With its main campus in Los Angeles, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) has three satellite campuses: San Francisco, San Diego and Orange County.
FIDM administrators are very persuasive in explaining why it’s a good idea for students to train in applied design. That shirt you’re wearing right now? The layout at the Starbuck’s where you bought your coffee this morning? The branding that keeps you coming back to Target, Apple, and many other brands? Someone designed all of those things.
FIDM capitalizes on the reality that consumers have come to expect aesthetics to accompany function, and FIDM students can major in any of 20 disciplines, including product development, interior design, fashion design, merchandise marketing, graphic design and visual communications. They finish their first two years with an AA, trained for jobs in interior design, set design, marketing, event planning, and other specific jobs for which there is currently high demand.
For the student focused on careers in the design world, FIDM offers a rigorous and engaging educational experience. About 70% of the curriculum is industry-focused and the rest academic, and FIDM is WASC-accredited. After completing the AA degree, students can apply for the BS program.
FIDM is truly focused on getting their students trained and working in their selected field. Students are required to work part time and encouraged to do internships. All students leave with an electronic portfolio, suitable for interviewing. Because of FIDM’s extensive career counseling before students enroll, including this career interest quiz, very few students switch majors after they start.
I have visited both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco campuses. Both are located right in the heart of their respective city’s downtown. There are about 4500 students at the Los Angeles campus, and about 1000 students at the San Francisco campus. Both campuses occupy multiple floors in a single building. The hallways of each are meticulously decorated with student work highlighting the different disciplines.
Admission is conducted on a rolling basis. FIDM requires a transcript, where they focus on students’ performance in the humanities, as well as 2 essays and three letters of recommendation. SAT/ACT scores are not required. A portfolio is required; students can bring their existing portfolio in, or if they don’t have one, they can create an entrance portfolio project.