Home EC College Program Overviews

Home economics, also known as family and consumer sciences, is comprehensive education that links household management with arts, humanities and science. Degree programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels.

Essential Information

Home economic programs are now commonly titled family and consumer science studies as they provide instruction on a wide range of domestic subjects including hygiene, health, child care and interior design. Programs in this diverse field are offered at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. A high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA is required for entrance to undergraduate degree programs. A bachelor's degree and relevant coursework is required for master's degree programs.

Associate's degree programs introduce basic subject matter in areas such as consumer education and home furnishings, while teaching basic skills in sewing and cooking. Bachelor's degree programs give students options for specializations in fields like teaching, interior design and nutrition with internship opportunities provided. Master's programs are intended for graduates to delve deeper into their specific areas of concentration with the option to perform a thesis project.

Associate's Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences

An associate's degree program in family and consumer sciences provides an introduction to hygiene and health, consumer education, home furnishing, child care and fashion. Other topics related to homemaking and family wellness are addressed, depending on the program's focus. Students practice domestic skills such as sewing, cleaning and cooking, as well as basic academic skills such as research and writing. Most programs encourage students to choose electives that will prepare them for a specialty if they plan to seek a bachelor's degree in the field. General education courses are balanced with core courses within the home economics curriculum. Specialized topics may include:

  • Marriage and family dynamics
  • Child development
  • Nutrition
  • Money management
  • Interior design

Bachelor's Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences

A bachelor's degree program in family and consumer sciences typically provides options for student specialization in fields such as teaching, interior design, nutrition, culinary services and general wellness. Depending on the chosen specialty, students gain skills in pedagogy, design, food preparation, child care or health. Many programs include internship opportunities. Courses offered in the first two years of a bachelor's degree program in family and consumer sciences are similar to those found in an associate's degree program, and may address the following topics:

  • Food science
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Textiles and apparel
  • Child and human development
  • Parenting

Master's Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences

Master's degree programs in family and consumer sciences guide students into a home economic specialization such as interior and fashion design, dietetics and nutrition, consumer studies, family studies or teaching. Many programs have a thesis option; students who choose to research and write a thesis have a correspondingly lighter course load. However, all students are expected to demonstrate research and analysis skills. Students may complete programs in as few as 2-3 years and receive a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Family and Consumer Sciences. The exact courses in these programs depend on the school and specialty chosen. However, common course titles include:

  • Consumer behavior
  • Clothing and costume design
  • Fashion merchandising
  • Textiles
  • Family development
  • Nutrition education

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Three popular career titles pursued by those with home economic skills are fashion designer, dietician and interior designer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rates for each of these fields from 2014-2024 are 3%, 16% and 4%, in order. The median annual wages in 2015 for these fields were $63,670, $57,910 and $48,840, respectively. Those with training in this field (and the requisite instructor certification) may also wish to teach the subject. Consumer sciences teachers typically work at middle or high schools. Career and technical education teachers in middle schools earned a median annual wage of $55,190, and in high schools they earned a median annual salary of $56,130 in 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Students who earn a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences may apply to master's degree or doctoral degree programs in a related subject. Degree-holders interested in teaching at a junior high or high school level may require additional training prior to earning a teaching certificate; specifics for teacher licensure vary by state.

A background in home economics, or family and consumer sciences, can prepare students for a wide variety of careers. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs are all available in this field.

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