Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

ISU is the place to be for textiles and clothing. Our students, faculty, and staff are on the cutting edge of education in this industry. Here are some of reasons hundreds of students choose the ISU Apparel, Merchandising, and Design program:

  • New 2016 rankings by Fashion School show we’re No. 1 in the Midwest for fashion merchandising, No. 2 nationally among public schools and colleges, and No. 2 nationally. In fashion design, we’re No. 2 in the Midwest, No. 3 nationally among public schools and colleges, and No. 8 nationally.

  • Getting opportunities to model in, design for, or produce the annual Fashion Show — one of the largest student-produced fashion shows in the nation.

  • Learning in state-of-the-art facilities, such as a textiles conservation laboratory, detailed historical garment collection, apparel production center, and clothing museum expose you to new equipment and complex processes.

  • Using high-tech equipment like the 3-D body scanner, industrial-sized digital printer, and new design software. Hands-on experience with this equipment is hard to find at other schools and gives you an edge for internships, jobs, and graduate school.

  • Learning from some of the best experts in the field. Apparel, merchandising, and design faculty come from a variety of backgrounds (academic, industry, publications) that will help you learn what it takes to succeed in this field.


Program Information

Bachelor of Science in Apparel, Merchandising, and Design

As an Apparel, Merchandising, and Design student, you will build a comprehensive base of knowledge about the textiles and apparel industry, including merchandising and marketing strategies, product development, and production processes. You’ll further define your career path by choosing from either the design or merchandising programs.


The design program focuses on the jobs and skills necessary to bring an apparel product to life. Within the design program, you will choose one of four concentration areas:

Creative design

If you like to sketch out your ideas, doodle new designs, and envision a garment before it’s made, the creative design option may be for you. A background in textiles, pattern making, illustration, and aesthetics will give you the skills to create new looks and designs.

Technical design

In the technical design option, you’ll build an understanding of industry assembly methods and quality assurance standards, such as differences in fabric coloration, performance, cost, and quality. Your skills will increase the quality in apparel products and the methods in which they’re made.

Product development

Students in the product development option work to meet both the needs of consumers and designers. You’ll learn about trends and business demands and have the knowledge to plan, create, and present apparel products to fill niches within the market.

Production and sourcing management

If buttons come from Russia, and fabric comes from Indonesia, what does that mean for a consumer in the United States? Students studying production and sourcing management explore the latest technology and methods used to assemble garments in mass quantities from around the world. You’ll learn the fundamentals of production, including sourcing materials, timing deliveries, and managing cost.


If the role marketing plays in the apparel industry interests you, then the merchandising program may be right for you. Students in this option applying marketing strategies and entrepreneurial practices when buying, displaying, promoting, and selling products.

Curriculum requirements

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2018-19 (PDF)

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2017-18 (PDF)

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2016-17 (PDF)

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2015-16 (PDF)

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2014-15 (PDF)

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2013-14 (PDF)

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design curriculum requirements 2012-13 (doc)

4-year plans


Creative Technical Design 4-year plan (PDF)

Merchandising 4-year plan (PDF)

Product development & Sourcing 4-year plan (PDF)


Creative Technical Design 4-year plan (PDF)

Merchandising 4-year plan (PDF)

Product development & Sourcing 4-year plan (PDF)


Creative Technical Design 4-year plan (PDF)

Merchandising 4-year plan (PDF)

Product development & Sourcing 4-year plan (PDF)

Product development 4-year plan (PDF)


Creative and Technical Design 4-year plan (PDF)
Merchandising 4-year plan (PDF)
Product development 4-year plan (PDF)


Creative and Technical Design 4-year plan (PDF)

Merchandising 4-year plan (PDF)

Product development 4-year plan (PDF)


Creative design 4-year plan (PDF)

Merchandising 4-year plan (PDF)

Product development 4-year plan (PDF)

Technical design 4-year plan (PDF)


The minor Apparel, Merchandising, and Design can be earned by taking (16 -17 credits):

  • AMD 131, Overview of the Fashion Industry or AMD 165, Dress and Diversity in Society (3 credits)
  • AMD 204, Textile Science (4 credits)
  • AMD 231, Product Development and Manufacturing, or AMD 245, Aesthetics and Brand Image , or AESHM 275, Merchandising (3-4 credits)
  • 6 credits of the 300-400 level at Iowa State

Related Minor

Entrepreneurial Studies minor

Accelerated Degree Option

An accelerated degree option is available for the apparel, merchandising, and design program.

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design Program Outcomes

Get Involved

Learning Communities

The transition to life at Iowa State University can be overwhelming at times. The freshman and transfer learning communities within AESHM provide new students with a core group of peers in similar classes. Learn more about these learning communities:

Common Threads

Adult Non-traditional Students (ANTS)

Clubs and Organizations

Connect with people who share similar interests across the ISU campus.

Visit AESHM’s related clubs and organizations page.

International Programs

Apparel, Merchandising, and Design study abroad programs

The Apparel, Merchandising, and Design program offers:

  • Summer programs in China and South Africa for international field experiences
  • A new Fu Jen Catholic University Exchange Program in Taiwan
  • Summer international internships

If you are looking for an international experience tailored to your major, contact your adviser to discuss what program fits best with your academic plan.

Study abroad opportunities

There are study abroad programs in a number of countries, and a visit to the International Programs Office can provide information for each.

College of Human Sciences International Programs

Careers and Internships

An Apparel, Merchandising, and Design degree can lead to these types of careers:

Merchandising careers

  • Fashion buyer/purchasing agent/analyst
  • Marketing or product specialist
  • Showroom/sales manager
  • Trend/fashion forecaster

Design careers

  • Fashion designer
  • Apparel engineer
  • Textile or clothing curator
  • Home furnishings designer

Product development/sourcing specialist

  • Product developer
  • Textile colorist or scientist
  • Materials buyer
  • Quality assurance specialist

Careers Services

Students and alumni are eligible to contact career services in the College of Human Sciences for assistance in these areas:

  • Job search materials such as resumes and cover letters
  • Job and internship search strategies
  • Interviewing skills

Internship Opportunities

Internships are available with corporate headquarters of retailers, design firms of all sites, stores, e-commerce agencies, showrooms, costumers, stylist, public relations firms, magazines, catalog companies, fair trade firms, forecasting firms, and shopping centers. For more information, visit our careers and internship page.

Past internship experiences

View previous apparel, merchandising, and design student internship experiences in Career Connections.


Facilities and Technologies

The following news stories feature some of the advanced equipment and outstanding facilities used by Apparel, Merchandising, and Design students and faculty:

Learn more about the technology and facilities we use:

OptiTex Computer-Aided Design Software

Digital Textile Design and Printing Studio

Body Scanning Technology

Design and Production Lab

Textile Testing Lab

Product Development Technology and Testing Lab

Visual Retailing

Sourcing Simulator

Prophecy Financial and Business Planning Software

QuickBooks Software

Museum and Collection Technology