Fashion Design Master’s Degree Program
What is 21st Century Fashion Design?
The Drexel Westphal Master's program in Fashion Design is recognized as one of the top fashion programs in the world by Fashionista and Business of Fashion. This Fashion Design Master’s program is ideal for students who have a passion for personal creative expression and who have Bachelor's degrees in various academic disciplines from fine arts, sciences, liberal arts, business and other areas of study. Upon completion of the three-year, full-time program, graduates earn a Master of Science in Fashion Design.
The MS Fashion Design program fuses art, design, science, and technology for a collaborative and trans-disciplinary approach to designing 21st century fashion. Within an individualized studio environment, students acquire knowledge about the creative process, industrial production, advanced technologies in design, and the marketing and merchandising of clothing. The Fashion Design Master’s program lays a foundation in the traditional making of apparel and accessories while integrating the cutting edge of design technology with the sociological and psychological influences of community and fashion culture. All courses are guided by philosophies of inclusivity and sustainability in the ethical workplace.
The program presents opportunities for individualized instruction from renowned faculty like Genevieve Dion, Director of the Center for Functional Fabrics and industry-leading designer of smart textiles for wearable technologies and Program Director Kathi Martin, fashion/textile designer and innovator in the integration of virtual/augment reality and fashion design. Fashion Design graduate students work in state-of-the-art facilities that provide access to cutting-edge technology like Shima Seiki knitting machines and SDS-ONE APEX3 workstations. Learn more about our industry-leading faculty.
Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in Fashion Design at Drexel Westphal?
The Master’s in Fashion Design aims to train visionary designers to use an integrated approach to the creation of contemporary fashion. Building on Drexel University’s reputation for experiential learning and professional development, the MS Fashion Design program requires students to pursue a fashion industry internship, participate in international fashion design competitions, and develop a capstone collection for showcase at the annual Drexel Fashion Show. Graduates of Drexel’s Fashion Design Master’s program are prepared for a broad range of careers in the fashion industry and related fields such as education, retail, costume design, computer-aided design, and curatorial work with historic clothing and textiles.
The Fashion Design graduate program is a first professional degree that welcomes seasoned designers who hold bachelor’s degrees in design fields as well as emerging designers with degrees from other disciplines. Prerequisite courses in fashion design foundations—drawing, design, production, patternmaking—prepare students for graduate coursework. Incoming students who hold undergraduate degrees in fashion, art or design may be waived from some of the prerequisite courses via portfolio and transcript review and a skills test. All students will work with faculty advisors on curriculum placements that reflect their skill level and career aspirations.
Drexel Westphal Fashion Design alumni go on to careers in various areas of the fashion business and related fields—often becoming industry leaders in fashion technology, inclusivity, and sustainability. Adriana Galijasevic, Denim & Sustainability Expert and designer at G-Star RAW, has spoken at numerous conferences and was recognized by Forbes Magazine and Women’s Wear Daily for pushing boundaries on innovation and sustainability in the denim industry.
What Do You Learn in the MS in Fashion Design Program?
The fusion of art, design, science and technology within the MS Fashion Design program represents a multi-disciplinary approach and a springboard for the production of unique apparel for the 21st century. The graduate Fashion Design curriculum emphasizes the aesthetics and philosophies of fashion while training designers in the technical skills needed to support an innovative career in the fashion industry.
Within an individualized studio environment, students acquire knowledge and experience in:
- Design fundamentals: construction, patternmaking, tailoring, etc.
- Knitwear design
- Industrial production of clothing
- Advanced design technologies
- Fashion marketing and merchandising
- Computer-aided design (CAD)
- Textile design, research, and development
- Fashion illustration
- History of fashion design
- Sustainable practices in design
- Inclusive and adaptive fashion design
- Professional presentation and portfolio development
- Business of fashion
Students pursuing a Master’s in Fashion Design can take electives in accessory design, machine knitting, technical design, or many other topics according to their personal interests and career aspirations. The hands-on curriculum includes frequent critiques from renowned faculty and industry professionals, and culminates in the annual Drexel Fashion Show, which is attended by press, regional and national designers, and other fashion industry representatives.
Drexel graduate Fashion Design students and alumni have had their work featured in international runway shows, exhibitions, and television programs. Nancy Volpe Beringer (’16), a finalist on Season 18 of Bravo’s Project Runway, made her red carpet debut in 2019 when Philadelphia hip-hop artist and Grammy nominee Tierra Whack wore her designs to the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. Nancy’s designs have showcased at the 2018 Libertae Fashion Show, the Salvation Army’s 2019 Garbage Bag Gala, and can be found in Philadelphia’s iconic fashion store Joan Shepp. Xiaohan Zhou ('19) appeared on Cool China Fashion Designer, a Chinese television competition akin to Project Runway. Xiaohan’s work has been featured in numerous gallery exhibitions, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, EDGE Annual Fashion Exhibition in Santa Barbara, and she took home the China Cup award for excellence at Shanghai Fashion Week in Spring 2018.
Fashion Design Master’s Program Resources & Facilities in Philadelphia
Housed in the URBN Center, the hub for creativity and innovation in Drexel’s Westphal College, the graduate Fashion Design degree program encourages collaboration within the College and provides numerous opportunities for research across Drexel University’s disciplines.
Fashion Design Master’s students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources, including:
- Well-equipped, spacious design studios open 24 hours
- SHIMA SEIKI Technology Laboratory: 3D computerized knitting machines and SDS-ONE APEX3 workstations systems to support research and development of textiles
- The Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC): thousands of apparel items, accessories, sketches and more from designers like Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, James Galanos, and Halston
- Hybrid Making Lab: 3D printers, laser cutters and fabrication equipment
- Computer labs with access to Adobe Creative Suite, trend forecasting and retail lifecycle management software
- Charles Evans Fashion Library: computers, forecasting materials, swatches, periodicals and resources for the study of fashion past, present and future
MS Fashion Design students with a deeper interest in multidisciplinary research and development can choose to pursue a minor in Design Research. Nicole Feller Johnson (’18) earned a dual master’s degree with Westphal’s MS Design Research program; Nicole’s multidisciplinary work spans haute couture, digital fabrication, embellishment, full-fashioned hand and machine knitting, surface development, innovation and new technologies, user experience and interaction, and 3D printing. Nicole's graduate thesis was recognized as the "Most Original and Creative Graduate Research" at Drexel University, she was named a CFDA+ Design Graduate for 2018, and here debut collection, which features the world’s first dress made of 3D printed yarn, walked Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia, SS 2019.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Fashion Design Master’s program, contact Tia James, director of recruitment at Westphal College, here.