Fashion School expands into research field with new graduate program


Catherine Leslie PhD (pictured far right), graduate studies coordinator of Kent State University’s Fashion School, stands with graduate students of the 2018-19 Master of Fashion Industry Studies cohort.

Jenna Langan

Kent State’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising is in the first semester of its new graduate-level education program, a Master of Fashion Industry Studies (MFIS).

Catherine Leslie, the graduate studies coordinator and a professor in Kent State’s Fashion School, is pleased with the implementation of the program so far. 

“MFIS is a unique program because the faculty at Kent State Fashion School believe there is a need in our industry for higher level thinking, management skills and strategizing,” Leslie said. “What we’re looking to do is to provide our industry with individuals who can look at the bigger picture.”

With a primary focus on research-based solutions for the fashion industry, this program gives students a well-rounded educational experience in the fashion world.

“When students graduate from this program they will have a specialization within the fashion industry,” Leslie said. “They will be able to know much more about international branding, technology, wearable fashion, sustainability and communication, so they’ll be able to tailor a career based on their education.”

The program started small this semester, but is looking to expand in 2019.

“This first semester, we have eight students enrolled,” Leslie said. “In Fall 2019, we expect to have 10 to 15 more students.”

The MFIS is not restricted to only fashion students; any major can apply.

“We’re looking for students from a wide variety of backgrounds,” Leslie said. “If a student comes to the Masters of Fashion Industry Studies with an underlying degree in another field, we have two undergraduate courses that students would take to get up to speed.”

Madison Sustar, a senior fashion merchandising major, wishes she had time to take part in the MFIS program.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to further their education in something really valuable,” Sustar said. “I think it’s great because there’s so much more to learn than putting clothes together.”

The MFIS allows Leslie to be more of a personal mentor to students and help them find their path in the fashion world.

“It’s very rewarding to teach the graduate students,” Leslie said. “Helping them explore their own interests and their own skills, to make their own future to package themselves and use this as an opportunity for their future.”

Jenna Langan is the consumer tech reporter. Contact her at [email protected].