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School of Human Ecology

Merchandising and Design

The Merchandising and Design concentration provides students with a diverse skill set in the design and merchandising fields necessary to pursue exciting career opportunities in the apparel, design, textile, and retailing industries. The curriculum focuses on the design, production, distribution and selection of consumer products, to guide students through the entire design thinking process - from concept to sale of a product. Career opportunities include positions in retail management, merchandise buyer, sales representative, personal shoppers, stylist, fashion coordinator, textile researcher, fashion designer and several exciting auxiliary careers in the fields of journalism and public relations.

A fashion student shows off a design

There are two ways that students at Tennessee Tech can study Merchandising and Design. The primary method is by selecting a major in Human Ecology, within the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology, which earns students a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology. Once enrolled in Human Ecology, students can then choose their focus concentration to be in Merchandising and Design. A secondary method is to select a minor in Human Ecology, which is an approved 15-credit hour minor program of study. Once enrolled as a Human Ecology minor, students will work with their academic advisor to select courses that provide them with an overview of the Merchandising and Design field. 

Students in the Merchandising and Design curriculum are provided with a unique opportunity not offered by many institutions: The chance to experience courses in both Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Design. The four-year plan in Merchandising and Design has been carefully developed to provide students with the opportunity to develop their aesthetic, learn to implement design thinking into practical solutions, assess their role as a leader in a global field, and apply knowledge to market their designs to unique target audiences. 

To learn more about the courses offered in Merchandising and Design, as well as review a sample four-year plan, please visit the links below. 

Have a question about Merchandising and Design? E-mail Dr. Hannah Upole, Assistant Professor of Merchandising and Design, to learn more!

  • Program Benefits 

    In Merchandising and Design, students take courses such as Concepts of Design, where you will learn about design elements and principles, while developing your own aesthetic. Students will also take classes in Product Development, Textiles, Merchandising, and Buying - toward gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the skills necessary to move from idea to market. Within the concentration, every student will also have the chance to take a course in Clothing Construction, which has been specifically developed to provide basic knowledge of construction processes to all students, regardless of your experience level.

    As you move through the program, you will continue to take advanced courses in styling and merchandise planning, as well as have the opportunity to expand your design knowledge through courses such as Flat Pattern, Draping, and Computer-Aided Apparel Design, to help you develop your skills to pursue diverse career opportunities upon graduation. 

    Classes in Merchandising & Design are taught by professors and instructors who have years of work and knowledge building in the industry. Each instructor in Merchandising & Design is focused on providing students with an education tailored to their specific interests, creating a curriculum that emphasizes capacity-building through hands-on exploration and experiential learning opportunities. The average class size in Merchandising and Design is 20 students, so that instructors are able to tailor projects and guidance to each individual student, while also focusing on community building.

  • Historic Costume Collection

    A wonderful resource available to the School of Human Ecology is a Historic Costume Collection, which houses over 1,500 pieces dating from the mid-1800s to today! The Historic Costume Collection serves as a resource to all Human Ecology students, including those in Merchandising and Design. 

    As a student in Merchandising and Design, you have full access to the Historic Costume Collection. Want to borrow a gown from the 1940s to learn about construction techniques? How about hosting a fashion show with pieces from the 1920s? Or maybe you just want to see how large shoulder pads really were in the 1980s. All of those items and more can be found in our collection. We are blessed to have been provided this resource by our alumni and are thankful for the opportunities it provides our students. 

    Plaid Blazer and Braided Hat - MacIndoe Historic Costume Collection Exhibit  Two Button Blazer and Hat - MacIndoe Historic Costume Collection Exhibit

    Check out this virtual exhibit in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Leona Lusk Black Cultural Center to see the MacIndoe Historic Costume Collection Exhibition in action!

  • Fashion Merchandising Association

    The Fashion Merchandising Association is our own student organization open to any student at Tennessee Tech interested in fashion! The organization offers students a fantastic extracurricular opportunity by providing you with hands-on experience in the industry and the chance to form connections with experts in the field!

    Fashion Merchandising Study Tour - NYC

    Some experiences you have the opportunity to engage with are:

    • Organizing campus-wide fashion shows
    • Visiting local market centers and learning about the buying process
    • Meeting and developing connections with local entrepreneurs
    • Gaining valuable industry experience through internship opportunities
    • Developing your leadership potential through officer positions

    Want to learn more? Follow us on Instagram @tntechfma!

  • Fashion Study Tours

    The field of Merchandising & Design truly contains some of the most global industries you will ever engage with. And at Tech, we believe it is essential to your learning that you have a chance to experience the industry while completing your classes!

    Each year, the Merchandising and Design concentration participates in a Study Tour experience, visiting a different city that is essential to the industry. On these Study Tours, we have the opportunity to meet with industry experts, engage first-hand with design-based experiences, and explore the culture in a new location. And every four years the Study Tour is extra special, as we travel internationally to explore fashion in the European Market!

    Study Abroad Trip to Italy

    Our major goal in planning these trips is to provide the students with unique, personal experiences. We always look for at least two to three designers who can meet with students in their studios so you have the opportunity to see the entire process of design. We also engage in historical experiences, such as meeting with museum curators or costume designers to learn about how the past influences the future of design. Finally, we plan at least one or two cultural experiences, such as watching a Broadway play or visiting an art gallery. These experiences provide a look at the culture of the city we are visiting, allowing students to see how culture and society can influence design.

College of Agriculture and Human Ecology