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When asking the question of “what is social science all about?”, it quickly becomes apparent that the field of social science is the study of social relationships and human behavior. However, fully answering the question of “what is social science all about?” is not as simple. Majors in the social sciences can vary greatly as archeologists are social scientists as is an economist. Both of these examples seem to have little in common with one another when looked at from the surface, yet both involve the study of human nature as it applies to a specific topic. The archeologists looks at how humans behaved in centuries past while the economist looks at the hows and whys people spend their money in the present. 

This is true even when looking at getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social sciences. Schools typically give students the opportunity to pick and choose their educational track in order to become proficient in the social sciences. Undergraduate degree programs expect students to minor in different areas of the social sciences as long as the classes selected are ones that meet the school’s requirements for graduation. Meanwhile, master’s and doctorate programs encourage students to focus on a specific track in order to refine knowledge of the social sciences into one or two specific areas of study. 

There are many major branches in the study of social sciences with multiple offshoots of each. The major branches include:

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • History
  • Law
  • Human services

These majors in the social sciences are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the types of degrees that fall under these categories. Keep in mind when you’re looking at these majors in the social sciences that you’re engaging in a specific discipline that involves the study and comprehension of human nature. You become more effective in your chosen profession when you have an understanding of human nature and how people are likely to react when applying the pressure of a governing pressure to them. 

Most Popular Schools with Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Life, Physical, and Social Science Careers

According to current BLS data, employment in life, physical, and social science occupations is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, and will result in about 68,200 new jobs.

The median annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations was $68,160 in May 2019, which was higher than the median wage for all occupations of $39,810.

OCCUPATIONENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2019 MEDIAN PAY 
Agricultural and Food Science TechniciansAssociate’s degree$41,230
Agricultural and Food ScientistsBachelor’s degree$65,160
Anthropologists and ArcheologistsMaster’s degree$63,670
Atmospheric Scientists, Including MeteorologistsBachelor’s degree$95,380
Biochemists and BiophysicistsDoctoral or professional degree$94,490
Biological TechniciansBachelor’s degree$45,860
Chemical TechniciansAssociate’s degree$49,260
Chemists and Materials ScientistsBachelor’s degree$78,790
Conservation Scientists and ForestersBachelor’s degree$62,410
EconomistsMaster’s degree$105,020
Environmental Science and Protection TechniciansAssociate’s degree$46,540
Environmental Scientists and SpecialistsBachelor’s degree$71,360
EpidemiologistsMaster’s degree$70,990
Forensic Science TechniciansBachelor’s degree$59,150
GeographersBachelor’s degree$81,540
Geological and Petroleum TechniciansAssociate’s degree$51,130
GeoscientistsBachelor’s degree$92,040
HistoriansMaster’s degree$63,680
HydrologistsBachelor’s degree$81,270
Medical ScientistsDoctoral or professional degree$88,790
MicrobiologistsBachelor’s degree$75,650
Nuclear TechniciansAssociate’s degree$82,080
Physicists and AstronomersDoctoral or professional degree$122,220
Political ScientistsMaster’s degree$122,220
PsychologistsMaster’s degree$80,370
SociologistsMaster’s degree$83,420
Survey ResearchersMaster’s degree$59,170
Urban and Regional PlannersMaster’s degree$74,350
Zoologists and Wildlife BiologistsBachelor’s degree$63,270
BLS, 2021

Most Affordable Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

What Does a Social Scientist Do?

Social scientists are found in all kinds of fields of employment. The core skill of a social scientist is the ability to understand how people function in their daily lives, respond to societal pressures and anticipating how they react to external stimulus such as a weather event, food shortages, loss of work, etc. A social scientist is not a psychologist, nor are they a sociologist. Instead, a social scientist is someone who furthers their chosen discipline by applying their understanding and observations regarding human nature into their work. For example: a lawyer uses their social science skills to help them anticipate or forecast the potential outcome of a case. While a lawyer can’t accurately predict the outcome of a case, they can use their skills to anticipate how the opposing party will react and how to counter that action. 

People who earn a master’s or PhD of social sciences with applied specialties usually find employment in the educational field or in administrative roles, but working outside of the educational field is also an option. Museums, government agencies, nonprofits and history-related occupations hire social scientists for their ability to comprehend human nature and apply that knowledge to various datasets recovered from historical sites or modern-day activities. However, social scientists are mainly found in the educational field due to their ability to teach students in a narrowly focused field of study. Alternatively, social scientists also find employment as teachers in the primary education field and teach a broad array of subjects to students at all grade levels. Social scientists also find employment as social workers because of their ability to identify the needs of a given population and find ways to address those needs in a satisfactory fashion. 

What Can You Do with a Social Science Degree?

Careers in the social sciences are plentiful and the amount of things someone can do with a social science degree is almost limitless. The beauty of this type of degree is the fact that social scientist careers fall under a variety of degree fields. A student gets the opportunity to engage in the study of social behaviors in many different disciplines and apply that knowledge to their specific discipline. Social sciences degree jobs don’t usually specify the requirement for a degree in social science so much as they look for people who have degrees in the relevant field. The social sciences are part of the degree program and the employer can be confident that their candidate has the requisite education in the understanding of human behavior as it applies to that job. 

The main types of social science careers are that of administrator or teacher. An interdisciplinary social science degree combines multiple social science minors into a bachelor’s degree which can be used to apply for jobs in education or administration roles. If a student has an interest in becoming an educator at the higher levels of education, they should take an educational track that qualifies them for that type of employment. All other social scientist careers are ones that fall under the major social science branches and their related degree programs. 

Careers in the social sciences revolve around the core understanding of how people think, make their decisions, and how likely they are to perceive and react to a given situation. That’s why most social scientist careers are in the educational industry. A student who has earned their degree in one of the social science branches is most likely to find jobs with a social science degree in their chosen area of education. Jobs with a social science degree requirement are seeking employees who can apply their understanding of human nature to the type of work they’re engaged in doing. Social scientist careers are various, but the interdisciplinary nature of the degree enables a graduate to enter into a number of careers and use the skills they learned in school. 

Associate’s 

There are few associate’s programs that are strictly related to the social sciences as a whole. Getting an associate’s degree with social sciences as a main focus should be viewed for use as transfer to a college or university for a bachelor’s in a degree that falls under the umbrella of the social sciences category. Many schools that offer social science degrees can be costly to attend. Earning an associate’s degree that’s heavy in the sciences and social sciences can help a student save money on their undergraduate degree and still graduate from a well-regarded school that employers respect. Another option to save money on a social science degree is to attend an online associates degree in social science in an area that aligns with the desired bachelor’s degree. 

Bachelor’s 

Bachelor’s of social science degrees are interdisciplinary and schools may require a student to take at least three different minors to complete the degree. The minors can be of the student’s choosing and should focus on topics that the student is interested in. The bachelor’s of social science curriculum tends to differ from school to school due to the fact the degree is somewhat non-specific outside of the study of human behavior. Schools may require a student of social sciences to complete what’s known as a capstone experience wherein the student draws together their minors and connects them together in a final paper. Students who attend on-campus or decide to attend one of the available online social science degrees will find that they build their own curriculum as they progress. 

Classes taken for an associate’s degree are helpful when it comes to earning a bachelor’s of social science. After earning an online associate’s degree in social science related studies, you can transfer your credits to a cooperating college for a four-year degree program. Prior to attending an online associates degree in social science, make sure that all of the credits are transferrable so you don’t have to repeat the classes and pay extra for your degree. 

All other social science degrees have defined curriculums that result in a bachelor’s degree in a given field. For example: a student who wants to study law can earn a bachelor’s in social sciences, then attend law school to earn a juris doctorate. Whereas a student who wants to earn their degree in economics will take classes that are related to the study of economics, but also take classes that focus on the social problems that affect economies at all scales and how economics affect the populace at large. 

Master’s 

Someone who’s seeking to advance their career in teaching at the postsecondary level or in administrative positions can benefit from earning their master’s in social science. The master’s in social science has a similar educational pathway as the bachelor’s of social sciences in that a student is encourage to focus on a specific educational track that meets the school’s requirements for earning a master’s degree. The student lays out their area of interest and identifies the classes that allow them to concentrate their master’s degree in one specific area of study. Alternatively, the student can take classes that make the master’s in social sciences a multidisciplinary degree and take classes from different areas of interest. 

Working professionals who want to earn their master’s can benefit from an online master’s in social science program. Getting a master’s in social science online makes it easier for a working professional to attend school without taking time away from work or spending time commuting to a campus after work. There is also the option to take an accelerated master’s in social science online and earn the degree in less time. 

Doctoral 

The doctoral degree in social science is similar to the bachelor’s and master’s of social science programs in that students are encouraged to pick an educational track to solidify their knowledge in a certain area of the social sciences. Students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in the social sciences are required to have a solid foundation in their chosen area of the social sciences before applying to a school. That is, a student who wants to earn a PhD in economics should have proficiency in their foundational knowledge and experience applying the knowledge to real world scenarios. No two schools are the same when it comes to the curriculum they offer for a doctoral degree in social sciences and students should do their due diligence in researching the school of their choice before applying.

Accreditation

There is no recognized accrediting body due to the varied nature of the social science degree. When looking into a degree program, check for an accrediting body that matches the educational program being offered. Even though the program itself isn’t strictly about the social sciences, there should still be accreditation that ensures the program meets accepted standards that are recognized by employers and communities at large. 

Certifications/Licensure

There are no certifications or licenses available for social scientists as there is no need for a social scientist to become certified or licensed in any state. There may be license and/or certification requirements for some of the social science branches, but the need for licensure or certification is disclosed when undertaking the degree program. 

Scholarships

Getting a scholarship in social sciences helps a student pay for their degree whether through a reduced cost for a semester or a full four-year ride. Scholarships in social sciences are plentiful as a result of the wide range of degree opportunities. However, before applying to a scholarship, make sure that it’s applicable to the social science degree program that you’re looking to study. Social science scholarships tend to apply to a specific major in the social sciences such as women’s studies or social work. Some of the scholarships for social sciences include the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship provides enough funding for two years of full-time education and a full-time paid membership at a NOAA facility for students pursuing a STEM degree. The Harry S. Truman Scholarships is geared towards junior-level students attending four-year schools who have extensive records of community service and can fulfill other scholarship requirements. 

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