Discover the Age Requirement for Attending Fashion School

Passionate about fashion and considering a career in the industry? Fashion school may be the perfect path for you.

In this article, we will explore what fashion school is, the requirements to attend, the different types of fashion schools available, the benefits of attending, potential career paths after graduating, the average age of fashion school students, and whether you can attend at a younger age.

If you’re curious about fashion education, keep reading to find out more!

Key Takeaways:

  • You must meet certain requirements, including age, education, and a portfolio, to attend fashion school.
  • Fashion schools offer hands-on learning, networking opportunities, and access to industry professionals.
  • While the average age of fashion school students is around 26, there are options for younger students, such as junior/pre-college and summer programs.
  • What Is Fashion School?

    Fashion School refers to schools and programs that specialize in fashion design, fashion marketing, and textile science. These programs provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to design, make, and market clothing and related accessories and materials. Particularly at the post-secondary level, fashion schools are academic and training programs that can issue diplomas, degrees, and lay certification.

    What Are the Requirements to Attend Fashion School?

    To attend a fashion school in the US, according to the Niche site that assesses the academic side of higher education in the US, applicants should ensure they meet the following requirements before applying to any fashion schools:

    • High school diploma or equivalent
    • Minimum 2.5 GPA (though this may vary depending on the specific program)
    • Minimum Scores required in SAT, ACT, IELTS, TOEFL, PTEA
    • Transcripts to show work in math, English, lab science, and foreign language would be beneficial)
    • Guidance counselor recommendation or statement of purpose
    • Portfolio of work
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    • Statement of Purpose to explain a bit to admissions why you are pursuing a major in the art and design field (optional)

    In most cases, international applicants do not have different requirements, with some caveats. International students who are required to take an English language proficiency exam like the TOEFL are exempt from this submission if the language of instruction in secondary school for four years has been entirely in English. The University of Fashion states on their platform that there are no age requirements to pursue a degree in fashion design, though many factors that are unique to the individual may determine chance of success, e.g., personal investment for international students and the ability to cover tuition, whether they are willing to adapt to education in the host country, etc.

    Age Requirements

    There is no minimum or average age for attending fashion school. There is a maximum age in some cases. Refer to the table above, as some of the fashion schools have specific age restrictions.

    If you met the requirements for acceptance at these ages, you could apply successfully starting with at least an application for a September class date with a start date in 2022. Acceptance, especially in Bachelor’s and Master’s programs, is usually much more competitive and requires a more mature adult approach.

    Education Requirements

    The education requirements for fashion school may vary, as they are primarily determined by the recruiting institution itself. For entrance to fashion design schools such as those shown in this article, traditional colleges and universities will typically require graduating from high school and submission of marks from the national graduation examination. Additional portfolios, exams, and materials will be required, depending on the school and the country.

    For entrance to fashion design schools such as the Global Fashion Management courses at Paris School of Business, Solent University in Southampton, or Raffles Institute in Milan, Italy, traditional colleges and universities typically require one of the following: A levels (2 A’s and 3 B’s in academic subjects -1/1 year of study), International Baccalaureate with a minimum of 26 points, International Foundation in Fashion or study related field with at least a merit, Undergraduate degree in a related field, Second year Pathways Diploma related to the field, Direct entry with at least 2 years work experience in the field of interest.

    Please research specific schools of interest like Shenkar College of Engineering and Design School of Design in Israel, or Politecnico di Milano in Italy, to learn the education requirements at the places you are considering.

    Portfolio Requirements

    Fashion schools around the world require prospective students to submit portfolios during the application process. Case studies of students applying to fashion programs in various countries were examined to determine the portfolio requirements when applying to fashion schools. The studies are as follows:

    1. Academy of Art University in the US: which requires 8-12 pieces. They recommend that 2 of them be fashion sketches or illustrations and 6 pieces of garment construction that demonstrates a range of design ideas and techniques. They want them to represent creative exploration and original thinking and will place more importance on those that show a unique voice.
    2. London College of Fashion in the UK: requires a maximum of 21 pages which can contain a range of media. Examples of pages include samples, sketchbook pages, and research pages. Successful portfolios should demonstrate sustained investigation, creativity, and originality.
    3. Beckman’s College of Design in Sweden: requires 50 items and recommends the same mix of media and materials. Their fashion design program is particularly focused on sustainability and requires that applicants submit a 4000-word thesis on sustainability and its relevance for fashion.

    These examples illustrate typical amounts and areas of documentation required when applying to fashion programs across the world. As noted, Beckman’s College of Design in Sweden is unique in requiring the submission of an academic thesis. In general, fashion schools require a mix of media, a broad array of styles and categories, and evidence of original thinking. Under-18 students looking to apply to fashion schools should be especially careful to demonstrate their ability to contribute creatively to the program despite their lesser experience of the fashion world. This is crucial since for admissions at the undergraduate level, schools do not necessarily require digitally altering photographs. They prefer that the portfolio itself demonstrates that students are able to work with a wide range of media.

    What Are the Different Types of Fashion Schools?

    The three major types of fashion school are diploma or certificate programs, four-year bachelor’s programs, and two-year master’s programs. Coursework at diploma programs lasts from a few weeks to a few months. Bachelor’s degree programs are usually longer, from three to six years. Master’s degree programs typically take two years. The quality and competitiveness of programs do not always match their length, as there are varying levels of difficulty and qualification associated with each.

    Traditional Fashion Schools

    Typically, you must be at least 18 years old to attend a traditional fashion school. They offer degree programs that explore in-depth the broad range of disciplines that make up the fashion industry, and as a result are similar in educational structure to non-fashion degree granting institutions.

    Fashion schools generally require the same level of academic readiness as a normal university curriculum. However, there are numerous part and full-time vocational fashion courses available for those in Australia, the UK, Latin America, Thailand, and more.

    Online Fashion Schools

    Online fashion schools have different age requirements depending on the program you choose. For most accredited online high schools or colleges that have fashion design programs and degrees, students must have graduated from high school and be at least 18 years old.

    The Parsons School of Design has a foundation program for high school students where the subjects studied are art and design oriented with a focus on developing portfolios for higher education. Requirements are they must be 16.5 years of age by the admissions deadline, are current high school sophomores or juniors, have taken the PSAT, SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or IELTS but not necessary SAT or ACT results. If you are enrolled in an public, private, or charter online high school with a high school-level art and design course, you can pursue fashion-related courses from international organizations.

    Specialty Fashion Schools

    Some fashion programs, such as Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and Academy of Art University, are not full universities but focus solely on fashion design and related topics. These are technically specialty schools that cater to fashion careers. At these speciality schools, private portfolio-based admissions process takes students coming directly from high school as soon as they are out of high school. However, these institutions do not offer as broad an educational experience.

    What Are the Benefits of Attending Fashion School?

    The benefits of attending fashion school include the focussing on the art of designing and marketing clothing that you can’t find in other schools, the chance to learn from industry experts, combining your studies with like-minded artists, and the chance to build an art portfolio to aid in your job search.

    Focused Programs. The core of fashion schools is the practical application of fashion design and marketing. Focused Field of Study. Fashion institutes can prepare aspiring designers for a variety of careers. Real-World Experience. Fashion design schools often employ industry-experienced professors and professionals (Quora, What are the benefits of studying in a fashion design institute, 2020). Work with Other Artists. Working around and close to artists from creative disciplines can reveal more about the complexity and possibilities of art, fine-tuning your aesthetic sense. Broad Artistic Skills. By attending these schools, students get a safe environment to really pursue a passion for creating art, beyond garments, according to co-founder of The Grounds Abigail Garbett.

    Hands-on Learning Experience

    A hands-on learning experience in fashion school gives fashion students real-world experience in their field. Sharing your fashion skills with your peers adds to the learning experience for all students and this type of collaboration often calls for more practical knowledge and skills. According to Keisha Franck, founder of Kim Dave at Miss K College of Fashion, younger students learn soft skills, while older students tend to use formal education to bond and to learn leadership skills.

    Networking Opportunities

    Networking opportunities refer to the chances to connect with people in one’s field, and build long-term career and business relationships, according to Dr. Daisy Lovelace, a sociologist with expertise in workplace innovation and change. Prospective students can connect with professors online and in person to learn more about the course curriculum. Professors can also connect students with alumni and others in the fashion industry who can provide advice and feedback to aspiring students.

    Access to Industry Professionals

    Not all institutions provide the same level of access to industry professionals. Turkish private university Ozyegin and Italian school Polimoda, for example, both provide ample opportunities for interaction with industry professionals – at certain points in the program at Ozyegin and throughout the program at Polimoda. In contrast, the relatively new institution Raffles lacks such opportunities for undergraduate students but provides plentiful internships during the course.

    What Are the Potential Career Paths After Graduating from Fashion School?

    The potential career paths after graduating from fashion school include creative/designer roles, technical roles such as pattern makers and supply chain specialists, visual merchandising, education, and roles in the beauty and accessories industries. Senior and managerial routes include product, buying, and brand management, head of creative/brand, and retail chief executives. Entry to these careers is extremely competitive, and the chances of snagging a respected creative or management post right after graduating are slim. After graduation, it is likely that jobs in retail, wholesale, or online fast fashion retailers will be used to gain initial experience. Note though that fast fashion is heavily polluting, unethical, and uses employees in poor working conditions.

    Fashion Designer

    A fashion designer is a person who creates the visual expression of apparel, including its fabric, patterns, its cut, style, color, and silhouette. The fashion designer has an understanding of how the fabrics of apparel must complement the garments form, description, and production process. Along with trends in fabrics and colors, they should have cultural awareness and general knowledge of moving works of art and design; moreover, they should be able to forecast developments in design and have leadership and supervisory abilities. The median pay for fashion designers in the US is $75,810 per year according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Fashion Merchandiser

    Fashion merchandisers spend more time at the business end of fashion, predicting trends, choosing suppliers, pricing products, and supervising shop windows.

    According to GCU they conceptualize advertising and purchasing programs for various retail outlets. As opposed to the job of a buyer, located between merchandising, sales and marketing, fashion buyers have to carefully track individual styles of clothes and their variations and determine the latest consumer tastes, while fashion merchandisers generally track overall consumer buying trends for particular styles and fashions.

    Fashion Stylist

    Fashion stylists are responsible for preparing outfits and accessories for advertising campaigns, music videos, TV shows, films, editorials, and events, selecting clothing from designer showrooms, fashion shows, cultural shops, and in some cases high-street shops.

    They are responsible not only for the selection of clothes but also for the overall visual identity of the person or the matter for which they are styling for and often work with advertising, TV production, media, and professional photographers. Fashion stylists do not need a bachelor’s degree but are sometimes required to attend fashion school or beauty college.

    Fashion Buyer

    A fashion buyer is responsible for the development, buying, and sales strategies for a retailer within the fashion industry. They are continuously reviewing and preplanning product requirements based on company targeted budgets, sales, and overall financial goals for a specific period as well as individual items and collections. They regularly visit fashion showrooms, trade shows, and designer runways to be on top of every new trend. To be successful as a fashion buyer, a bachelors degree in fashion merchandising or retail management is required for entry into the junior-level range of this career, and a masters in Business Management or an MBA can open up lucrative opportunities for graduates.

    English teenager Dylan Jones chose an 18-month apprenticeship at Liberty Department Store to become a trainee fashion buyer with the hope of eventually securing an entry-level fashion buying job. According to a 2019 British Fashion Council report, 13% of board members in the industry was between 16-24 years old. The age cutoff of 24 if retiring from the fashion industry can especially make becoming a fashion buyer an attractive career for the youth.

    What Is the Average Age of Fashion School Students?

    The average age of fashion school students varies based on the degree being pursued, with older ages more appropriate for higher degrees to ensure practical experience is compatible with the knowledge base. The average age for an undergraduate degree at fashion school ranges from 19 to 21 years of age.

    The average age for a master’s degree at fashion school is 26 years of age. The age range for a doctorate degree at fashion school is diverse but individuals typically have 7 plus years of industry experience combined with a related master’s degree. The maximum age to go to fashion school is the same as studying any other higher education, with no specific maximum age. This means anyone of any age can go to fashion school if they meet the entry requirements.

    Can You Attend Fashion School at a Younger Age?

    Some high schools have fashion design courses in their art departments, and many schools that specialize in the arts or prepare students for higher education have dedicated fashion design programs. Many arts high schools and preparatory schools have classes that are basic introductions to the field, still, according to the NWSA, the choice of dedicated college programs for students under 18 are limited and only the NWSA is regularly accepting such students at that age.

    Junior/Pre-College Programs

    Junior/pre-college programs offered by fashion universities typically accept students at age 16 or 17 who are in their penultimate/high-school senior year or have already graduated. The British School of Fashion at Glasgow Caledonian University offers Fashion Business with a foundation program for 16-year-olds or younger to help them develop the necessary skills. This pre-college maturity benchmark reflects the same requirements as EU law regarding working in hazardous occupations like factories where clothes are made. as well as similar laws in North America and the Specific Countries Women’s Health Stripes non-profit women and girls safety guidelines.

    Summer Programs

    Summer programs are short courses designed for students as an introductory initiation to fashion education. They are suitable for the pre-high school age group, typically lasting two to four weeks and providing an overview of the fashion industry including various creative and technical aspects. Curriculum content can include design sketching, magazine layout, garment creation and communication with artists, among other topics. Fashion summer programs note that they offer a fun environment with less stress on students than the typical year-long activities, which is both educational and recreational.

    These programs exist as film programs for kids as well; the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) state they offer courses that are tailored for a younger and different audience. As of August 2021, the FIDM offered one-week summer classes in their Visual Communications Department in film and television for students aged 10-12 and 13-15. While having experience in your chosen field on your application gives you an edge over your competition, when you are too young to have any experience, a summer program is a good way to demonstrate your dedication to pursuing your passion.

    High School Dual Enrollment Programs

    A few high school students over the age of 13 enroll in college dual enrollment programs, which allow them to earn college and high school credit at the same time. These programs are administered in conjunction with accredited colleges and training institutions and are structured a little differently depending on the institution.

    Their ultimate goal, however, is to provide younger high school students the opportunity to undertake college-level courses or DIAD courses to explore if a career in fashion is truly to their liking. DIAD is a dual credit program for high school students who want to get a jump start on their college degree while earning credit that satisfies high school graduation requirements. Both programs offer a broad range of approved colleges and training institutions. DIAD certificates cost between USD 1400 and USD 3500. This includes tuition to the college, courseware membership, career-focused clubs, and extracurricular activities. DIAD also provides high school students with a trial membership to DramaLab, a virtual world where students can learn about literature and obtain extra credits. The average age for dual enrollment is around 16 years old. Individual qualification requirements determine the absolute minimum.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How old do you have to be to go to fashion school?

    The minimum age requirement for most fashion schools is 18 years old. However, some schools may accept students who are 17 years old with parental consent. It is best to check with the specific school you are interested in attending for their age requirements.

    What if I am younger than the minimum age requirement?

    If you are younger than the minimum age requirement, you may still be able to attend fashion school by participating in pre-college programs or workshops. These programs are designed for high school students and give them an opportunity to experience fashion school before they meet the age requirement.

    Is there a maximum age limit for attending fashion school?

    No, there is no maximum age limit for attending fashion school. As long as you meet the academic and application requirements, you can attend fashion school at any age.

    Do I need to have prior fashion experience to attend fashion school?

    No, you do not need to have prior fashion experience to attend fashion school. However, having a passion for fashion and some basic knowledge can be helpful in the application process and during your studies.

    Are there any academic requirements for fashion school?

    Yes, most fashion schools require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission. Some schools may also require certain coursework in subjects such as art or design. It is important to check the specific school’s requirements before applying.

    Can I attend fashion school if I have a different academic background?

    Yes, many fashion schools welcome students from diverse academic backgrounds. While some schools may prefer students with a background in art or design, others may value students with a business or marketing background. It ultimately depends on the school and their specific program requirements.

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