Field of Study: Apparel and Textiles
Apparel and textiles programs prepare people to work with clothing and fabric. Students learn the properties of different types of fabrics and how they are processed. They learn about the design and use of fabrics. They may also learn to consult others on the selection and coordination of fabrics or clothing needs for special occasions.
When you pick up a piece of clothing, can you automatically identify its fabric components? Do you find yourself accurately predicting future fabrics and clothing trends? Maybe your friends think you're nutty because of your fascination with those special pants that resist wrinkling and staining. If any of these descriptions fit you, apparel and textiles may be the program of study for you.
As a student in this program, you have the opportunity to learn about any of a wide range of aspects in the field. You could study the actual production process of fabrics and other kinds of textiles such as carpeting and upholstery. You would learn the technical skills and study the new technological developments you would need to know to make textiles and clothing. You would also study ways to test textiles after they're made. Are those pants really wrinkle-free? Are those drapes flammable?
If you were more economically minded, you could study marketing trends in the textiles industry. You might learn about the way that different countries view clothing and how culture influences that. You would also study the sales processes in retail clothing and textile companies. These are just a few of the things you could study in this program.
There are about 100 schools that offer programs in apparel and textiles where you can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. An associate degree usually takes about two years of full-time study after high school. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years. A master's degree generally takes about two years of full-time study after you get a bachelor's degree, and a doctoral degree about four to five years after a master's degree.
Students who major in apparel and textiles typically choose to focus on a particular area of this program of study. Possible areas include:
Apparel and Textile Manufacture
Apparel and Textile Quality Analysis
You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.
- Applied Math
- Business Math
- Issues of American Culture
- Consumer Law
- Business Law
- Clothing and Textiles
- Introduction to Business
- General Computer Applications
- Computer Graphics
- Clothing and Sewing
- CAD Design and Software
- Drawing and Painting
Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and positive letters of recommendation.
You typically need to have a bachelor's degree in apparel and textiles. Also, depending on the area of graduate study you choose, you may need to complete background college courses. For example, if you wanted to focus on textiles marketing in graduate school, you should take textiles and marketing courses in college.
Additional requirements at some schools include:
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
- Portfolio of your artwork
Typical course work
As mentioned above, you usually don't study just apparel and textiles. In the case of many undergraduate programs, you can choose a concentration. Depending on what you choose, your course work typically includes at least some courses in the following subjects:
- Apparel Products Analysis
- Apparel Textiles Assembly
- Computer Applications for Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising
- Consumer Buying Behavior
- Costume History
- Dress, Culture, and Human Behavior
- Ecology of the Global Textile and Apparel Complex
- Economics of the Textile and Apparel Industry
- Fashion Dynamics and Analysis
- Fiber and Fabric Analysis
- Interior Textiles
- Pattern Grading
- Promotion of Fashion
- Retail Merchandising
- Textile Production and Consumption
- Training and Industry
Course work in graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree vary, but the outline of a typical graduate curriculum looks like the following:
- Required core courses
- Thesis and thesis defense (master's degree only)
- Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree only)
You also typically take courses in statistics and research methodology. This is because graduate work emphasizes independent research.
Things to know
If you attend a school that does not offer an internship, you should try to get one. It's a great way to meet potential employers and get references for your future job or graduate study plans.
Getting a bachelor's degree in this program qualifies you for many jobs in the apparel and textiles industry. However, if you're interested in extensive research or teaching at the college level, you should consider getting a master's or doctoral degree as well.
Similar fields of study
- Business Economics
- Consumer Economics
- Family and Consumer Sciences, General
- Fashion Design
- Fashion Merchandising
- Fiber, Textile, and Weaving Arts
- Interior Design
- Marketing Research
- Retail Management
- Textile Sciences and Engineering
Careers you may qualify for
American Apparel & Footwear Association
American Fiber Manufacturers' Association
Click on "FiberWorld Classroom."
The Fiber Society
Schools that offer program
Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.