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The apparel, merchandising, and textiles major integrates an understanding of design, textiles, business, and retail merchandising — the necessary components in bringing products from concept to consumer.
A set of core courses provide a foundation in principles of aesthetics, business, textiles, global markets, apparel production, and retail environments. The apparel, textile and fashion industries operate in a global market, making an understanding of the world economy and cultural diversity essential. Team building, communications, decision-making, and problem-solving skills are emphasized throughout the curriculum.
Majors in apparel, merchandising, and textiles can specialize in merchandising or apparel design.
Specialization tracks available
- Options in the Major
Product knowledge, combined with an understanding of consumer cultures, the process by which products are developed in the fashion industry, business principles, and the business of fashion, are the focus of the options within the major.
The merchandising option focuses on a strong business and liberal arts core. The curriculum combines product-focused courses in retailing, marketing, management, and accounting. Departmental courses in the sourcing/production, forecasting, visual merchandising, marketing, and retailing of consumer goods support this option.
The program encompasses global study of the cultural/historical, economic, and scientific aspects of the textile, apparel, and fashion industries, while fostering understanding of consumer behavior and socially responsible business practices.
The apparel design option focuses on understanding and mastery of apparel construction techniques; apparel and textile aesthetics; design; product evaluation, forecasting, and quality assessment; production of apparel goods for an identified target market; and manual and computer-aided design skills.
Courses in creativity, drawing, cultural and historical influences, international trade, and technical aspects of textiles and apparel provide preparation for students in the creative side of the fashion industry.
- Strengths of the program
- Gain valuable perspective and experience through field trips, internships, and study abroad.
- Learn apparel sizing, resource development, creative fashion design, social and psychological aspects of dress, data management tools, and technology-based information research.
- Learn from professors who are nationally and internationally recognized in apparel, merchandising, design, and textiles.
- WSU's specialized faculty educate for strong careers, industry leadership, and professional satisfaction.
- The state's apparel and textile industry is ranked third nationally in productivity, which means you have more opportunities for internships and career networking.
- WSU has the leading bachelor's and graduate programs in apparel and textiles in Washington.
- Program information
Students can choose an emphasis in apparel design or merchandising. Each option includes the program's core courses, as well as option requirements and electives. Students can individualize their expertise by exploring minors and supporting work in fine arts, business administration, marketing, international business, and communication.
Requirements for joining the program
Program requirements match those needed for admission to Washington State University, and include the University's general education requirements. Certification into the major occurs after completion of 24 credits with a GPA of 2.7 or higher.
Students interested in the apparel design option are accepted through a portfolio review process. Applications are available in the department office and need to be submitted during the spring semester of the second year. Transfer students who have completed two years of college may submit an application during the summer prior to the first semester of attendance at WSU for consideration.
- Scholarships & financial aid
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.
For all students at WSU
Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
To get all the financial help WSU can provide, start by doing these two things:
- Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration, including departmental awards.
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need. Get started here.
For agriculture majors
The College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) annually awards more than $500,000 to students. For more information, see the CAHNRS scholarship page.
- Campus organizations & activities
WSU has student chapters of two major industry associations, the International Textiles and Apparel Association (ITAA) and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC). These student-run clubs provide exploration and expansion of professional skills, service project activities, and event coordination opportunities.
Special events on campus include design and merchandising competitions, exhibitions, and the popular Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show, which displays original student apparel designs. Fashion show opportunities include apparel design, stage design, printed material design, promotion, hosting, and event management.
- Careers in apparel, merchandising, design & textiles
A degree in apparel, merchandising, design, and textiles provides a wide range of career opportunities within design, product development, merchandising, marketing, retailing, and promotion.
Common positions include:
- Apparel Designer
- Technical Designer
- Pattern Maker
- Fashion Illustrator
- Visual Merchandiser
- Brand Identity Specialist
- Sales Representative
- Retail Manager
- Textile Designer
- Textiles Specialist
- Market Analyst
- Catalog Developer
- Wardrobe Consultant
- Graphic Artist