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Online Bachelors Degrees in Fashion, Retail & Merchandising

Online fashion merchandising bachelor degree programs examine how to blend the concept of design with business know-how. Programs cover how to move products from makers to buyers to consumers through techniques such as well-designed windows; well-laid out stores; or expert marketing, planning, and strategy. 

What Will I Study in Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree Programs?

You will study general education, business, and retail or fashion when you earn a bachelor degree in fashion merchandising. Let's look at some more details.

General Education for an Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree

For two years, you will study everything from English to sociology to history to math. You will pursue core and elective credits and study a broad range of subjects. Some of the general areas you will explore may include:

  • English
  • Math
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities
  • Science
  • Technology

Programs seek to develop students' relevant skill sets through the general education curriculum. For example, classes may help students develop:

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Solution-oriented thinking skills

Cultural and global awareness might also be a good asset to have in order to fully participate in today's global marketplace.

The Business Component of a Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree

A key part of a bachelor degree in fashion merchandising is business. Some schools have students study business as part of their major. Others have students earn an associates degree in fashion and a bachelors degree in business. In the latter case, students might take fewer general education courses..

Some topics that students might study in their business core include:

  • Economics (micro and macro) and statistics
  • Financial and managerial accounting
  • Business law and ethics
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Global business
  • Business systems analysis and design
  • Human relations
  • Strategic management
  • Operations management
  • Supply chain management

Pro Tip

Blending business study with fashion is what makes it “merchandising” and “retail” and differentiates it from just fashion or design.

Major Study for a Retail or Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree

In the “major” part of your degree program, you will focus on the intersection of fashion and business. Here are some sample classes you may take along with the benefits of such course of study.

  • Taking an intro to fashion merchandising course will help you see the field broadly.
  • Courses in subjects like textiles and color theory will help you know the art of the industry.
  • Merchandise planning and management strategy courses will help you think of how to buy, sell, and exchange fashion and merchandise.
  • Looking at the history of fashion will have you consider how fashion and retail evolved. You may study the history of costumes, textiles, high fashion, or other subjects depending on your program.
  • Sustainability in fashion or retail courses give you a view of how retail and fashion meet the modern needs of the environment and communties. 
  • Fashion and retail research and forecasting classes help you see and participate in the future of retail and fashion.
  • Fashion strategy and supply chain management courses help you learn how to move the many pieces of the retail and fashion industry.
  • Courses in retail sales promotion, visual merchandising, and consumer behavior help you find ways to sell beautiful, useful, and fun products.  
  • Classes may also focus on how to understand consumer behavior, or how buyers and consumers shop at different times throughout the year.

As you can see, most of what you will study blends business, fashion, and retail. That is the point of fashion and retail merchandising. Business meets fashion and retail and helps both move throughout the world. While fashion might be your passion—helping items move from hand to hand is your performance goal.

What Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degrees Are Available?

When you earn a retail or fashion merchandising bachelor degree online, you add some new letters to your resume. Typically, a B.A. or a B.S., or a Bachelor of Art or Bachelor of Science. Either degree type might be in fashion, retail, or merchandising. However, B.A.s might focus more on fashion, and B.S.s might focus more on business, especially management. One is more concerned with the art of fashion and retail merchandising, the other is more focused on the business of it. Which is right for you?

You might love the art of retail and fashion merchandising if you have moments like these:

  • You walk by store windows and dream of designing a better one.  
  • You browse a store and think of great ways to lay it out.
  • You travel and see unique goods and know you could share them more broadly.

You might love the science of the field if your mind wanders to these places:

  • You think about how to put textiles from Africa into the hands of consumers in the U.S.
  • You brainstorm how retail systems and infrastructure might be made more “green.”
  • You see ways to improve the process of making, selling, and buying things.

These are just some hints for finding your way to a B.A. or B.S. Or, you might find you love it all. Luckily for you, this field, by nature, involves both art and science. Whether you earn a B.A. or B.S., you will study both design and business. Some programs simply cover one more than the other. Browse program details to see what works best for you. Pursue the degree that gets your creative juices flowing.

Consider This!

Some people mix up the meanings of merchandising and retail. What is the difference? One promotes, the other sells.  

  • Merchandising is the action of promoting goods. This could happen at the retail or wholesale level.
  • Retail is the action of selling goods. More so, retail means selling goods for use or to consume. It does not always include wholesale.

As you earn an Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree, you learn about both. B.A. degrees might focus more on merchandising. B.S. degrees might focus more on retail. It depends, of course, on the school.

Beyond B.A.s and B.S.s: What Are My Options?

That depends on the school and Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree program. You might earn:

  • A Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising Management
  • A Bachelor of Science in Merchandising Management
  • A Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising Management
  • A Bachelor of Arts in Service Management with a Retail Management Specialization
  • A Bachelor of Science in Business Management (after earning an associates degree in fashion)
  • A fashion design bachelor degree (B.A. or B.S.) with an emphasis in business

These are just some of many options. Each school will offer its own version of a program that blends art and science, design and business. Try on your options to see what fits best.

How Long Will It Take to Earn My Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree?

Earning a bachelor degree in fashion and retail management or merchandising generally requires four years of full-time study for most students. When classes are taken online, some programs allow you to finish faster. Others allow you to go at your own comfortable pace. However, four years of full-time study is the norm.  

What takes so long? Your Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree will have two components: general education and a major. Most schools devote two years of courses to each. This allows you to study subjects broadly and retail and fashion merchandising specifically. Note that some schools have you earn an associates degree and a bachelors degree. In those cases, the associates degree will be in fashion, and the bachelors degree in business. Even then, you will have an option to finish in four years total.

What Can I Do with a Bachelors Degree in Fashion Merchandising?

This is the big question, right? Not only do you want to do what you love, you want to make a living. Let’s briefly explore what you might do with your Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree.

Who Earns a Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree?

You, that’s who! And also people in roles like these:

  • Visual merchandiser
  • Assistant buyer
  • Product developer
  • Marketing and promo manager
  • Merchandise coordinator
  • Account manager
  • Merchandise planner
  • Showroom manager
  • Manufacturing representative
  • Research analyst

What Can I Earn in the Field of Fashion Merchandising?

What you earn depends on your specific degree, role, and employer. Salary even depends on your location. We don't know if you're looking to be based in Milan or New York City. However, we can give you a sense of what you might earn in the industry overall.

  • Advertising, marketing, and promotions managers earned a median annual wage of $127,560 in 2016. The BLS predicts this occupation will grow by nine percent between 2014 and 2024.i
  • Buyers and purchasing agents earned a median annual wage of $60,700 in 2016. That’s $29.18 per hour. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts this occupation will grow by two percent between 2014 and 2024.ii
  • Market Research Analysts earned a median annual wage of $62,560 in 2016. That’s $30.08 per hour. The BLS predicts this occupation will grow quite quickly at 19 percent between 2014 and 2024.iii
  • Fashion designers earned a median annual wage of $65,170 in 2016. That’s $31.33 per hour. The BLS predicts this occupation will grow by three percent between 2014 and 2024.iv
  • Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a median annual wage of $60,530 in 2016. The BLS predicts this occupation will grow by seven percent between 2014 and 2024.v

Today Is the Day! 

Online Fashion Merchandising Bachelor Degree programs exist so you can follow your dreams. They provide a chance to make a career of your passion. Join your love for fashion with the art and science of business to enjoy a fab education. Apply your knowhow to a career in a great field. The time is now!

Whether you want to create stunning displays, put together fall collections, increase product production, raise sales, or otherwise put more fashion in more people’s hands, schools have options for you!

Explore them here! Click on school and program listings on this page. By doing so, you can learn many things. You can see a school’s accreditation status. You can find out what it offers by way of online programming. You can learn about the program itself. And you can get general information. You can even request more information, right through our site.


i. www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm ii. www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/buyers-and-purchasing-agents.htm iii. www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm iv. www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm v. www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/wholesale-and-manufacturing-sales-representatives.htm i. www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm ii. www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/buyers-and-purchasing-agents.htm iii. www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm iv. www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/fashion-designers.htm v. www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/wholesale-and-manufacturing-sales-representatives.htm

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