Online Fashion Merchandising Degree | Penn Foster College

Online Fashion Merchandising Degree

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Program Overview

Love fashion and want to learn more about how to turn that love into a career? As a student in our Online Fashion Merchandising Associate Degree Program, you'll learn about the development, merchandising, marketing, and promotion of apparel. This online program is designed to help you hone your sense of fashion, expand your creativity, and develop the business skills to learn what customers want and how to persuade them to buy the products you’re promoting.

With Penn Foster College, you can study from the comfort of your own home and learn the skills you need to pursue an exciting, satisfying career as a fashion merchandiser. You can create a schedule that works for your life, and our support systems are designed with the online learner in mind to ensure that you’ll always have the help you need.

Associate Degrees from Penn Foster College are awarded under licensing from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Fashion Merchandising Associate's Degree program prepares students for an entry-level position in the field of fashion merchandising and can also be used to prepare for future studies.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Discuss how the business of fashion works from concept to the consumer
  • Apply knowledge of fabrics, embellishments, colors, and style for each garment or accessory to the fashion decision process
  • Describe the processes and factors involved in fashion designing, production of textile materials, and purchasing materials from suppliers
  • Discuss the importance and methods of marketing and promotion in the fashion industry
  • Demonstrate understanding and the use of company financial reports and reports associated with planning, buying and selling fashion merchandise
  • Describe the operations of retail stores that sell fashion merchandise

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine their level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

ENG103 Information Literacy 1 credit

Get better at finding and using information!


  • Search the Internet more effectively.
  • Get tips about search engines and reliable websites.
  • Learn how to search libraries and other information centers for important, useful information.
CSC104 Computer Applications 3 credits

This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice. You will navigate popular software tools such as Windows® and Microsoft® Office.


  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize date.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
Science Electives (Choose one) 3 credits

SCI120-Introduction to Biology

This course will allow you to explore the origin of life and the relationships among all living things.


  • Explain how organisms are structured and how they work.
  • Discuss the various forms of life and their processes.

Textbook: Essentials of Biology


This course will allow you to develop a healthier lifestyle by making smarter nutritional decisions.


  • Explain the various components of nutrition as a science.
  • Describe nutrition from a global viewpoint.
  • Understand the importance of water and exercise.
  • Identify the basics of human growth and aging.
  • Discuss food safety procedures.

Textbook: Personal Nutrition

SCI110-Earth Science

This course will allow you to learn about planet Earth and the various aspects of the environment.


  • Describe specific characteristics of Earth.
  • Describe different types of rocks and minerals.
  • Discuss the various components of our solar system.
  • Explain the components of weather and climates.

Textbook: Earth Science

SSC130 Essentials of Psychology 3 credits

Study the relationship between biology and behavior.


  • Identify major psychological theories.
  • Learn about consciousness, memory, thought and language.
  • Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
  • Examine the concept of gender and its role in psychology.
  • Get the basics on how community influences behavior.

Textbook: Psychology and Your Life

Arts and Humanities Electives (Choose one) 3 credits

HUM102-Art Appreciation

This course will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to critique a variety of artwork.


  • Understand artistic media.
  • Identify historical periods and artistic movements.
  • Explain the roles of the artist and the viewer.

Textbook: The Power of Art

HUM104-Music Appreciation

This course will allow you to understand and appreciate the art of music.


  • Explain the roles of the composer and the listener.
  • Describe music theory, instrumentation, and historical periods.
  • Distinguish various styles of music.

Textbook: Listen to This

ENG100 English Composition 3 credits

Get the skills and techniques you need to develop, draft, and revise college-level essays.


  • Identify your purpose and audience.
  • Read actively and critically.
  • Edit for standard written conventions.
  • Submit three essays (process analysis, causal analysis, and argumentation) and a course journal.

Textbook: Successful College Writing

Supplement: The Little, Brown Essential Handbook

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

FSH101 Introduction to the Fashion Industry 3 credits

Fashion trends may come and go, but certain principles underlying the fashion industry change very little over time.


  • Discover the history of fashion and identify historical fashion influences.
  • Review the fashion cycle.
  • Learn how to determine a consumer target market and analyze buyer motivation and acceptance.
  • Examine the production process, from fiber to fabric, and the garment production process.
  • Evaluate design principles and elements.
  • Explore fashion merchandising, marketing, and advertising techniques.

Textbook: Fashion: From Concept to Consumer

GRD105 Color Theory 3 credits

Explore the components of light and the importance of color as an aspect of light.


  • Discover different systems for organizing colors.
  • Learn how to incorporate a balanced use of color in your work by understanding the basics of color theory.

Textbook: Color Basics

FSH110 History of Fashion 3 credits

Learn the theories on the origins of fashion.


  • Examine the themes and details of time-period specific costumes for men and women.
  • Explore the role and influence of fashion in the context of society.
  • Discover the geographic and ecological factors that affect clothing choice.
  • Review how the ideals of human beauty change with time.
  • Compare and contrast the costumes of each Western civilization.
  • Analyze the value of costume preferences by specific civilizations.

Textbook: Survey of Historic Costume

BUS121 Economics 1 3 credits

This course will offer you an overview of macroeconomics and the modern market economy.


  • Identify the basic function of economics in our society
  • Examine various economic tradeoffs that people face
  • Explain the laws of supply and demand
  • Use the concept of elasticity to explain changes in a market
  • Discuss the pros and cons of trade restrictions
  • Calculate and interpret the unemployment rate and the labor-force participation rate
  • Describe the notion of deadweight loss and its relevance to taxes
  • Draw and interpret short-run and long-run Phillips curves
  • Explain why economists focus on GDP, inflation, and unemployment when assessing economic health
  • Describe how comparative advantage and specialization affect international trade
  • Describe how differences between world prices and domestic prices prompt exports and imports
  • Describe how changes in income affect consumption and saving

Textbook: Macroeconomics

MAT115 Intermediate Algebra 3 credits

This course introduces basic algebraic concepts that you'll need to be successful in your career.


  • Understand the systems of equations, polynomials, and radicals.
  • Factor polynomial expressions.
  • Simplify rational expressions.

Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Intermediate Algebra

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 3

ACC113 Basic Accounting 3 credits

This course meets the needs of students who want to understand accounting language but aren’t planning to become accountants.


  • Learn what accounting information is, what it means, and how it’s used.
  • Examine financial statements, return on investment, bookkeeping process, cost accounting, and report systems.

Textbook: Accounting: What the Numbers Mean

FSH120 Introduction to Textiles 3 credits

Learn the laws and regulations for the textile industry.


  • Evaluate fibers, yarn formation, and fabric structure.
  • Explore the impact of coloration and finishes on final products.
  • Identify performance characteristics for different textiles.
  • Discover how to select textile products based on end use and care.
  • Analyze the relationship among production processes, selection criteria, cost, and consumer satisfaction.

Textbook: Textiles: Concepts and Principles

MKT301 Marketing 3 credits

Marketing is fundamental to the success of any business.


  • Analyze the concept of marketing in a societal and global sense.
  • Learn the four areas of strategy in marketing.
  • Identify the principles of product, price, promotion, and distribution by considering interesting examples of real organizations.
  • Explore how environmental factors affect designing strategies for marketing.

Textbook: Marketing

ENG121 Business and Technical Writing 3 credits

Learn how to write business and technical documents for more effective communication.


  • Organize your material logically and systematically.
  • Use action verbs effectively and construct paragraphs.
  • Conduct research and document sources.
MKT320 Consumer Behavior 3 credits

Explore the four essential conditions that must exist to influence consumer behavior.


  • Examine the consumer decision making process.
  • Analyze individual differences in consumer behavior and explain how these differences affect research and marketing.
  • Discover factors that shape consumer behavior and motivation.
  • Identify the various environmental influences on purchase and consumption decisions.
  • Learn how research has affected retailing and the infusion of innovations in global marketing strategies.

Textbook: Consumer Behavior

MAT215 Merchandising Math 3 credits

Learn the concepts of profit and the calculation, interpretation, and analysis of a profit-loss statement.


  • Examine pricing factors used in buying decisions and the calculations used when pricing and/or repricing retail merchandise.
  • Use the calculations of the various types of markup.
  • Learn the procedure of determining the total value of the stock-on-hand and shortages.
  • Explore the planning and control of stocks and purchases, as well as invoice mathematics.

Textbook: Mathematics for Retail Buying

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

BUS310 Merchandising Planning and Buying 3 credits

Explore the methods, practices, and operations conducted to promote and sustain certain categories of commercial activity.


  • Learn the principles and procedures used in planning, selecting, pricing, and selling goods in retail stores.
  • Examine domestic and foreign market purchasing.
  • Learn how to assess product needs. Learn about merchandising systems, assortment plans, and inventory control methods.

Textbook: Retail Buying

INT114 Internet Marketing and E-Commerce 3 credits

Learn the basic concepts and key motivators of electronic commerce.


  • Contrast E-commerce with traditional commerce.
  • Identify major market and enterprise issues that impact electronic commerce.
  • Explore how firms conduct business on the Internet, including their selling and marketing strategies.
  • Examine legal and ethical challenges that are unique to E-commerce.
  • Discover the major steps in implementing an E-commerce venture.

Textbook: Complete B2B Online Marketing

MKT340 Retail Management 3 credits

Analyze strategic planning in successful retail management.


  • Explore changes and key trends in the retail environment.
  • Examine the concept of competition among retailers.
  • Discover how the law and government affect retail operations.
  • Learn merchandising and pricing theories and techniques.

Textbook: Retailing

FSH205 Fashion Promotion 3 credits

Examine the process of promotion and the tools available for creating successful campaigns.


  • Explore the changing nature of promotion in a global marketplace.
  • Learn personal and non-personal promotion strategies and techniques.
  • Get an overview of the role and organizational structure of promotion and advertising and the creative elements involved.

Textbook: Promotion in the Merchandising Environment

FSH220 Product Development 3 credits

Explore the four essential conditions that must exist to influence consumer behavior.


  • Learn how to coordinate planning, forecasting, fabricating, developing silhouettes and specifications, pricing, and sourcing.
  • Examine the evolving partnerships among textile suppliers, product developers, manufacturers, and retailers.

Textbook: Beyond Design: The Synergy of Apparel Product Development

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete all 4 semesters.
  • Pass all courses.
  • Achieve a cumulative Quality Point Average (QPA) of 2.0 or higher.

NOTE: Advanced standing student shipments may vary from the above schedule.
Although this outline covers all four semesters of your program, you receive lesson materials for each semester as you enroll.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Credits earned in Penn Foster programs may transfer to some, but not all, learning institutions. If you are planning to continue your education with another school after you earn your degree from Penn Foster, you should check with that school regarding credit transfer policies.
Microsoft, Windows, Excel, and PowerPoint are registered trademarks and Word is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Fashion Merchandising degree sample lesson, click here.

Fashion Merchandising Program Details

In the Penn Foster Fashion Merchandising Program Associate Degree online program you'll cover topics such as:

Online Fashion Merchandising Associate Degree

The Fashion Merchandising Online Program can help students take the first steps toward working as fashion coordinators, retail store managers, or sales representatives for fashion and textile companies. Here are a few qualities that effective fashion merchandisers have in common:

  • Intuitive: It’s important to stay a few steps ahead of trends and trust your instincts.
  • Persistent: You need to work hard and stand by your projects and ideas to get others on board.
  • Proactive: Take charge of projects and always offer opinions and advice to help others.
  • Innovative: The fashion world and consumers crave fresh ideas and unique perspective.
  • Creative: In fashion you often need to think outside of the box.

Penn Foster has a great faculty and staff that truly care about the well-being of their current and future students. Penn Foster has truly helped me obtain my degree through distance learning. I am a military spouse and, up until my last semester, I worked full-time and the convenience to be able to work at my own pace is excellent. My shipments are always on time and I never had any problems with getting the answers I needed regarding my coursework. Penn Foster has given me a life and a career. I feel joy to be graduating in just a few short months and I'm very happy knowing Penn Foster provided me with the knowledge I need to excel in my career. Don't think twice... please enroll today!

- Shantell P., Penn Foster College Graduate

I enjoyed very much the ability to become part of the Penn Foster group. The instructors were extremely helpful and kind. They were always there when I needed help or just plain needed advice.

- Ashley L., Penn Foster College Graduate

I am currently in my second semester and Penn Foster College is THE BEST online college for those of us who have full-time jobs and shift workers, because Penn Foster gives us the flexibility to study at our own convenience, at our own pace, and WITHOUT deadlines. And the cost is VERY inexpensive for a two-year Associate Degree.

- Todd L., Penn Foster College Student

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Fashion Merchandising academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Does the Penn Foster College's Fashion Merchandising Associate Degree Program focus more on fashion or business?

This program provides a healthy balance of fashion-specific courses and business courses such as product development, marketing, and E-commerce.

Will my Penn Foster College credits transfer to other schools?

Penn Foster College credits have been accepted for transfer into many colleges across the country. Students should check with a specific college to see if they accept our credits, as credit transfer can vary depending on the school. Also, the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated and recommended college credit for many Penn Foster College courses. No form of accreditation guarantees that any learning institution will accept credits from any school as transfer credits. For more information on transferring credits, click here.

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