The Value of a SCAD Fashion Degree

How Tuition Fuels Talent and Technology

As we enter the decade of the 2020s, prospective college students and their families want to understand the value proposition offered by a university degree. How does tuition (and related costs of an undergraduate degree) translate to a rewarding profession, especially in a competitive creative industry like fashion? We recently sat down with SCAD educators to discuss the content and purpose of the SCAD School of Fashion and how that benefits aspiring designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and other fashion professions.

Q: Why should students and their families choose SCAD for fashion?

SCAD: Smaller programs offer fewer options. For example, SCAD is home to the largest digital Jacquard loom at any studio program in the world. The loom is housed in Pepe Hall at SCAD Savannah, home of the fibers department.It is a tremendously expensive piece of equipment that allows students hands-on experience in the advanced techniques of surface design, creating textiles for furniture, seat coverings, window treatments, and clothes. A smaller program simply wouldn’t be able to provide this resource.

Q: What degree programs are available in the fashion school?

Student tuition at SCAD funds the most comprehensive School of Fashion in the U.S., with more students, more professors, and more fashion-related degree programs than other universities, including undergraduate and graduate programs in:

As with the fibers example, tuition and funding generated by a larger enrollment in the SCAD School of Fashion afford greater opportunities and academic learning resources for students who benefit from the first business of beauty and fragrance degree program in the U.S., the first M.F.A. in accessory design in the world, and the largest fibers and jewelry programs in the U.S.

Q: Do large programs mean large classes?

SCAD: Absolutely not! The average class size at SCAD is only 16 students, and we offer no classes with more than 30 students — in any department. Each class meets twice a week for 2.5 hours every day and 10 weeks in all: 50 hours of intense, focused, sustained instruction. At most large universities, graduate students, who don’t yet have their graduate degrees, teach first- and second-year students, but at SCAD, students benefit from full professors in every class, each holding an academic credential and significant industry experience. With small classes and expert faculty, students receive individualized attention.

Q: In some universities, students don’t get into actual fashion design classes until their junior or senior year. How soon do SCAD students get into these classes?

SCAD: SCAD students can be in their introductory fashion courses as early as their first year. All SCAD students start with SCAD Core, a general education curriculum that includes 2-D and 3-D design, color theory, art history, writing, and more.

Q: Earlier you mentioned the digital Jacquard loom. What other technology is funded by tuition dollars?

SCAD: SCAD digital learning resources gives students the opportunity to pursue CFDA+, Adobe and Rhino certifications — only available at elite universities. In the fibers department, students utilize Jukie Sewing machines, CompuDobby looms, Gerber plotters, Mutoh ValueJet 1938TX printers, Roland UV flatbed printers, Wacom drawing tablets, and more. Many students in the SCAD School of Fashion take advantage of tech at the Gulfstream Center for Design, with a five-axis computer numeric control router, rapid prototype machines, 3-D printers, and laser cutters.

Q: How do SCAD jewelry students utilize technology?

A: The jewelry students study in a 13×800-square-foot studio that enables students to fabricate, cast, finish, enamel, laser weld, anodize, electroplate, electroform, smith silver, and set stones. Tools include: a ROD Induction Heating Solution for casting, LaserStar Compact and LaserStar workstations for laser welding, a Stratasys Dimension SST 1200 printer for ABS plastic, a microscope system, two Roland JWX-10 milling machines, four advanced SensAble pens for digital sculpting, and two Solidscape T66 wax printers, as well as 3-D printers and large-format photo printers.

Q: Let’s talk about accessory design.

SCAD: Every degree program models and parallels what’s happening in the professions right now, which is why SCAD students who want to make handbags, shoes, belts, and other accessories are using the newest tech. Students learn computer-aided design but don’t stop with sketches. They learn to turn technical drawings into physical prototypes. Through faculty relationships, students have also partnered with production facilities in Europe and Asia to build prototypes. In accessory design, students have secured internships and jobs at Alexander Wang, Coach, Derek Lam, Kate Spade, Proenza Schouler, Reebok, The Row, Vince Camuto and more.

Q: Fashion marketing and management pairs design thinking with entrepreneurial thinking, yes?

SCAD: That’s right. These students cultivate a design sensibility while learning the language of business. They learn to do it all, from supply chain management and trend forecasting to consumer research and product promotion.

Q: The degree in business of beauty and fragrance is the newest addition to the SCAD School of Fashion.

SCAD: This program emerged out of conversations between SCAD and industry partners at the highest levels of the fragrance market. CEOs and leaders said, “We need talent. Can you help?” This program is our answer, where we instill students with knowledge of cosmetics, fragrance, aesthetics, and adornment — and to learn how to marry the sensibility of a designer or brand with the perfect olfactory experience.

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