Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Michelle (Shelley) McGuire, School Director (105 Mary Hall Niccolls Bldg. 83844-3183; phone 208-885-6546; famcon@uidaho.edu

The collective family and consumer sciences (FCS) disciplines (formerly referred to as home economics) focus on the relationships, resources, and services contributing to holistic individual, family, and community health and well-being. The disciplines analyze the needs of individuals, families, and communities using social, psychological, physical, biological, economic, and aesthetic theories and concepts.

Seven unique undergraduate majors are in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, each leading to a bachelor of science and designed to meet professional and individual goals of our students. These majors are as follows:

  1. Apparel, textiles, and design
  2. Child development
  3. Early childhood education
  4. Human development and family studies
  5. Family and consumer sciences
  6. Food and nutrition
  7. Nutritional sciences

The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences has an outstanding scholarship program for entering first-year students, continuing undergraduate majors, and graduate students. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence regardless of financial need. More than half a million dollars in scholarship funds are dispersed on an annual basis. In addition, myriad internships and study abroad opportunities are available to qualified students.

Apparel, Textiles, and Design

The Apparel, Textiles, and Design Program offers both apparel design and fashion merchandising emphases. Combining courses from art or business with the clothing, textile, and design courses offered in the school prepares students for careers in retail and wholesale sectors of the apparel and textile industries. Students garner substantial hands-on learning in the school's well-equipped clothing construction and technology studios. In addition, they have access to the Leila Old Historic Costume Collection, which houses over 10,000 historical items. Designers, product development specialists, retail buyers and managers, and merchandise managers are some of the career titles held by UI graduates.

Child Development

In this program, you'll develop the specialized skills to help families create the environment every child needs for healthy development. Students examine typical developmental stages of children and families, study current research and take courses in human development and behavior, parent-child relationships, nutrition, and other related topics. Students work closely with teachers and staff in the school's in-house laboratory school (Child Development Laboratory) to garner hands-on experience working with young children. This major prepares students to work with children and families, including in preschool settings.

Early Childhood Education

Quality care and education for young children is critically important, and demand for teachers is great. In this program, you will study teaching methods, explore child development and family relations, and learn about special education strategies in real-world settings. Students work closely with teachers and staff in the school's in-house laboratory school (Child Development Laboratory) to garner hands-on experience working with young children. Upon completion, you are eligible for the Idaho blended early childhood education/early childhood special education (birth—grade 3) teaching certification.

Human Development and Family Studies

In this program, you will explore family and relationship dynamics across the lifespan and learn how to help teens, adults, couples, families, and older adults lead better, more fulfilling lives. Students will explore patterns of individual development and family functioning, including how contextual factors influence social-emotional, physical and cognitive development and behaviorCareer paths include individual, family, and school counseling as well as social work and a variety of other people-facing occupations.

Family and Consumer Sciences

In this program, you’ll develop skills to assist families and consumers with decisions to improve their lives. You’ll receive a broad education that covers diverse topics including consumer and family finance, personal development, nutrition, child development, and family life. This major can also be paired with the career and technical education major to prepare students to become FCS teachers in middle and high schools. Graduates are also uniquely suited to work in the Extension realm, providing FCS education to the public.

Food and Nutrition

In this program, you will receive foundational knowledge in anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry to understand how the body utilizes food. Students will explore how to prepare food and develop recipes to be appealing and nutrient dense; plan menus and prepare meals to meet the needs of individuals and groups; learn about macro and micronutrients, nutritional biochemistry, and how nutritional needs of humans change throughout the lifespan; and assess nutritional status and provide nutrition education and counseling to prevent chronic disease and optimize health. The Food and Nutrition B.S. prepares students for careers as food service managers, medical and health services managers, health educators, community health workers, or dietetic technicians. It also prepares students to pursue graduate work to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). Students are eligible to apply for the University of Idaho's M.S. in dietetics, a unique 3 + 2 program which results in earning both a B.S. and M.S. in just 5 years.

Nutritional Sciences

Learn about how your body utilizes the food you eat to maintain health and how unbalanced eating patterns can lead to poor health and disease. In your courses, you’ll not only learn about food and nutrition, but also fundamental aspects of nutritional physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, the psychology of eating and food choices, and how to support physical activity with healthy eating. With a degree in nutritional sciences, you will be prepared for advanced healthcare education, graduate school, and research. In addition to being a top-notch prehealth program, this flexible degree is also an excellent launching point for other careers in health and wellness.

Graduate Studies

The Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences offers graduate course work and research opportunities to address concerns facing individuals, families, and communities at all levels of society. An integrated approach prepares students for the complexities of our global society through the analysis and application of relevant theories, practices, teaching, research, and outreach. One of the greatest strengths of teaching, research, and outreach found in FCS is its interdisciplinary nature. As each sub-discipline within the diverse FCS field gains strength in scholarship, each also finds richness in collaborations. Theoretical frameworks guiding much of our work center on systems theory and human ecological models and are, as appropriate, also grounded in basic science. We strive to answer our research questions utilizing expertise from the sub-disciplines, creating deeper thinking within the field of FCS and across the university.

Graduate students apply communication, analytical, evaluation, and synthesis skills to the study of families and consumers through classroom, practice, teaching, and research experiences. The school's world-class Child Development Laboratory provides a unique resource for both teaching and research activities for all FCS sub-disciplines. Internships in community agencies and business, practical experience in teaching and supervision, and graduate teaching and research assistantships also provide valuable graduate student training. Graduate student research is closely aligned with faculty interests that currently include early childhood education, young children’s cognitive and social-emotional development, at-risk youth, maternal and infant health and nutrition, human milk and breastfeeding, nutrition and cognition, food safety, family and consumer sciences education, the international apparel industry, design scholarship, and cultural and historical aspects of dress. The program can also prepare students to be teachers in public schools and community colleges; to be child or human development specialists in public and private organizations such as nonprofit and social services agencies, hospitals, childcare centers, and the extension system; and to future pursuits of doctoral degrees in family and consumer sciences, social work, education, human development, nutrition, and related fields.