Majors & Programs


Fashion Design

Why the Sam Fox School?

The College of Art is a community of designers and artists. At WashU, you will learn to make things with many different materials; examine people, communities, and situations carefully and with empathy; communicate with diverse audiences; and create positive change in the world. Your studies will be rigorous and fun. Washington University is an internationally recognized research institution where you can take courses in art history, psychology, gender studies, computer science, literature, business, science, and everything in between. Our classes are taught by leaders in their fields, who are working on global challenges.

Why Study Fashion Design?

The fashion design major provides experience in designing for mass production, as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. Courses provide a working knowledge of industry standards and procedures, informed by history and current trends.

The BFA Fundamentals

In your first year, your required studio course work includes two semesters of drawing, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, and a weekly lecture course. As a sophomore, you build a foundational understanding of fashion research, culture, and design, taking a digitally oriented class and an introductory course in fashion design. You are also able to explore disciplines across art and design, and may select from elective courses in graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and typography.

Courses for Fashion Design

As you advance in your studies, you undertake projects exploring a spectrum of garment design problems, fabrication strategies, textiles, and illustration, supported by digital tools. Courses include:

  • 2-D Fashion Design
  • 3-D Fashion Design
  • Digital Fashion & Textile Design
  • Fashion History & Research
  • Fashion Illustration
  • Patternmaking & Production
  • Patternmaking Lab
  • Portfolio Development
  • Special Topics in Fashion Design
  • Textile Design

As a senior, you focus on your own aesthetic through the realization of a signature collection. Guided by faculty and professional mentors, you work through the full design process, from initial research and conceptual design to pattern and muslin stages to the final construction of each garment. Your designs are featured on the runway in the annual WashU Fashion Design Show and reviewed by external fashion professionals.

Courses Across Campus

Your WashU education brings together a strong liberal arts foundation with a major in fashion design. This liberal arts base is built on a combination of required academic courses, art history and visual culture courses, and elective courses. There is time and space to explore fields across our undergraduate divisions: Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business, and Engineering & Applied Science. Our BFA degree requires a total of 128 credits of course work, with a minimum of 39 credits taken in Arts & Sciences. With proper planning, you can pursue a minor or a second major. Dual degrees are also possible and typically take five years to complete.


Nationally and internationally distinguished, our faculty exhibit in galleries, have successful design and studio practices, publish articles and books, conduct human-centered research, create interactive media, consult, and participate in a range of other creative activities. You’ll get to know your faculty well. Their research and studio practices are often interwoven with the courses that they teach.

Study Abroad

We offer two study abroad options in Florence, Italy: a semester-long program and a nine-week summer program. Both programs make use of the rich artistic and cultural environment of Florence and the surrounding countryside. Studio work is supplemented by courses in Italian art language, Renaissance art history, and Italian art and design culture.

Beyond the Studio

We provide numerous opportunities to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world situations, and to take advantage of St. Louis’ vibrant arts and culture scene:

  • At Island Press, WashU’s research-based printmaking workshop, students work with professional artists on everything from the conception of projects to printing.
  • The Public Lecture Series brings nationally and internationally recognized artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers, historians, and critics to campus to speak about their work.
  • Students, faculty, and alumni frequently participate in and attend exhibition openings and other art and design events throughout St. Louis.

Our students, faculty, and staff are committed to working with communities to address systemic social, environmental, and economic challenges. Our Office for Socially Engaged Practice provides a hub and resources to support these initiatives. Highlights include:

  • Elective courses — ranging from documentary photography and filmmaking to visual journalism and reportage drawing — that ask students to collaborate with community groups to tell their stories through visual narratives.
  • Programs such as WashUCity, in which WashU design students develop curriculum, teach, and mentor graphics students at Univesity City High School.
  • The University City Public Art Series, which provides students with hands-on experience in developing site-specific works for temporary installation in University City.
  • Design for America at WashU, which brings together students from majors across campus and challenges them to use human-centered design for local impact.
  • Interaction design courses that allow students to learn research methods and collaborative processes in design thinking, often while working on innovative, digitally delivered solutions for health care challenges.

Internships & Careers

The world needs visual thinkers, and your degree will help you impact your community and your profession. Starting in your junior year, our career development staff integrates professional programming into your course work. You will be guided through specialized programs and learn how to structure an internship and job search. In addition, you will have access to personalized career advising and resources to find prospects for the best internships, residencies, fellowships, graduate schools, jobs, or other professional placements. Our staff will also facilitate connections with leaders in the field, including our extensive network of alumni working worldwide.

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