Fashion Design

Major: Fashion Design
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 79.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 50.0407
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code:

About the Program

The MS in Fashion Design is a full-time maker focused program, teaching both traditional and cutting edge technical creative processes. It stresses the development of the aesthetic and philosophical concepts of fashion design and the technical skills to support research and experimentation in these concepts. A typical graduate sequence is comprised of eleven terms of graduate courses and may include one term of prerequisite coursework, beginning with the summer term accelerated design and drawing courses.

The curriculum integrates 2D and 3D design to address the physical, aesthetic, psychological, and social requirements of fashion. It is structured so that studio, laboratory, and classroom work give the graduate student a directed experience in the study of aesthetics, criticism, and contemporary art concepts; contemporary and historic art and design; traditional and current fashion technology; the discipline of drawing; and the making of art. A required industry internship affords the graduate student direct experience in a workplace of their choice.This comprehensive approach provides the basis for a broad range of employment in the fashion and design industries and in education. Other professional opportunities lie in merchandising, costume design, curatorial work, and computer-aided design.

The faculty of the Department of Design includes art historians, CAD and 3D design specialists, apparel designers, knit designers and programmers, fiber artists, merchandising specialists, new materials and processes researchers, painters, and sculptors. The department also draws on practicing professionals as adjunct professors for specialized coursework and for critique of student work.

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available to students after completing the first year.

A thesis and/or capstone collection is required. A professionally juried annual fashion show provides competitive fashion industry and department awards and excellent exposure for the graduate students' design thesis. Drexel students can participate in the activities of the Fashion Group of Philadelphia, the local chapter of an international fashion industry organization. The Fox Historic Costume Collection, a rich resource of inspiration, is located in the URBN Center. Philadelphia has many fine museums and galleries and is an affordable bus ride to New York City. Students are encouraged to attend local and regional fashion events.

The 79.0 graduate quarter credits do not include any of the required prerequisite coursework not waived by program review. See the Admission Requirements for a list of courses students are expected to have completed prior to beginning their graduate study.

Additional Information

For more information about this program, please contact the program director:

Jackie Kilmartin

Admission Requirements

Students enter the program from diverse backgrounds, including liberal arts, fine arts, and business. A personal interview is required. The admission criteria for the graduate program consist of the requirements of the University for graduate admission plus satisfaction of undergraduate coursework in basic fashion design skills and concepts. These prerequisites comprise 15.0 credits in design, drawing, and art history in addition to 13.0 credits in specific undergraduate fashion design professional courses, or their equivalent.

Prerequisite Undergraduate Coursework
ARTH 101History of Art I 3.0
FASH 211Fashion Drawing I3.0
FASH 212Fashion Drawing II3.0
FASH 231Textile Science for Fashion Design3.0
FASH 241Construction Skills4.0
VSST 104Accelerated Design I *2.0
VSST 105Accelerated Design II *2.0
VSST 106Accelerated Design III *2.0
VSST 110Introductory Drawing *3.0
VSST 111Figure Drawing I *3.0
Total Credits28.0

Or VSST 101, VSST 102, VSST 103 VSST 110, VSST 111 (18.0 credits).

Or ARTH 102

Beginning in the summer term, students take prerequisites to prepare candidates for the graduate coursework. A portfolio review and departmental evaluation determine what prerequisites have been satisfied. Contact the graduate advisor for specific information about prerequisites or to make an appointment for evaluation.

Additional Information

For more information on requirements and how to apply, visit Graduate Admissions at Drexel University.

Degree Requirements 

The eleven terms of full-time graduate coursework combine four terms of faculty-directed studio work in fashion design and two terms of student-directed independent studio work with required courses in design, aesthetics, and the art process. Elective coursework in fashion or specific topics; advanced studies in art, computer-aided design, art history, and fashion design; and independent studies allow individual flexibility in curriculum design.

Collection I and Collection II (FASH 685 and FASH 686) emphasize the development of an original statement of design intent, allowing students to synthesize their academic experiences and prepare for the marketplace. Each graduate student develops his or her personal collection which is then produced and presented in a professional fashion show.

Professional Portfolio (FASH 664) is a capstone course in which students create a professional quality collection of drawings geared to their market preferences.

Students are required to participate in at least three national and international fashion design competitions (FASH 699). These competitions provide awareness of world-wide design sensibilities and the overall level of competition in various facets of the marketplace.

The fashion industry internship (FASH 600) promotes spirit of entrepreneurship and provides perspective on success in the fashion industry. A full-time ten week position in industry is required and provides experience in design and production processes.

Required Courses *
Fashion Design Studios
ARTH 530History of Modern Design3.0
FASH 500Sustainable Practice in Fashion3.0
FASH 504Materials Exploration3.0
FASH 509Visual Communication in Fashion3.0
FASH 512Surface Design for Textiles3.0
FASH 514Fashion Portfolio I3.0
FASH 515Computer Aided Design for Patternmaking3.0
FASH 518Technical Design for Industry3.0
FASH 519Fashion Design in 3-D Space3.0
FASH 528Patternmaking II3.0
FASH 541Patternmaking I4.0
FASH 543Tailoring3.0
FASH 548Fashion Design I: Fabric to Form3.0
FASH 553Fashion Design II: Knitwear3.0
FASH 554Fashion Design III: Sustainable Design3.0
FASH 555Fashion Design IV: Collection Research & Development3.0
FASH 600Fashion Industry Internship0.0
FASH 633Couture Techniques3.0
FASH 664Fashion Portfolio II3.0
FASH 666Business of Fashion3.0
FASH 685Collection I3.0
FASH 686Collection II3.0
FASH 699Comprehensive Examination in Fashion Design0.0
Select five of the following:15.0
Machine Knitting
Accessory Design
Independent Study in Fashion Design
Independent Study in Fashion Design
Independent Study in Fashion Design
Special Topics in Fashion Design
Special Topics in Fashion Design
Special Topics in Fashion Design
Total Credits79.0

The 79.0 graduate quarter credits do not include any of the required prerequisite coursework. See the Admission Requirements for a list of courses students are expected to have completed prior to beginning their graduate study.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample Plan of Study without Required Prerequisites 

First Year
FASH 5003.0FASH 5414.0FASH 5093.0ARTH 5303.0
FASH 5043.0Graduate Elective3.0FASH 5283.0FASH 5483.0
  Graduate Elective3.0Graduate Elective3.0
 6 7 9 9
Second Year
FASH 5183.0FASH 5123.0FASH 5193.0FASH 6000.0
FASH 5533.0FASH 5143.0FASH 5433.0 
Graduate Elective3.0FASH 5543.0Graduate Elective3.0 
 9 9 9 0
Third Year
FASH 5553.0FASH 5153.0FASH 6863.0 
FASH 6643.0FASH 6333.0FASH 6990.0 
FASH 6663.0FASH 6853.0  
 9 9 3 
Total Credits 79

Sample Plan of Study with Required Prerequisites

First Year
   ARTH 101 or 1023.0
   VSST 1042.0
   VSST 1052.0
   VSST 1062.0
   VSST 1103.0
   VSST 1113.0
Second Year
FASH 2113.0FASH 2123.0FASH 5093.0ARTH 5303.0
FASH 2414.0FASH 2313.0FASH 5283.0FASH 5483.0
FASH 5003.0FASH 5414.0Graduate Elective3.0Graduate Elective3.0
FASH 5043.0Graduate Elective3.0  
 13 13 9 9
Third Year
FASH 5183.0FASH 5123.0FASH 5193.0FASH 6000.0
FASH 5533.0FASH 5143.0FASH 5433.0 
Graduate Elective3.0FASH 5543.0Graduate Elective3.0 
 9 9 9 0
Fourth Year
FASH 5553.0FASH 5153.0FASH 6863.0 
FASH 6643.0FASH 6333.0FASH 6990.0 
FASH 6663.0FASH 6853.0  
 9 9 3 
Total Credits 107

Note: Some terms are less than the 4.5-credit minimum required (considered half-time status) of graduate programs to be considered financial aid eligible. As a result, aid will not be disbursed to students these terms.

Only graduate-level courses are aid eligible.


The open design of the URBN Center studio spaces fosters collaboration across our diverse design, media and art disciplines. It provides spaces where students can see what their classmates are creating; where making labs can be shared by students from many majors; and where creative connections can be made.

All majors in the college integrate use of discipline-specific and general use software in the 35 computer labs at Drexel's Westphal College of Media Arts & Design which house over 550 computers (Apple iMacs, Apple MacPros, BoxxTech, Dell, and HP). Also available within our college are five premier Music Industry recording studios and a motion capture/green screen compositing space. The Hybrid Lab contains traditional metal and woodworking machines as well as a rapid prototyper, a laser cutter, and access to a 3D router for multi-disciplinary design and product making. In The Shima Seiki Haute Technology Laboratory students experiment with production methods that advance the field of wearable technology using sixteen SDS-ONE APEX3 workstations, three state-of-the-art knitting machines. The CAD Fashion lab is equipped with digital fashion design and proprietary print design software 

The Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection (FHCC), one of the finest teaching collections in the United States, is an educational resource for the students of Drexel University. Our mission as a University-based collection is to educate and inspire, while providing a significant resource for an ever-expanding community of historians, scholars, artists, and designers. Westphal College’s new URBN Center facility has greatly improved the accessibility and visibility of the FHCC and allowed us to honor A. J. Drexel’s original educational intent in taking a leadership role in research and scholarship, while preserving the collection for future generations. The Charles Evans Library contains books, periodicals, DVDs and other sources of inspiration for the fashion student.

The fourth floor of the Academic Building is occupied by a 10,000- square-foot photography lab, lighting studios, and two digital imaging labs. It offers professional-quality equipment in a comfortable working environment.

Film and video facilities include two fully equipped television studios; digital editing facilities; video-editing suites; film editors; and specially outfitted multimedia rooms for all courses. Loan equipment available to students includes digital video cameras; Bolex, Gizmo and Arriflex film cameras; and field lighting and audio equipment. Additionally, the college operates a cable television station reaching over 400,000 households.

The music industry major’s digital audio labs and recording studios in MacAlister Hall and University Crossings offer opportunities for the creation, modification, analysis, and recording of sound and music using analog and digital media.

The Mandell Theater provides a 420-seat proscenium theater with scene shop, dressing rooms, and costume shop. Costume is taught with primary source material from Drexel’s 7,000-piece Historic Costume Collection.

The Ellen Forman Memorial Dance Studio, adjacent to the Mandell Theater is the primary studio for the Dance major.

In University Crossings, a 25,000-square-foot space houses offices for film, video, screenwriting, and playwriting faculty as well as two state-of-the-art digital editing facilities, a shooting and motion capture studio with special effects capability, two screening rooms, several multi-media classrooms, a laboratory for game development and research, laboratories for other digital media purposes and for music industry, and a well-stocked equipment room.

Fashion Design Faculty

Danielle Claassen, MS (Drexel University). Fashion Laboratory Technician and Instructor Owner/Designer Neutral States Clothing, Knitwear specialist
Kathrine Cox, BFA (Rhode Island School of Design). Adjunct Professor. Fashion Designer at Free People. Print Surface Design Specialist.
Genevieve Dion, MFA (University of the Arts) Director, Center for Functional Fabrics. Associate Professor. Industrial designer, wearable artist, new materials technology research.
Ann Gerondelis, AIA, IDSA (Georgia Institute of Technology) Design Department Head. Teaching Professor. Embodied perception and its relationship to the design of human experiences, from the scale of the built environment to objects that surround us.
Liz Goldberg, MFA (Pratt Institute). Adjunct Professor. Artist, painter and animator
Cynthia Golembuski, MS (Drexel University) Associate Program Director, Fashion Design. Teaching Professor. Fashion designer, illustrator, computer aided design.
Lisa Hayes, BFA (Syracuse University) Program Director, Fashion Design. Associate Professor. Fashion designer, product designer, pattern design, sustainability specialist.
Ali Howell Abolo, PhD (Oregon State University) Program Director Fashion Design. Associate Professor. Researcher, social scientist; fashion, and culture.
Jaeyoon Jeong, MS (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Owner/Designer Jaeyoon Jeong Collection, 3D garment simulation and patternmaking.
Jackie Kilmartin, MS (University of the Sciences). Assistant Professor. Owner/designer Lillian Jackson Textiles, bio-medical textile engineer, Shima Seiki Knitwear Specialist
Hyun-Ah Kim, BS (Drexel University). Adjunct Professor. Designer and design consultant, CAD pattern maker and design consultant
Kathi Martin, MSIS (Drexel University) Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Fashion Design. Professor. Fashion and textile designer; textile artist; CAD and 3D garment simulation, best practices online databases and graphic interfaces for fashion and historic costume, virtual characters for fashion design.
Domenica Vinci, BS (Philadelphia University). Adjunct Professor. Fashion Designer at Off da Wall Graffiti

Emeritus Faculty

Roberta Gruber, MS (Drexel University). Associate Professor Emeritus. Fashion designer and illustrator; wearable artist, merchandiser, special events.
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