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Master's Degree Programs in Fashion History

Students interested in studying fashion history can choose from a few different master's degree programs; these usually include hands-on learning experiences. Explore program options and common coursework here.

How to Earn a Master's in Fashion History

While there are not generally master's degree programs available specifically in fashion history, students can pursue related degree programs that include coursework in fashion history, such as a Master of Arts (MA) in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice, MA in Fashion Studies, or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fashion Design. These programs may require between 42 and 63 credits, may take 2 to 3 years to complete, and depending on the program, may require a final thesis, portfolio project, paper, practicum, and/or internship experience for hands-on learning in the field. Students typically take some core courses and electives for these degree programs to help them focus their studies on personal interests, and some of these course topics we explore below in more detail.

Fashion History of the 20th Century

Students may take a course that examines the history of fashion from the 20th century to modern-day. Some of these courses may focus on western fashion and/or may examine how social and economic factors impact fashion at different times in history. Students may use readings and assignments to explore the different influences on fashion, such as the World Wars, Hollywood, and modern art.


Students generally take a course that explores different aspects of culture and how culture influences art, design, and fashion. Some of these courses may include topics in anthropology and explore cultural patterns across social groups. Other courses may specifically focus on fashion in the context of world cultures across multiple centuries of history. These courses might examine how factors like technology, conditions for lifestyles, religion, and ideas of gender affect dress.

Fashion and Media

These master's degree programs may include a course that examines the relationship between fashion and various forms of media. Some courses may focus on fashion journalism and the history of the field, as well as popular artists and photographers through the 19th and 20th centuries. Other courses may explore how media has affected the development of fashion and our perceptions of fashion. These courses may require students to complete readings and find examples of fashion in the media to critique.

Fashion Theory/Fashion Studies

Some programs require students to take an introductory course or seminar that explores key concepts in fashion theory or fashion studies. Courses in fashion theory may use readings to further develop students' ability to analyze and critique historical and contemporary fashion. Courses in fashion studies explore how fashion theories have shaped the development of fashion. Students in either course typically complete readings and/or research papers.

Career Preparation

Although these courses or seminars go by various names, students may take a course that allows them to explore some of the different career options and roles in the broad industry of fashion. For example, some programs may include a professional practice course where students learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry and the skills they would need to market themselves, as well as a chance to hear from historians, stylists, designers, and other professionals in the field. Other courses may focus on the roles of museums and explore the different career options available in these settings, such as editors, curators, and educators.

Admittance Requirements for Master's Programs in Fashion History

Students wishing to study fashion history can apply to master's programs in fashion studies or fashion design if they hold a bachelor's degree. Non-studio degree programs, such as master's degree programs in fashion studies or fashion and textile studies, do not usually require students to include a visual portfolio for admissions, in contrast to studio programs, which typically require students to compile a portfolio with examples of their work and skills. However, some programs in fashion studies may require students to include an autobiographical statement and/or optional writing sample to demonstrate their critical thinking skills along with other application materials. Common application materials for these master's degree programs include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement, written statement, and/or essay responses. Depending on the program, students may also be required to include GRE scores.

Master's degree programs in fashion history are not usually available, but students can take various courses in the subject within fashion studies or fashion design programs. These programs can be completed in 2 to 3 years and may not require students to submit a portfolio for admission.