Online Retail Merchandising Degree Programs

Through a degree program in fashion, retail or general merchandising, you can learn to select quality products and present them in an appealing display. Learn about online degree programs and careers in the field. Schools offering Fashion Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What's the Difference Between Retail Merchandising and Fashion Merchandising?

Retail and general merchandising degree programs typically cover some fashion elements, but they also include studies in brand creation, marketing and the influences behind customers' purchases. Fashion merchandising degree programs are more fashion heavy, often featuring courses in fashion history and trends. However, all of these programs explore concepts in product development and strategies for buying and selling products.

Degree Focuses Marketing, brand creation, customer influences
Common Courses Design, retail history, consumer behavior, retail trends, advertising
Learning Environments Traditional classroom and online degree programs are available
Possible Careers Retail manager, visual merchandiser, buyer, retail salesperson
Job Outlook (2016-26)2% growth (for all retail salespersons)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Learn?

In a 2-year Associate in Arts program in retail or fashion merchandising, courses generally cover basic computer skills and the fundamentals of business, management and fashion. You may study marketing concepts or the use of fashion merchandising worldwide.

A 4-year Bachelor of Arts or Science program in fashion merchandising, general merchandising or retailing with an emphasis in fashion merchandising can teach you to gather and use market research for product development. You may study fashion concepts, including design, promotion, textile trends and consumer behavior. Other courses might cover advertising strategies, retail management techniques and e-business principles.

A Master of Science in Merchandising program usually takes two years to complete. In addition to subjects covered at the undergraduate level, you might study methods for expanding your business, along with retail trends and theories, including the history of retail and ways the economy affects businesses. You also might research marketing, advertising and buying methods.

How Do Online Programs Work?

Online programs often can be completed using e-mail, a telephone and the Internet. You might log on to an educational server, where you can access your syllabus, lessons and assignments. Many programs require that you participate in Web-based discussions. Some schools have on-campus seminars or residencies, and an internship may be required.

How Can I Use This Degree?

An associate's degree in retail or fashion merchandising could lead to a job in sales or store management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, retail salespeople made a mean hourly wage of $13.61 in May 2018. That same year, retail managers made a median salary of $39,630.

With a bachelor's degree, you could become a buyer, which involves selecting products for a company to carry. You also might become a visual merchandiser, creating window displays and arranging interior displays to entice customers to make purchases. According to the BLS, visual merchandisers made a median salary of $28,450 in 2018, while buyers made $62,750. With your master's degree, you could go into retail market research or advertising.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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