Fashion Design and Merchandising Student Handbook

Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources 
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI

Updated 06/23/2020


Welcome | Fashion Design and Merchandising Degree Program | Admission | Registration | Degree Requirements | Additional FDM Graduation Requirements | Helpful Reminders | Program Expectations for FDM Majors | Additional Educational Opportunities | What’s my future in Fashion? | Useful Websites | Student Academic Support Services | Minor in MerchandisingFDM Course Descriptions





Welcome to the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). We are pleased you are considering or have chosen the Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) program. FDM is a comprehensive undergraduate program whose mission is to prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed for career positions in apparel and fashion-related industries.

FDM graduates have successful careers as fashion buyers, managers, visual merchandisers, business owners, textile and fashion designers, fashion forecasters, and costume curators. Strong academic backgrounds enable graduates to move into other fields including other businesses and education.

Join Fashion Art & Business (FAB) and Phi Upsilon Omicron, a national honor society, for fun and fellowship as you team with other students in professional and community activities that introduce you to the profession and to the people with whom you will work with following graduation.

This booklet provides you with a general overview of the FDM program and its degree requirements. Please consult with an academic advisor about program admission requirements, transfer, appropriate course sequencing, graduation requirements, and other academic information. 

Best wishes for success in your college career and your future in fashion.


Barbara Yee, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair


Fashion Design and Merchandising Degree Program

The FDM curriculum provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for career positions in apparel- and fashion-related fields. Students learn fashion industry operating methods; develop buying and merchandising plans; study textile fibers and fabrics; create fashion apparel lines; examine Hawaiian, Asian, and western costume artifacts; analyze the effects of social, political, and economic conditions on local, national, and global industry operations and consumer needs; and study current concerns relating to social responsibility, ethical issues, and environmental impacts as these relate to fashion businesses and consumers.

Courses cover these and related topics:

  • Fashion sketching
  • Textile properties
  • Apparel design and construction
  • Retail buying and merchandise management
  • Fashion promotion and fashion show production
  • Costume history
  • Social and cultural aspects of dress
  • Fashion computer-aided design
  • Fashion forecasting and marketing
  • Branding
  • International trade issues. 



New students who apply to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) as first-year students may apply directly to the program by specifying Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) as their major on their application form. Students transferring from another institution who have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or better may apply directly to the program by specifying Fashion Design and Merchandising (FDM) as their major on their application form. Please visit the Office of Admissions website for details about applying.

Prior to admission, students should make an appointment with an academic degree advisor. CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) students are required to meet with an academic advisor every semester to plan their curriculum and to ensure they are making satisfactory progress towards graduation.

Students wishing to transfer from another UHM program must submit the College and Curriculum Transfer Request form. Acceptance into the FDM program will be based on a minimum cumulative UHM grade point average (GPA) of 2.0.

The request form is available from CTAHR advisors located on the first floor of Gilmore Hall. Schedule an appointment with an academic advisor to discuss transfer into FDM and have the paperwork processed. Status as an FDM major is not official until all necessary paperwork has been completed and processed. Students are encouraged to apply to the program within the first month of any given semester to allow adequate time to process their transfers prior to registration for classes.



Students register for courses online through STAR GPS Registration. STAR GPS Registration is an easy-to-navigate registration system that shows courses students need to graduate in a timely manner and allows students to personalize their academic plan to fit their unique college experience. STAR GPS Registration allows students to do the following:

  • Register for classes that count directly into their degree/credential so they don’t go off track
  • A visual calendar of the classes students are choosing and how they fit together
  • Direct integration of students’ class schedule into their Google calendar
  • Easily switch classes using the add/drop options
  • Search for classes at any UH campus
  • View transcript

For help about STAR, students can meet with an academic advisor or visit the HELP website. Registration dates and times are published on the Registration Timetable.


Degree Requirements

The Fashion Design and Merchandising program sheet and four year plan can be found at  the Bachelor Degree Program Sheet and Sample Four Year Academic Plans website. Please scroll down the page to the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Accepted students who have set up their UH username and password may also find their requirements on their STAR GPS Registration page. Log onto your STAR Account by visiting the STAR GPS Registration website. 


Additional FDM Graduation Requirements

  • FDM majors will develop a professional portfolio and make a formal presentation
  • Completion of a minimum of 120 credits
  • Minimum of 45 credits in upper division courses
  • 2.0 GPA in major courses

Faculty will assist students nearing graduation with determining the content of their portfolios, will provide opportunities for students to develop appropriate materials in their classes, and will offer guidance in oral and written presentation techniques. Transfer students may include in their portfolios some materials developed in their previous program.

The portfolio consists of evidence that the student has achieved Student Learning Outcomes #1 through #7 of the FDM instructional program. These outcomes concern mastery of fundamental knowledge and skills regarding the construction and quality of apparel and textile products; the design and merchandising of those products; and the historic, social, cultural, and economic significance of those products, as well as knowledge and skills in research methods; written and oral communications; problem solving; and human relations.

Portfolio development: The portfolio contains selected examples of assignments, projects, papers, examinations, and other materials the student has completed over the course of their studies. Students are responsible for retrieving their assignments, projects, and other class materials at the end of each term, and for keeping their class work in a secure place in anticipation of the final exit portfolio submission. The portfolio will be developed from those materials, and students will be guided in selection of appropriate materials and in developing the portfolio in FDM 495 Capstone Portfolio.

The oral presentation is a formal address to the FDM faculty and others in which the student discusses one or more issues related to the textiles and apparel field and/or to their studies. The presentation is evaluated as evidence that the student has accomplished Student Learning Outcome #10 of the FDM instructional program and concerns mastery of presentation skills. Presentations are made at the end of the semester in which FDM 495 Capstone Portfolio is completed, and are scheduled for the last Friday preceding final examinations. The presentation and the portfolio are evaluated by a team of faculty and, where possible, include evaluation by the internship work supervisor. Families and friends of students in the internship class are welcome to attend the presentations.

The internship assessment is an evaluation of the student’s success in meeting the requirements of the internship course, and in accomplishing Student Learning Outcomes #8 and #9 of the FDM instructional program. These outcomes concern global skills in communication, analysis and problem-solving, business management and human relations skills, and in understanding and practicing professional and ethical behaviors. The internship assessment is conducted by the internship faculty and other program faculty at the end of the semester in which the student is enrolled in the FDM 492 Internship class.


Helpful Reminders

  • Advising is mandatory every semester. Be sure to meet with any of the CTAHR academic advisors prior to registration. 
  • Prior to registering for classes, students should check the UHM catalog for complete information about prerequisites for courses in other departments.
  • Take FDM 101, FDM 200, FDM 205, and FDM 221 as soon as possible; they are prerequisites to advanced courses.
  • FDM Design track majors should take the following courses in the sequence listed:
Freshman FDM 205 FDM 216
Sophomore FDM 215
FDM 338
FDM 350
Junior FDM 330
FDM 315
FDM 316
Senior FDM 419
FDM 338 (if not taken previously)
FDM 420


  • Students interested in showing collections in the annual fashion show must register for FDM 419 or FDM 420. However, registration does not guarantee participation in the fashion show.
  • Take either HDFS 380+L Research Methodology or NREM 310 Statistics in Agriculture and Human Resources. This is a CTAHR graduation requirement.
  • Everyone should take FDM 492 Internship before taking FDM 495 Capstone Portfolio.
  • Total credit requirements: 120 credits, including 45 upper division credits.


Program Expectations for FDM Majors

All FDM majors are expected to attend class on the first day of instruction, and to attend class regularly throughout the term.

All Students enrolled in FDM courses are expected to exhibit integrity with regard to all of their university-related work.  Cheating and/or plagiarism may result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

  • Cheating includes, but is not limited to, giving unauthorized help during an examination, obtaining unauthorized information about an examination before it is administered, using inappropriate sources of information during an examination, altering the record of any grade, altering an answer after an examination has been submitted, falsifying any official UH Mānoa record, and misrepresenting the facts in order to obtain exemptions from course requirements.
  • Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, submitting, to satisfy an academic requirement, any document that has been copied in whole or part from another individual’s work without identifying that individual; neglecting to identify as a quotation a documented idea that has not been assimilated into the student’s language and style; paraphrasing a passage so closely that the reader is misled as to the source; submitting the same written or oral material in more than one course without obtaining authorization from the instructors involved; and “dry-labbing,” which includes obtaining and using experimental data from other students without the express consent of the instructor, utilizing experimental data and laboratory write-ups from other sections of the course or from previous terms, and fabricating data to fit the expected results.

View UHM campus policies and student conduct code at the Student Conduct Code Policies web page.


Additional Educational Opportunities

FDM students are encouraged to participate in educational opportunities nationally and abroad through programs such as the National Student Exchange and the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York City) Visiting Student Program. Other programs in London and Paris are also available. Tours to fashion centers on the mainland, in Europe and in Asia are offered on occasion by FDM faculty.


What’s my future in Fashion?

As an FDM student, you will learn to:

  • Plan, develop, and merchandise apparel product lines and evaluate their quality;
  • Recognize the global impact of fashion trends on production and distribution of apparel;
  • Understand the role of dress and fashion in society; and
  • Master the tools needed for career positions in fashion industries and related fields.

FDM graduates have successful careers as fashion buyers, managers, visual merchandisers, business owners, textile and fashion designers, fashion forecasters, and costume curators. Strong academic backgrounds enable graduates to move into other fields including other businesses and education.

FDM alumni business and leadership roles:

  • Fashion designers & apparel production managers: Kenneth Cole, Diesel, Quicksilver, Local Motion, Town & Country Surf
  • Fashion buyers and retail executives: Macy’s, Gucci, Chanel, Neiman Marcus, Ferragamo, Hermes, Cartier, Tiffany, Pier 1 Imports, Sears, Gap Kids, Banana Republic
  • Owners, Hawaii garment manufacturing
  • Companies and retail stores: Acid Dolls, You & Me Naturally, Puamana, Global Village
  • Costume designers, stylists, model management, and wardrobe consultants for
  • TV, film and advertising
  • Fashion support services: Freelance visual merchandiser; President, Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i (trade association)


Useful Websites for Students Entering into the University of Hawai'i

All information for students covering how to apply, academic calendar, financial aid, catalog, transfer credit search, new database, on-campus activities, housing (dorms), parking, etc.

MyUH Services is a mobile-optimized, one stop shop for UH business tasks, form, apps and more. It includes one-click access to services customized for students, faculty and staff across our 10-campus system.

STAR for students is the online degree tracking system for UH. You can view your degree requirements, register for classes, search for scholarships, and view your transcripts through STAR.

Select “Academic and Student Affairs” will open all the programs up for students interested in all that CTAHR has to offer for Undergrad and Graduate Programs, financial aid/scholarship information, course requirements and information on who we are, Department, Faculty and Staff as well as publications and research projects.

Use this website to make an appointment with our academic advisors. Advisors can assist you with developing a degree plan and making sure you’re taking the appropriate classes for graduation. Meeting with an academic advisor is mandatory every semester.

This web site shows the different programs, courses and resources available within the FCS department as well as general information about each.

UH Core requirements and class listings.

This web site shows information on residency requirements and how your credits transfer into UH Mānoa.


Student Academic Support Services

Access to student academic support services is important to ensure your success while a student at the University of Hawaiʻi. Below is a listing of some of these services that can also be found in the UH Manoa Catalog along with appropriate contact information:

  • Office of Civic and Community Engagement offers UH Manoa students and community agencies the opportunity to participate in a partnership of volunteer service.
  • First Year Programs familiarize students with the array of resources, programs and faculty available at UH providing opportunities to develop personal relationships and enhancing active involvement in the educational process.
  • International Student Services provides assistance to international students who come from more than countries to study at UH. Students are advised and helped to adjust to the local and U.S. cultures.
  • Kokua Program (Disability Access Services) provides disability access services to students with documented physical and/or mental disabilities. Services include alternative media production, counseling, early registration, note-taking, sign language interpreting, technology access, testing accommodations and campus transportation.
  • Learning Assistance Center provides academic counseling and assists students in developing learning skills to increase academic success. Assessment, counseling and support services are also available for students with learning disabilities.
  • Mānoa Advising Center serves as a first point of contact for advising and appropriate referrals for incoming students.
  • Student Success Center at Sinclair Library offers students a place to study and provides information and skills and a place for students to work with librarians, mentors, tutors and counselors to meet individual needs.
  • Student Support Services provides academic advising and planning, tutoring and mentoring to increase college retention, academic success and graduation rates.
  • Mānoa Writing Center provides free services to equip students with appropriate writing skills so they can become better and more confident writers.

Do not hesitate to discuss your needs with your academic degree advisor who can help refer you to the appropriate resource.


Minor in Merchandising

(Not available for FDM Majors)

Merchandising/retailing is the largest private employer segment of Hawaiʻi’s business community, and it is hungry for educated retailers. The merchandising minor gives students from other disciplines the opportunity to gain the required theory and applied skills to understand the merchandising/retailing function. Students will learn to skillfully employ techniques that encourage consumers to interface with products and services in both local and international marketplaces.

The minor requires a minimum of 24 credits. Please see break down of required courses below.


  • 2.0 GPA or higher


Required Courses in FDM (12 credits):

  • FDM 101 Introduction to the Fashion Industry
  • FDM 221 Textiles I
  • FDM 371 Retail Buying and Merchandising*
  • FDM 375 Merchandise Planning/Control*

*Students must request an override to register for course.


Merchandising Elective Courses (12 credits minimum):

Minimum of one 300-level course, two 400 level courses, and one 300-400 level course. Must achieve C or better in all courses. Choose from the following:

  • One of the two courses: Either 1) FDM 338 2D/3D Computer Aided Design or 2) FDM 339 3D Retail Store Design
  • Three of the four courses: 1) FDM 301 Fashion Forecasting/Marketing, 2) FDM 411 Product Lifecycle Management, 3) FDM 437 Small Business Start-Up, 4) FDM 471 International Apparel Trade Issues

FDM Elective courses chosen from above:

  • FDM (300 level)
  • FDM (400 level)
  • FDM (400 level)
  • FDM (300-400 level)



Interested students should meet with a CTAHR Academic Advisor. Students must complete the “Verification of Academic Minor” form with an advisor prior to graduation.


FDM Course Descriptions

Viewable online at the UH Manoa Catalog.

The minimum required grade for prerequisites is a grade of D or better.


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