Merchant Development Program | Merchandising & Digital Retailing

Merchant Development Program

Merchant Development Program

The Merchant Development Program provides students with enriched opportunities both inside and outside the classroom that are designed to enhance their academic foundation, develop a personal awareness of ethical and financial responsibilities, and refine demonstrated talent.

Ideal candidates for the program are students who have a passion for the retail industry and a strong academic ambition. Students will have opportunities to participate in several industry experiences designed to bring them in contact with real business practices and strong networking occasions that ultimately result in strengthened resumes. 

Application Requirements:

  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Completed each of the pre-major courses for their major with a grade of A or B
  • Worked a minimum of 300 documented clock hours in retail

Application Pracket should include:

  1. Application form 
  2. Current Darwin report
  3. Copy of the Advising Plan where you and your academic advisor have mapped out a semester plan for you to progress through the program.
  4. Essay (300-500 words) explaining your career goals and why you should be selected for the program
  5. Documentation that you have worked a minimum of 300 hours in retail. 

Application Packet should be sent to:  Laura Storm, Merchant Development Program Coordinator, Chilton Hall 355,,  There is no deadline. Applications are accepted year-round

Program Requirements:

  1. Complete the following coursework with a grade of B or higher:
    • MDSE 4510 – Advanced Buying, Planning, and Allocatio
    1. 1.  Select one of the following courses to complete:
      • MDSE 4000 – Global Discovery (New York, Hong Kong, Europe, Silicon Valley, or Dallas)
      • MDSE 4850 – Brand Development
      • DRTL 3190 – Digital Retailing Strategies
  2.  Be an active member of NRFSA.
  3. Acquire a mentor and document frequency and outcomes of interaction. The mentor and mentee should meet at least every 4-6 weeks.

Expectations of the mentor (industry professional):

  • Help the student develop a career vision.
  • Suggest resources that will help the student develop professionally.
  • Provide professional networking opportunities.

Expectations of the mentee (student):

  • Research the mentor’s background and prepare conversation points.
  • Provide the mentor with a written list of questions prior to each meeting or phone call.
  • Prepare a set of goals and objectives for the mentoring relationship.

4. Document 24 hours of community service during your time in the program.

5. Attend MDR professional development events such as Executive + Scholar lectures or the Consumer Experience Symposium (attend at least 1 per semester).

6. Participate in at least one professional development presentation that will focus on the soft skills needed to succeed as a merchant. MDP students will work together as a team to research the topics and present to fellow students.

Possible presentation topics: servant leadership, business etiquette, leadership, appropriate business dress, negotiation, communication and collaboration in challenging situations, resilience and persistence, goal setting, networking, work/life balance, earning the trust of others, etc.