Human Patterns in Communities: Social Science Degree

Social science is a broad field that deals with the behavior, functions and progression of individuals, groups and civilizations. An online degree in social science teaches students how to research and explore various topics related to the field. While more specialized degrees are available in economics, psychology, humanities, geography and other social sciences, an online social science degree provides the broad basis of instruction desired by many students.

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Social Sciences Degree Information

Majoring in social sciences prepares for teaching, researching and exploring its various disciplines by integrating theory and comparative perspectives with educational models, critical thinking and analytical skills. Social science students utilize strong critical thinking skills with writing, researching and modern data analysis in order to recognize trends and patterns. Researching data and analyzing the results is a major part of what social scientists do in order to record information and use it as statistical evidence to support organizational decisions.

Students will be taking courses many courses in anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics and political science, along with other humanities-based classes. Look for schools accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for education. Another possibility is to study for two years at a community college and earn an associate's degree or transfer credits to a four-year institution.

Bachelor of Sciences

The Bachelor of Sciences in Social Sciences prepares students differs from a B.A. in Social Sciences in that it requires more mathematics. Students will have to take a series of basic math, computer science and statistics classes in order to graduate. Coursework includes at least two classes each in political science, anthropology, geography, psychology and sociology.
Students can obtain a social science degree with or without teacher certification. However, the degree requirements may change depending on what the student's career goals are, as teaching will take longer to earn a degree. Those who are earning a minor or double major in education will need to take extra classes in child psychology, cognition, human development, behavioral disorders, public policy and pedagogy.

Master of Arts/Sciences

Earning a Master in Social Sciences requires studying social science subjects exhaustively in addition to social work and a research essay or thesis. Many students have already taught at an educational institution and are going back to school to advance their careers. Coursework may include social theory, institutions and culture, social psychology, advanced research methods, social structure and social injustice against women and minorities.

Masters Degree In Education

Since so many social science graduates go on to become educators, it is a good idea for those interested in education to earn a masters degree, as it will improve job opportunities as well as salary. Earning a Master's in Education is necessary for post-secondary education and usually required for educational administration, like being the principal or dean of a school. Students will learn teaching methods, pedagogical theory, management and evaluation in the classroom so that the school, its faculty and its students can be held to the highest level of accountability and prestige.

Earning Teaching Licensure

A good number of social sciences graduates become teachers. The requirements vary depending on the state, but in order to teach, graduates need to be certified. Those who want to teach in elementary school need to have at least a minor in education, while secondary subject teachers need a more specific degree. In this case, social science graduates will be teaching in the social sciences, which can include history, political science, economics and more.

Additionally, prospective teachers need to have completed an approved and accredited education program that fulfills the student teaching and practice requirements before applying for certification. Teachers also have to pass an exam specific to their state or the PRAXIS exam, both that measure subject knowledge and basic academic skills. The license is good for five years before it needs to be renewed.


Many students choose to pick a more specific focus, choosing from one of the many social science branches to pursue in their college career. Prospective social science majors should look into programs that are flexible about switching from a general degree to something more specific, such as anthropology.

The curriculum for the social sciences involves taking classes in every field, including introductory levels of anthropology, political science, psychology and sociology, along with macroeconomics, microeconomics, world civilizations, U.S. history, world geography, comparative religions, criminology, U.S. government, international politics, research and writing classes. These courses may vary in tittles, but the concentration is still the same, with some other specialized fields thrown in such as urban studies, Afro-American studies and Asian-American studies. Although history is normally considered a major in the humanities, some schools require students to take history courses as well.

Career Opportunities

The most common profession for social science graduates is teaching or working in the field of education. High school teachers with a social science background can teach numerous subjects, while universities need researchers to analyze data and teach graduate courses. Archaeologists travel the world on expeditions to uncover artifacts from ancient civilizations. Geographers work in a variety of fields, whether it is mapping out weather patterns with geographical information systems (GIS) or creating maps as a cartographer.

Sociologists investigate social demographics that affect behavior by examining age, gender, race, ethnicity and religion and work in research groups, government agencies and corporations. Political scientists study trends and shape platforms in politics, while analysts and pollsters record public opinion over time. Other job possibilities include writer, historian, archivists, counseling, social work, policy analysis, law enforcement, librarian or research analyst at public, private or nonprofit organizations. Graduates looking into public health and welfare organizations, along with other government positions, will need to go through drug testing and pass a series of background checks to gain security clearance.

Earning Potential

As the government increases spending on social programs and many in the field start retiring, the demand for social sciences backgrounds is good, although competition for jobs is tough. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, anthropologists and archaeologists earn median wages of $49,930, while geographers earn $62,990, historians, $48,520 and sociologists, $60,290, respectively. Political scientists and analysts earn an average salary of $90,140. Those with a bachelors degree in social science start with an average salary of anywhere from $28,800 to $35,570.

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Social Science Degree FAQs

What Can I Do with an Online Social Science Degree?

Many social science majors go on to become schoolteachers or professors. If such is the case, a degree program that includes teacher certification is essential.

Other graduates choose to specialize in a particular branch of social science, such as economics, sociology or anthropology. Career opportunities are plentiful, with options including geologist, archaeologist, historian, writer, social worker and counselor.

What Topics of Study Are Covered in an Online Social Science Degree Program?

Virtually every branch of social science is featured in a bachelor degree program. Topics of study include world civilizations, government, geography, religions, politics, research, economics and sociology. Upper level class work provides the opportunity to focus on specialized topics such as Asian-American studies, women's studies or urban studies. Classes in public speaking, education and writing may also be required.

Can I Earn a Teaching License Through an Online Social Science Degree Program?

Many online social science degree programs are geared toward helping graduates achieve teacher licensure. Requirements vary from state to state, so students may benefit from enrolling in an online school based out of the state in which they intend to teach.

Many social science students choose to complement the major with a minor in education. This is ideal for future elementary school teachers. Students seeking teaching positions at a secondary institution typically benefit from a specialized focus in a particular branch of social science.

What Salary Can I Expect With an Online Degree in Social Science?

The starting salary for individuals with a bachelor's degree in social science ranges between $28,800 and $35,570 annually. However, graduates have the potential to earn much more.

Historians earn an average of $48,520 each year. Anthropologists benefit from a median annual salary of $49,930. Geographers and sociologists often make upwards of $60,000 annually.

Social Science Degree Programs Online

Undergraduate degree programs available include a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and a Bachelor of Science in Social Science. The B.S. program incorporates more math and science classes. For those interested in teaching, many online degree programs prepare students to achieve teacher certification.

Master's degree programs in social science are also available. These programs typically include specialized topics such as social theory, advanced research methods and social psychology. Some individuals may opt to pursue a master's degree in education to complement an undergraduate degree in social science.

Social Science Student Guide

Social sciences is a multidisciplinary field of study encompassing all the studies of social life and humans, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science and history. These soft sciences, as opposed to the hard sciences like biology and physics, focus solely on objective facets of human nature and the structure of societies, despite the quantitative methodology used to gather research and analyze data. The social sciences deal with human behavior and interactions, whether those activities are economical, political, social or cultural.

Social Sciences Textbooks

The study of social sciences is going to require a lot of reading. Students should be prepared to read several textbooks, articles and outside sources, as each class introduces basic concepts of that field of study. "Anthropology: The Exploration of Human Diversity" by Conrad Phillip Kottak, "Social Research: A Simple Guide" by Allyn & Bacon, "An Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: Processes and Disorders" by David Groome and Hazel Dewart and "Elements in Political Science" by Frank Bealey, Richard A. Chapman and Michael Sheehan are sure to show up in the syllabi.

Social Sciences Articles And Databases

Social sciences is primarily research-based, which means students will have to do some research through the school library to find the right articles and periodicals to finish assignments successfully. JSTOR, LexisNexis Academic, Web of Science, World Cat, ProQuest and EBSCO are the places to start searching first. The International Social Science Journal, Oxford Journals, Political Science Quarterly and Anthropological Index Online are also excellent references for resources.

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