Grad School Profile: Kansas State University

Kansas State University (KSU), located in Manhattan, Kansas, offers a few unique opportunities for higher education in the field of fashion and textile study.  The National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) accredits several programs at K-State, including the apparel design and interior design programs.  Through the Department of Apparel, Textiles and Interior Design, students are introduced to a very rigorous, involved graduate experience.

The M.S. degree in Apparel and Textiles, found within the College of Human Ecology, is geared more towards the technical side of fashion studies.  Here, students focus on design (research, develop, and evaluation of apparel and textiles), product development (engineering, evaluation and management of innovative apparel and textile products for specialty markets) and marketing (focuses on relevant theories and practices used to satisfy the apparel and textile consumer).  Students choose one of these three tracks as a guide for their careers, resulting in a Master’s Thesis or special long-term projects.  Coursework requirements vary depending on the track, with options encouraging further development and research.  Most if not all of the tracks have several elective courses tailored to the needs of the student.

For scholars looking to expand their education, there is a subsequent a Ph.D program.  It is a continuation of the M.S. degree, consisting of an extra 30 hours of coursework and 30 hours dedicated to dissertation research, resulting in a degree from the College of Human Ecology. KSU is also unique in that it offers an M.S. degree in Merchandising.  This degree is designed as a distance program, allowing students to receive a graduate degree without having to live in the vicinity of the university.

KSU’s location in Middle America makes it difficult for students wishing to work with and compete in the global apparel and textile market.  The University provides ample opportunities for graduate assistantships, graduate teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships, and there are scholarship opportunities as well.  These provide students with a chance to gain experience in the field and develop their professional skills.  The K-State Costume and Textiles Museum is also located on campus contains over 15,000 items.  Students are encouraged to use the facilities for study.

According to the department’s website, “Graduates of our apparel marketing programs are climbing the corporate ladder in national and international companies such as Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, The Gap, The Limited, Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic and Aveda.”  They also cite Ralph Lauren as an employer of graduate students.  Helen Brockman, author of the acclaimed book, The Theory of Fashion Design, was a past professor, and several of the current faculty are of note as well.  Those interested in fashion history and museum management may wish to study under Joycelyn Burdett, while students wishing to focus on sustainability and design will benefit from Dr. Sherry Haar, Kim Hiller-Connell and Dr. Elizabeth Ann McCullough.

Despite its locale, the graduate programs at KSU have much to offer students interested in fashion and textile studies.  The specific academic tracks, and faculty of industry professionals definitely prepares scholars for their future careers.  KSU also has a wonderful website providing further information about these programs.  Those looking for universities outside of larger cities need look no further than KSU for their ideal graduate experience.

If you attend a graduate program in this field and feel it should be profiled, please email Worn Through.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Monthly Archive


Available now: Punk Style by Worn Through founder, Monica Sklar, PhD. Find it at :, Powell's Books, or a bookseller near you.