental University offers. To earn their degree, fashion design and merchandising students must complete an internship program. 

In the past, interns have frequently been hired by design and manufacturing firms in the Chicago area. Graduates of the fashion design and merchandising program at William Rainey Harper College usually go on to complete bachelor’s degrees at public and private colleges or enter the workforce.

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What are the Fashion Schools in Chicago, Illinois?

A list of Chicago area schools offering degree programs in fashion design, fashion marketing, fashion merchandising, and more include:

  • Columbia College Chicago
  • International Academy of Design and Technology—Chicago

What are the Fashion Design Schools in Illinois?

Are you prepared to launch a new profession as a fashion designer? If so, the first step is enrolling in an Illinois fashion design school. You can choose eleven schools, most of which are in or around Chicago. With a great application, you have a decent chance of being accepted into the program of your choice, given the average acceptance rate of 64%.

A bachelor’s degree program in fashion design is the most accessible in Illinois. You can expect to complete these 120–135 credit programs in four to five years if you attend class full-time.

To begin, you must enroll in both classroom-based courses and those that include sewing and design work. You can be required to take lessons in introduction to textiles, fashion design principles, and technology in fashion design, among others. 

A class on Special Topics in Fashion Design is one of the unique educational options that some institutions, like Dominican University, provide. Two additional years of full-time study are required for a master’s degree, which covers a considerably more in-depth examination of the fashion industry.

The fashion design schools in Illinois include:

  • College of DuPage
  • Columbia College-Chicago
  • Dominican University
  • Harper College

What are Fashion Merchandising Schools in Illinois?

A crucial component of the fashion industry is fashion merchandising. Fashion merchandisers act as a middleman to meet the needs of fashion designers and retail shoppers.

Attend one of the seven fashion colleges in Illinois to get started on this exciting career. These seven institutions all grant bachelor’s degrees, and two also grant master’s degrees.

However, you must complete business, marketing, and fashion design classes if you’re a fashion merchandising student. You can be required to take lessons in consumer behavior, merchandise planning, and merchandise management strategies, among others.

You could be required to perform an internship or study abroad as part of your degree. These encounters will probably lead you to Chicago, where there is a prominent fashion community.

The fashion merchandising schools in Illinois are:

  • International Academy of Design and Technology-Chicago
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago
  • Triton College


Academic excellence played a vital role in the selection of our list of fashion schools in Illinois. Try your best to utilize this article to its fullest extent. I hope this article should resolve your questions and puzzles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any age limit for fashion design in Illinois?

No, there is no age limit.

How long does it take to study fashion in Illinois?

It takes about four years.

Is fashion design school in Illinois worth it?

Yes, it is.

Is it difficult to study fashion design in Illinois?

Fashion design is not an easy course to study.



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