With aims to further students’ knowledge of the fashion industry, the School of Family and Consumer Sciences now offers a Master of Science in Merchandising and Consumer Studies.
“It is for two types of students—the non-merchandising major who decides (that) is what (they) want to do and the merchandising major who is looking to deepen their knowledge of their area of study,” said Rodney Runyan, professor and director of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Students are able to begin taking classes for this master’s degree program during the last 15 hours of undergraduate coursework. Students will still graduate with their original bachelor’s degree if they choose to take this step. A GPA of at least 3.0 and an official Graduate Record Exam score is required to enroll in the program.
Four people are enrolled in the program currently, but students from all over the world have begun submitting applications.
“Students get to see how concepts are applied,” said Pauline Sullivan, associate professor of fashion merchandising. “We offer them the opportunity to apply that knowledge.”
The degree plan requires courses in sustainable economies, merchandising strategies and ethics. Students are required to take a statistics course to strengthen their analytical skills.
Critical thinking and research skills are crucial for students going into the fashion industry, Sullivan said.
“(Students) should be inquisitive and willing to question what they learn and enjoy problem solving,” Sullivan said. “The industry changes constantly, and this program will teach students how to make proper decisions that fit the changes of lifestyles.”
Students are able to choose between a thesis or non-thesis route. The thesis route allows for a graduate faculty mentor to guide students as they research and write their theses.
The non-thesis option requires students earn a practicum, which will be different from an undergraduate internship because it will enable them to use theories learned in the classroom. It will be tailored to specific career goals and aims to help measure work experience.
“It is the best location for shopping research,” Sullivan said, adding that the diversity in and around the university is ideal for research projects.
The outlet malls and community create a opportunity for these students to go out and discover their future markets, Sullivan said.
Endless job opportunities are available for students to explore. Some career options available to students who have earned a master’s degree include becoming a fashion product account coordinator, an associate merchandiser in Europe or a fashion journalist.
The program’s faculty invites companies and guest speakers to speak with students about these positions for their futures.
“The program gives an insight to what companies want and expect,” said Alexandra Aparicio, business senior. “I am so happy Texas State got this program. It’s a great step into the real world, great exposure and (offers) networking.”
The program is open to all graduate candidates, regardless of a student’s undergraduate degree.