Online Merchandising Master's Degree and Graduate Certificate

Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2023-2024: $600
2024-2025: $610
Learn more about Tuition and Cost

Average time to complete:
Master's degree: 26 months
Graduate certificate: 12 months

36 Hours


12 Hours

This program is no longer accepting new students

We're glad you're here but want you to know that the Merchandising program is no longer accepting new students. Current students should work with their advisors to complete their master's degree or graduate certificate.

Why study Merchandising through Great Plains IDEA?

The Merchandising curriculum provides in-demand skills to advance your career in the apparel or retail industry and is an excellent fit for creatively analytical thinkers. In particular, our technology-rich program expands your ability to improve business strategies through profit maximization, cost-cutting, customer satisfaction, and selling approaches measured through the triple bottom line. Hear what recent Merchandising graduate students have to say about the unique offerings of these programs in the Merchandising Student Spotlight.

The programs build your ability to complete the following essential merchandising-related job responsibilities:

  • Analyze data using a variety of techniques
  • Research and implement effective business strategies
  • Design customer-focused product development strategies
  • Create flexible promotional campaigns
  • Balance the sustainable interests of businesses, consumers, and society
  • Predict micro and mass-market cost controls
  • Understand the evolving standards of corporate social responsibility

Learn more about how our graduates earn the skills necessary for their employers and businesses in the soft goods industry to be successful in the video below.

Merchandising Graduate Program Formats

Catering to the unique needs of students, Great Plains IDEA offers a master's degree and a graduate certificate program in merchandising. This allows students the flexibility to select the program format that best fits their academic and professional goals.

There is no GRE requirement for application to this program.

Please note that degree and certificate titles vary by university. Consult with your selected home university for the title as it will appear on the diploma or certificate. This degree program does not lead to licensure. Review the official master's degree names at our member institutions in our Merchandising Student Handbook.

Master's Degree

The online Merchandising master's degree has a 36-credit hour curriculum consisting of ten (10) 3-credit core courses that build expertise in sustainability, retail theory, product design and development, consumer behavior, and financial merchandising implications.

Students round out their merchandising degree by completing six credit hours of practicum, thesis, or elective credits that allows them to specialize in an area of interest and dive deeper into practical learning. Students work closely with their academic advisor to develop a course sequence that meets academic and professional needs. 

Review the Master's Degree Curriculum

Graduate Certificate - Merchandising

The ideal fit for someone not ready to pursue a full master's degree, the 12-credit online Merchandising graduate certificate features three required courses and one elective course. Courses include consumer behavior, professional advancement, retail theory and current practices, promotional strategies, and product design and development. The certificate supports the acquisition of skills that can accent a professional career in retail and merchandising.

Review the Merchandising Graduate Certificate Curriculum

Learn how the collaborative approach to this master's program sets it apart from similar programs. Adam Ojeda, a graduate from the master's degree program, recently participated in a recruitment webinar to help explain the program to prospective students.

Merchandising Program Outcomes

Today's socially conscious customers rely on real-time reviews and social feedback of products and services to make their purchasing decisions, and the power they hold is instrumental in an organization's success. The programs at Great Plains IDEA prepare you to navigate the retail industry, understand the far-reaching impact of consumers, and develop corporate social responsibility initiatives in the following functions:Young woman taking notes at a laptop with clothing rack in the background.

  • Buying and merchandising
  • Market research and entrepreneurial initiatives
  • Product development
  • Retail and sales leadership
  • Promotions and social media marketing
  • Sourcing and supply chain management

As a result of this comprehensive preparation, Great Plains IDEA alumni credit the degree and certificate programs as a reason for promotions and salary increases. Furthermore, the Merchandising master's degree graduates have made major career advancement in prominent professional roles such as:

  • Fashion Buyer
  • Retail Sales Manager
  • Market Forecaster
  • Advertising or Marketing Manager
  • Wholesale Sales Manager
  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Purchasing Agent

In addition to gaining knowledge about the industry, you will create relationships with other students who work all over the world in various aspects of retail. Listen as Kelsey Bruner, a graduate of the merchandising master's degree program, explains how the perspectives and experiences of other students create a unique learning environment.

Affordable, Flexible, and Effective

Great Plains IDEA is dedicated to providing an affordable online education, offering a common price per credit hour at all universities regardless of degree program or course and whether in or out of state. Learn more about Great Plains IDEA on our How It Works page.

Both the master's degree and graduate certificate programs in Merchandising are offered entirely online, fitting conveniently within the need to balance home, work, and academic responsibilities, especially for those unable to make it to a campus. The average time to completion for the master's degree is 28 months and 12 months for the graduate certificate.

"One of my favorite things about Great Plains IDEA is that faculty from across many universities get to work together, bounce ideas off one another, and make sure the curriculum is the absolute highest quality.  We have so many diverse perspectives among faculty, providing us multiple ways to teach information most effectively.  We are a close-knit family in the merchandising program."Linda Manikowske, associate professor at North Dakota State University

Experienced Faculty Dedicated to Student Success

Faculty in the Merchandising graduate programs have extensive experience in the industry, providing you with direct access to some of the leading minds in their field. Their experience helps you put theory into practice, developing your real-world skill set to excel in your career. They are dedicated to your success as mentors and lead an engaging online academic experience that maximizes retention and promotes success. Get to know more about the Merchandising faculty members at the bottom of the page.

Launch an Exciting Career in Retail and Merchandising through Great Plains IDEA

Great Plains IDEA's online Merchandising master's degree and graduate certificate programs provide you with the advanced knowledge to excel in the modern competitive retail, apparel, and merchandising industries.

The online master's degree program is 36-credit hours and consists of 10 (ten) 3-credit core courses plus six credit hours of practicum, thesis, or elective credits.

Course List for the Master's Degree

The online graduate certificate program is 12-credit hours and features three required courses and one elective course.

Course List for the Graduate Certificate

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Ashley Schultz
Stacy Duffield
Rae Ann Montgomery
Melisia Bieber
Faculty
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Shannon Spencer is a graduate student in the agricultural education program.The Great Plains IDEA program has allowed me the flexibility to continue my education while also being a full-time extension agent and mother to twin boys. The program has given me the opportunity to interact with students and teaching professionals from various universities that I may have never met. This program has allowed me to focus not only on my education but also on my profession and family and for that, I will be forever grateful.

– – Shannon Spencer, Agricultural Education Master's Degree Student,
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