Information Updated for 2021!
If having an actual degree in Fashion Design isn’t all that essential to you, or if you already have one and you just want to brush up on your skills or learn something new, consider the programs listed below. I, for example, am not really looking to get into the “industry”, per se. I want to learn about production and draping and sustainable design, but landing an internship with Michael Kors is not on my life’s wish list. [But don’t hold me to that – I reserve the right to change my mind!] Not that I wouldn’t mind meeting – and impressing – a big name or two, but presumably you’ll have a chance to do that during these summer programs as well. After all, a summer course at FIT, Central St Martins, or ESMOD Paris will still place you right in the thick of some of the most fashionable and trend-setting cities in the world.
As an added bonus, regardless of where you go, you will likely meet and work with other students from all over the world.
I am drawn to the idea of a short course or summer program in fashion because it is less of a time commitment and major disruption to your life. Also, perhaps more importantly, it is far more financially viable than your average full-time undergrad or grad program. The one caveat is that it will be more difficult to secure funding and scholarships for short-term or summer programs than it would be for a full-fledged college degree.
Note: if you’re not an EU resident, I really can’t speak to your chances of getting any financial aid for programs abroad. If you are an EU resident, lucky you! Most of these programs seem to qualify for generous government assistance.
I think in all cases you won’t need to apply or pay for a residence permit if you’re studying internationally, unless you extend your stay to longer than 90 days.
In most cases you don’t have to have a degree, previous experience, or any other qualification to attend. Most of the tuition rates listed on the program’s sites have not yet been updated for 2016, so be aware that the tuition might ultimately be higher than what I’ve listed here.
I didn’t include programs geared specifically towards high school students because, well, I’m not one, but maybe later I will compile a list specifically for pre-college programs.
Istituto Europeo di Design
Summer and winter courses in various cities and countries throughout the world, with courses in Spain, Italy, and Brazil. The fashion courses take place in European cities such as Milan, Barcelona, and Florence. Courses are offered in both Spanish and English.
Sample course offerings:
In Milan – Fashion Marketing, Fashion Stylist, Fashion Design
In Barcelona – Fashion Trending
In Florence – Fashion Communication, Fashion Events & PR
Most 4 week courses cost E2.600 (~$2900 USD right now) and take place in June.
Housing costs are about E850-1.000; IED provides accommodation for summer students for the duration of the program.
IED summer course cost breakdown: http://assets.ied.it/wp-content/blogs.dir/5/files/2015/05/15_SUMMER_Italy.pdf
Course brochures from last summer:https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BytXvLO6nPdLODdSdDlLbXhHODQ/view
These courses take place at two different locations in Firenze (Florence to the uninitiated :P). Polimoda is offering an advanced booking promotion right now – if you book before February 27th they will take 10% off your tuition!
No entrance exam is required – simply send in your CV and a letter of motivation explaining why you are interested in the program and what you hope to get out of it.
Summer courses take place in July and last 4 weeks. They also offer shorter, 2-week “workshop” courses.
Sample Course Offerings:
Brand Management, Drawing & Illustration, Fashion Styling, Fashion Writing
2 week workshops: Tailoring Knitwear and Crafting a Shoe, among others
Cost is E3.750 (~$4200 USD)
The 2-week workshops cost E2.500
They do offer a few scholarships. You can learn more here:http://www.polimoda.com/en/admission/scholarship.html
Istituto Marangoni offers several short courses throughout the year. Depending on your chosen area of study, you may find yourself in Milan, London, or Paris. As a prerequisite to taking these courses you must be “qualified” or have experience in the area of study.
Sample course offerings:
3-week Courses: Image & Styling, Fashion Business, Fashion Photography
2-week Courses: Fashion Production, The Retail Experience
You have two tuition options: the “full package” tuition which includes accommodations, and a tuition only option. The course fees break down as follows:
3 Week course: E5.300 (Full), E3.800 (Tuition only)
2 Week course: E4.000 (Full), E2.900 (Tuition only)
While the website does list scholarships, it is unclear whether they are available to short course students.
FD Moda / LCI Barcelona
Summer courses take place in late June to early July. The school’s methods are based on the Feli teaching method, founded by Ms. Felicidad Duce Ripolles.
Sample course offerings:
Digital Design for Fashion
Digital Textile Printing
Are you noticing a theme here too? Seems like this might be a good choice if you need to brush up on your CAD skills.
I was unable to find information on tuition and fees for summer programs, but you can submit an information request if you want to learn more: http://en.lcibarcelona.com/contact-us.aspx
Choose between a summer course in Fashion Design or Patternmaking, or take both as a combined course. Courses are available in both French and English and you will study at a beautiful campus in the 9th Arrondissement. The courses are open to pretty much anyone over 16 years of age.
15 day course – E700 (~$780 USD)
1 month course – E1400 (~$1560 USD)
Both courses together cost E2200 (~$2455 USD)
They also offer a Fashion Business summer course over 3 weeks in July that costs E1050, or ~$1170 USD.
Note that while they do outline some lodging options on their site, I don’t believe that they will provide lodging for you.
Fashion Business: http://www.esmod.com/en/content/fashion-business-summer-course
Parsons Summer Intensives - New York
The Parsons Summer Intensives are 3-week, 3-credit programs that are basically open to anyone. (You must be at least 16 for the pre-college program and 19 – or 18 + 1 year of college experience – for the adult-level courses.) You will spend 5 days a week in the studio along with guest lectures, portfolio reviews, and more. Expect a demanding curriculum and workload, but they also encourage you to get to know your fellow classmates and explore all that NYC has to offer.
The campus is in Greenwich Village and students have the option of living in the New School residence halls.
2015 tuition was $3,047. Registration for 2016 opens in late fall.
Parsons also offers a dual city summer program in cooperation with Central St. Martins in London, a summer intensive in Mumbai, and another summer intensive in Paris (see below).
Extensive course list: http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/subpage.aspx?id=36417
More info: http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/summer-ny/
Central St. Martins
Central St. Martins offers two study options for summer. The first is a 3-week intensive study course in London. The focus of these courses is on portfolio preparation for entry to a Fashion Design program or to win an internship. I assume that this program is offered in cooperation with Parsons, but if you can offer any insight or clarification on this, please do get in touch with me!
The cost for the 2022 Central St. Martins program is to be confirmed, but in 2015-2016 it cost L3.850, or about $5,940 USD. You should have completed at least one year of undergraduate level study before attending. You are eligible to apply for a scholarship if you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree program outside the UK. You can learn more about the program here: https://www.arts.ac.uk/colleges/central-saint-martins/courses/study-abroad/summer-study-abroad/summer-study-abroad-fashion-design
They also offer several short courses in Fashion, most of which are now online but they do still offer a few in-person courses throughout the summer. The cost ranges from L300-680 (USD416-945). https://www.arts.ac.uk/subjects/fashion-design/short-courses?collection=ual-courses-push-prod&query=!nullquery&start_rank=1&sort=relevance&f.Category|subject=Fashion%20design
Institut Français de la Mode
Summer classes focus on basic technique building and are offered independent of each other – meaning that you can take as many or as few as you like. You will receive a certificate of completion at the end of each course.
Sample Course Offerings:
Online Courses: Fashion shows and trends, 3 decades of Parisian fashion part 1
In-person: Fashion Upcycling Design Workshop, Fashion and Luxury Management
Courses last about 2 weeks and occur on various dates throughout the summer. Online courses cost around E300 (~USD355) and in-person courses range from E900-1590 (USD1065-1880).
Students are responsible for securing their own accommodations.
The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn offers two 5-week Summer Credit Intensives for college students or adult learners. Students study at the Brooklyn campus with weekly field trips to Manhattan. (2021 update: it appears that the summer intensives will be virtual for the foreseeable future.)
Tuition is $5,010 per 3-credit undergraduate course plus studio fees.
Limited housing is available at the Brooklyn campus on a first-come, first-served basis.
Please note that this list is not comprehensive and there well may be more great programs out there that didn’t turn up during my research. Feel free to let me know if I missed anything! Also, if you’ve been lucky enough to attend any of the programs I would love to hear about your experiences!