With one of the best online bachelor’s degrees in social science, you’ll have the potential to enter one of many varied careers that could see you earning 2 to 3 times the national average U.S. salary.
The broad nature of a social science degree is what makes it so appealing to large numbers of graduates every year. With one of the best bachelor’s degrees in social science, you could find yourself working in social service organizations, nonprofits, government agencies, independent counseling or psychologist offices, and more.
Careers in the healthcare and social work industries are some of the fastest-growing in the nation, owing to the increasing size of the elderly population and population in general. In fact, the Census Bureau projects that the older population will soon eclipse the number of children in the country. As a social science major, you’ll be educated to the standard required for a range of careers that seek to improve the lives of adults across the nation.
What Is a Social Science Degree?
The disciplines within social sciences examine how society interacts with the environment around us. If you’re enrolled in a social science degree program, then you might be majoring in psychology, sociology, geography, anthropology, history, or economics for example. As you might expect, you’ll learn a lot of transferable skills that can apply to many varied careers.
Your courses will depend heavily on the type of major you choose, but with any social sciences degree, you’ll develop other skills that can be applied to numerous careers, including critical thinking, analytical, and research skills. You’ll also become an expert communicator and adept at problem-solving.
Some universities and colleges ask for a minimum 3.0 GPA from high school in order to consider you for entry into a program. This can vary between programs in addition to institutions, with some more competitive institutions requiring a minimum 3.5 GPA. You’ll also likely be asked to provide official transcripts, up to 3 letters of recommendation, and ACT or SAT test scores.
Careers for Social Science Majors
Social science careers can span many industries, including healthcare, law, government and politics, counseling, the economy, and social work. Graduates may choose a career path as a political scientist, economist, or sociologist. They may become social workers, human service assistants, and more. The scope for different career paths is as broad as the disciplines included in this broad field of study.
According to careers site Monster.com, some of the most common roles chosen by new graduates of a social science major include government economist, data analyst, public servant, sales agent, and management consultant. However, graduates also find work in more niche industries, including positions such as industrial-organizational psychologist, geographer, urban or regional planner, and archaeologist.
Some students choose to pursue further study at a graduate level, gaining a master’s degree or doctorate. According to the BLS, sociologists with a master’s degree earn around $79,000 on average. Social sciences graduates who pass the bar and become lawyers can expect to earn a median of around $119,000.
Social Science Salary Potential
The prospects for economists draw many new graduates into the profession, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlighting a 2019 median pay of around $105,020 for these workers. The BLS also predicted a 14% rise in demand for qualified economists over the next decade, though this only equates to around 2,900 positions for this competitive career.
According to PayScale, the best-paid careers for social science majors in recent years have been as a financial or investment analyst, intelligence analyst, or security manager. These professionals were earning around $73,700-$80,800, around twice the U.S. national average salary for all other occupations combined.
Advancing your earning potential through additional certification or licensure can depend on your career path. For example, psychologists can look to the American Psychological Association for specialty certifications. Social workers on the other hand can look to NASW’s certifications for better prospects.
What are the Best Online Social Science Degrees?
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University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Average Net Price
In addition to Seattle, the University of Washington, founded in 1861, has two other campus locations in Tacoma and Bothell. In total, the combined campuses educate around 54,000 students annually, and the university has been placed at No. 14 in the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The University of Washington’s B.A. in integrated social science is a fully online program with both full and part-time options. It has been officially ranked the No. 2 online undergraduate degree in social sciences, in addition to earning similar accolades from several other college websites that look for the best-quality programs.
Your courses will cover a broad range of disciplines and themes, with all students taking core courses in social science theory and methodology, portfolios in social science, and a 5-credit capstone course. Your other thematic areas might include conflict resolution, diversity, health and risk, and populations and movement. Fees for NYU’s social sciences program are cheaper than a number of competing programs in the area as evidenced by the table here. As an NYU undergraduate, you’ll pay tuition of around $359 per credit for this program, regardless of your state residency. You’ll also be liable for other fees, including registration, technology, and U-PASS costs.
University of Central Florida
Average Net Price
Belonging to the State University System of Florida, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is located in Orange County. Campus comprises 13 academic schools and colleges, with students choosing from over 230 programs. A total of over 71,000 students are enrolled, making this one of the bigger institutions in the nation.
This is another online social sciences degree program, with a range of minors available for supplementing your curriculum and tailoring your studies toward your intended career. This includes multiple options in the areas of anthropology, communications, political science, psychology, sociology, and women’s and gender studies.
Thanks to the campus-based fee reductions, you’ll pay less than your campus-based cohorts, but the online program meets the same quality standards as the traditional one. You will also receive success coaching to ensure that you integrate well with all facets of academic student life, supporting you with everything from admissions to graduation.
As a Florida resident and undergraduate, you’ll pay a total estimated cost of attendance of around $17,879 for this program. This includes tuition and fees of around $6,379, room and board of around $10,300, and books and supplies costs of around $1,200. Non-residents pay around $33,978, of which around $22,478 comprises tuition and fees.
University of Maryland Global Campus
Average Net Price
Belonging to the University System of Maryland campuses, the Global Campus (UMGC) offers online programs for students who need a more flexible study schedule. Almost every course offers digital course materials at no extra cost, and the campus has been ranked highly for its programs by a wide range of publications.
Comprising 120 credits and running for four years when studied full-time, UMGC’s social science degree program offers all courses online, though some are also available in a hybrid format. The program ranked within the top 15 most affordable programs of its type and is geared toward careers in research, program development, and management roles.
Your core courses will provide you with a grounding in social sciences, including an introduction to the areas of sociology, psychology, and cultural anthropology. The majority of the rest of your curriculum will depend on the degree focus that you choose; for a more detailed breakdown of available courses, check out this page and click on the “degree focus” tab.
At UMGC, standard undergraduate programs attract a tuition rate of around $300 per credit for in-state students. Out-of-state students pay around $499 per credit. If you’re a military student or affiliated spouse or child, then you could qualify for a reduced rate of around $250 per credit.
Washington State University
Average Net Price
Founded in 1890, Washington State University is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the West. Located in Pullman, the university offers almost 100 different undergraduate majors, in addition to research opportunities and internships that provide hands-on experience. For students continuing to graduate-level study, there are 78 master’s programs and 68 doctoral degrees.
Taught by the WSU College of Arts and Sciences, Washington State University’s Global Campus offers a bachelor’s degree in social science that has been named a Best Online Program by U.S. News & World Report. It’s marketed as one of WSU’s most flexible online programs, allowing you to select a wide range of concentrations, disciplines, and more.
With 12 concentrations available, you’ll be able to choose from disciplines that include administrative studies, communication, criminal justice, and political science. There are two start dates, one in May and another in fall, with applications due by April 14 and July 23 respectively.
As a fully online program under WSU’s Global Campus, you’ll pay tuition based on the number of credits taken. For part-time students, tuition is charged at around $530.85 for undergraduate programs. Full-time students taking 10-18 credits per semester pay a fixed rate of $5,308.50 as state residents of $5,914.50 for out-of-state students.
Kansas State University
Average Net Price
Kansas State University was founded in 1863 as the public higher education institute in the state. The student body comprises around 22,000 learners, and the university provides access to more than 250 undergraduate majors and other programs. It has been ranked highly in a number of areas, including No. 12 in the country for improving students’ critical thinking skills.
With this social science bachelor’s degree, you’ll choose four concentrations from a list of nine, leading to a broad degree that can lead you into numerous careers. The nine concentrations available are anthropology; economics; geography; history; mass communications; political science; psychology; sociology; and gender, women and sexuality studies.
You’ll also study 45 credit hours’ worth of electives, giving you further opportunities to customize your degree plan. In total, you’ll complete 120 credits in this program, with all courses being offered fully online for remote learning. For information on traditional freshman admissions, check out this page. K-State Online standard tuition rates are around $292.65-$312.50 per credit hour depending on the originating campus. However, this program charges around $399.50 per credit hour. Depending on the college or department you’re studying under, there may also be additional fees due each semester. You can find these listed at the bottom of this page on the university’s website.
California State University-Chico
Average Net Price
California State University, Chico is the second oldest campus belonging to the California State University system, founded in 1887. More than 16,000 students attend this campus annually, which has been rated a Top 10 U.S. Public University by U.S. News & World Report. It’s also been named a top performer for its educational quality and value, and one of the most transformative colleges in the nation.
California State University’s bachelor’s degree in social science is an online degree completion program. You’ll complete between 36 and 42 credit hours through Chico Distance & Online Education, gaining the rest from a local community college. There is an additional Bachelor of Arts degree available in sociology.
Your curriculum is broken down into two options, which are multidisciplinary studies and specialization studies. The first option explores subjects including behavioral sciences and history in the context of different world contexts, while the second option branches further into a vast 21 areas of concentration. Students who want to gain a California teaching credential should choose the first option. The estimated cost of attendance for an undergraduate student studying on-campus is around $26,170 for California residents. For non-residents, this rises to around $35,674. These figures include based tuition of around $7,912, with non-residents paying additional charges of approximately $9,504. There’s a net price calculator on the university website for the most accurate estimates.
Average Net Price
Located in Troy, Alabama, Troy University was founded in 1887. Today, it is the flagship university of the Troy University System. The student body represents more than 80 nations across the world, speaking the same number of languages cumulatively. There’s also access to scholarships, internships, and numerous student involvement and leadership opportunities.
Troy’s social science major has 3 possible concentrations in general social science, geography, and leadership. The social science concentration pairs well with a dual major in education, while the remaining two are suitable for global and regional politics, and future management careers, respectively.
In addition to the above, you’ll have the opportunity to select your courses from 7 key areas, including anthropology, geography, sociology, psychology, history, economics, and political science. There is also an accelerated law option available, which is the first program of its type to be made available in Alabama. Through partnership with law schools, you could gain your bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor within 6 years.
Typical undergraduate tuition at Troy University is charged at around $325 per credit hour for in-state students and $650 per credit hour for out-of-state students. For programs taught via the TROY Online campus, their distance learning platform, undergraduates pay $338 per credit hour regardless of residency.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Average Net Price
Comprising around 332 acres of campus space, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is a public research university in Paradise, Nevada. Students choose from more than 300 majors. And if you’ve not yet chosen yours, you can find a career and major assessment tool on the university’s website to help you choose your path.
At UNLV, you’ll work with a student advisor to carefully plan your program curriculum and align it with your interests and career goals. In your final year, you’ll also complete a capstone course that consists of a project, presentation, and research paper.
Available as both an online and traditional, campus-based program, the degree comprises 120 credits. This includes 38-41 hours of general education requirements that will give you a foundation in English, math, and other essential subjects. When selecting your electives, you’ll be able to specialize in specific areas, including gender and sexuality, Asian and Asian American studies, psychology, and sociology. For incoming undergraduates, the rate of tuition is around $4,362 per semester if you’re a Nevada resident. For non-residents, it rises to $12,189 per semester, including a $7,827 out-of-state fee. Freshmen also pay a one-time fee of $120 for registration. If you want to find out specific costs, check out this page for a tuition estimator.
Dickinson State University
Dickinson, North Dakota
Average Net Price
Founded in 1918 and gaining university status in 1987, Dickinson State University, located in Dickinson, North Dakota, has a range of new technology and laboratories for students to benefit from. The institution also has a low student to faculty ratio, so class sizes are kept small.
Delivered at the Dickinson Campus, this Bachelor of Arts in composite social science is geared toward public service roles in government agencies and social service organizations. Common careers for graduates include public administration, social worker, police officer, and community service manager. In total, you’ll complete 120 credits in this program.
In addition to the general education, major, and minor requirements of this program, students are expected to fulfill a foreign language requirement. You will also need to complete the composite social science major requirements, unless you choose to follow the composite social science criminal justice track. A description of each can be found here.
As a traditional, campus-based program, this degree attracts the traditional tuition rates at Dickinson State University. For undergraduates who are residents of ND, MN, MT, SD, MB, or SK, the cost is around $249 per credit hour. For all other students, including international students, it rises to around $319 per credit hour. A mandatory fees supplement of $68.68 should be added to each credit hour too.
New York University
New York City, New York
Average Net Price
Founded in 1831 and located in New York City, New York University also boasts campuses in both Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. In addition to these foreign locations, NYU has 11 other study-away sites worldwide. In fact, more students study internationally at NYU than any other university in the U.S.
This bachelor’s degree in social science is available at the New York City campus, though students who are unable to attend can start their studies remotely in some cases. You’ll study some of the more socially, culturally, and politically relevant debates in our modern society, in addition to the historical contexts behind them.
Your core courses will ensure that you have a solid foundation in the liberal arts, in addition to key skills like critical thinking and analytical reasoning. You’ll also choose electives and complete a capstone project alongside a faculty advisor. What’s more, an internship could provide you with industry experience at a range of locations in NYC and beyond. Undergraduate tuition at NYU varies from one academic college to the next. For this program, you’ll pay tuition and fees of around $2,044 per credit hour part-time, or a fixed rate of around $27,440 for 12 to 18 credits (full-time). Including other expenses, this makes for a rough cost of attendance of around $37,062. More information can be found on this page.
Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Average Net Price
Southeast Missouri State University provides undergraduate students with more than 145 majors and 100 minors to choose from. Graduate students have access to 75 different programs. In total, around 12,000 students attend annually, with internships and other practical learning opportunities provided in every major program offered by Southeast.
Southeast’s bachelor’s degree in social sciences is a fully online program that’s designed to fit around adult schedules. Your curriculum is flexible in allowing you to select concentrations that best align with your current career or the one you’re seeking. These include law enforcement, economics, and sociology, among others, with students choosing six areas in which to specialize.
Depending on your preferences, there are courses available lasting for 4, 8, or 16 weeks, and you could even complete your degree more quickly by transferring prior earned credits. In particular, the program is geared toward students who have an interest in careers in research and analysis, and human resources, though it also caters to future law enforcement professionals. As a fully online program, tuition runs a little lower than average and is cheaper than studying on-campus. You’ll pay around $307.50 per credit hour through Southeast Online. For more information on any additional fees, look to the fee schedule on the university’s website.
Portland State University
Average Net Price
Portland State University (PSU) is located in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1946 as a primary site of post-secondary education for war veterans, the university today offers more than 200 degree programs. It has also been ranked one of the most innovative universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
PSU offers both a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in social science. Both programs comprise 180 total credits, and both can also be studied either fully online or as a traditional, campus-based program. There’s also a hybrid option for students who want the convenience of remote study without missing out on the campus experience.
Areas of emphasis in the curriculum at PSU include black studies, Chicano/Latino studies, international studies, political science, and systems science. You can find the full list here, in addition to more information on how the curriculums for each program differ. Both programs fall under accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). The estimated cost for an undergraduate student who is also an Oregon resident comes to around $18,052 when living off-campus or $27,631 if living on-campus, including $10,081 tuition. For out-of-state students, the cost of attendance rises to around $47,747. Additional rates and fees can be found on this page.
Central Washington University
Average Net Price
Founded in 1891, Central Washington University is a hub for international students, with strong partnerships with 30 higher education institutions worldwide. With a commitment to hands-on learning, there are plenty of opportunities for internships and other practical training. The university has also been named in numerous rankings.
When enrolling in this social sciences major at Central Washington University, you’ll work with a student advisor to select the courses that align best with your academic and professional goals. As a varied curriculum, you could enter numerous careers after graduation, with past graduates having gone on to work in government, business, social work, human services, and nonprofits.
Officially titled Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies – social sciences, the program is intentionally kept broad. You’ll be expected to select a minimum of three disciplines, with courses covering history, health education, ethnic studies, economics, political science, psychology, public health, and a wide range of others. You can see the full list here. Full-time students taking 10-12 credits per semester can expect to pay tuition of around $2,815.16 each quarter, which includes fees. These are the rates for students who are state residents, with non-residents paying $8,173.56. A full breakdown of resident tuition and fees can be found here, with a further table of non-resident costs here.
SUNY Empire State College
Saratoga Springs, New York
Average Net Price
Located in Saratoga Springs, New York, SUNY Empire State College was founded in 1971. Is it accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and provides flexible online study via more than 100 degree and certificate programs. Undergraduates choose from 12 areas of study that lead to both associate and bachelor’s awards.
This program will have you explore the historical contexts, theories, and methods surrounding issues in modern society, preparing you for roles in which you’ll implement policies that address them. Throughout your studies, you’ll develop the strong research and communications skills needed by a social sciences graduate and professional.
With both online and campus-based study options available, the program’s most popular concentrations include sociology, social theory, public policy, political science, and women’s studies. Whether choosing a single area of focus or opting for an interdisciplinary concentration, you’ll earn your degree in around four years via full-time study. The cost of tuition for a SUNY Empire State College undergraduate is around $471 for New York state residents or $565 for online and out-of-state students. If you’re a non-resident student, you may be eligible for an Empire State College tuition grant; check out the tuition page on the university’s website.
University of Hawaii-West Oahu
Average Net Price
Located in Kapolei, Hawaii, the University of Hawaii-West Oahu is one of ten campus locations belonging to the University of Hawaii System. Founded in 1976, the university attracts around 3,000 undergraduates annually, with average class sizes of around 20 students. Programs focus on professional disciplines, including hospitality and tourism, creative media, and health sciences.
This institution offers a range of programs in the social sciences, including three bachelor’s degrees that are available as distance-learning programs. These provide the option to concentrate in early childhood education, political science, and psychology, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in social work.
The three social sciences programs are designed as transfer programs for those who have already completed two years of coursework at the institution, a local community college in the UH system, or another accredited college or university across the U.S. Each comprises 120 credit hours and awards a bachelor’s degree.
Full-time undergraduate students pay tuition of around $3,672 as state residents or $10,152 as out-of-state students. For part-time students taking 11 or fewer credits each semester, tuition is instead charged on a per-credit basis, costing around $306 and $846 respectively. Pacific Island Jurisdiction & WUE students pay around $459 per credit or $5,508 as full-time students.
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
University Park, Pennsylvania
Average Net Price
Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus is the institution’s e-learning and distance learning education campus. Penn State’s distance learning program dates back to 1892, with the World Campus launching in 1998. In total, the campus provides over 150 accredited degree programs at every level of study.
Comprising 120 credits, Penn State offers a Bachelor of Science in integrated social sciences. A fully online program, it’s a good option for students who have not yet determined their preferred field of study or career path. It’s also suited for students who have completed a previous program of study and wish to transfer credits.
You’ll study how society and relationships interact with one other. You’ll cover historical contexts and emerging theories and methodologies, drawing on fields that include anthropology, communication, economics, politics, and psychology and sociology. You will also benefit from instruction by faculty belonging to Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, which is considered a leading institution in the field.
Comprising a total of 120 credits, this program attracts a tuition rate of between $576 and $617 per credit for part-time students, with those taking 59 or fewer credits charged the lower rate. If you’re taking 12 or more credits per semester, you’re a full-time student, and you will pay fixed tuition of between $6,994 and $7,549 per semester.
Average Net Price
Bellevue University is a private university that’s located in Bellevue, Nebraska. Founded in 1966, it focuses on adult education, with around 80% of undergraduates being over the age of 25 in recent years. According to the university’s website, the institution is routinely ranked among the best institutions in the U.S. for military personnel and veterans.
Bellevue University’s Bachelor of Science degree program focuses on developing your professional portfolio from day one. As you develop your research skills and your knowledge of social science, you’ll complete projects and build your own portfolio that will help you as you look to start your career after graduation.
Speaking of which, the university has geared the curriculum toward students who may also want to pursue further study. The program offers “streamlined preparation for graduate study in human services or clinical mental health counseling”. What’s more, with enough associate degree credits or similar, you could join an accelerated cohort and complete your program much more quickly.
Bellevue University publishes the direct tuition rates associated with this program. Tuition will cost you around $425 per credit hour whether studying in-class or online. For military affiliated students, the rate drops to around $250 per credit hour. These figures don’t include all fees and other student costs, such as room and board.
Average Net Price
Collectively, Brandman University has more than 25 campus locations throughout the states of Washington and California. Through these campuses, students have access to over 50 degree, certificate, and career programs. Founded in 1958, the university was originally established to provide higher education to El Toro Marine Corps, but now welcomes a range of adult learners while remaining military-friendly.
Brandman University offers a Bachelor of Arts in social science, though there are more focused degree programs for students who may have already chosen their prefered career path. For example, you can also find a B.A. in social work, sociology, psychology, and more.
The B.A. in social science will impart you with a strong foundation in theoretical foundations and research skills and methodology. As you progress through your program, you’ll cover topics that include psychology, sociology, history, and many other disciplines, leading to a well-rounded degree.
As a fully online program, this B.A. in social sciences is charged at the online and hybrid tuition rate. For Brandman undergraduates, this is around $500 per credit hour, with a typical course costing around $1,500. While associate degrees are charged at the same rate, master’s level students pay around $670 per credit hour.
Great Basin College
Average Net Price
Founded in 1867 in Elko, Nevada, Great Basin College has a small enrollment of around 3,500-4,000 students annually. Specializing in long-distance education, the college awards a number of associate and bachelor’s degrees, in addition to certificates. Programs focus mainly on career and technical education, providing flexible higher education access to busy adults.
This Bachelor of Arts in social science draws together courses in a broad range of areas, including politics, environment, the American West, social psychology, and Indians of North America for example. All courses can be completed fully online, including the final capstone course project.
The program has two start dates, one in the fall with applications due by April 1, and one in spring with applications due November 1. You’ll need an associate degree, a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, and a grade of at least C- in Eng 102. At Great Basin College, full-time undergraduate students who are state residents and live on-campus can expect their cost of attendance to be around $14,818-$16,783. This includes tuition and fees of around $3,248-$5,213. If you visit this page, you can find comprehensive information for other student groups, including non-residents.
University of Maine Augusta
Average Net Price
Part of the University of Maine System, the University of Maine at Augusta is located in the Maine city with which it shares a name. There are 22 bachelor’s degrees and 1 master’s degree program available, in addition to around 10 different certificates and post-baccalaureate programs. Associate degrees are also offered in 11 different programs.
UMA’s social science degree program combines a strong foundation in general education with in-depth experience and training in the social sciences. Owing to the values of the program, students enrolled in the program are encouraged to contribute toward research literacy and activities throughout the university, in addition to research projects in social science.
You’ll become a master of the theory and history behind social science, in addition to developing strong analytical and research skills. Graduates are encouraged to work toward engaging with and improving the health and lives of the communities in which they live. At UMA, tuition rates are set by the credit hour. Undergraduate students who are state residents of Maine will pay around $245 per credit hour, while out-of-state students pay an increased figure of around $592 per credit hour. Canadians are eligible for the in-state rate, and there are some other caveats you can find on this page.