Anyone who has ever worked in fashion will tell you that it is a competitive field to get into. Perhaps more competitive than most career fields because of the fast pace that characterizes the fashion industry – trends can change in a minute. Thus, it is a good idea to prepare early by placing yourself in a place that will set you up for the best opportunities.

Like any career, the more experience (and contacts!) you have, the better your career will turn out, more often than not. But it also matters where that experience comes from.

When I myself first started looking for fashion schools, I did quite some research on which schools would best set me up for success. Here are the five top fashion schools at U.S. universities that will set you, too, up for a great career in the fashion industry.

1. Parsons, The New School For Design

Parsons, The New School For Design | via The Wall Street Journal

  • Tuition: $46,820
  • Room/Board: $18,650
  • Notable Alumni: Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs, Jack McCollough, Lazaro Hernandez

Parsons New School for Design offers a bachelor’s, associates, and master’s degree in fashion design.

Innovative Technology: The tuition for The New School comes in at around forty-seven thousand dollars without room and board fees, but at the end of your undergrad at this fashion school you will be able to say your fashion education was well worth the price due to the innovative fashion technology The New School uses.

Internships (& NYC!): The New School provides some of the best internship opportunities, too – keep in mind, you are studying in NYC, the capital of fashion! The New School has partnered with companies, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Louis Vuitton, in order to give the students the best opportunities that are available.

Study Abroad: There are also many study abroad opportunities available, which you should absolutely consider participating in. Parsons has a school in Paris as well for students study abroad in to gain further experience beyond New York. The New School

2. Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) | via CJ Dellatore

  • Tuition: out of state tuition: $20,192. // In-state tuition: $6,670
  • Room/Board: $14,149
  • Notable Alumni: Nina Garcia, Calvin Klein, Ken Downing, Michael Kors

Variety of Programs: FIT is not only a great design school, but it is also a substantial school for undergrads who want to pursue a career in fashion business/merchandising. The institute provides degrees (BFA) in programs such as fabric styling, fashion design, and fashion business management.

Study Abroad: FIT provides study abroad programs, such as an option to study in Italy for first-year undergrads, which is unusual amongst most programs.

New York City Internships: Being based in New York has advantages of its own, and one of them is learning from the experts themselves. FIT provides internships at some of the most renowned fashion houses like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan.

3. Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute | via NY Daily News

  • Tuition: $47,986
  • Room/Board: $4,200
  • Notable Alumni: Terrance Howard, Jeremy Scott, Rob Zombie

The fashion design program at the Pratt Institute offers a BFA degree, and within the program curriculum, students are required to take 2D drawing to 3D draping classes.

Faculty & Student Work: The faculty at Pratt includes industry professionals, for example from Nike and Donna Karan. Some of the student’s works have been featured in big-time magazines, such as Essence Magazine, New York Times, and many more.

One thing that the top 3 fashion schools all have in common and have an advantage in is the placement of each school. Each of the three fashion schools are based in New York which is one of the fashion capitals of the country and the world, automatically giving students an advantage. But this also makes the environment more competitive, as many students graduate each year in the same area with a top tier education.

4. Kent State University

Kent State University, Fashion Building | via The Plus Size Diva

  • Tuition: in-state: $10,012 // out of state: $18,544
  • Room/Board: $10,916
  • Notable Alumni: Molly Langenstein, Michael Keaton

Although Kent State is not based in a renowned fashion capital such as New York City, the university’s fashion program prepares students very well for the fashion industry.

Major & Clubs: Kent State offers a BFA in fashion design and merchandising, while also providing a variety of fashion clubs and organizations that provide students with internship opportunities.

Study Abroad Required: The fashion program at Kent State requires its students to study abroad in locations such as New York, Italy, and/or Tokyo. In Italy, there’s an entire fashion program, and in New York, the school has fashion studios.

Annual Fashion Show: Kent State also holds an annual fashion show for fashion students, which this year was presented by Michael Kors.

5. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) | via ADC Global

  • Tuition: $36,630 
  • Room/Board: $10,148
  • Notable Alumni: Lisa M. Robinson, Sheila Springsteen, Mir Zafar Ali

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a BFA, MA, and MFA in fashion design and fashion marketing/management. SCAD partners with different experts in the industry to create some of the best opportunities and platforms for students to showcase their work.

Opportunities Abroad: SCAD has design studios and workspaces for its students, and also provides degrees in Atlanta and Hong Kong.