Online Social Science Degrees
The social sciences commonly include anthropology, psychology, economics, history and sociology, but can also be expanded to include any discipline that studies human behavior and the relationships of individuals within a society. Students with a broad spectrum of interests and perspectives may find a home in the social sciences because of its interdisciplinary nature.
In 2009-10, 173,000 bachelor's degrees in social science and history were conferred, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, second only to business degrees. Social science graduates may be needed in many different fields because they can be "agile and well-rounded thinkers who can assess and adapt to change, analyze trends, communicate effectively, and consider the past to better prepare for the future," notes the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Online Degrees in Social Science
Online social science degree programs can provide convenience for students who want to continue to work while expanding their skills through education, as well as those with family obligations and those unable to commute to a college or university campus. Online schools can offer a wide range of social science majors, including psychology, geography, political science, international relations, history, human services, and more. Degrees are typically available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels:
- Associate Degree in Social Science - These online programs can be completed in as little as two years of full-time study. They typically introduce students to the social sciences and begin the foundations of a general education including liberal arts, math, history, behavioral sciences and computers. Although associate degrees may provide the education required for some entry-level jobs related to social sciences, they can also prepare graduates for transfer to a bachelor's degree program.
- Bachelor's Degree in Social Science - Online bachelor's degree programs provide additional breadth in social science as well as depth through the choice of one or more concentrations or specialty areas of study. These can generally be completed in four years of full-time study or two years of work beyond an associate program. Like associate degrees, bachelor's degrees can provide entry into a number of social science-based careers or help prepare the student to pursue a master's, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012). Some majors available online at the bachelor's level include psychology, human services, and political science.
- Master's Degree in Social Science - Master's degrees can normally be completed in two years of additional full-time study. Master of Social Science or Master of Arts in Social Science degrees can offer a variety of concentrations and may allow students to construct a degree concentration around personal or job interests. Most upper-level social science careers require at least a master's degree. Post-master's certificates are also available in areas such as policy analysis, social research methods, conflict analysis and resolution, and global poverty and inclusive development.
- Doctorate in Social Science - Doctoral degrees in social science, which focus on original research and contributions to the field, can take anywhere from three to seven years to complete. Examples of degrees at this level include Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Science, Doctor of Social Work, or a Ph.D. in psychology, public policy, or human services. According to the BLS, a doctoral degree is standard for most clinical, counseling, or research psychologist positions (bls.gov, 2012).
Related Careers in Social Science
An online degree in social science can lead to a number of diverse disciplines -- aging studies, economics, environmental studies, geography, international business, political science, policy administration and sociology - and to a variety of careers such as research analyst, social worker, marketing manager, political scientist, psychologist or teacher, to name only a few.
The BLS predicts that occupations in the life, physical and social sciences could grow 16 percent nationwide between 2010 and 2020 with social science and related careers adding 56,500 jobs, particularly in careers related to psychological services.
Social Science Industry Trends
"The social sciences bring greater clarity to our understanding of how human populations interact with one another, and, by extension, with the environment. The ideas and information they generate can therefore make a precious contribution to the formulation of effective policies to shape our world for the greater good," reports the 2010 UNESCO World Social Science Report, which is published every 10 years.
If, by definition, social science is a discipline that studies human behavior and the relationships of individuals within a society, what better fit than social media, asks an article on Forbes.com, "Social network analysis was developed decades ago in social science research," so it might be a good time for social science graduates to look careers in the technology field such as managing online communities.
An online degree in social science could be a good place to start.
"2010 World Social Science Report: Knowledge Divides," United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and International Social Science Council, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001883/188333e.pdf
"Careers in the Social Sciences," The Florida State University, http://www.coss.fsu.edu/prospective-students/careers-in-the-social-sciences
"Fast Facts: Most Popular Majors," National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=37
"Future Tech Jobs: We Need Social Science Graduates," Forbes Online, Rawh Shah, 6/22/2011, http://www.forbes.com/sites/rawnshah/2011/06/22/future-tech-jobs-we-need-social-science-graduates/
"Psychologists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013 Edition, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm