Fashion Design & Merchandising

Kent State University’s Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising offers bachelor’s degree programs in design and merchandising.

Kent State University’s Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising and affiliated Kent State University Museum were founded through the generosity of the late Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman. Their firm, Jerry Silverman Inc., was one of the most respected and successful fashion houses on Seventh Ave. The purpose of their gift was “... to return to the fashion industry the great rewards the industry gave to us.” The school has received enthusiastic support from the fashion industry and public. Offering bachelor’s degree programs in design and merchandising, the school is committed to honoring its founders through excellence and is recognized as an important center for fashion education. Beautiful Rockwell Hall is connected to the Kent State University Museum by a three-story glass atrium. The connection is more than architectural. The museum (with more the 40,000 costumes and pieces of apparel, paintings, furniture and glass) is a significant resource. It offers students unique opportunities to study costume, fabric and gallery exhibition and serves as a cultural institution for the general public.

The school's unique resources include the TechStyleLAB, equipped with an array of digital design and production technologies, and a dedicated fashion library with nearly 4,000 print and multimedia titles. The Fashion School shares its Rockwell Hall home with the closely linked Kent State University Museum, which houses one of the largest fashion- and design-focused collections in the country, and is a short walk from the Fashion School Store in downtown Kent, a "live retail laboratory" and boutique selling faculty, student and alumni designs to Northeast Ohio.

Alumni can be found at Abraham and Straus, Barracuda, Bloomingdales, Liz Claiborne, Dillard’s, Elder Beerman, Ellen Tracy, Escada, Fossil Watches, J.C. Penney, Kaufmann’s, Lazarus, the Limited, Limited Express, Macy’s, Mary McFadden, the May Company, Parisian, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Retail Apparel Group, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Structure, Ann Taylor, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Walmart, Woolrich, Spiegel, Kmart, Tarquin, Ebker, Leslie Fay and other prestigious companies.


Admission to the school is selective. There is no application deadline, as the Fashion School has a rolling admission process; however, students are encouraged to apply early, as classes may fill. Students are encouraged to apply before Jan. 31. Freshman applicants must have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale AND a minimum ACT composite score of 21 or an SAT total score of 1060 to be considered for admission to either the fashion design or merchandising major. Transfer students with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 based on 24 college-level semester hours from an accredited institution or post-undergraduates with a cumulative grade point average of 2.75 may be considered for admission to either fashion design or merchandising. Transfer students meeting the grade point average requirement with fewer than 24 semester hours will be evaluated according to the freshman criteria.

Students who do not meet these criteria for admission will not be accepted into the fashion design or merchandising degree programs, but may be eligible for admission to the pre-fashion design and merchandising non-degree major (PFDM). As PFDM majors, students may initiate the process for declaring the fashion design or merchandising major after completing at least 12 hours of college-level coursework at Kent State University with a cumulative GPA of 2.75.

Description of Programs

Fashion Design (B.A. or B.F.A.)

The Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Fashion Design integrate conceptual, technical and production design knowledge and skills, leading to a synthesis of the design process from concept to production. These processes include color, design and trend research; technical sketching and rendered illustration; pattern-making and garment construction; analysis of appropriate fit and fabric selection; and the ability to communicate specifications for production using industry standards appropriate for specific markets. Additional coursework includes mathematics, English composition, economics, marketing and professional speaking. Fashion design majors may choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree, which emphasizes a diversity of studio practice and liberal arts experiences, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which includes a capstone thesis project in collection development.

Fashion Merchandising (B.S.)

The fashion merchandising curriculum focuses on the business and creative aspects of fashion merchandising. Competencies developed in the major include fashion theory; development and marketing of fashion goods; retail operations, management and buying; fashion forecasting and promotion; and visual merchandising and display. The focus is on recognizing and understanding the cause and effects of merchandising movement. Additional coursework includes mathematics, English composition, economics, marketing, professional speaking and minor coursework in an area of the student’s choosing. The graduate earns a Bachelor of Science degree. Fashion Merchandising majors who qualify may enroll in the combined Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising/Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Completion of both degrees can be achieved within approximately 5 1/2 years, depending on many variables.



Special Academic Experiences/ Scholarships

International And Study-away Experiences

The Fashion School offers multiple opportunities for our students to be involved in international programs. Fashion study tours, offered in Europe and Asia on a regular basis, allow participating students to earn credit while observing various facets of the industry such as fabric houses, fashion forecasting services, publishers, designers, showrooms, retail stores, buying offices, specialized markets, manufacturers and other related businesses.

The Fashion School maintains its own studio/campus locations in New York City’s garment district and in the heart of Florence, Italy. Additionally, the Fashion School has a partnership with the Paris American Academy that allows our students to enroll in Kent State courses while studying in Paris, France. There is also an exchange program with Hong Kong Polytechnic University open only to Fashion School students. All Fashion School students are encouraged to study for a semester away at one of our locations. Short-term study tours have included Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Florence, London, Milan and Paris. An approved study-away experience is required


Professional internships are required of all students in the Fashion School. Practical experience in school-approved and-supervised internships allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom. Internships also enhance employment opportunities, all while earning credit toward graduation. Students have interned in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York; in Europe; and with local businesses in northeast Ohio. 

Visiting Fashion Professionals

Leading designers, fashion executives and other industry specialists are regularly scheduled guest lecturers. The Fashion School’s Advisory Board is composed of more than 20 prominent fashion executives. The Kent State University Fashion Hall of Fame brings to the campus outstanding fashion professionals for the presentation ceremony of these prestigious awards.

Fashion Student Organizations

The Fashion Student Organization and Modista serve as pre-professional forums for students interested in furthering their knowledge of the fashion field. Seminars, lectures, a career series and presentations by fashion experts are among the regularly scheduled events of these two main student organizations in the Fashion School. As one of the largest registered student groups on campus, the Fashion Student Organization sponsors professional events consistent with the educational objectives of the school and provides the opportunity for students to develop leadership skills.

Annual Student Fashion Show

Merchandising and design classes cooperate to produce the Annual Fashion Show, a major fashion event attended by the press, industry and community. The juried show is open to all Fashion School students to submit work and is considered significant in the professional development of design students. This popular event is a capstone professional experience for senior B.F.A. fashion design students.

Scholarships and Awards

Students with at least a 3.0 cumulative or major grade point average are eligible to apply for a number of scholarships and awards. Scholarships are available for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. All scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence; some have class standing and financial aid requirements. Others have been established to assist students with international or study-away experiences and internships. All fashion design and merchandising scholarships are limited to students on campus and in the major. Students also have the opportunity and are encouraged to participate in regional, national and international competitions. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, the National Retail Federations and the YMA (Young Menswear Association) Fashion Scholarship Fund are a few of these opportunities.