Our applicants come from a variety of backgrounds with various connections to and experiences with fashion. The diverse perspectives of our faculty and students inform our approach to teaching, learning, and preparing our students for a rapidly changing industry.

We require our Fashion Design option applicants (freshmen and transfer) to submit (1) a portfolio and (2) a Fashion Design Index. The Fashion Design Index is a set of questions used by the Fashion Design and Management faculty to better understand your design process and thinking, sense of aesthetics, and perception of fashion.

Applicants interested in the Fashion Design Management option must follow separate guidelines.

Carefully review the following instructions and guidelines to ensure that you submit all required materials for evaluation. You should include work that best highlights your creativity, skill, and passion for design. All work must be original and produced by the applicant. Submissions found to have significant similarity to work posted on the internet or from other sources will not be accepted.

Admissions information
The best source of information about the admissions process is the College of Human Ecology (CHE) Admissions Office. Prospective freshmen are strongly encouraged to attend a CHE information session. Prospective transfers are strongly encouraged to call 607.255.5471 to schedule an appointment with an Admissions Counselor

Faculty appointments
If you make a campus visit, you are encouraged to meet with department faculty well before the submission deadline to discuss the portfolio and receive feedback on a selection of your work. Email or call 607.255.3196 to schedule an appointment or to request a phone consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions
We hope the FAQs below will help you consider the most effective ways to highlight your creativity, design sense, and perception of fashion. 

Required Portfolio and Fashion Design Index

Submit the required Fashion Design Portfolio and the required Fashion Design Index via www.cornellche.slideroom.com. The SlideRoom portal will be open for submissions for the 2020 admissions cycle during the summer of 2019.


Mail the required the Fashion Design Portfolio and the required Fashion Design Index to:
Portfolio Review Committee | T57 Human Ecology Building
College of Human Ecology
Cornell University
37 Forest Home Drive
Ithaca, NY 14853-4401

NOTE: We do not accept mixed submission methods. You must submit your entire supplement online or as a hardcopy.

Portfolio returns: Hard copy portfolios will be returned after June 1, only if you provide paid postage and a sturdy mailer. The College of Human Ecology does not assume responsibility for lost or damaged portfolios.

Carefully review the following information as you develop your Fashion Design portfolio. Submissions found to have significant similarity to work posted on the internet or from other sources will not be accepted.

  • Include a maximum of 15 examples of design work from the following categories that demonstrate a breadth of skill and passion for fashion design.  Two-thirds of your portfolio work should be from the “primary” category. See formatting guidelines below.
Examples of primary and secondary work
Primary work Secondary Work
Fashion illustration; clothing or accessories you have designed and/or made; textile design projects; fashion sketch book pages; examples of wearable technology and computer aided design. Work from art classes including examples of ceramics, crafts, glasswork, graphics, leatherwork, metal, painting, photography, sculpture, and/or woodwork; garments sewn from commercial patterns; fashion blogging; costume design.


Digital Format

  • Submit (1) page per image to SlideRoom.
  • Label each example of your work with information about the media used, the date it was produced, the work's original size, whether it was done for a class or independently, and if it is your original pattern or base on a commercial pattern/template.
  • Respond to and submit the Design Index to SlideRoom.

Physical/hard copy Format

  • Present your materials in a portfolio that is smaller than 11” x 17”.
  • Include the required Fashion Design Index as the coversheet for your portfolio.
  • Send reproductions (scanned and printed images, photocopies, or photographs) of your work. Do not send original work or 3D pieces, such as garments or accessories.
  • Label each item with information about the media used; the date it was produced; the work’s original size; whether it was done for a class or independently; and if it is original work or based on a commercial pattern/template.
  • Clearly label your portfolio and the backside of other visuals with your name and birth-date.

Respond to the (4) following prompts on a separate sheet(s) of paper and submit to www.cornellche.slideroom.com or include your completed Fashion Design Index as a cover sheet for your hard copy portfolio. Be sure to include your first and last name, your date of birth, and your email address at the top of your document.

(1) What is fashion? (maximum: 150 words)

(2) Briefly respond to one of the following questions (maximum : 150 words)

  • What role will you play in the future of design?   -or-
  • Why do you want to study Fashion Design in the College of Human Ecology?

(3) Media Perspectives: How do you stay updated on fashion and how do you communicate about fashion?

(4) Garment Construction: Do you have experience making clothing? If so, please describe how and when you learned these skills. If no, what interests you about the process?

Frequently Asked Questions

No. Fashion graphics and garment construction are taught during the first two semesters at Cornell and are required of all Fashion Design students. We understand that not all students have opportunities to participate in fashion experiences/coursework.

All faculty appointments are scheduled by emailing FSAD-DUS@cornell.edu or calling 607-255-3196. We recommend that you visit the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design’s website and review the faculty pages to identify the faculty member whose interests are closest to yours. An appointment or a phone consultation can be scheduled with that faculty member if they are available.

Black and white sketches work well for fashion illustrations. You might, however, want to include images of fabric swatches or written descriptions of fabrics with some of your sketch work to give reviewers an idea of how you envision the finished garment(s). Design faculty are interested in applicants’ thoughts about the design process, fabric selections, and color choices.

Photograph front and back views of the design on a model or mannequin. Show any close-up shots of the detail work you wish to highlight. You may include images or written descriptions of fabric swatches of the designs with your photos. Make note of the source of the commercial pattern.

Create and include storyboards or collages around fashion themes and colors to demonstrate how you coordinate apparel and accessories. You can also include photos of your friends in the outfits you have coordinated for them and briefly explain your selection decisions.

No. A recommendation letter from a designer with whom you have worked can be included in your portfolio, but it cannot replace a teacher letter of recommendation.

Contact the College of Human Ecology Admissions Office (607-255-5471) to learn more about your candidacy. Submitting additional visuals to your portfolio, as well as updates regarding design-related activities and awards, might be helpful to your candidacy. You can also send a statement of continued interest to the College of Human Ecology Admissions Committee via email. Additional letters of recommendation are not helpful.

The summer before you matriculate at Cornell is an excellent time to establish a basic understanding of fabric and machine handling. Fashion design is a design field where it is possible to make what you design using your own hands. Background work will enhance the quality of projects in your fashion design studios. Fashion design work in the major includes original sketch ideas, textile color and surface design, apparel pattern development, and construction of garments by the student. Enrolling students who need to improve their sewing skills on campus will be enrolled in appropriate coursework their first semester.