Consumer Science

The faculty, students, and staff of the Consumer Science department at UW–Madison are committed to fostering a fair and healthy marketplace that promotes the well-being of families and individuals across the U.S. and internationally. We apply social science theories and rigorous quantitative methods to the study of household and consumer interactions, offering keen insights and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing socioeconomic challenges.

Resources and areas of specialization

Nancy Wong headshot

Dr. Nancy Wong, Department Chair

Consumer Science faculty include interdisciplinary scholars working across research, program, and clinical capacities to address key economic and policy opportunities in our field. Our areas of specialization include:

  • Social security, disability assistance and retirement savings
  • Food security and nutrition assistance
  • Financial capability and access
  • Alternative financial services (e.g., payday lending, military lending)
  • Consumer decision making and well-being
  • Family relationships and financial well-being

Centers and labs

The School of Human Ecology (SoHE) is home to the UW Center for Financial Security (CFS), a hub for research and outreach on topics related to economic vulnerability with more than 100 affiliated faculty across the university and nationally. The CFS, in turn, currently houses one of just four U.S. Social Security Administration-funded Retirement and Disability Research Centers in the country, supporting critical investigations and connecting and training scholars working on these issues.

In collaboration with the Wisconsin School of Business, SoHE also houses and operates the Behavioral Research Insights Through Experiments (BRITE) Lab, a state-of-the-art facility for researchers to perform lab data collection for business, consumer science, and other studies. Meanwhile, our Kohl’s Center for Retailing connects students with meaningful internship opportunities that expand their learning and research beyond the classroom and into the marketplace, under faculty director Dr. Nancy Wong and executive director Jerry O’Brien.

The Badger$ense Financial Life Skills Program provides students across campus with unique and innovative opportunities to learn about managing their personal finances during and after college.

Finally, our Money, Relationships, and Equality Initiative, directed by Dr. Christine Whelan, addresses the ties between finance and romance over the life course.

Partners and affiliations

Several Consumer Science faculty hold joint appointments or affiliations with other UW units including:

Degrees offered

The department of Consumer Science at UW–Madison provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate level education.


PhD, Consumer Behavior and Family Economics (PDF brochure)


BS, Personal Finance
BS, Retailing and Consumer Behavior