Home EC College Program Overviews
Read about college programs that are related to home economics. Learn about educational prerequisites for these programs, potential coursework and employment outlook information for graduates.
Most schools refer to home economics (or 'home ec') as family and consumer sciences. Those interested in a comprehensive education that links household management with art, humanities and science should consider earning degrees in the family and consumer sciences discipline. Degree programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. These programs can lead to a range of careers in areas as diverse as nutrition and interior design.
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 may be 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 4-year degree from an advanced college or university.
Students must finish high school or earn a GED to enroll in a 'home ec' degree program. Some schools limit enrollment to applicants who sustained a 2.0 grade point average or better in their high school courses.
General education courses balance core courses within the curriculum of an associate's degree programs in family and consumer sciences. Specialized topics may include:
- Marriage and family dynamics
- Child development
- 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 internships opportunities. A Bachelor of Science is the most common degree conferred.
A high school diploma or GED is the minimal requirement to enter a baccalaureate program in family and consumer sciences. Colleges and universities may also require high school transcripts and materials such as personal statements or recommendations.
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
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 may require additional training prior to earning a teaching certificate; specifics for teacher licensure vary by state.
Master's Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences
Master's degree programs in family and consumer sciences guide students into a 'home ec' 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.
All master's degree programs in family and consumer sciences require applicants to possess an undergraduate degree. Most also require a minimum 3.0 grade point average, although some may accept lower if a student's GRE scores are sufficient. Some programs may require the completion of prerequisite undergraduate courses relevant to the prospective specialty area of the master's degree program.
The exact courses in a master's degree program in family and consumer sciences depend on school and specialty. However, common course titles include:
- Consumer behavior
- Clothing and costume design
- Fashion merchandising
- Family development
- Learning approaches
- Nutrition education
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Three popular career titles pursued by those with 'home ec' skills are fashion designer, dietician and interior designer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for each field from 2010-2020 is zero percent, 20% and 19%, in order. The median annual wages in 2012 for these fields were $62,860, $55,240 and $47,600, 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 $54,220, and in high schools they earned a median annual salary of $55,160 in 2012.
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