Social Sciences Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

Programs in the social sciences can cover a broad range of studies, such as sociology, psychology, humanities, political science and more. Degrees can be attained at the bachelor's and master's levels; students of both programs may choose to specialize in areas such as criminal justice, community health, sociology and other fields. Holding a bachelor's degree is typically required before applying to a master's program. Additionally, graduate programs may require completion of a thesis.

Certificate programs in social studies are wide-ranging, including programs in social science education, social work and women's studies. A graduate certificate program might serve to complement a degree program. Holding a master's degree is often required before applying.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Social Science

This B.S. program is offered with the option to choose specializations like psychology, history and political science among others. The curriculum consists of studies in American history and politics, criminology, human development, women studies and more. Students learn about the cultural and ethnic influences on society, literature and the arts, dynamics of family relations and human services. Many bachelor's degree programs in social science are designed as teacher preparation programs. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Coursework draws on a variety of subjects, from anthropology and geography to economics. Topics that might be covered in courses are:

  • National identity
  • Linguistics
  • Human history
  • Urban development
  • Inequality

Master of Science (M.S.) in Social Science

The M.S. in Social Science is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the history of human society and the curriculum explores sociological, psychological and historical influences on society. Students study global economies, gender studies, education and philosophy, in addition to choosing a concentration area such as society and the environment and women's studies. The program culminates in a graduate thesis or terminal examination. Students are required to hold a bachelor's degree and to submit letters of recommendation, as well as a personal statement essay to be admitted into the program.

Graduate courses are comprised of studies from departments of political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, history, and geography. Study areas include:

  • Globalization
  • Epidemiology
  • Feminism
  • Capitalism
  • Violence
  • Academic advisor

Certificate Programs Related to Social Science

Graduate certificate programs are offered in a number of areas, including women's studies, social work and social science teacher education, in order to prepare graduates for a variety of social science careers. These programs are designed for students from all academic disciplines and can be used to supplement a bachelor's or master's degree.

The women's studies certificate program focuses on theories of feminism and the history of women's rights in the United States. Social work certificate programs are available in the areas of gerontology, guardianship, social work management and more. Social science teacher education certificate programs are offered either as post-bachelor's teacher preparation programs or post-graduate programs for licensed teachers looking to improve their teaching skills.

Admission to the women's studies and social work certificate programs requires a master's degree, while admission to the social science education programs requires either a bachelor's or master's degree. The social science certificate programs can typically be completed in one year.

Courses in the certificate programs cover a broad range of studies, from teaching theory and methods to the psychology of aging. Topics that are discussed in the programs include:

  • African American women
  • Sexuality
  • Social services budgeting
  • Social programs
  • Exceptional learners

Popular Career Options

Graduates find jobs in education, social and human services, business, and more. Job titles of graduates include:

  • Human resources assistant
  • Case manager
  • Family advocate
  • Social Worker
  • Community program director

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Child, family and school social workers held a total of 328,120 jobs in 2020, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They made a median annual salary of $48,430 as of May 2020 ( The BLS also reported that overall jobs for social workers were expected to grow by 13%, much faster than the average for all occupations, between 2019 and 2029.

According to the BLS, elementary school teachers held over 1.36 million jobs and earned a median salary of $60,940 annually in 2020, while middle school teachers held over 599,520 jobs and earned a median of $60,810. Secondary school teachers held over 991,000 jobs and earned a median of $62,870 annually.

Graduates with a women's studies certificate may consider a health educator career. The BLS reports that the employment in this field is expected to grow by 13% from 2019-2029. As of May 2020, the BLS reported, the median annual salary for health educators was $56,500.

Degree programs in the social sciences can prepare students for work in various fields, including social work, human resources and teaching. Degrees are available at the bachelor's and master's levels, with graduate certificate programs allowing for further specialization.

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