The Colors of School Subjects: What Color Is Math, English, Social Studies, and Science?

Folders in different colors for the school subjects math, English, social studies, and science

Recently, the topic of “school subject colors” has become a heated debate. Everyone seems to have strong opinions about which colors are associated with which school subjects, even if they graduated school a long time ago. Specifically, the four core classes (math, English, social studies, and science) are the ones that are the most talked about.

What are School Subject Colors?

School subject colors are the colors we commonly associate with classes in school. Usually, people match red, yellow, green, and blue with either math, science, English, or social studies. However, some people also match colors to popular electives, such as foreign language and art.

We associate school subjects with colors subconsciously, often without a clear reason why. However, these combinations can vary slightly depending on who you’re talking to. Plus, they might have more reasoning to them than we realize.

Why Do We Associate School Subjects With Colors?

Kids raising hands in class at school

There could be lots of reasons for these color associations, but the most common explanation is that they’re based on something we learned as a kid. School subjects are often associated with colors to help kids keep track of them better at an early age.

At many schools, kids used color-coded folders to keep their notes and assignments in. On the school supply list, they likely had instructions on which color folders to use for which class. Many people got so used to using the same colors over and over again that we still associate those colors with subjects to this day.

Of course, the color of each subject varies depending on the school you went to and the teachers you had. For that reason, not everyone agrees on the color combinations.

However, a few are more universal, such as science, which nearly everyone thinks is green. This could be because of the things we associate the subject with. For example, science is often green because plants and nature are also green.

We could also choose these colors based on how the subjects make us feel. For example, if a subject makes us happy and excited, we might call it yellow. However, if a subject makes us angry, we could label it as red.

Color association happens in our brains more than we realize, so it makes sense that it would occur in this scenario too. Since everyone’s brain works differently, that’s why the colors we choose for classes often vary slightly from other people’s perspectives.

Which Core School Subjects are Which Colors?

There are no right or wrong answers for the school subject debate. Yet, there are plenty of consistencies, and it’s interesting to see the patterns in different people’s thought processes.

What Color is Science?

Students examining plants in classroom

Science, which includes classes like chemistry, biology, and physics, is almost always green. That is the one subject that everyone seems to universally agree on. Science discusses so many biological processes and elements that make people think of the color green. When you think of nature and the environment, green is a key color because so many things in nature are green. So, this subject rarely sparks much debate.

Green Meaning

Not only is green related to nature, but it’s also a sign of growth, health, and harmony. Science is an important aspect of health and nature, so no matter how you feel about the subject, it might make you think of the color green without you realizing it.

What Color is Social Studies?

Kids reading books in history class

Social studies, which includes classes like history, politics, and geography, is also fairly consistent but has some discrepancies. Most people think social studies is yellow, possibly because the historical documents we examine have a yellow tint to them. However, some argue that social studies should be blue or red. In those instances, the colors are likely just related to the color folders they grew up using.

Yellow Meaning

Yellow is related to happiness, optimism, and intellect. While history and other social studies topics aren’t necessarily positive, optimism and joy can help make learning easier on the brain. Yellow can spark curiosity, making people want to know more about unfamiliar things. For that reason, yellow could be related to social studies due to the interest in learning more and wanting the world to be a better place.

What Color is Math?

Kid solving math problems

Math and English are the two subjects that have the most disagreements. Whether it’s algebra, geometry, or calculus, math is usually either red or blue. Then, the color not used for math is commonly used for English. The way you assign these colors might be more personal than anything else.

The subject you assign red to is thought to cause the most amount of tension for that person. Thus, since math is a difficult subject for many people, it often gets labeled as red. Blue is usually more calm and simple, so for those who are good at math or enjoy math, blue might be the color they think of.

If those assumptions are true, then that’s why social studies are sometimes red or blue colors as well. Some people love social studies classes while others struggle with them. So, the color of math depends less on common associations and more on how each person feels about math.

Blue Meaning

Blue might be known for its calming effects, but it’s also a symbol of security, trust, and responsibility. Math certainly doesn’t make every person feel confident and secure, but its consistency makes it easier for students to trust the content and grades. Math problems usually only have one clear answer, so it’s less subjective than other classes. Thus, students might feel more loyalty and understanding toward the class, regardless of if they’re good at math or not.

What Color is English?

Kids writing in class

English, including reading and writing, is in a similar situation as math. It’s usually either labeled as blue or red, but it can relate to yellow too. Yellow could be similar to the reason for social studies since older pages might have a yellow tint. It could also be related to the yellow color of the pencil that you write with.

As for red and blue, if reading and writing are fun and relaxing for you, then it’s likely that blue comes to mind first. Yet, if you get annoyed when forced to read or write, it’s common that red is the color you’ll settle on. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s all about what you associate it with and how you feel about the subject.

Red Meaning

Red is often a sign of passion, energy, and strength. When it comes to reading and writing, many people become passionate and invested in the work they create. You need to have energy and motivation to create a successful writing project, which might be why English is commonly associated with the color red.

Do Electives Have Colors?

Girl painting a colorful picture

While some people associate electives with colors, they’re not as consistent as the core subjects. Other classes like art, foreign language, and music are sometimes included in the class color discussion. However, since not everyone takes these classes and since they might not require folders, they’re not as talked about.

Electives rarely get assigned blue, red, yellow, or green. Instead, they’re often given whatever colors are left over, such as orange, purple, or black. These are often more random, based on what colors students have to work with.

Since these classes aren’t the same for every student, they might not have had a specific color for younger grades. Thus, people aren’t as adamant about which color goes with which elective.

Orange Meaning

Orange is typically associated with emotion, optimism, and enthusiasm. So, it makes sense that people might assign orange as the color of their favorite class. Students often look forward to electives more than anything else, which is why this vibrant hue is a common elective color.

Purple Meaning

Purple is a sign of imagination, inspiration, and mystery. So, it’s most common for creative classes such as art, tech ed, and culinary. Essentially, any class where you have to create things might be assigned purple in your mind, especially if it’s a subject that inspires you.

Black Meaning

Black isn’t as common of a class color, but it’s sometimes seen in electives. It can mean power, elegance, and sophistication. So, it’s likely that it will be related to more serious classes or to electives you’re not as excited about. You might associate it with harder, less creative classes, such as foreign language, technology, and business classes.

What Do You Associate School Subjects With?

Laptop next to pile of school books

There are no right or wrong answers, but there’s a good chance that each person has a strong opinion about this topic. In most cases, it’s likely related to something we learned growing up, which varied based on the school and teacher. However, there may be some deeper meaning than that, such as your brain linking colors to certain topics based on experiences or feelings.

While the exact reason varies from person to person, it’s a fascinating topic to focus on. It goes to show that just because we see something one way and someone else sees it another way doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just two different perspectives.