Consumer Science Degree Programs Overview

Consumer science is a social discipline that focuses on the interaction between people and the environment. Some of the topics addressed by a specialist in consumer science are nutrition, aging, housing, food safety, community, and parenting.

Essential Information

Certificate programs in consumer science are usually short and are focused on a particular area, such as Internet retail or apparel merchandising. Bachelor's degree programs are 4-year plans of study that include general education classes along with classes and hands-on experiences in areas including finance, nutrition, and family and child development.

  • Program Levels in Consumer Science: Certificate and bachelor's degree programs are available.
  • Prerequisites: Prerequisites vary by program because of the wide range of concentrations available to students. Typically, there are requirements to demonstrate educational aptitude, clinical experience, and research competency.
  • Program Length: Bachelor's degree programs take approximately 125 course hours, or four years, to complete.

Certificate in Consumer Science

Certificates in consumer science are popular for those who simply wish to gain the competitive edge in a job search. The field of consumer science includes family, marketing, nutrition, apparel design, life management, and interior design. Some areas addressed are marketing, promotion, nutrition merchandising, and entrepreneurship. Additionally, the field encompasses nutritional knowledge, life-saving techniques, and mediation skills.

Coursework in consumer science certificate programs is typically focused and specific to a narrow subject area. Sample courses are:

  • Internet retail
  • Technology entrepreneurship
  • Product organization and promotion
  • Apparel merchandising

Bachelor of Science in Consumer Science

Students of the bachelor's degree program in consumer science develop general knowledge of all areas within the discipline. Instead of focusing on any single facet of consumer science, students are likely to receive a balanced education in the following areas: family and child development, nutrition and foods, family management, fashion merchandising, and interior design. Some of the concepts covered throughout the program are global perspectives, human well-being, and entrepreneurship ethics.

Coursework in this program tends to lean heavily on social sciences. The degree plan is ideal for students who value communication, believe family is a fundamental societal unit, welcome diversity, and thrive on serving others. Courses may address:

  • Relationships and sexuality, including interpersonal relationships
  • Nutrition basics
  • Awareness of the consumer
  • Child development
  • Finance
  • Housing management

Career Options

Since the subject area is expansive and varied, graduates with a bachelor's degree in consumer science have many career options. For example:

  • Marketing strategist
  • Retail professional, frontline sales associate, store operator, or personal shopper
  • Fashion merchant or designer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Visual merchandising coordinator
  • Human services consultant
  • Culinary arts trainer

Job Outlook and Salary Information

A certificate would also likely be helpful in the path toward becoming a first-line supervisor of retail workers, which would bring in a median income of $21,390, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),, in 2014. Job growth in retail sales is expected to increase by 10% from 2012 to 2022.

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