Pennsylvania is home to some of the best fashion schools in the country.
With two Ivy League institutions and several other highly regarded universities, the Keystone State is an excellent choice for fashion students looking to take the next step in their education.
While many fashion schools focus on the technical aspects of the industry, including pattern making, sewing, and design, others approach the field from a more interdisciplinary perspective.
That blend of practical and theoretical knowledge gives fashion students a unique advantage when entering the professional world, as they're better prepared to solve problems and make important design decisions.
Here, we've compiled a list of the best fashion schools in Pennsylvania, based on each program's placement in the U.S. News list of national fashion design programs.
As part of Drexel University's arts-focused School of Arts and Sciences, the Fashion Design and Merchandising program provides students with a unique, practical perspective on the industry.
Rather than diving into the nitty-gritty of sewing and pattern making, this program focuses on the business side of fashion, teaching students about marketing, retailing, and styling.
Through the program's courses in fashion theory and culture, students learn how fashion has impacted society throughout history, as well as how it influences our present day.
That knowledge gives students a fuller understanding of the industry they're entering, giving them a better grasp of how their design decisions impact the world around them.
Drexel also offers a unique co-op option for fashion design majors, in which students spend their junior year at the Academy of Arts, Management, and Communications living and studying abroad.
Thomas Jefferson University
As part of the Presidential Class of 2018, Tanya Naidu has already begun making her mark on the fashion world. As a double major in fashion merchandising and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in her undergraduate years, Naidu went on to earn her MFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
She currently works as the global community ambassador for People Tree, an ethical fashion brand based in the U.K. that was founded in 2004 by Abigail Lewis. In this role, Naidu works to build a global community that fosters change and awareness about environmental and social issues through fashion.
In addition to her work with People Tree, Naidu continues to work with various brands and companies, including Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Lane Bryant. She also has experience in advertising and marketing, having worked with J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather.
Jefferson's integrated curriculum and multidisciplinary approach prepare students to think critically and to understand the connections between fashion and society, which is a unique advantage compared to other schools on this list. The school's Fashion, Arts, and Culture Studies major requires students to take courses in both the humanities and the arts, as well as core fashion courses. This approach gives students a well-rounded understanding of the industry and prepares them for a variety of career opportunities.
Lehigh Carbon Community College
As part of Lehigh Carbon Community College, the Fashion and Arts Academy allows students to explore their interests in the arts through a variety of courses.
The Fashion and Arts Academy offers two associate degrees: an associate in arts and an associate in applied science.
Through the associate in arts degree, students gain a wide-ranging understanding of the world, taking courses in various subjects including fashion, art, and more.
Those pursuing the associate in applied science degree gain technical expertise, studying fashion design and various art subjects.
Along with courses, students participate in extracurricular activities, such as the annual fashion show.
Through the Fashion and Arts Academy, students gain the knowledge and experience needed to succeed in further fashion education programs or jump right into a career in the field.
Located in Reading, Pennsylvania, Albright College is a private school with nearly 4,000 students. It has a long history of fashion and art instruction, with its Fashion Design degree program having started in 1972.
To earn their bachelor's degree in Fashion Design at Albright, students must complete four years of study and 128 credits. In their first two years, they'll take foundational courses in math, art, design, and fashion history. In their final two years, they'll get hands-on experience in the school's Fashion Lab and begin applying what they've learned in related courses, such as patternmaking and apparel construction.
Albright's Fashion Lab is a 17,000-square-foot space for students to practice their trade. It features a showroom, a classroom, and a retail store run by students. Students in the program also get to participate in community outreach programs, such as a partnership with the Women's Center of Central PA to create fashion items for victims of domestic violence.
Located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Harcum College offers a variety of majors for aspiring fashion designers.
As part of the Harcum College Arts and Sciences program, the Fashion Design major focuses on the technical and creative aspects of the field, preparing students for a career as a fashion designer.
Along with a solid understanding of apparel construction and a range of design techniques, graduates of the program leave with the technical skills necessary to operate computer software and design equipment.
Students gain hands-on experience through the use of state-of-the-art equipment in the college's Kathryn W. Cook Foundation School of Fashion and Arts Technology.
Harcum's Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, campus also features a unique learning environment specifically designed to promote cross-disciplinary study.
Through the use of “learning by doing,” the school encourages students to study various topics in the same frame as they would in a professional setting.
Through this approach, students get a chance to apply the theory they learn in classes to actual projects, including fashion shows, production, and more.
Moore College of Art & Design
Established in 1848, Moore College of Art & Design is one of the oldest art schools in the country.
Located in Philadelphia, PA, Moore specializes in fashion design, allowing students to explore clothing, fibers, and textiles in depth.
For those looking to make a difference in the world through their clothing, the environmental fashion emphasis is particularly noteworthy.
Along with a regular fashion design degree, Moore also offers a number of degrees across the arts, including game design and toy design.
Moore students have many opportunities to showcase their work, with yearly fashion shows and a bi-annual student art exhibition.
The school also provides plenty of opportunities for students to collaborate with each other, whether in the classroom or as part of the student organizations.
Moore's student groups include the Experimental Fashion Club, which aims to bring together people with various backgrounds and interests in experimental fashion.