Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development
About the Profession
Retailing and promotion of merchandise, including apparel, home furnishing, and accessories, present some of the most exciting and challenging career opportunities available. The constant development of new technologies for creating products and the demand for innovative personnel at all market levels -- producer, wholesaler, and retailer -- require educational preparation that is current with the industry. At Ohio University, the Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development program keeps pace with these changes by combining educational expertise with up-to-date, on-the-job experience. Students are prepared for retail challenges in the global marketplace.
Career Opportunities Q&A
Q: What careers will I be prepared to pursue upon graduation?
A: Career options include retail management, buying, product development, merchandising, visual presentation, quality control and wholesale sales and entrepreneurship. Our market-driven Retail Merchandising program prepares you to land the job of your dreams!
Q: Where are graduates working?
A: Major corporations such as The Limited, Inc. (and its divisions), Maurices, J. Crew, The Gap, Kohl's, WalMart, Target, Ann Taylor, Macy's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and J.C. Penney have employed OU Retail Merchandising graduates. Graduates have also secured employment with various design companies and manufacturers including Betsey Johnson, and Cejon. Alumni have landed specialized jobs such as fashion stylists, artistic consultants, fashion show coordinators , costumers for TV and motion pictures, apparel and textile designers.
Q: Is there anyone to help me find a job?
A: The faculty in the Retail Merchandising program are available to work with each student. It is our goal that each student realize his or her goals! We encourage you to attend career fairs at Ohio University and at other universities. Ohio University's Career Services office regularly schedules interviews with retail companies for both internships and entry-level positions. Additionally, companies seeking internship students often contact Ohio University for candidates. The faculty are here to guide you as you network with resource people including the Retail Merchandising advisory board, alumni contacts, and other industry professionals.
Q: What are the typical career paths in Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development?
A: Most entry level positions are as trainees - in merchandising, management, product development, or buying. You may begin your career as a manager in training at a major department store or within a specialty store, as a buyer trainee, or as a merchandise coordinator for a major label. Secondary positions such as sales representative, buyer, divisional merchandise manager, fashion coordinator, stylist, and production coordinator are typically available to people with 3 to 6 years of experience in retailing. Retail Merchandising graduates may also find employment in departments of human resources of retail firms or with design and manufacturing companies.
About the Program
Students interested in the Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development program will enter Ohio University with a pre-major code of ND6380 (Pre-Retail Merchandising). To be admitted into the major, you must complete an application form (downloadable PDF available on the right side of this page) and be accepted after successful completion of 6 courses and achieving an accumulative g.p.a. of 2.0 or higher.
The Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development program and courses at Ohio University prepare students for dynamic careers in industry. The course of study includes professional development, knowledge of industry-specific business and sales applications, and hands-on retailing experiences. In addition, study tours to New York City and abroad enhance classroom instruction and provide valuable networking opportunities. The program works cooperatively with an advisory board composed of retailers, business people and educators in related fields. Faculty and students network with corporate representatives who provide internships and hire Retail Merchandising majors. Program resources provide insight into the ongoing development of our market-driven program. In addition, an historic costume collection is housed in our facilities and managed within our program. Your professional development will be enhanced through regular meetings with an academic advisor and through a sequence of professional development and retail content courses that will prepare you for the world of opportunities in retailing.
As an Ohio University Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development major, you will complete work experiences during your junior and senior year. You will complete the RFPD 3890 Career Search Strategies course during your junior year followed by the Work Experience for Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development (RFPD 3910), a 1 credit course requiring a minimum of 80 work hours in a retail setting. The Work Experience equips students with the entry level competencies necessary to obtain and succeed in a comprehensive internship program. During your senior year, and after you have completed 9 credit hours of RFPD core classes, you will be eligible to enroll in the RFPD 4910 Internship. This is a semester long, full time internship program comprised of 400 work hours and a 12 credit online course. Possible internship locations include buying offices, merchandising marts, department stores, and corporate headquarters of major corporations. Student interns typically fill positions such as buyer's assistants, management trainees, sales representatives, and merchandise coordinator's assistants, to name a few.
Requiring RFPD core classes as internship prerequisites ensures that students enter internship positions with a solid foundation of retail knowledge. Embarking on an internship with the ability to apply competencies obtained from major courses results in a more meaningful and productive experience for both the employee and the employer. Internship credit hours are equal to a full semester course load which allows students to maintain full-time status while working full time! And because assignments associated with the Internship are submitted electronically, there are no geographic limitations-- Ohio University Retail Merchandising students have held internships worldwide! Some recent student internships have included positions as merchandising and management trainees, buyer's trainees, merchandise coordinators, and customer service specialists within companies such as Ross, Cejon, The Limited Inc., the Atlanta Apparel Mart, Disney, The Gap, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, WalMart, Sears, J.C.Penney, Target and more!
RFPD 3910: Work Experience in Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development (1 credit hour)
- Prerequisite: C or better in RFPD 3890 and RFPD Major.
Students seek and complete a field work experience in the retail merchandising and fashion product development industry for a minimum of 80 hours. Projects are related to the learning experience of the individual student. Emphasis is on reflection of the learning experience and its relationship to program goals.
RFPD 4910: Internship: Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development (12 credit hours)
- Prerequisites: RFPD 3890 and 3910 and 9 hours from (RFPD 3830 or 4070 or 4230 or 4300) and RFPD major and Senior only.
On-the-job experience through cooperation with industry retail merchandising and fashion product development establishments.
RFPD 4800: Strategic Retail Policy (3 credit hours)
- Prerequisites: RFPD 4910 or concurrent
Capstone course serves as an intensive personal and professional assessment tool for prospective leaders in the retail merchandising and fashion product development industry. Students apply knowledge forged during internship experiences in policy analysis, with perspective of ethical decision making emphasized.
An advisory board of retailing professionals, business people, and educators works cooperatively with the faculty of Ohio University's Retail Merchandising and Fashion Product Development program to ensure that the program remains current with industry standards, technologically up-to-date, and competitive in a dynamic market.
Participating in professional associations enables students to network within their field. Our students can become members of the following organizations:
- Fashion Associates
- American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
- Phi Upsilon Omicron National Honor Society in Family and Consumer Sciences
- Professional Retail Leaders
- National Retail Federation Student Association