What Is the Meaning of Home Economics?


Home economics is a school subject that teaches home management and life skills. Course offerings vary widely but may include nutrition, consumer education, budgeting, cooking, sewing and childrearing. The subject has fallen in popularity because of its past emphasis on providing women with the domestic skills required to be homemakers. Most departments now call themselves "family and consumer sciences," or FCS. Middle school and high school programs typically focus more on life skills, while most colleges emphasize career preparation.

Middle and High School Programs

  • FCS and home ec programs in middle schools and high schools teach skills to help students run their homes and lives. The California Department of Education lists eight overall subject areas for FCS: fashion and textiles, food and nutrition, health, housing, consumer education, child development, family life and leadership skills. A secondary focus is providing skills for entry-level jobs such as food server and preparation for additional study that can lead to careers in FCS fields. Typical high school course offerings include culinary arts, fashion design and early childhood education.

College Programs

  • At some colleges, all FCS majors choose a specialty such as fashion design, child development or consumer affairs. These paths focus on the coursework necessary for a career, such as apparel designer or child-care worker. For example, a specialty in fashion design includes core subjects such as consumer resource management and economics, plus classes in fashion sketching, textiles and apparel draping. Some colleges also offer a major in general FCS to prepare students for a career or a role as a homemaker. Required coursework may include consumer education, food science, nutrition, parenting and resource management. A general major can lead to careers as an FCS teacher or extension service worker.


  • Photo Credit Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images
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